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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Pileloops’ Festival/ Part III
Written by Natalie Kurtog,
illustrations by Nika Harrison

Chapter 8 Searching for the hat

Peter heard some voices and movement in the bushes behind him. He looked round and perceived a multitude of different colour Pileloops; yellow, red, blue, grey, violet and pink ones.

“Good Day! Glad to see you again after such a long time! How wonderful that you’ve flown in!” They proclaimed loudly.

The old man bowed and replied: “It is truly wonderful to see you. May I introduce my friend, Pileloop Peter. Peter, this is Yellow Pileloop, Red Pileloop, Blue and…”

“Why are they different colours?” The boy asked quietly.”

“They are flower dust,” the old man answered, just as quietly. “Tonight, when the flowers get covered with Pileloop-dust pollen, dust flies in from everywhere and the Pileloops’ Festival begins.” The old man stopped talking. “The hat, oh, we’ve got to find the hat, now!”

He shouted to the guests: “Friends! After the last festival I left something very important behind. Do you remember the hat tricks?”

“Of course we remember!” hundreds of voices chimed in. “No hat, no festival”!

Then Pileloop said: “I have lost the hat! Maybe one of you has seen it? I left it on that pine tree during last year’s festival.”

Everyone joined in and started to search the area.

Sometime later, Yellow Pileloop flew up to Peter, shrugged his shoulders and whined: “It’s not here, not anywhere! Not in the trees, not on the field, not… what’s that?”

Everyone looked round. Swaying from side to side, something black flew towards them. It was the hat.

“My dear old friend, I haven’t seen you for a long long time!” it said.

Peter’s mouth opened wide in surprise. “You old bungler you, how could you have just left such an amazing thing as this behind?”

A black little old man with a long black beard poked his face out of the hat. “I picked it up a year ago and took it to my castle.”

Pileloop replied: “Meet my new friend, Peter.”

Black Pileloop looked closely at the boy. “What attic has this young Pileloop fallen from?” he asked.

“Peter is the new master of our hat.” Pileloop replied.

Black Pileloop screwed up his eyes in a cunning way and said: “Fly over to my castle, and leave your attic to your Pileloop. He will guard the hat. It’s high time you came and stayed with me. We’ve been dreaming about this for a long time, remember?”

Peter bent over to his friend and said: “I don’t want to live in granny’s attic instead of you.” He felt ill just thinking about this.

Pileloop said: “Don’t worry, he’s been trying to get me to go and stay with him for ages, he gets bored and he’s an old grumbler.” Then Pileloop turned round to the old man: “Thank you for the hat. I thought that I had lost it forever.”

“Always ready to help an old friend,” smiled Black Pileloop and winked at Peter.

Chapter 9 Tricks

News that the hat had been found travelled fast. The Pileloops surrounded Peter and the old man.

“Show us some tricks. Show us some tricks!” they all shouted, and applauded. Dust rose into the sky from the clapping, creating multi-coloured fireworks. “Oh come on, please, we’ve been waiting for long enough!” they said.

Pileloop flew over the field and slapped his palm against the hat. A cloud oozed out, from which rings, ear rings, coins, necklaces, watches, broaches, nuts and bolts, springs, cogs, hooks and screws flopped out. There were hundreds of bits of bric-a-brac. Peter watched, astounded, as they disintegrated and then materialised again into various Metal, Gold, Silver, Bronze Pileloops. The flower Pileloops greeted them warmly.

“Now you do a trick,” said the old man and pushed the hat over to the boy. Peter didn’t even manage to get hold of the hat when various guests one after the other, climbed out of it. There were Flour Pileloops which had flown in from bakers and windmills. But to begin with, they appeared as buns, cakes, tarts, loaves of bread and pretzels. Sugar from a sweet factory at first appeared from the hat in the form of hares, hedgehogs, spheres and plain old lumps of sugar, then transformed into Sugar Pileloops.

“And now wave the hat!” The old man shouted at Peter. And that is exactly what Peter did. Peter felt cold and shivered. Snow started pouring out of the hat. It quickly covered the clearing and created a series of snow drifts from which snowmen, snow ladies, sleighs and sleighs runs magically manifested themselves. Snow-ball fights started and the Pileloops shattered into a multitude of coloured particles when they were hit by a snowball, then they reformed.

“Snow Pileloops! Snow Pileloops!” the Pileoops shouted at the newly arrived guests.

Peter whispered to his friend: “I didn’t know that snow is dust.”

The old man smiled and said: “That doesn’t surprise me, there’s a lot you don’t know. After the festival the snow dust will melt and will return only when winter comes.”

Peter waved the hat again. This time sand poured out. Sand lay in waves around the clearing. Sand castles, little houses, fish, and other shapes that children make in the sand appeared. The shapes dematerialised and formed into Sand Pileloops.

When all the Pileloops had gathered, the old man shook his head and said: “You are so like your great grandfather.” The boy smiled.

A very beautiful girl in a pink dress flew up to the old man. She whispered something to him, turned to Peter and smiled. Pileloop gave the hat to Peter. “This is yours,” he said. “The tricks are over. All the Pileloops are here. Here is your hat. You can go back home. Do you remember the way?”

Peter didn’t know what to do. He wanted to stay very much. The boy nodded his head and hesitatingly took the hat.

Chapter 10 The Pileloop’s Festival

Peter thought up an excuse to stay, but he didn’t need to because the old man flew up to him and said ceremoniously: “We invite you, Pileloop Peter, to attend the Pileloop’s Festival as our guest!” The old man screwed his eyes up and smiled broadly.

“Yes, great!” Peter said, other Pileloops clapped.

The boy flew up into the air and shouted: “People give presents to each other at festivals. I want to give you the hat!”

The Pileloops all clapped so much that the whole clearing was covered with multi-coloured dust. Bees were jolted out of flowers and joined in, a ringing sound from thousands of bluebells filled the air. The old man hugged Peter. Then he started to jump around, and broke into a jig.

The Pileloops merged together in one huge dance-cloud. Peter couldn’t conceal his amazement. The Pileloops danced, danced and danced. The old man, who still couldn’t believe his good fortune, flew up to the boy. “Thank you, this is a present fit for a king!”

Pileloop held his hands to his heart.

“Now I have a reason to look after the hat year after year. But how did you decide? Didn’t you tell me you wanted to own it?”

Peter turned to his friend and said: “It’s me who should be thanking you! My dreams have come true! I am so happy that I was able to do some tricks, and what tricks they were! Now I know what it’s like to be a magician. Pileloop and Peter hugged each other.

Chapter 11 The Pink Pileloop

The festival roared along in high spirits. Peter stood to one side and shyly watched the Pileloops dance. The girl in the pink dress flew up to him. “This is Rose Pileloop,” said the old man. “You have seen her already. She lives in a rose.”

The girl took Peter by the hand and took him into the dance. The boy felt a bit awkward at first, but Rose Pileloop was so dexterous with him that he soon forgot that he couldn’t dance. “Have you got a girl friend?” the girl asked. “N-no,” Peter was embarrassed for some reason. “I don’t either. I was only born very recently. In a rose. Maybe I can be your friend?” Peter’s heart jumped with joy: “Of course!”

Peter was very happy. He soared into the sky, twisted and turned in a riot of light and colour. He couldn’t believe that this festival was actually made of nothing but dust, the same dust that we come across every day at work, at home, in museums, on the roads, in the fields, forests, workshops, bakeries, windmills summer and winter, autumn and spring. The night slowly dispersed and the first rays of dawn appeared.

The old man flew up to him, gave him the hat and shouted: “Throw the hat upwards, for the last time!” The boy flung the hat upwards. The Pileloops raised their hands up. Peter’s new friend raised her hands up. The hat shot upwards to the stars as if it was a rocket. When it touched them tiny flames began to fall earthward.

“Star Pileloops! Star Pileloops!” Everyone shouted. One by one, the Pileloops all took off to join the new guests. They dissolved into the light of the new day.

“Let’s go!” Rose Pileloop took Peter by the hand. What could be more perfect than touching the stars hand in hand with such a kind and wonderful girl who was born of a rose!

Eventually, the Pileloops descended back down onto the clearing. Peter and his new friend held hands and smiled, looking at each other. It got light.

“Time to say goodbye,” said Rose Pileloop.

Suddenly, without any warning, a grey shadow covered the clearing. It rose up and took the Pileloops with it. Everybody was thrown about all over the place. The shadow took the girl so quickly that Peter lost hold of her. The rose dress flashed and disappeared together into the grey matter.

Translated from the Russian by John Harrison

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