"Long Walks in Dancing Shoes": In Greenvale, Pennsylvania, a shoddy looking boy named Daniel begins shuffling a group of children off to Free Country, using a magical hopscotch board. Before following them, he remembers to steal a present for his friend Marya, and then rushes after.
- Do you feel sorry for yourself all the time? Or just when you're terrorizing people?
- -- Tim Hunter
Appearing in "Long Walks in Dancing Shoes"
- Tamlin the Falconer (First appearance)
- Jimmy (First appearance)
- Bizzie (First appearance)
- Phantom Stranger (Flashback only)
Synopsis for "Long Walks in Dancing Shoes"
In Greenvale, Pennsylvania, a shoddy looking boy named Daniel begins shuffling a group of children off to Free Country, using a magical hopscotch board. Before following them, he remembers to steal a present for his friend Marya, and then rushes after.
In Free Country, a boy named Kerwyn gathers the newcomers together and briefs them on what they're doing there. Daniel stops him, and asks after Marya. He finds her raptly watching creatures called the shimmers dancing about in a circle. He wonders if she would ever dance with them, but she is saddened by the thought, thinking she could never match their abilities. As some consolation, Daniel delivers his present to her - a figurine of a ballerina.
Later, Marya sneaks into Kerwyn's room and steals the letters from his scrabble game. She then approaches him, demanding to go on a mission by herself. Kerwyn is incredulous, noting that this mission is probably the most important one yet, and that she is merely a girl. In order to get her way, she blackmails him, refusing to return his scrabble letters until he allows her to go by herself. He reluctantly relents, but warns that if she fails her mission, she can never return. Happily, she packs her present, some apples, her comb, some money from Daniel, and her dancing shoes. After crossing her hopscotch board, Marya ends up on the busy streets of London, and begins her search for Tim Hunter.
At school, Tim is in physical education class in the middle of a game of football when his eye is caught by a bird overhead. He wonders if it is his lost owl Yo-Yo, until the ball lands at his feet, and he is clobbered by his teammates. Grumpily, he ditches school, reflecting on recent events in his life, and trying to convince himself that it was all a dream, and that magic doesn't exist. As he wanders home, he is watched by Tamlin, the Falconer.
Tim returns home to his father, who questions him about why he's still in his gym clothes. Without answering, Tim simply goes to his room. His father receives a phone call moments later from the gym instructor. The instructor speaks disparagingly of Tim, and his father defends him, though he is exasperated. Tim's father comes to his room, and suggests that he go outside, but Tim is disdainful. Outside, he encounters Tamlin, who whisks him away to an isolated location.
Elsewhere, Marya visits a jeweller's hoping to have her bracelet fixed, but when the jeweller inspects it and realizes it's a priceless Lermontov antique, he accuses her of stealing it. Marya explains that the bracelet was a gift to her mother from Empress Anna, but the proprietor will have none of it, and kicks her out, while keeping the bracelet for himself. Sadly, Marya informs a nearby shopkeeper what happened, and the woman retrieves the bracelet for her.
Thankful, Marya offers her an apple, which she finds delicious. The woman brings Marya into her cafe and decides that in return for another apple, she will help Marya find Timothy Hunter. Together, they go through nearly 40 possible William Hunters asking whether Timothy lives there, but the Tim's father - the last one in the phonebook - fails to answer the phone.
Elsewhere, Tamlin removes the bag from Tim's head, and cuts the rope binding his hands. He offers that he will answer only three questions. Tim first asks what he wants with him. The falconer responds that he wants to find out what Tim is made of. When Tim asks why, Tamlin places his knife on the ground, stating that Tim might be the key to healing a dead land. Tim notices the knife, and refuses to pick it up, shouting that he doesn't like tests. Tim's third question is the falconer's name, which he gives. Tamlin gives Tim the talisman around his neck, his falconer's glove, and his knife, and then leaves him there in the desert.
Meanwhile, Marya and the shopkeeper decide to try Tim's father again, and he finally answers. When he discovers that the caller is a child looking for his son for no apparent reason, he curses at her and hangs up. Fortunately, the shopkeeper makes a note of Tim's address. Despite the significant distance, Marya walks there in bare feet. She stops along the way however to scold a woman for strapping a child into a stroller too tightly, to see a man dragging his child on a leash, and to peer into the window of a dance studio.
After finally making it to Tim's house, his father refuses to answer the door, and she falls asleep outside, clutching the figurine to her chest. She dreams of her past in the court of Empress Anna, and how the Empress had selected her to be taken from her mother and put into a rigorous dance school, where she was made to work for hours upon hours. When a missionary from Free Country had promised her that her dreams would come true there, she had jumped at the chance. However, when she saw how well the shimmers danced, she realized this wasn't true, and began to miss her mother.
Tim finds Marya waiting outside, and she explains what Free Country is, and why they need him and his powers. Despite some reluctance, he recognizes that this world is a dark place, and decides to help. She draws up the hopscotch board with her chalk, and instructs him on how to cross it. However, once he's in Free Country, she erases the chalk lines making up the hopscotch board, and decides to remain in this world where she has seen people really dancing.
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