This is a continuation from the Fall Farm Festival story:
There was great excitement in the dollhouse! So much was going on. The first snow had arrived and all the dolls made the most of it –
and snow-tubing too!
They went up and down the hill so many times!
An ice rink was made for them, and all the figure skaters came out to practice and show off their double axles and spins!
Sleigh rides and snowball fights could be seen and heard around the clock,
and many dolls dressed up as fairy snow queens and went walking on the sparkling snowflake trail.
After they’d been outside for so long and their noses got too cold, they came inside where Elliana and Nellie were busy making cup after cup of hot chocolate.
Camille was the only one not enjoying the winter. Ever since Camille had gotten back from Virginia and the farm festival, she had been feeling gloomy and lonely. Katelynne was always so busy. She was helping Felicity and Elizabeth plan and prepare for the Winter Ball. Camille understood, Katelynne had told her all the millions of things she had to do, but it was still very hard for Camille, and she couldn’t help feeling lonely.
The worst part though, was the uneasiness she felt about the fairy forest and magic itself. Camille had been so certain she’d go to the Fall Fairy Festival when she’d visited the fairy forest in October. It was the first time they had visited during autumn, and she was afraid it might be the only time they might come that late. She had run to the edge of the forest every single day, but every time the entrance had been blocked by the tall green grass. Katelynne had guessed the fairies were getting ready for the festival and the grass would be cleared when all was completed, but that never happened. She wondered if the fairies had forgotten about the invitation. All the dolls knew the Patulous house that was their home there, contained the same kind of magic as the fairy forest, so in the hopes that a fairy might stop in the house for something, Camille had laid out the invitation and the special festival leaves as a reminder to the fairies. But either no fairy entered the house, or they chose to ignore Camille’s presentation. Every day she was there, she got more worried and disappointed but she never completely gave up hope. Camille had run to the forest the morning of their very last day only find the tall grass was even taller and thicker than before.
She’d come back in tears. Why had the fairies said no? Why were the fairies ignoring her? Had she done something wrong to make the invitation null and void? Maybe she’d hoped and pestered the fairies too much. She’d come there too often, and now they didn’t like her anymore.
There had only been one sign of the fairies. Katelynne and Camille had received the invitation two years ago, and by now, all the leaves that had come in that package had gone brown and drab, and some of them had even broken because Camille would often take them out and look at them and smell the fairy dust the leaves created.
On the day after she and Katelynne had gotten back from Grace by the Sea she’d noticed a new, bright red leaf in the middle of all the brown ones that hadn’t been there before. She had gotten SO excited.
“Katelynne!!! LOOK! This is it! This is the sign that we’re going to go to the fairy forest! It’s tomorrow morning! I just KNOW IT!”
Katelynne smiled. Even she had thought they’d get to go the next morning. Camille couldn’t sleep that night. She was wildly excited imagining what might happen when they got to go. She’d taken the leaf and the invitation to bed with her and read it over and over and over even though she already had it memorized.
But that morning, the dolls ran across the backyard only to find the tall thick grass still blocking the way. Camille couldn’t figure it out. Why would they be sent a leaf if the way was still shut? Were the fairies just playing a mean trick on them?
Camille suggested pushing through the grass and going through anyway, but Katelynne said no. She felt in her heart that it wasn’t the right time. Camille had returned to the house in tears.
Katelynne had been worried about Camille ever since. She tried to keep an eye on her and to spend as much time as she could with her, but Elizabeth was giving her so many things to do for the ball, and that on top of school, after school activities, and her homework, which was a lot, she often could only spend a small amount of time with Camille at night.
“Don’t you want to go sledding, Camille?” Mary Grace asked as she saw Camille shuffle into the kitchen.
“No thanks,” Camille responded.
“Why not? It’s so beautiful out,” Annaleis asked, surprised at Camille’s refusal.
“I dunno…I just don’t feel like it.”
Camille hadn’t felt like anything. She’d tried hard not to mope. She knew it was not a good thing to do, but when you are sad and lonely and little, it’s a very hard thing to keep away from.
The day of the Winter Ball was the worst. There were so many dolls. And all of them were happy.
There was music and shouting and dancing everywhere!
Everyone was dressed in their finest sparkling ball gown.
And with so much music, dancing and merry-making it was hard not to believe they were in a winter fairyland.
Anytime any of the dancers got tired, they could refresh themselves at the great buffet table full of cakes and sweets.
There was a table to sit, eat and rest at too.
Katelynne was darting to and fro, collecting empty plates and serving the guests as much as she could, while often getting caught up in a dance herself!
Camille really did enjoy it, but because of her sadness, her feet did not feel light enough to dance. She hung around the sweets table, eating for nearly the whole time.
She reached for another pretzel.
“Don’t you think you’ve eaten enough already?” Lanie asked, who’d been watching her.
“I’m hungry,” Camille responded.
“Take one more pretzel and then I think that’s it for you tonight. You’re going to get a tummy ache.”
Camille took her pretzel and suddenly realized she couldn’t take the loud music and dancing anymore. She needed somewhere quiet.
She went into Felicity’s bedroom and laid down on her bed. It was a marvelous four poster canopy bed that made Camille think she was in a safe, warm, red, quiet cave. It was just what she needed. The door burst open and slammed shut again. Camille gasped and sat up. It was Katelynne.
“Oh! Hi!” Katelynne said, surprised to see Camille, “Did you come in here to hide too?”
Camille smiled, “Yes, kind of…I came here for the quiet.”
“I came here to hide from Elizabeth. I think she’s going to be really upset.”
“Well, do you remember Uncle Andy got that snowman gift and gave me the hat from it to give to her?”
“Of course! You’re wearing it right now, Silly!”
“Yes, well, I thought it would be a wonderful idea to give it to her at the Winter Ball.”
“His little peace offering,” Camille smiled, remembering the way he’d stolen Elizabeth’s hat one winter.
“Yes, exactly! Only, I’ve done something terrible.”
“I’ve lost the card that goes with the hat!”
“Oh no! The card from Andy?”
“Yes! So now I don’t know what to do! Should I still give her the hat? But then how will she know it’s really from him?”
“Oh dear. You have no idea where it is?”
“I think I might’ve left it at the Patch house. It’s not in my suitcase or anything.”
“Maybe you could ask him to write a new one?”
“Ooh man…” Katelynne groaned and Camille sighed with her. They all knew how terribly busy Uncle Andy was. They felt so badly asking him for anything.
But just then, a noise on Felicity’s night stand knocked all thoughts of hats and cards out of their heads. They both gasped. It was the snuff box. Camille had nearly forgotten about the snuff box.
It was rattling.
“Do you suppose it’s another juletomte?” Camille asked.
A Juletomte, a Swedish Christmas sprite, had come out of it just around this time of year two years ago.
“I don’t know.”
“We should open it and find out!”
Katelynne started to put her hands on it but stopped suddenly, “Maybe we should have Felicity open it, and have all the others come see too, just like we did last time.”
“Aw, but Felicity’s dancing, Annaleis is skiing, I think Sophie’s outside too and I don’t know where any of the others are. Plus, I think if we don’t open it now, it might just come out by itself.”
It was indeed rattling so violently, it was starting to tremble off the nightstand.
“Oh, all right then. I wonder if something came out of it last year and we never even knew! Maybe something comes out of it every year! I guess we must’ve missed last year.”
Katelynne very carefully slid the pegs out from the sides and lifted the lid. Camille had actually stepped back because the last time that lid was open the juletomte had unexpectedly flown out. Nothing flew out this time. They both drew close to the box and bonked their heads together before either had seen anything.
Katelynne pushed the box close to Camille. Camille peered in, gasped and jumped! She was so surprised because it was the most unexpected thing. If someone had made her try to guess what was in the snuff box she would never have said what was inside:
A tiny little toad.
“Is it a toad or a frog?” Katelynne asked when she had her turn to look.
“It’s so little! It barely even takes up half the box!”
Katelynne reached in and took him out.
He sat contentedly on the table.
“Look at him! He’s so special!”
“Of course he’s special! He’s from the fairy forest! I wonder why he came here,” Camille suddenly grabbed the box again, “Hey! Do you remember after the juletomte came out, a book came out too that told his story!”
But there was no story or book that came out of the box this time it seemed.
“What should we do with it now?” Katelynne asked.
Camille’s eyes went wide. She had been so caught up in being with Katelynne, and being given something from the fairy forest she’d forgotten a winter ball was still going on and there were so many dolls all around who wouldn’t notice a tiny little creature and accidentally squish it.
“I can carry it to your room,” Camille offered, “he’ll be safe there.”
“And then what? Maybe we should put it back in the snuff box,” Katelynne picked up the frog again and started to put it back in the box.
“No! If you put it back it might disappear!”
“I’ll put him back, but I won’t put the pegs in. Then I don’t think the magic will be sealed. We have to carry him somehow. I’m sure most ballroom dancer’s won’t be too happy to see that a frog’s been invited too!”
Camille giggled and let Katelynne put him back in the box and handed it to Camille, “All right then, you take him to my room. Though I have no clue what we’re going to do with him there either. I have to figure out what I’m going to do with Elizabeth and this hat.”
Camille tucked the box up on her hip and looked at Katelynne, “Think about what Elizabeth likes best. She loves fancy festivities and resplendent ceremonies.”
“‘Resplendent!'” Katelynne echoed, “Where’d you get that word?”
“Keisha,” Camille answered, “I think it’s an awfully fun one so I’ve kept it in my head.”
“Well yes I know,” Katelynne responded to her comment, “That’s why I thought I’d give it to her at the ball.”
“Yes, but she likes lots of them. So what if you waited and made a separate festival just for that?”
Katelynne raised her eyebrows and tried not to laugh, “Did I just hear the girl-of-no-patience telling me to WAIT?!”
Camille smiled, “I think it’s an awfully special present. Nobody’s ever gotten a gift from just Uncle Andy before. Not even Heather!”
“Hmm,” it was really Katelynne who hated to wait. It was such a perfect gift to present at a winter’s ball at wintertime. It seemed silly to wait until spring for Elizabeth’s birthday. What would she do with a hat in the spring? Otherwise she’d have to wait all the way until next year…
It wasn’t until Camille had walked out and shut the door that she came up with an idea….
Much later that night, Elizabeth came in from having taken a stroll by the ice skating pond.
“What a night! What a ball! What a most wonderful event!” Elizabeth cried, spinning around, whipping her cloak off and throwing it on the chair.
Felicity, who was in her nightgown, looked up from her bed where she was reading her hornbook.
“It did go so very well! You hosted a lovely party! And someone left you a gift! Look!”
Elizabeth finally noticed the large gift bag on her vanity.
“Oh! How very sweet of them! Do you know who it’s from?”
“No, but I would guess there’d be a card inside, wouldn’t you think?” Felicity asked as she got out of bed and came close to see what Elizabeth would open.
“Oh, I’m so excited!” Elizabeth said as she reached for the bag and stuck her hand into the tissue paper, “I would’ve almost thought it would be from you, but then – AIEEE!”
Elizabeth dropped the bag as if it were a snake, as an eyeball that she had touched rolled out.
“Lawk-a-mercy! What…?! Who…!?!”
Elizabeth was so horrified she was nearly speechless. Then, “How DARE they!! And I bet I know who did this! Ooh, I’m going to wring her neck! She didn’t even COME to the ball! She SNUBBED me! Now I have been snubbed, and ridiculed and HIGHLY INSULTED!”
“By who?” Felicity asked.
“Why by Lindsey of course! Who else would send such an atrocious thing! Who else was so enthralled in that time traveling doctor business, who would do something like this. Who else – ”
“Elizabeth, I think there’s more in that bag. I see something blue in that corner.”
“I don’t even want to touch it,” she said, “who knows what it could be, brains or toenails…”
Felicity was not as squeamish as Elizabeth was, but she did very carefully pick out the blue ‘something’ with just her thumb and forefinger.
“Oh, it’s a horseshoe! And look, a rocket bookmark! Why in the world would someone send you gifts like these!”
They certainly were very odd things.
“You wouldn’t think they’d send me a horseshoe to say I dance like I have hooves, or an eyeball to say I don’t see my partner, or a rocket to say I should be shipped off to the moon? ‘Bang-zoom!'” Elizabeth quoted.
“Oh, Elizabeth, don’t be ridiculous. Everyone knows you’re the best Colonial ballroom dancer! Besides, I think there’s something more under the tissue paper in that bag. Perhaps it will give us another clue.”
Elizabeth took the final thing out of the bag. It was a hat.
Felicity’s jaw dropped open and she almost dropped her doll, “I know who it’s from!!”
“It’s from Uncle Andy! I’m almost sure of it! He loves spaceships and rockets!” Felicity twirled the bookmark around her finger, “Remember the story of how he and cousin Aaron woke up at 3 am or something to watch some rocket launch? And look! He’s an eye doctor! That’s why there’s an eyeball! And he wants to be a blacksmith when he grows up! That’s the horseshoe part!”
“Wow. I think you’re right! Who else could it be, …aww, and look, he gave me a hat!” She put it on.
“Hahaha! I think he doesn’t quite know your style, but it will keep your ears warm!”
“Of course it’s not my style! He couldn’t POSSIBLY know what my style is because he doesn’t even know what HIS style is! He, who dares to steal and wear women’s headpieces! No, it’s a lovely little hat! I should write him a note thanking him for this and apologizing for getting so angry with him last year,” Elizabeth shook her head, remembering what Felicity had told her about him when she had been in a fit of rage, “You’re right, Lissie, he does indeed have a good heart.”
Meanwhile, Camille had taken the little frog into Katelynne and Lanie’s room. She opened up the snuff box and let it hop around while she changed out of her ball gown, and then sat with it on the floor until Katelynne came back in again.
“I saw Sophie on my way here and she said she’d tell the others to come here to see the little guy.”
After Katelynne changed her clothes the two girls petted and watched the frog continue to explore the room.
“You got a frog!?” Keisha asked as she and Sophie burst into the room.
“He was trying to get out of the snuff box!” Camille said, “He’s a gift from the fairies like the juletomte!”
“Yeah, that’s what Katelynne said, but the juletomte flew away and we’ve never seen him again,” Keisha said.
“No, Kirsten said she’s seen him!”
“No way. Here? She saw him here?” Katelynne asked.
“Yeah, she said she saw him last year, and she thought she saw him this year too, but she’s not completely sure.”
“Huh, I wonder if he comes out of the snuff box every year,” Katelynne mused.
“But this little thing’s not like a juletomte. I don’t think he’s going to disappear. What are we going to do with him?” Sophie asked.
“Wow! I think Lanie and Annaleis already thought of that!” Keisha replied.
Lanie and Annaleis came in slowly, bearing a large aquarium.
“Hey guys! Annaleis told me she was heading here to see a frog you got and I figured he’d need a home so I thought I’d let you guys borrow my old aquarium.”
“It’s perfect! He’ll have a home now! Thank you Lanie!” Camille exclaimed.
Camille went to put him in, but he jumped in all by himself!
“Aw, look!” Sophie said, “He loves his home!”
“I wonder what he eats,” Sophie said, “Shall we try fish food?”
Sophie dumped some in.
They watched, but he just sat there, and didn’t eat any of it.
“I guess fish food isn’t for frogs.”
“Well, why don’t you help me get this aquarium on my desk. I think that would be the best spot,” Katelynne said.
“Hey! Hand me my laptop,” Lanie said excitedly now that she could see him better.
“I know what he eats, and I know what he is!” Lanie cried, “He’s a spring peeper! They sing in the spring! They’re spring announcers!”
“That’s prolly why he’s so quiet now. It’s winter time now!” Katelynne said.
“And they eat…they eat spiders, and beetles and flies!” Lanie continued.
“Oh my!” Sophie cried.
Lanie started to hand the laptop back to Katelynne. Katelynne reached but accidentally bumped the snuff box, which fell open and a long rolled up tube came out of it.
Katelynne carefully unrolled it.
“It’s the fairy forest! It’s a fairy house!”
“Wait!” Katelynne cried. She put it up in the frog’s aquarium.
“Look! It’s like his little house!”
“And it’s total proof this all came from the fairy forest.”
“The fairy forest didn’t forget me!” Camille said, “I’m so glad I have something real and alive from it!”
“Wait a minute! He’s a spring peeper from the fairy forest, and when’s the next time we’re going to visit it?”
“The spring!” Camille cried leaping up and landing on her toes, “That’s when he’ll sing! OH! Katelynne! The invitation! ‘We’ll wrap ourselves in cobweb capes, covered in dewdrop gems. And listen as the sun goes down to soothing froggy hymns.’ We’re going to sing hymns in the forest! I just know it!”
Camille’s heart soared, so happy was she that she was not forgotten, and well loved, by her friends, by a frog, and a forest.
Behind the Scenes
Elizabeth’s hat really was from my uncle who spent a good deal of time excavating the hat out of a snowman gift set! And the frog and tree picture were indeed gifts from my dear aunt who lives in the Patulous house of open hearts on the very edge of the fairy forest.