"So let me get this straight...even after the 'ghost' has been revealed to be a human inside a metal suit, there's still another actual ghost that he says has been haunting the place?" Empath asked.
"That is a very curious turnout of events, given how the Smurfs have gone through all the trouble of unmasking the first 'ghost'," Polaris commented.
"I wasn't sure of what to believe, Empath," Smurfette said. "I was just so concerned with being so hungry that I wasn't focused on thinking about this other 'ghost', which turned out to also not be a ghost."
"This smurf understands how you were feeling at the time, Smurfette," Empath said. "Being hungry for a long period of time isn't something that this smurf can readily tolerate, even having gone through such training as a Psyche to endure periods of no nourishment."
"But it has nonetheless served us well, Empath, as this one is certain our fellow Tapper can attest to for his private worship sessions with his Almighty," Polaris said.
"So Lord Poppery has invited you all for a meal in his kitchen, even if he didn't have much to serve you," Empath said. "Let's hear what else has happened from there."
And as Smurfette continued to tell her story, Empath and Polaris saw the Smurfs were sitting around a big table, having books and cushions and various things placed on their seats to give them a boost, and were each given a tiny tea cup saucer for a plate. Most of them seemed very eager for the meal to start, though Smurfette noticed that Tapper was in quiet prayer with his eyes closed.
"What's Tapper doing right now, Duncan?" Smurfette asked, speaking low so that Tapper would not hear.
"That's just the laddie smurfing his prayers to that Almighty of his, lassie," Duncan replied, also speaking low. "He's always smurfing that to make sure that the food is blessed before he eats it, no matter what kind of food it is."
"You mean the Smurfs don't pray when they smurf their food?" Smurfette asked.
"The only thing we pray for, Smurfette, is that the food is smurfy enough to eat, and not to some deity that only exists because Tapper smurfs that He does," Duncan said.
"I'm beginning to think it's very noble of Tapper to be praying for his meal, Duncan," Smurfette said. "After what we had smurfed through, we're very fortunate to be smurfing a meal at all from anybody."
"If that's what you want, lassie, I'm not going to stop you from smurfing that," Duncan said.
Then Lord Poppery entered with a silver platter covered with a domed lid. "Here it is, my fellow Smurfs," he announced. "It's not much, but it should be enough to feed every one of you."
"We are very thankful that you could offer us anything to eat, Lord Poppery," Papa Smurf said.
Then Lord Poppery removed the lid, and the Smurfs saw that it was a single human-sized slice of bread. "That's it for our meal?!?" Greedy said in utter shock.
"I hate just smurfing a single slice of bread for a meal," Grouchy said. And the other Smurfs also seemed to share the same opinion.
"Now, now, my little Smurfs, this isn't how we should treat our host if this is all he has left to serve us," Papa Smurf said.
"I'm sure that a single slice of bread will be sufficient for smurfing our stomachs, Lord Poppery, though I am concerned about your hunger," Tapper said.
"Oh, don't worry about me...this is something that I've been used to for quite a while," Lord Poppery said as he sharpened up his knife for cutting the bread into tiny slices. "Every bit of food in this place has been slowly disappearing."
But just before Lord Poppery could begin slicing the bread, a rat crawled up onto the table and grabbed the slice, quickly running off with it.
"Hey, that's our food!" Greedy shouted.
"Let's go get him!" Hefty said, as he and several other Smurfs got up from their seats to chase after the rat.
"You dirty rat! Smurf back here with our bread!" Nabby yelled as he joined the chase throughout the castle.
The rat slipped through a crack in the wall with the slice of bread, which the Smurfs followed him through, only to find themselves falling when they couldn't make the sudden turn that the rat did to escape his pursuers. They landed on a big pile of glittery metal that broke their fall.
"Is every Smurf all right?" Papa Smurf asked those who were chasing after the rat.
"I think so, Papa Smurf, though I don't have any idea where we are right now," Brainy said.
"Great Smurfiny Crickets, Papa Smurf, look around us," Tapper said, noticing the glittery metal they had fallen upon.
The Smurfs looked, and sure enough, they found that where they landed in was a room-sized mountain of gold, jewels, and treasure...enough to help Lord Poppery restore his pantry for a good long while.
"Amazing...simply amazing," Papa Smurf exclaimed as he looked at all the treasure he and his Smurfs have found. "We must let Lord Poppery know about what's happened to his wealth at once."
As soon as the Smurfs brought word to Lord Poppery about his treasure, he was so overjoyed that he allowed the Smurfs to stay in his castle for several days while he used part of the treasure to restock his pantry and also to buy enough food that would help the Smurfs out for the winter. In the meantime, In the meantime, Hefty, Tuffy, and Duncan found a sled in the castle that Lord Poppery said they could use to load up on the amount of food they could carry with them on their return trip.
During their stay, a group of Smurfs decided to help clean up the place and decorate it for the holidays. Timber and another group of Smurfs brought an evergreen tree from the forest, and some others put the ornaments on the tree to make it look festive. Lord Poppery felt pleased and happy that the Smurfs would go out of their way to make his castle look like it did years ago. And Smurfette felt happy that she could at least give somebody else a merry Christmas.
Then Lord Poppery decided to ask Chatty and Nosey a question. "What is that strange scent that I have been smelling in my castle lately?" he asked.
"It must be the smurfnip that we brought here, Mr. Poppery," Chatty said. "It's an herb that we smurf to make ourselves feel a little relaxed."
"We could offer you some, but you see, your smokes are only about the size of a grain of rice for you," Nosey said.
"Oh, no thank you, I'm not really a smoker, though I have known members of my family that did in my younger years," Lord Poppery said. "I just find the scent rather curiously pleasing, that's all. Do all the Smurfs in the village smoke that particular herb?"
Chatty and Nosey laughed. "Oh no, Mr. Poppery. Papa Smurf wouldn't let us smurf this stuff anywhere near the village, but then he's a rather old Smurf," Chatty said.
"Yeah, he thinks we're better off not enjoying what Mother Nature has smurfed us," Nosey said.
"Maybe someday when the weather is warm, I would like to explore this forest that you came from and see how this smurfnip is for myself," Lord Poppery said.
"Well, if it makes you feel smurfy like us, you're more than welcome to smurf as much as you want of it," Nosey said.
"Just make sure you leave some of it for us, because, you know...," Chatty said.
Lord Poppery laughed. "This will be our little secret, I promise you."
Then when it came time to leave, since it was getting so close to Christmas, Lord Poppery gathered at the front door of his castle to see the Smurfs safely depart for their home.
"Oh, Smurfs, how can I ever thank you?" Lord Poppery said. "You found everything that the packrat ever stole. And you made my castle so beautiful again."
"We wish to thank you for your generosity, Lord Poppery," Papa Smurf said. "It is only fair that we smurfed what is rightfully yours back to you, including making your place look like it's brand new."
"Would you take some gold with you, or maybe coins or diamonds?" Lord Poppery asked. "I'll never be able to spend it all."
"No thank you, Lord Poppery," Papa Smurf said. "We have no need for human treasure. Food is the only thing we need. Hopefully this should be enough to last us the whole season until spring."
"Goodbye, Lord Poppery, and have a very merry Christmas," Smurfette said, as she joined the other Smurfs as they started pulling their sled full of food toward their village.
As Lord Poppery waved goodbye to his friends, the packrat joined him by climbing up on his shoulders, chattering something that made the old man chuckle. "I hear you, little fellow," Lord Poppery said while feeding the rat a slice of cheese. "From now on, we'll share our food."
On their way home, Tapper and Duncan noticed that Smurfette looked a bit happy than she did when they had to leave their village. "May I ask what it is that you're feeling so smurfy about, my dear Smurfette?" Tapper asked.
"I just never thought that sharing a Christmas with somebody would make me feel so smurfy inside, Tapper," Smurfette said. "I only hope that we can see Mr. Poppery again in the future."
"Who knows whether we will, lassie?" Duncan said. "At least I see that you've got the Christmas spirit in you."
"I feel that this moment needs to be commemorated in song, my fellow Smurfs," Tapper said, and so the Smurfs began to sing together:
Smurfing through the snow, on a one-smurf open sleigh,
Through all the smurfs we go, smurfing all the way...ha ha ha.
Bells on smurf-tails ring, smurfing spirits bright.
What fun it is to smurf and sing this sleighing song by light.
Oh, jingle smurfs, jingle smurfs, jingle all the way.
Oh, what fun it is to smurf on a one-smurf open sleigh, hey.
Jingle smurfs, jingle smurfs, jingle all the way.
Oh, what fun it is to smurf on a one-smurf open sleigh.
All the Smurfs laughed after the song had ended. "What a wonderful feeling it is to smurf a song after all that we have smurfed through, my fellow Smurfs," Tapper said.
"Are there any more songs like that that we can sing on our way home?" Smurfette asked.
"Why, certainly, Smurfette, we have plenty more that we can all smurf," Duncan said. "Here's one that I think is really appropriate." And so they sang:
Streams of sarsaparilla ale, flowing down like rivers,
Smurfs relief from our travail, from our blessed givers.
Makes each day a holiday, smurfing up our spirits.
Smurfs comfort when we are down, when no one else will hear it.
"Really, Duncan, a drinking song for Christmas?" Tapper said, feeling a little disgusted with the idea.
"Well, it's the holidays, laddie, and if we can't smurf one holiday spirit, we might as well smurf another," Duncan said.
Papa Smurf chuckled. "Oh, the songs that my little Smurfs can think up for the holidays."
As soon as the Smurfs got home and filled up the pantry as well as some unused Smurf houses with the food that they have received from Lord Poppery, Papa Smurf had everyone gather around in the dining hall for a special dinner, even though Christmas was still just a few days away. "My little Smurfs, since we have Lord Poppery to thank for his generosity, tonight we can feast," Papa Smurf said as he and Greedy's kitchen staff brought forth all the food to put on the tables.
"Uh, excuse me, Papa Smurf," Greedy said as he got up from the table, "I'm not feeling very hungry right now."
"That smurfs for me too, Papa Smurf," Nabby said, also excusing himself from the table.
Duncan chuckled as he watched the two Smurfs head out from the dining room. "It smurfs like they must have had a few snacks on our way home, laddies," Duncan said, which made the other Smurfs laugh.
"Papa Smurf, may I smurf a blessing for the meal before we eat?" Smurfette asked.
"Why, certainly, Smurfette...I don't see why not," Papa Smurf said.
Then Smurfette stood up and prayed, "Oh, Father Time and Mother Nature, I wish to thank you for the friend that we have smurfed outside our forest, that he has helped smurf us this wonderful meal that we're about to eat, and that our new friend will smurf a very merry Christmas and a happy new year, and that he will never be alone as long as he has friends to smurf after him."
"And so let it be," the other Smurfs said together at the end of the blessing.
"That was a very beautiful sentiment that you shared with your fellow Smurfs, Smurfette," Narrator said. "You should smurf it more often when you have the chance."
"Oh, thank you, Narrator," Smurfette said. "But I'm still rather new to how everything smurfs in the village. Maybe around Christmas I can smurf another blessing for the presents."
"Oh boy, the presents," Clumsy said. "I can't wait to see what Santa Smurf will smurf me this year." The other Smurfs seemed to say the same thing that was on Clumsy's mind about Christmas presents, except for Brainy.
"Well, I for one certainly don't believe in such a childish fantasy like Santa Smurf," Brainy said. "I'm certain that there must be a very logical explanation for the sudden appearance of presents for us every Christmas."
"You can smurf your head around trying to figure it out all you want, Brainy," Duncan said. "You just better be good or else Santa Smurf will leave you an unsmurfy present this year."
Papa Smurf chuckled. "I'm sure that this Christmas we'll certainly have a lot to be thankful for, and not just the presents that Santa Smurf will smurf us this year."
"I'll smurf a toast to that," Tapper said as he and his fellow Smurfs raised their glasses full of wine before they drank together.
"And when Christmas finally came, we not only received gifts of whatever the Smurfs wanted that year, we also received a second blessing of food that smurfed us well into springtime," Smurfette said as she concluded her story.
"That was a very interesting story, Smurfette, which this one appreciates your willingness to tell," Polaris said.
"So there really wasn't a ghost at all in Lord Poppery's castle...just some rat that has been stealing food and treasure all along," Empath said.
Smurfette giggled. "I was amazed to smurf that out for myself along with the other Smurfs, but the thing I always wondered was why Lord Poppery was smurfing himself out to be a ghost in the first place."
"And no Smurf had ever thought of asking this Lord Poppery that question?" Polaris asked.
"Not a single one," Smurfette said. "I guess that's just one of the things we'll never find out from him, if he's still smurfing."
"This smurf would like to visit this Lord Poppery someday, if it's possible that he is still living after all these years, Smurfette," Empath said.
"We'll smurf him together, Empath, I promise you," Smurfette said as she leaned in toward Empath as if she wanted to kiss him at that moment. But before Empath could respond in kind to her, suddenly the whole room went dark.
"Hey, what's smurfing on? I can't see a thing!" one of the Smurfs shouted.
"I hate being smurfed in the dark like this," Grouchy said.
"Relax, my little Smurfs," Papa Smurf said. "I'm sure that it's only just the wind smurfing through the dining room. We'll have the lights smurfed back on shortly."
"Having all the lights turned off on Christmas isn't something that this one would expect to happen, Empath," Polaris said as he looked around.
"This smurf is certain that there's nothing supernatural going on that should make the lights go out like that," Empath said. "What do you think, Smurfette?"
But then Empath noticed that Smurfette was no longer sitting next to him, nor was he able to sense her being anywhere in the village.
"Great Ancestors, what do you think has happened to Smurfette?" Empath asked Polaris.
"This one is unable to give you an answer for her sudden disappearance, Empath, but this one believes that it is worth investigating," Polaris said.
"This smurf hates to think that this may end up being a haunted Christmas after all, Polaris," Empath said.
"This one would have to agree with you on that thought, Empath," Polaris said.