چهارشنبه، شهریور ۰۱، ۱۳۹۱

Hello December

Once upon a time, on Christmas Eve, in a grand, large house in Nuremberg, Germany, a girl about nine years old, wearing a fine, rich party dress of pale blue velvet, the sash about her waist dotted with gay blue sprays of flowers, stood on tiptoe at the picture window, watching the snow swirl over the path that led up to the door.

"Move aside! I want to see," complained her brother, younger then she – six years old – his plum breeches and jacket dusted with confectioners' sugar from stolen crescent cookies, as he pushed her away.

"Fritz, there's room enough for the both of us if we each take a side and not the center," said the girl, exasperated, brushing crumbs off her dress where Fritz had pushed her. Just then, the two children, fighting for a better view then the other, saw four candles bobbing up the walk in the darkening December sky, glittering with stars.

"They're here! The Clausses are here!" shouted the girl, her flaxen curls whipping over her shoulder as she turned and ran to the door. Fritz scrambled after her, his short, stumpy legs racing, but still, she beat him to it. She flung the heavy oak door with an evergreen wreath, ornamented with red bows, gold beads, and alight with tiny white candles, open; washing the visitors with welcoming, rosy light.

"Merry Christmas! Please come inside!" she said, her blue-green eyes shining like gems.

"Thank you Clara! Don't you look nice? May we go into the parlor?" said Frauline Clauss, setting her plump two-year-old, Merisha, down on the floor on her plump, sturdy legs, and removed her scarlet-red cloak. Merisha, her dark, fine curls dusted with gentle snowflakes, toddled heavily up to Clara and held up her butter-colored linen dress, dripping with pure white lace, up so high it revealed her pantaloons, the color of fresh snow, up to see.

"Yook, Cyara, yook! My dwess is pwetty! I'm a big guwl, at a pawty!" Exclaimed Merisha, mispronouncing, as she always did, her Rs and Ls.

"Oh, yes Merry-berry, you are so big! You must be a big girl, to be at such a grown-up party! Mother and Father will bring Marie out in a minute, for you to play with. Would you like that?" Clara asked, catching the eye of the oldest Clauss girl, Teresa, her best friend, who gave her a small wink and a slight smile. Merisha smiled and nodded, then stuck her index finger in her mouth, and chewed on it thoughtfully.

"Wiew Mawie have a pwetty dwess too?" She asked suspiciously.

"Well, yes, of course," answered Clara and Teresa at the same time. Teresa had come up and was standing beside Clara, the hood of her deep crimson cloak pushed back on her neck, revealing her dark, shiny hair and enormous pale turquoise bow.

"Wiew Mawie's dwess be pwettiew then mine?" asked Merisha nervously, eyeing her dress with sudden distrust. Teresa knelt and gently took her sister's finger out of her mouth and held her hands.

"Merry-berry, do you know what?" she asked, her eyes on Merisha's. Merisha shook her head. "Your dress is very pretty, and nothing will change that. Even if Marie's dress is pink, yours will still be very pretty." Teresa stood up again and Merisha smiled. Meanwhile, Fritz and Teresa's younger brother, Johann, had paired up and were running and whooping, up and down the hallways of the foyer.

"Johann kept sneaking taffies and got his suit all sticky," whispered Teresa to Clara as she removed her cloak and handed it to Apia, the maid. Teresa's dress was a pale turquoise; with a smocked bust and edelweiss patterned white lace edging the bottom, square cut neck, and balloon sleeves. Johann was wearing a little sailor suit, the color of the evergreen trees that guarded the house on both sides of the front walk, the trimmings as red as the winter berries the birds ate off the bushes.

Then, countless more numbers of guests arrived-- the Rievangentds, all dresses in white like a flock of angels, the Gustavs, who had a tiny baby, in a long white lace gown and cap, whom everyone admired, the Jaques, immigrants from France several years ago, who were always right in with the fashions and the daughter, Clarice, had lovely auburn hair, which Clara envied. Then, at the door stood a frightening old man, his gray hair frizzy and wild, a black silk patch over one eye, the other eye gray and hard as steel.

He wore a long, black cape and a black suit with a red tie. He leaned heavily on a black onyx cane with a tarnished silver owl head at the top. Behind him stood a boy, Clara's age, with well-combed wavy black hair and eyes that seemed sapphires implanted in his face. He carried gifts of all sizes, wrapped in gay, shining papers and with ribbons more enormous then Teresa's hair bow.

Promptly Merisha, Marie, and all the other small children began to whimper at the man's odd and slightly mangled appearance. The boys brandished toy swords and cap guns, ready to attack the enemy. The older girls all gasped and threw their arms around each other in fright. But Clara ran up to the old man and threw her arms around his neck.

"Godfather Drosselmeyer!" she cried in delight.

"Clara, you look marvelous!" he said, twirling her around in the air.

Clara's eyes drifted away from her loving Godfather's face to the boy. She smiled shyly, then looked away and blushed.

"Clara, this is my new assistant, Michel," said Herr Drosselmeyer as he gestured toward the boy.

"What happened to Pyotr?"


"Yes. He was your assistant last year. The one who replaced Freindle."

"Oh, oh, yes. Pyotr," he made a sound of disgust, "Pyotr told many of the village boys and girls I was a wizard, and they kept bringing me sisters, brothers, enemies, all wanting me to turn them to toads. Or rats. Snakes, lizards, pigs."

"Oh." Clara was a little surprised that anyone would think that her dear, dear Herr Drosselmeyer was an evil wizard. Just then, Apia and her other maids Heidi, Jenica, and Florentine opened the white doors to the parlor and the women, on the arms of the men, walked inside, their full skirts brushing the doorframe.

Then, the children rushed in the door and then stopped abruptly in awe of the giant Christmas tree. The huge evergreen, full and fat, fragrant and proud, stood towering almost to the ceiling. It glittered with tiny blown glass animals, golden beads, silver stars, small white birds made of feathers dipped in glue, reflecting in the light made by hundreds, it seemed, of tiny white candles in golden lace-paper holders. Under the tree, presents wrapped in shining foils, colored papers, and large, glistening ribbons were piled high.

On the long, well-polished cherry wood buffet table next to the redbrick fireplace, large roast chickens, surrounded by bread stuffing, potatoes, celery and herbs were next to fragrant hams, shining with glaze and filled with soft, hot apples. All around them sat quivering jellies, green, red, and white, and bowls filled to bursting with roasted and parmentier potatoes, thick, creamy soups, dotted with herbs. There were oblong dishes full of green beans with butter or asparagus hollandaise. There were soft white rolls, slices of hard dark brown bread, and bread made from rice.

There was a large wreath of fragrant evergreen bough over the fireplace mantle, under which a warm and welcoming fire burned, fed with colorful wax-dipped pine cones which Clara and Teresa had made one crisp afternoon in October, when they were just starting to run out of last year's. On the mantle stood small elf statues, made of porcelain and china, painted with the colors of cardinal, grass, poppies, lemon drops, sugarplums, and the ocean. There was a small rented orchestra, from which floated sweet strains of gay Christmas music. Clarice, her auburn hair combed until it shone like ice, wearing an ivy colored velvet dress with balloon sleeves and red lace edging the neck, sleeves, and hem, was looking at the shining silver flutes, deep-polished violin, viola, and cello.

Clara listened blissfully to the clarinet and oboe's pungent strains. The adults were whirling gaily in a waltz, the women's skirts swirling and the scent of sweet perfumes filling the air as they passed. Frauline Silberhaus (Clara's mother), was greeting her guests as graciously as one could hope, even though Marie, in a pale lavender linen dress with a smocked bodice, was pulling at her skirt. Clara, Teresa, Clarice, Floria Rievangentd and Opal Gustav, watched their mothers swirl and dip on the arms of their fathers. They also had a small quarrel, over whose mother was the finest. Frauline Silberhaus, in a bright lilac velvet dress with leg o' mutton sleeves and a high neck, all studded with seed pearls, was indeed beautiful. Like a sugar plum, Clara thought, as her parents whirled past and the scent of her mother's perfume, Lily of the Valley, lingered behind to tickle her nose.

Then, the cook, Lies, and Apia, the maid, called to everyone that they could sit at the long, shining table covered with a snowy lace tablecloth. The children all sat at one end of the table, the adults at the other. Clara was sandwiched between Michel and Teresa. As she ate her chicken and potatoes, ham and apples, and white roll spread thickly with sweet, creamy butter, she couldn't help but glance over at Michel once in a while. Teresa noticed this and bit her lip to keep from giggling, but kicked Clara's ankle gently under the table. As she sipped her creamy rice soup, with bits of potato, beef, and small slivers of beans, she glanced once again and caught his eye. She blushed and didn't look over again. Teresa's giggling didn't make her feel any better.

Clara was absolutely stuffed, but even so, she managed to eat a slice of creamy apple chiffon pie, with a swirl of sweet whipped cream, and vanilla ice cream.

After supper, the adults all sat and talked of the news of the town, and the children played a game of Needle-in-a-Haystack. Then, seeing that the children were restless and the adults were quieted, Herr Drosselmeyer gestured to Michel and nodded. Michell left the room into the hall, and pulling it by a rope, brought in an enormous present, wrapped in lilac and blush colored foil, with a blush bow at the top. The children all rushed towards the box, and the adults leaned forward in their seats.

"Children! Sit in a circle around the box. Let the littlest ones up front, so they can see. That's much better...tallest to the back. Good!" Herr Drosselmeyer instructed. Once the arrangement pleased him, he untied the hug ribbon and the walls of the box collapsed and disappeared, revealing three life-sized dolls. One, a ballerina, standing on her toes. The second, a soldier, sword in hand. Last, a mouse, with a crown on it's head and a regal robe on his shoulders.

The ballerina had red-gold hair in sausage curled pigtails, tied with very large white bows, printed with Christmas trees and cardinals. She had very pale, creamy white skin with red circles painted on her cheeks. She had lifelike blue eyes, which looked almost as though they could laugh and cry like the childrens' own. She was wearing a stiff skirt made of white net tulle with white, green, and red satin drapes. Her bodice was white satin and closely enveloped her stiff body. She wore green stockings and red satin shoes with ribbons around her ankles, and she stood on the tips of her toes. Her pale, stiff arms were parallel to the ground, with her elbows bent so her hands faced towards the sky.

The soldier had painted cheeks like the ballerina's, but he wore a bright red and blue soldier's uniform with silver medals and trimmings. He stood at attention, with sword in hand. The mouse was covered in gray plush, and had a regal golden crown on his head and purple-blue gold trimmed robe over is shoulders, clasped at the front with a ruby brooch.

When Herr Drosselmeyer clapped his hands, the ballerina sprung to life. She danced backward, moving her legs up and down, touching her toes to her knee, while alternating legs. She did quick, perfect turns, and high, quiet jumps. Then, she landed from a perfect jump with ten leg-beats, and stood in quiet, serene stillness. Drosselmeyer clapped again, and the soldier began to march. Then he went into perfect, high militarious jumps and turns, intertwined with military marches and salutes. Then, the mouse began to dance.

He moved fluidly and silently, in a way that sent shivers up and down Clara's spine. Then, they fell silent, and the children stood up and screamed cheers until they were hoarse.

All the children, that is, except Fritz. He sat there, on the floor, and frowned. He thought the dolls were dumb, especially the soldier. That wasn't how REAL soldiers marched and fought. He stood up and whispered something to Johann, who nodded and whispered something to Pierre (Clarice's younger brother), who whispered something to Tomas Gustav, who whispered it to Sebastien Rievangentd. Then, they all sat down and, stony faced began to complain and boo and hiss the dolls. Then, Fritz stood up and said, "That thing," he pointed disgustedly to the soldier doll, "is a disgrace to all of Germany's army. And every other countries' too. We," he gestured towards his friends, "will now show you how real soldiers march and fight."

All the boys stood up, pulled out their dull silver swords and cap guns, and began to march in a straight formation, led by General Fritz Silberhaus. Then, they stopped, turned to face the dolls, and at Fritz's call of "CHARGE!," they lunged at the dolls, poking with their sword and shooting their cap guns. The girls screamed and cried and threw themselves over the dolls, being constantly poked by dull metal and hit by the corks of cap guns.

Then, Drosselmeyer, eyes practically on fire, swooped down in front of the boys and shooed them away. The ladies rushed to the aid of their sobbing daughters and, in a cloud of perfume, pulled them up. None of them were really badly hurt, Teresa had a darkening bruise on her upper left cheekbone where Johann had smacked her with the barrel of his cap gun, Clarice had a small red mark on her neck where she had been shot with a cap gun, and Clara had a long, shallow cut on her face where Fritz had cut her with his sword. Floria and Opal had long, wide bruises on their legs where their brothers had kicked them. All of the girls had rumpled dresses and tangled hair, and they all fell against heir mothers, sobbing. The boys were being scolded by their fathers and were sent out to the hall, with Apia to watch them, for ten minutes. The girls calmed down and were sitting playing with their dolls, some floppy rag dolls, some expensive china dolls, imported from places like Austria, America, or the Oriental Empire.

Clara's doll was a china doll with a stuffed cloth body, pale white skin, shiny, curled brown hair tied with a violet silk ribbon, and wearing a violet silk dress, white apron, white stockings, and violet ankle-boots. Her name was Meg March, and she was from America, a character in a story called Little Women. Then, Clara's doll brushed the cut on her face, and Clara cried out, softly and sharply, in pain. Herr Drosselmeyer, doctor as he was, reached into his bag and put a slimy balm on her cut. It stung and burned for a moment, then her pain subsided, her cheek numb.

Then, just as the boys were being allowed back in, Herr Drosselmeyer handed Clara a package wrapped in bright, shining blue paper, with a yellow ribbon. She eagerly untied the ribbon and threw the lid off the box, then flung the sheets of thin, translucent tissue paper away from the gift inside. Then, she pulled out a strange wooden doll, with a very large wooden jaw. He had a painted soldier's outfit with silver and gold painted metallic medals. His arms moved up and down from the shoulders, his legs bent at the knees so he could march. It's a nutcracker! Thought Clara with delight. She had seen the cheerful, smiling dolls in the frosted window of Schuelebenn's Confectionery every year around this time, starting around Saturnalia and taken out around the New Year, and she had always wanted one. She had never asked, but Herr Drosselmeyer knew everything, even the unspoken. She hugged the Nutcracker, and danced around the festive, fanciful hall, showing him to all the guests.

"Oh, Godfather Drosselmeyer, thank you!" she cried, holding the nutcracker out to one side as she threw herself at her godfather, so as not to crush the nutcracker (or hurt her godfather, who was quite elderly). But, as she did, her grip loosened, and Fritz lunged. He grabbed the nutcracker, and holding it high over his head, began to spin violently, so the nutcracker flew out of his hands, purposely mind you, and smashed against the hard wood floor with a nauseating crunch. Clara shrieked and sprinted towards her injured soldier, and as Fritz was about to jump on his head, she shoved him out of the way and fell to her knees, sobbing. She scooped up her beloved nutcracker, the right side of his jaw completely cracked off. Teresa, Clarice, Floria, and Opal ran to Clara and collapsed around her, crooning sympathetic words and offering her their small, lean purses with only a few marks each to her so she could buy a new one. But Clara was inconsolable, sobbing and shaking, her eyes buried in the nutcracker's soft fuzzy "hair".

Michel and Drosselmeyer ran to Clara and shooed the girls away. Michel pulled a clean, white handkerchief out of the pocket of his navy blue velvet suit-coat, and handed it to Drosselmeyer, who bandaged the Nutcracker's jaw.

"I'll fix it in the morning Clara. You won't be able to tell he was ever injured," Drosselmeyer said, glancing out of the corner of his eye to see Fritz being pulled out of the room by his ear. Michel, who had disappeared, returned pushing a doll's bed, brass, with curlicues and carved stars, and the soft, cushiony mattress covered by a lace coverlet, into the room. He stopped beside Clara and gently took the nutcracker away. She held firm for a moment; she was not going to let any boy touch him ever again! - Then, reluctantly, she let Michel take him and lay him in the bed, covered by the lacy doily. Then, Drosselmeyer helped Clara up; she was a little weak from crying, and said-

"Never mind the Nutcracker. He is a soldier, of course, and will be fine. Have a good time, the party will be over soon and I don't want you to have a ruined Christmas night!" he looked at the orchestra and said, "Jingle Bells." And the orchestra began to play. The children, two by two, began to promenade. Although all the girls wished it, Clara was chosen by Michel, and they led the small troupe of dancer around and around the hall, laughing. Teresa, who was dancing with Sebastien, winked at Clara and laughed and Clara stuck out her tongue at her best friend. Teresa looked hurt for a moment, then began to laugh. Although no one else knew why they were laughing, they began to laugh to, and the peals of laughter soon overpowered the music. Madame Jaques, who was wearing a blush-rose velvet dress with an ivory brocade shawl, looked at Michel and Clara, and turned to Frauline Silberhaus.

"I think your daughter is a little in love," she said, in her heavily accented, but musical and fluid German.

Frauline Silberhaus looked at Madame Jaques and said, "No, that's absurd," and she laughed, but the laugh was tense, because when she looked into Clara's eyes, she knew it was so. The large Grandfather clock, a gift from Drosselmeyer after an expedition to Scotland, chimed ten, and the party was over.

The Gustavs were first to leave, the baby, Angelinne, had to be put to bed. And as Opal donned her periwinkle cape, trimmed with pure white polar bear fur and embroidered with silver snowflakes, and her white gloves, which were a present from Clara she had received tonight, looked at Clara, standing guard over the tiny doll's bed with Michel at her side, and shook her head. She didn't understand that girl. The Rievangentds left soon afterward, and Floria, who was green with envy because she had not been chosen by Michel, did not even look again at Clara, as she tied the hood of her red cloak over her black curls and pale orange dress.

The Jaques left a few minutes later, after Clarice had kissed Clara's cheek and told her what a nice party it was, and, as they walked out the door, Madame Jaques gave Frauline Silberhause an "I told you so" look. The Clausses left last, and as Teresa walked past Clara, she whispered "Luck is with you tonight!" in her ear softly, and Clara felt her ears darken scarlet. Drosselmeyer had already packed the dolls into his shiny black Renault automobile, and called to Michel. Michel turned to Clara and softly said, "It was a lovely party," then he shook her hand. Clara found she could not let go, it was as if one of Drosselmeyer's "hand in the cookie jar" spells had been placed on her. She looked square into Michel's eyes and heard her mother, somewhere distant, far away, calling "Clara, Clara! It's time for bed! You must let them go, it is hard and dangerous to drive at night!" and she thought maybe she heard Drosselmeyer calling Michel, but she wasn't sure, she was far away, in a cloud, not in Germany, not on Earth, but somewhere far, far away, flying farther and farther away. Her mother came towards her and placed a hand on her shoulder, and was gently pulling her away, back to Earth. Drosselmeyer was doing the same to Michel, but the children refused to release hands. But Drosselmeyer pried their fingers apart and pulled Michel away, towards the door.

Later, as Clara was undressing and putting her nightgown on, she kept thinking about her nutcracker, alone and unprotected, downstairs in the dark. As she untied her sash, she saw Fritz grab the doll. She slipped the dress over her head and saw the nutcracker fly through the air. She stepped out of her stockings and saw it smash.... and smash….and smash again. She threw her nightgown over her head and, a blur of white lace, flew down the stairs wearing nothing but her nightgown and dressing shoes. She ran down the stairs for a long time, it seemed to her, forever. She ran down and down and down but never moved, she passed the same glittering chandelier, which reflected rainbows on the white and blue fleur-de-lis wallpaper although no light was hitting it.

She finally reached the hall where the tiny bed lay, overpowered completely by the enormous Christmas tree. She had to stumbled over to the Christmas tree, which had only two small candles, burned nearly to nothing, left lit. She grabbed one so she could se where she was going, and sat down beneath the tree beside her injured soldier's tiny bed. She intended to carry him upstairs to her room so she wouldn't have to worry about him there, all alone, but it was so late (the grandfather clock had just struck twelve midnight), and the tree was so dazzling, she couldn't help but fall asleep.

Later, she awoke when she heard a strange skittering across the hard wooden floor, and a squeak. She opened her eyes looked around in disbelief. She saw the toys, cookies, and the tree, but they seemed ten times too large. Have they all grown up… or have I grown down? She wondered, stupefied. Then, an enormous mouse, with seven heads, each wearing a numbered golden grown with a single ruby on each, and a sapphire on the largest, the one for his main head. He had a large army of mice behind him and they all carried swords, and three pushed a cannon and a huge supply of ammunition…. Gum drops? And the toys were all alive, the cookies too, and they had hand grenades of jawbreakers, and bombs of powdered donuts.

Then, she saw the nutcracker, his jaw in a sling, at the head of the army of toys and cookies, and the mouse king-general yelled, "CHARGE!" The mice rushed at the toys and cookies, and the Nutcracker's army began to fight. Three mice had captured Meg, who had been left downstairs in a dazed walk upstairs with mother. Meg was… yes, she was screaming…as they tied her down to the railroad track of Fritz's toy train. A mouse started the train up and Clara covered her eyes, not daring to watch, but the nutcracker saved her and shooed her away to be a nurse for the injured cookie (she used frosting to re-attach broken limbs). Fritz's jungle-man doll and Marie's rag doll Byurght, climbed up the tree and bombed the mouse's army camp below, but Byurght fell – right into the mouse king's arms, and he threw her aside and she collapsed. Now, all the cookies were crumbled and the toy's springs were not springing and their gears were all grinding, but the mouse king attacked once again.

Seven mice surrounded the nutcracker and the mouse king held his sword above the nutcracker's throat and laughed an evil laugh. Clara shrieked, "Oh, don't you hurt my nutcracker!" and in rage, she took of her small, narrow, satin dressing shoe and aimed at the mouse king's head. She threw with all her might and hit him square between the eyes. He swayed and fell down, dead. His army, now outnumbered, ran away through the cracks in the walls in terror. But, they didn't get away before the nutcracker had cut off crown number seven. Then, he placed it on Clara's head, and then, a brilliant pink and gold light filled the dark hall, so bright that Clara had to cover her eyes with her lower arm. But, she did look out as he golden hair swirled around her face and her nightgown whipped back in the wind. Her nutcracker was now a handsome prince. Why, he looks just like Michel! Thought Clara.

"Clara, first you were kind to me, and now you have saved my life! Would you please come back to my kingdom with me and be my princess?" asked the handsome prince as he bent to kiss her hand.

"Of course! The prince of Germany was my nutcracker?" she said, astonished.

"No! Of course not! I'm Prince Lemonpop, from the candy kingdom. My stepmother turned me into a nutcracker two months ago, and she said I could only be a boy again if I could get a girl to love me, be the general of an army, win a battle, and retrieve the seventh crown of the evil mouse king, Jubileo. A tall order to fill, wasn't it?" he said, and laughed.

"Th...The CANDY kingdom?! You're the prince of candy?" she asked, nearly yelling with delight.

"Of course! Caramel! Pudding!" he called, and two fuzzy bumble bees with a dark brown sleigh between them appeared out of nowhere to whisk them away.

"Taste the carriage," urged the prince with a smile.

"Taste the carriage?" Clara asked wrinkling her nose.

"Just taste it… I promise it's good!" he said and broke a small chunk off his side of the carriage and handed it to her. She sniffed it suspiciously and then- "It's chocolate!" she cried in delight, and stuffed the sticky, sweet mass into her mouth and small rivers of chocolate oozed from the sides of her mouth. As she giggled, she raised her hand to wipe her mouth only to find that her simple white nightgown had transformed into a shimmering, iridescent gown of shimmering satin and glazed lace, embedded with diamonds and silver glitter. Then they passed into a snow-laden forest with silver trees and tiny, pearly birds. The snowflakes turned, flipped, and danced for them.

Then the snow queen, in a frosty white dress, on the arm of her frozen cavalier – "Jack Frost!" Clara cried in delight later – pointed their way to a licorice bridge over a river of vanilla seltzer. Clara dipped her hand over the side and sipped the frothy delight, then hiccuped, and the price laughed. Then they reached the most marvelous, dreamy place Clara had ever seen. There was the lake of seltzer, which changed flavors, the prince said, with every hour, like the river. Currently, it too, was vanilla. It also could be chocolate, orange, grape, strawberry, lime, raspberry, caramel, peanut butter, cola, almond, or cherry. On this lake, marzipan frogs sat on fruit leather lily pads, catching licorice flies. On a green buttercream field nearby, white chocolate unicorns with horns of saltwater taffy lounged by spun-sugar lambs. Small houses of sugar wafers or graham cracker stood in a neat row on the grape fruit leather street, while tiny gummy rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks skittered across the buttercream lawns, while a few children ice skated on a rink of pineapple gelatin. Then, a spectacular sight- the candy castle, pink frosted sugar cookie, with melted sugar windows and marshmallow crenellation. The whole village glistened as if dusted by sugar but then, Clara thought, it is dusted by sugar in the candy kingdom.

Then, a tall, lean palace guard with a handlebar mustache and orange hair, who was accompanied by a short, stout guard with a goatee and yellow hair, saw the prince coming, and, fumbling and bumbling, pulled out his gold cornet and blasted three quick, staccato notes: C, E, G! Then, in the bat of an eye, all the subjects of Garshmalderer (the formal name for the candy kingdom) were lining the chocolate shaving sidewalk up to the caramel drawbridge on licorice strings over the Seltzer River. They bowed in a perfect wave as they walked by, Clara floating on the arm of her royal prince. Once inside the castle, the prince was taken up stairs to his room, which had been kept clean for him in high hopes of his return.

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