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As we now know, the Snow Queen had run away. No one in the Kingdom knows yet.
Our pretty rebellious Snow Queen did not want to be queen of the Land of the Snowflakes anymore. No more fussing, no more duties like overseeing the Waltz of the Snowflakes to mark the beginning of winter or grand meetings with the Sugar Plum Fairy or the Mouse King.
No, the Snow Queen was finished with all that. She’d run away from the Land of Snowflakes, away from the four realms, and catch a train to the real world. She’d go off to someplace she’d read about like London or Paris or Budapest. She’d find an apartment, drink tea in the afternoons, and read novels for the rest of her days in peace and quiet.
No more having to wait on St. Nick to arrive at Christmas, no more dealing with elves, candy thieves, or even the grumpy Woodsman.
But, as you might know, dear reader, we often don’t get what we want—at least not the way we expect to get it.
The Snow Queen stopped in her tracks, looking around. She heard a girl’s voice, but, no, that couldn’t be.
But then a beautiful young girl bumped right into her, followed by a handsome young man.
“You have to help us!” said the girl. “I’m Clara, and this is the Nutcracker.”
“Nutcracker?” said the Snow Queen. “He looks like a boy.”
“He is!” said Clara. “I mean, he is now. Magic turned him into a young prince. But no matter, we must escape the Mouse King’s army. They’re after us!”
Now the Snow Queen had heard everything. The Mouse King? How ridiculous.
“Why would he be after you?” said the Snow Queen. “He’s not very nice, sure, but he wouldn’t chase a young girl and a prince.”
But then the Snow Queen saw that the young prince, the Nutcracker, was wounded. His forehead was scratched, and his pants were torn. And there was something else…
“Clara,” said the Snow Queen, “you’re missing a shoe.”
She pointed at Clara’s right foot, which was bare and turning pink from standing in the cold snow.
“That’s how I stopped the Mouse King—I threw my shoe at him! Nasty old brute!”
“Come,” said the Snow Queen, “I’ll help you.”
She took the hands of both Clara and the young boy, and together they wove their way through the woods.
Soon they came to a solitary cabin where a welcoming chimney exhaled puffs of gray smoke. Candlelight flickered through the windows like sunlight sparkling on snow.
“Wait here,” said the Snow Queen, and she knocked on the door.
A gruff man opened the door. His long beard was unkempt, his shirt was partly unbuttoned, but his blue eyes were as bright as any winter day in the Land of Snowflakes.
“Woodsman,” said the Snow Queen, “we need your help.” And she pointed to her friends, Clara, and the prince.
“Hmm,” groaned the Woodsman, “very well. As you say, so it will be.”
He opened the door widely and welcomed everyone inside. The Woodsman threw more fuel on the fire, and everyone gathered by the hearth.
The Woodsman patched the prince’s wounds, while Clara told the story of the adventure so far.
“…and that is when I saw the shadows, swirling around me like spirits, and they transformed into…”
“Into what?” said the Snow Queen, leaning in so closely she nearly fell off her chair.
“Into mice! And the Mouse King was there, too, and he looked ferocious, like a monster!”
“Like a monster?” said the Snow Queen, shaking her head in disbelief. “But how can that be?”
And that’s when the prince opened the small leather satchel, he carried with him—and out fell a golden crown.
“The Mouse King’s crown!” said the Snow Queen, marveling at the glittering crown on the floor. “Well, I’m glad you stopped him! I never did get along with him, but what a beast! You’re both safe now, and you’re welcome in the Land of the Snowflakes.”
And the Snow Queen said to the Woodsman, “Woodsman, we’ll need to get back to the kingdom.”
“As you say, so it will be,” said the Woodsman gruffly.
Next time… we will go through the woods with the Woodsman, his Queen and his new companions and see where he will take them…