Prologue. 3 strange things with apparently no connection happened together. They were (1) Mae Tuck travelled by horse to Treegap to visit her sons, Miles and Jesse; (2) Winnie Foster (whose family owned Treegap), decided to run away; (3) A stranger appeared at Foster’s home. One of the themes of the book might be ‘Every choice we make has a reward and a cost.’ If you re-read a book at different phases of your life, it can contain a different meaning. This book will continue to intrigue readers way into the future.
All wheels must have a hub. A Ferris Wheel has one, as the sun is the hub of the wheeling calendar. Fixed points they are, and best left undisturbed, for without them, nothing holds together. But sometimes people find this out too late. – Natalie Babbitt
Treegap contained cottages, houses, roads and woods. The first house before Treegap was extremely quiet. The woods actually belonged to the Fosters and no one except them would cross it. Winnie was a kid who was interested in the forest but had never visited it before. She was part of the Fosters’ family.
Mae and Tuck were happily married. Tuck dreamt that he was in heaven and that he had never heard of Treegap. Mae admitted that she wanted to take the horse to meet their sons. It was 10 years since she last visited Treegap. Tuck was lazy and continued sleeping, not wanting to go. Whenever she went, Mae would carry her precious music box with her. Mae, her husband, and her two boys (Miles and Jesse) looked the same since 87 years ago.
Winnie started talking to a toad near the fence. The weather was sweltering and extremely warm. Later her grandmother appeared. She vowed to escape as she couldn’t stand the incessant attention and nagging from her mum and grandma. The toad hopped away when Winnie tried to talk to it.
Why should you have to be cooped up in a cage, too? It’d be better if I could be like you, out in the open and making up my mind. Do you know they’ve hardly ever let me out of this yard all by myself? – Winnie Foster
A stranger in a yellow suit came to the Foster’s gate. He had a tall and slim built. He started talking to Winnie and asking about her family. The man admitted that he was here because he was looking for a family. Later, he wanted to speak to Winnie’s dad. The man didn’t reveal who he was looking for. Later on, they heard the elf music. No one had heard them in a long while. The man in the yellow suit started humming the tune and he skipped away happily.
It was one thing to talk about being by yourself, doing important things, but quite another when the opportunity arose. – Natalie Babbitt
Winnie was not afraid to go out alone. She had belief now and she wanted to exit the woods. The woods felt alive and Winnie enjoyed walking in them. Then, she met the toad again. Suddenly, she came upon a boy who was sitting down beside a tree. He started drinking water from the ground. Winnie explained to him that the woods belonged to the Fosters. The boy was Jesse Tuck. He was a 104 years old but looked like a 17 year old. Winnie was only 10 years old. She wanted to drink the water but was advised not to do so by Jesse. Just then, Mae Tuck and Miles Tuck appeared. They saw Jesse and Winnie.
Winnie next found herself on a horse and being kidnapped by the Tucks. They would explain why they were taking her away. While on the road, they found the man in the yellow suit. Winnie did not do anything to signal for his attention. Now, the Tucks stopped and Winnie started to cry. Mae took out her music box and started to wind it. With the music playing, Winnie stopped crying. It was the same music she heard the night before. The fact was that the music didn’t come from elves. Jesse admitted to Winnie that the Tucks needed her help.
87 years ago, the Tucks came to this forest. Everyone took a drink from the tree. Everyone except their cat took a drink. Later they found a shack and decided to stay there. One day, Jesse was climbing a tree. However, he accidentally fell and hit his head. Miraculously, he survived unscathed. After a passage of time, they realized that they couldn’t grow old anymore. Everyone concluded that there was magical powers with the spring water. Bullets wouldn’t even leave a mark when it hit someone. Tuck tried to shoot himself but he wouldn’t die. Nobody knew how it works or why the water possessed such magical powers. Dad thought it was a leftover from some previous plan the world had. Being an immortal didn’t seem such a good idea after all.
Winnie wasn’t a fan of fairy tales. Jesse seemed to enjoy immortality. Apparently, only Winnie knew about this secret. Although the Tucks kidnapped her, Winnie didn’t feel all that bad. The plan was for Winnie to see her parents tomorrow. However, she was not allowed to let out the secret. No one noticed this, but the man with the yellow suit overheard everything and was following them now.
Winnie was carried by Miles and they came to their own hut, where Tuck was around. Winnie and Tuck finally got to meet. To Tuck, this was his happiest moment in 87 years.
Winnie was well disciplined as she was brought up under constant supervision at home. Later, she explored the Tuck’s family house. Mae and Tuck made stuff to sell and their works were all lying around the house. Winnie was charmed by their lifestyle. They had to take on many jobs in order to kill boredom. Once in a while, the Tucks would find a new house to live in. Mae lamented that they didn’t have many friends. Every 10 years, Winnie would visit the boys at the spring.
Life’s got to be lived, no matter how long or short. You got to take what comes. – Mae Tuck
We’re plain as salt, us Tucks. We don’t deserve no blessings – if it is a blessing. And, likewise, I don’t see how we deserve to be cursed, if it’s a curse. Still – there is no use trying to figure why things (immortality) fall the way they do. Things just are, and fussing don’t bring changes. – Mae Tuck
The family feasted along with Winnie. No one was allowed to talk while eating in the family. Chewing was a personal act. Later, Tuck took Winnie out on a rowboat. Tuck seemed suspicious. Winnie admitted that there was a man in the yellow suit which might be following them.
Winnie started rowing. Tuck explained that the water was always moving. Tuck taught Winnie to appreciate nature. Tuck explained that everything was like a wheel, every human life. Angus Tuck lamented that their wheel was stuck due to immortality. They could not welcome the new. Tuck was trying hard so that Winnie could understand. He actually wanted to die so that he could move on, but he couldn’t. Later on that night, their horse was stolen.
The sun sucks up some of the water right out of the ocean and carries it back in clouds, and then it rains, and the rain falls into the stream, and the stream keeps moving on, taking it all back again. It’s a wheel…People are too. But never the same ones. Always coming in new, always growing and changing, and always moving on. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. – Angus Tuck
Dying is part of the wheel, right there next to being born. You can’t pick out the pieces you like and leave the rest. Being part of the whole thing, that’s the blessing…You can’t call living without dying. – Angus Tuck
Later, the man in the yellow suit headed to the Fosters home to reveal where Winnie was taken.
Tuck had a bad feeling about the missing horse. Winnie didn’t sleep well that night. She thought that immorality was rubbish. Mae suddenly came to talk to Winnie. She mentioned that she wished Winnie was one of theirs. Later, Jesse came into her room and talked about drinking from the stream together and then getting married.
The man in the yellow suit recounted his story to the Fosters. Now, he wanted the wood from the Fosters house. In return, he would reveal the location of the child. Then, the Fosters agreed to the deal.
The man in the yellow suit took the Constable to search the woods for Winnie. The man in the yellow suit didn’t reveal what he wanted the woods for. With the constable on a horse, he could travel much greater distances.
Miles shouted and saw Winnie. They went fishing together now. Miles was certainly a skilful rower. Miles was thick and muscular whereas Jesse was like water and more skinny. Although he had a wife, he didn’t want her to drink the magic stream water. It just felt weird. Dad also discouraged us from telling others about the magic spring water. Winnie thought being immortal was great. However, Miles was quick to point out that the world might become overcrowded. Once in a while, Miles would do something important. Miles admitted that he hadn’t discovered what he should do. Miles caught a fish. However, Winnie wanted him to release it. Miles finally released the fish upon Winnie’s request.
It’s no good just thinking of your own pleasure. People got to do something useful if they’re going to take up space in this world. – Miles Tuck
It was time for family dinner. The family and Winnie were enjoying themselves. Winnie didn’t think they were kidnappers now and started to love them. Later, someone knocked on their door. It was the man in the yellow suit. He wanted to enter the house.
His face seemed unpleasant. He came into the house to sit and introduce himself and wanted to take Winnie home. He was fascinated by his grandma’s stories. In his younger days, he studied science in order to find out how humans became immortal. However, it was of no help to him. One day, he bought his grandmother a music box. It was similar to one that Mae currently owned. The tune haunted him for 20 years. The man made his intentions clear. He wanted to sell the water for money. The plan was to only sell it to those who deserve and could afford it. The man was demanding and now wanted the Tucks to show him where the spring was. Since the Tucks refused to give up the spring, the man seized Winnie. As he was leaving, he encountered Mae outside. She was holding a shotgun. Winnie tried to stop Mae from shooting him. Unfortunately Mae did fire. The man in the yellow suit was very ill and injured. The Treegap constable arrived on the scene.
Winnie admitted to the constable that she wasn’t kidnapped but came to their house at her own accord. Tuck seemed a little shaken by the death. Mae was brought for furthering questioning by the police constable. The constable warned that if the man died, one of the family members would be charged. The plan was to avoid the gallows at all cost. Because even if Mae was admitted to the gallows, she would not be able to die. This would be bad as the Tucks didn’t want mankind to know about immortality.
The constable brought Winnie back to her real family. Her family could sense that she now acted a little differently from before. Winnie felt difficult and torn because she liked both the Tucks and her real family. It turned out that the man in the yellow suit died. Killing someone is punishable by hanging. Winnie tried to think of a desperate plan so that Mae would not be sent to the gallows.
It was an extremely warm day. Winnie spotted the same toad outside and asked her grandma for water as she wanted to feed it. Just when she was about to feed him water, he disappeared. It was unbearably hot. Winnie thought hard about how she could set Mae free. Miles had a plan which was to saw through the window frame of Mae’s cell in the middle of the night when the constable weren’t looking. Jesse quietly also handed Winnie a bottle of the magic spring water and wanted to drink it when she turned 17. That way, Jesse and I would have immortality and be forever ‘17’. Winnie suggested that she could disguise as Mae for a short period so as to give her more time to escape. Jesse was gone now. This would be the night where they tried to free Mae.
The sun was blazing. Winnie hid the bottle of magic spring water. Everyone in her house headed to bed early. It had been a difficult week but it was nearly over. As she would replace Mae, the constable would find her the next morning and she had to explain again why she was there. Winnie felt that it was her duty to help the Tucks because she loved them. After much waiting, it was finally only 5 minutes to midnight.
Winnie had no difficulty leaving her house at all. Her body felt weightless and free. The streets were utterly quiet. Winnie finally met Jesse and Miles and Tuck and they headed to the jailhouse. The storm was coming nearer. Miles lubricated the nails of the cell with oil in order to remove them. They could near the constable yawning. After removing the nails, Miles tugged at the window but it did not budge. Miles yanked it again and it finally gave way. Mae was now trying to climb out of the window. Finally she was freed. Everyone was delighted by this. Now, Winnie was being placed in the cell. There was a heavy thunderstorm outside now. Would Miles fit the frames back? Then, the Tucks were gone
It was 2 weeks since Mae’s escape and there was no trace of the Tucks had all. The gallows had been blown over by the wind. The moment the constable found her, he was mad with rage. As she was too young to be punished, she was released. Winnie was an ‘accomplice’ in the act of allowing Mae to escape. However, she sacrificed so much because she loved the Tucks. The news spread and many children respected what Winnie did. Once, a dog tried to attack the toad. However, Winnie was kind enough and rescued the toad from harm. Now, she brought it home and poured the magic water into the toad’s mouth. The toad would now be safe forever.
Fast forward to year 1950. The Tucks were now travelling through Treegap and were exploring the place. Much had been changed now. They stopped over at a diners. The woods had completely disappeared. One of the waiters recounted that the electrical storm caused a fire and everything was bulldozed to the ground. Even the fresh water spring was gone. They later came upon a cemetery and walked around to explore. One of the tombs read ‘In Loving Memory: Winifred Foster Jackson’. She had passed away for 2 years already. She had lived a fairly long life. ‘Good girl’, Tuck proclaimed as he wept. Then they caught a glimpse of a toad being run over by a truck. It didn’t die and they knew he would live forever. The tinkling little melody of music continued to be heard.