This is a continuation of the Fairy Frolic stories. Click link to read previous ones.
Camille wiggled her toes happily in her toasty warm sleeping bag. She was so happy! She and Katelynne and seven other doll friends had made the long trip from Chicago to Yorktown Virginia and they had already had a wonderful few days here. They had gone Christmas caroling:
baked cookies, made a gingerbread house, listened to a chamber music concert, and today, after playing all the games they had brought, everyone set up their sleeping bags and fell into an exhausted sleep under the Christmas tree.
Everyone, that is, except for Camille. Camille was wide eyed and wakeful because tonight was a special night. She had been looking forward to tonight ever since she’d checked the calendar at school that showed all the phases of the moon. Tonight was a full moon night. She knew fairies hardly ever came out in the winter time. She actually had no idea if they went somewhere for the winter or if they hibernated in the trees, but tonight she was going to at least try to find out. She felt a special little thrill of anticipation and excitement. But she couldn’t get up yet. It wasn’t time. She lay in her sleeping bag trying to stay still, but quivering with excitement as she listened to the gentle tic of the grandfather clock. Tic,..tic,… tic. She smiled, wiggling her toes again. She loved the sound of the clock. It was comforting, and soothing, and present. It helped her to relax because her mind and heart were wild, crazy, and absent, imagining what might possibly await her in the outside world of the fairy forest.
At last the clock chimed 1 am. She waited two more minutes, listening to the echo of the grandfather’s clock’s melody replay in her head. Then she jumped up and wiggled out of her sleeping bag.
“Katelynne!!!” She hiss-whispered, “Katelynne!!! Wake up!!!”
Katelynne squinted at her, “What?” she whispered back.
“It’s time to go outside! Visit the fairy forest!!!”
“Camille, it’s the middle of the night.”
“I know, but the moon is up and the wind is awake and singing! And I feel the pull! Don’t you?”
Katelynne sat up and listened, “Yes,” she whispered more softly, “I feel the call.”
“Then come on! Come on!!! Let’s go!!!”
Katelynne was truly just as excited and thrilled as Camille to be going outside and visiting the fairy forest for the first time since this summer, but she couldn’t help joke-complaining to Camille anyway.
“It’s so late! We’re never going to get any sleep tonight if we do this! And look how cold it is! It’s 15 degrees outside! We’re going to freeze before we even step off the porch!”
“I’m not cold! I’m full of warm sunshine!”
“Well, I hope your warm sunshine keeps you toasty down to your toes! And just in case it doesn’t, put your boots on!”
Camille did as she was told and slipped her ladybug boots on, but unlike Katelynne, she was far too impatient and excited to put her snowpants, mittens and hat on. She bounced up and down as she waited for Katelynne to belt her buckle and slip her mittens on.
“Are you ready? Are you ready? Let’s go! Let’s go!!”
Katelynne opened the door and they slipped out into the cold. They stood still for a while in the back yard, getting used to their surroundings. Even with the full moon, it seemed very, very dark for city girls like Katelynne and Camille. Camille looked up at the full moon, and filled her lungs with the deep wintry air. Despite the cold, the air tasted surprisingly fresh.
Katelynne turned and smiled at Camille, “Ready now, Sunshine? The moon shall light our way!” Katelynne looked up one more time, at the brilliant, bright moon. She spoke so softly, just for Camille to hear, *”On some evening when the moon is bright, and casts on us it’s glowing light, will you come a-wandering with me?”*
Camille knew she didn’t need to answer, Katelynne knew the answer already. But hearing Katelynne say that to her filled her heart with such delight, joy, and love. It overflowed and tears sparkled in her eyes. She grasped Katelynne’s hand, squeezing it with all the fervent answer and thanks her heart could give.
And off they went. They started walking across the backyard but their hearts were so filled with gladness of being alone together, outside, going to a memory-filled place of wonder, they ended up running and skipping and laughing softly until they got to the edge of the forest.
Katelynne stopped right before the wooden plank and turned to Camille, a look of concern on her face. But Camille’s upturned face betrayed no fear, “It’s all right, I’m not afraid anymore.”
“No. I’m not sure why exactly. Maybe because I’ve walked across already, or because you’re here with me again, or because my heart has grown up a bit since last time, but no fear holds me anymore.”
“Wow,” Katelynne said in admiration. She turned back around and walked across the plank with Camille following confidently behind.
“Where should we go now?” Katelynne asked, “It probably wouldn’t be a great idea to visit the spiney marbles. I’m sure we’d all be very startled!”
Camille laughed, “Let’s find the fairy house!!!”
They started searching, walking along the path exactly where they had come four months before.
“Look! There’s the spiney marble wall!”
“And this is the tree I thought I saw an owl in!”
“And….oh look! Our bed of moss is covered under these leaves!”
“Hooray!!! We’re on the right track! The fairy house will be next!!!” Camille was giddy with eagerness at possibly seeing it and the resident inside.
But fairy forests change all the time, every day. And hiking through one that hadn’t been explored for months, in the dark, in the middle of winter was a most divergent thing to do. Suddenly, the path ended. In fact, it didn’t just end, it disappeared altogether! Trees surrounded them on all sides, and instead of moss and pine needles under their feet, fallen leaves crunched under their toes.
“Whoa! What just happened? Where did the path go?”
“Oh no! How can we possibly have gotten lost?” Camille wailed, “We were totally on the right track! The next thing is supposed to be the fairy house and then the long log and the fairy nooks! We’re only half way done traveling on the path! How could it stop like this?”
Camille turned around in a circle trying to make sense of her surroundings. All she saw were trees and blackness, and the trees seemed to be coming closer, hemming them in, and every time she glanced at a different section of the forest she seemed to see more trees. The forest was getting thicker, surrounding them, and she was trapped inside! Her eyes widened in panic, “There’s no way out! We can’t get out! Help! Help!” her voice was shrill and tiny, swallowed up by the trees, even though she meant to shout very loudly. She tried to run, but every way she turned she was blocked by trees and bushes. She started crying, “Katelynne! Help!”
All throughout Camille’s anxious agitation Katelynne stood still in the middle of the circle of trees, staring up at the moon. When she heard Camille call her name, she spoke very softly, “Camille.”
Camille came to her, and looked up through her tears and the branches of the trees, at the shining moon that was almost directly above them now.
“Have faith, Little One. Even in all the darkness, desperation, and despair that seems to flood and overpower you, God’s Light is always there.”
“Holy Spirit light?” Camille asked.
“Holy Spirit light, that He put inside you through Christ Jesus. And most-times, you see it shine outside too.—- Look! Moonshine!”
And sure enough, a ray of light from the moon shone down. Katelynne looked where the light was shining and caught something glittering on the forest floor. She ran to it. Camille close behind.
There was a clearing on the forest floor, near a log (the same log Katelynne had pointed out that grew the mushrooms in the summer) where the ground was shiny and gleaming.
“Ice!” Katelynne gasped, “The forest floor is ice!”
“LOOK!!!!” Camille cried. In the center of the ice-pond was a silver box with a ribbon tied to the top.
“Is it for us? Should we take it?” The girls crept out onto the ice. It was fascinating for Camille to see leaves underneath her feet, but not feel her feet walking on them. Instead she was walking on hard, cold ice.
“Another gift from the fairies?” Camille asked again.
“I think so,” said Katelynne, “It’s beautiful.”
It was beautiful. Perhaps it was the moonlight, but the sliver box seemed to be letting off a luminescent glow.
Camille shooed away a few spiney marbles and reached down and grabbed the ribbon tied to the box. Again, just like the last time she had touched something not of this world, a dazzling thrill traveled through her body from her head to her toe, as if someone made her sparkle from the inside.
“Come on, bring it here!” Katelynne sat down on the log, Camille set the box in between them.
“Can we open it?” Camille asked.
“Silly girl! We should do this inside, where it’s not so cold, where the wind can’t blow, and I think Keisha, Annaleis, Sophie and everyone else would love to see what’s inside too.”
Camille made a scrunch face. She was terribly excited and impatient to open it and waiting for the other dolls meant waiting all the way until the morning! And she selfishly wanted this whole thing to be special between just she and Katelynne, but she knew Katelynne was right. Hadn’t they all shared in the fairy festival together in their back yard? Of course she should wait.
“Patience Practice….” she muttered. So many dolls were so good at it, but she was not one of them!
“Come on, let’s run home so we can get to sleep so the morning will come that much faster!” Katelynne cried as she slung the ribbon over her head and started running with the box swinging at her hip.
“Wait for me!” Camille cried, scrambling to her feet.
“Do you know where to go? The path is still gone.”
“Well, this whole time we’ve been following the moon, so now we just have to turn around.”
“But what are we going to follow?”
“Look! You see that?”
“Little twinkling lights! I bet I know who’s house that is!” Katelynne started running even faster. Camille could barely keep up.
And sure enough as they got closer, the twinkling lights grew brighter and warmer until they were running along the wooden plank, through the edge of the wood, and across the back yard.
“I’m so glad to see our house!” Camille said, hugging herself.
Katelynne smiled, “Yes, it’s wonderful to have adventures, but even more wonderful when there’s a warm, cozy house to come home to.”
Katelynne put her arm around Camille as they made their way up the porch steps. She watched the Christmas lights dance across Camille’s vibrant face. She gave her a half smile and spoke, so softly, again just to Camille, “*Til we’ve found a cozy place, and Christmas lights dance ‘cross your face, will you sleep and dream with me?”*
Camille smiled and gave a deeply peaceful sigh, and leaned her head against Katelynne’s shoulder. They both turned and stared up at the moon one more time and watched in awe as a fey fairy wind blew around it.
The next thing Camille remembered was waking up and finding the room brightly lit in morning sunshine. She had dreamed a most wonderful dream…..it seemed so real….she opened her eyes to find herself snuggly tucked in her sleeping bag with her boots still on her feet! The dream must have been real!
She rolled over and sure enough, the silver hearted box was exactly where she had left it in the middle of the circle of sleeping dolls!
She wiggled out of her sleeping bag and pounced onto the box, grabbing it and waking grumpy Katelynne and all the other dolls up too, “Go bother someone else in the kitchen,” they grumped.
Camille found Felicity and Kirsten already awake and having breakfast, “Look what we found!!!” Camille placed the box on the table. Katelynne came groggily up behind her.
“Isn’t it pretty?”
Felicity burst out laughing, “Where did you find this? It’s a snuff box!”
“A snuff box! What’s that?”
“It’s a box where men keep ground up tobacco leaves.”
“What!!!?? It’s used for smoking!!??”
“But I thought this was from the fairies!”
“Well, the fairies could have very well gotten their hands on it! It’s very very old, probably made in my time, which would mean it’s over 200 years old. But it’s in perfect condition which makes me think this was handled by fairies.”
“Wow! A two hundred year old box that looks gleaming new!” Kirsten said.
“Let’s open it!”
Camille grabbed the box and tried to lift the lid. It didn’t open.
“What?!! This won’t open!”
Katelynne took it and tried, “It’s like it’s sealed shut!”
“Maybe there’s a spell you have to say to open it!” Annaleis said.
“Silly girls! It’s a good thing I’m here!” Felicity took the box from Annaleis, “You have to take the side pegs out that hold the box and lid together!”
Felicity slid the tiny pegs out of the box, lifted the lid and peered inside.
“Yes indeed! Just what I thought! Tobacco leaves!”
The other dolls crowded around and looked inside to see the green leaves resting on the bottom of the box.
Sophie was puzzled, “But why would the fairies give us tobacco leaves? Isn’t there – ”
“Wait a minute!” Annaleis gasped, “Look! The leaves are — moving!!!!”
The moving leaves, or what they thought were leaves, but actually turned out to be a robe, suddenly stood up tall and looked around, making the dolls gasp.
Suddenly, everything happened so quickly: The little man in the box, for man it seemed to be, (but only Kirsten knew for sure who it was) looked around at all of them and said, “Where does it come from and where does it go? I cannot solve this mystery. No, this one is too hard for me.” Leaving the question, he turned with haste: “I’ve work to do, no time to waste!”
And it leapt from the box and flittered off and away, leaving the dolls silent, staring, stunned.
“What was that?” Annaleis asked at last.
Kirsten smiled, “That was a jultomte! A julenisse, a Christmas sprite! I’ve never ever seen one for real before! They live back home in Sweden! They’re little magical people who usually live in the pantry or barn and they watch over the household and farm. At Christmas time the jultomte rides a sleigh pulled by a goat and gives gifts to the children. Oooh! We should sing! The Julboken and Julpolska songs! I haven’t sung those in ages! Their favorite thing to eat is porridge and butter.”
“We should make some porridge and butter!” Sophie cried.
“But make sure you put the butter on top!”
“LOOK!” Katelynne couldn’t help interrupting Kirsten, for something else had popped out of the box like toast from the toaster oven!
“A book!” Camille cried.
Katelynne paged throught the book, “Kirsten look! Your songs are in here! We can all sing them together now! But there’s a story first!”
“Read it, Annaleis!” Camille said.
Annaleis opened the book and read the first page out loud:
“Midwinter night’s cold is hard.
Stars glimmer and gleam.
All sleeps in quiet yard,
Deep in midnight dream.
Snow shines white on fence and spruce.
Moon beams bright on snow-capped roofs.
Hush fills a forest near a frozen lake…
Only Tomten is awake…”
Behind the Scenes: I got to spend a most wonderful week with family in VA for Christmas and yes, all the dolls you see came traveling with me! Despite the unusual cold (at least for VA) I took Katelynne and Camille out very late during the night of the full moon, and like the two dolls, I tried to find the fairy house but never found it! Instead I came upon the ice covered forest floor and here you have the story! The wonderful verses (*) were taken from a poem written by my dear Aunt. We also had a special Christmas moment where she gave the dolls the heart shaped box and the jultomte story, and Camille’s sleeping bag! The juletomte story that Annaleis started reading is a real book called ‘Only Tomten is Awake’ based on Viktor Rydberg’s Tomten as told by Spencer Harden.
Stay tuned for upcoming historical adventures of Felicity and Elizabeth!