Kepper arrived back at Wappie’s house, staggering in disbelief, yet clutching the evidence of his strange encounter in his hand; the scarlet feather.
Wappie had not returned home and the sun was ending its watch over Pinto Capitan. Lights went on in several houses in the village, but Wappie’s and Kepper’s little wooden house remained unlit and soon became part of the deep darkness which always descended upon the community at nights.
Kepper, after securing the feather, the newspaper pages, the wire and scissors, climbed into Wappie’s hammock and fell asleep waiting on him to return.
He dreamed about his scarlet red feather. It was part of a costume he was wearing, while dancing along the streets of downtown Port of Spain, with thousands of other revelling children. Their mas costumes were resplendent in the warm sunshine and the pulsating, addictive soca music moved their feet, their hands, their mouths and their spirit.
Hundreds of spectators who had lined the streets, waving bandanas and rags, screamed and shouted at him when they saw his feather, as he jumped and pranced in front of them.
Wappie came home to find Kepper smiling clumsily in his sleep in the hammock. As he walked upstairs, he spotted the small pile of mas face making implements on the table, and wondered where the boy had found such a beautiful red feather.
Dawn soon came and Kepper was awoken by the sounds of many voices around him.
When he opened his eyes, he saw Wappie standing by the table, with six other children from the village with him.
“Morning, fadda, go wash yuh face before yuh come here.” Wappie said to him when he approached the group.
The other children laughed at him.
“Wuh allyuh doing here?” Kepper enquired of Nai, the eldest in the bunch.
“Uncle Wappie asked we mudda if we wanted to come make mas face and have a lil jump up by he today.” she replied. “We always wanted to take part in Carnival too, but we never had the chance.”
Excitement welled up inside Kepper’s heart. He couldn’t imagine anything better. Well, his dream was better, but in reality, it was the best that could be done.
He hurriedly washed his face and rinsed his mouth with water from a barrel under Wappie’s house.
The man had made breakfast for him also. As he stuffed down his bake and cheese, he watched as Wappie cut pieces of wire which would be used to make the frames for the mas faces.
Nai and her sisters, Melissa and Ruby, had brought make up and hair accessories to complete their costumes, David, Ryan and Juman came with bed sheets, as well as bottles, pots and pans to make a Carnival raucous.
When Wappie was finished cutting the wire, he distributed the newspaper pages for the children to cut and make the masks. They cut the paper into large egg shapes which covered their faces and then cut large holes for eyes and mouths. They then reinforced the paper with the wire pieces and glue. Wappie also gave them string to tie the masks around their heads, when they put it on their faces.
After fitting the masks, they were ready to decorate them. When Kepper brought out his scarlet red feather, the other children were in amazement.
This prompted Wappie to ask him the question which was on his mind all night.
“Where you get the nice feather from fadda? I thought you were going to take one from yuh fadder fowl. Dat doh look like no rooster feather to me.”
Kepper was not sure how to answer. “I found it in the bush behind the house.” He told Wappie.
“Well dat is the strangest bird feather I ever seen around in this bush.” Wappie replied. The other children agreed.
Kepper was unsure if he should tell them about his encounter with the strange old man, but he really needed to share his tale with someone.
“I was looking for my fadder rooster, when I heard a whistle. I followed the whistle and I found an old man in the bush. He had this red feather in his hand, along with others. He told me I could have any one I wanted, so I chose this one. He said it was a Scarlet Ibis feather and he found it in some swamp, whatever that is. Then he disappeared.”
Everyone listening to his story was left silent. Wappie scratched his head and held up the feather. “From a Scarlet Ibis?”
“The Scarlet Ibis is the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago.” said Nai.
The other children nodded in agreement.
“The old man said the feather is special.” Kepper said. “I not sure what that means though.”
He took the feather and stuck it onto his mas face. The other children, who were also finished with their mas faces were ready to put them on.
Wappie ran upstairs and brought down a small radio, which he plugged on and turned the dial to one of the popular soca stations. The children then put on their masks, brimming with excitement. When Kepper put on his mask, something truly miraculous happened.
There was a bright flash of light, and he suddenly found himself wearing a costume designed to look like a Scarlet Ibis. He had bright red plumage all over his body and a slender long black beak. He flapped his arms like wings and the feathers opened out in a great span. He looked around at the other children. They too were dressed in complete Carnival costumes, designed after various animals found on the islands.
Nai’s costume looked like an emerald green Hummingbird. Melissa and Ruby were dressed as yellow and back Kiskadees. David’s costume was that of a neon green Iguana with a long swishing tail and long claws. Ryan’s costume was that of a large golden fish with a huge tail and bright blue eyes, while Juman’s costume was made out of a black, brown and striped furry material, making her look like an ocelot.
Wappie stood holding his head in amazement, as the children were transformed into Kings and Queens of Carnival in their perfected costumes. He had no explanation for the sight before his eyes, as they jumped and pranced to the infectious soca music being played on the radio.
Kepper was in all his glee at the occurence. The children ran after each other, laughing and parading in their costumes. The thought briefly crossed Kepper’s mind that the scarlet red feather had anything to do with what had happened to them, but he was too filled with joy to care. The commotion brought the other villagers out to see what the children were doing and they too were lost for words over the unfolding spectacle.
They joined them in the revelry. Young and old came out on that Carnival Saturday morning to enjoy the mood and atmosphere. Carnival had come to Pinto Capitan. The children could not get enough of their happiness. Other children also joined them in their home made costumes and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves all weekend long.
When Carnival Tuesday night arrived, the children begrudgingly took off their costumes and went home. They would be heading back to school on Wednesday morning. What a story they would have to tell to the other children in the school!
Kepper walked back to his litte shack alone that night. His father had still not returned home, but he didn’t care. He had gotten his wish and more than he had hoped for. He carefully plucked the scarlet feather out of his mas face and placed it inside a book for safekeeping. He then took a bath and went to bed, where he dreamed he and the other children were playing in their costumes in the forest, while the strange old man looked on laughing and smiling at their contentment.
The next day at school, Kepper laughed the most in his life. The Goodman boys who had returned home late on Tuesday night, did not have great tales of their Carnival experience to share with their friends. Their aunt Betsy, had served potato salad to her visiting family members on Friday night and everyone fell ill with food poisoning. They spent the entire Carnival weekend in bed, watching the Greatest Show on Earth on the television, while the real action passed along the road right in front their aunt’s house.