“What’s Hallowe’en mean, Father?” asked Thomas Brown as the family was seated at breakfast one morning late in October.
“It means the evening before All Saints Day,” answered Father Brown.
“Do you remember what fun we had last year, Chuck?” remarked Toad, for Thomas was called “Toad” by his friends, and Charley was known as “Chuck.”
“I should say I do,” he answered.
The Browns had always lived in the town of Merryvale in a large, white house, set far back from the street, and not far away was the home of Toad’s best friend Reddy and his brother Frank nick-named “Fat.”
“We had great fun when I was a boy,” resumed Father Brown, “for my birthday anniversary falls on Hallowe’en and your grandmother would always have me invite the boys in the neighborhood to a party on that night.”
“Oh, I wish mine weren’t two days later or I might have a party too,” sighed Toad.
“There’s no reason, Thomas,” said his mother, with a smile, “why you can’t celebrate your birthday on Hallowe’en, if you’d like to.”
“Oh, Mother, that’s fine,” cried Toad, jumping up from the table and running around to his mother’s place to give her a hearty hug. “You always make things right,” he added.
“We’d better ask all the fellows in school today,” suggested Chuck, “for Saturday is Hallowe’en.”
Toad lost no time when he reached school that morning in giving his invitations to the party and all the boys were glad to accept, for they always had a fine time at Toad’s house.
When Saturday morning arrived, Mother Brown sent Toad off to the barn to get some large red apples.
“Be sure they have strong stems,” she warned him, “or I shall not be able to use them.”
The apples had been packed in barrels with plenty of straw to keep them from freezing, and when Toad reached the barn he pulled out one after another until he thought he had plenty. Just as he was wondering how many trips he would have to make to get all the apples to the house, a face peeped around the doorway.
“Hello, Reddy,” laughed Toad, “come on in and help me with these apples. I’ve got to carry them up to the house,” he explained, “they’re for the party tonight.”
“Couldn’t we eat just one now?” asked Reddy, picking up from the floor a shining red apple.
“Hey, not that one,” cried Toad, “take one without a stem.”
“Huh,” protested Reddy, “what difference does that make? I wasn’t going to eat the stem.”
“Mother wants strong stems on them. I don’t know why,” he explained.
“What’s a Hallowe’en party like?” inquired Reddy, seating himself on the top of a potato barrel.
“Fat says,” he continued, “that there’s always ghosts.”
“Aw, who’s afraid of baby things like ghosts,” jeered Toad.