Copyright December 1, 2000 by Grace Alice Moore, LaClede, ID, USA

A Children's Story - A Christmas Fairy Tale

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This is available as a hard copy book with 27 full-color illustrations. The full text and a sample illustration is below - to order a hard copy please contact Xlibris and request #27350-MOOR 

 

THE EMERALD

A CHRISTMAS STORY

by
Grace Alice Moore

Cindi stood in the street and looked at the big window display of her Mom's favorite store, and kicked sadly at the dirty snow. On the other side of the glass a large Santa bobbed up and down, winking at a bunch of paper mache elves with painted grins that were pounding the same nails into the same toys over and over.

Cindi had known about Santa for a long time now. She was nine years old. But Christopher hadn't. He was only four, and someone at pre-school had told him there was no Santa. Just the week before Christmas! Little kids could be so cruel! Christopher loved Santa Claus!

Now he wouldn't even look at the Christmas tree. He had told her, in private, that he was going to run off to the North Pole and see for himself! How silly, a four year old running off to the North Pole! He didn't even know how to catch the bus by himself.

It was cold and almost dark. She had to get home. They were leaving tonight for the cabin at Priest Lake. They always spent Christmas there. It was so pretty - snowy and full of cedars. She liked the smell of the woods in the house.

It was late when they finally got to the cabin. Christopher had spent the whole two-hour trip with his head under a blanket and his jaw clenched. Everyone tried to be cheerful and josh him out of it but he was in a deep funk.

The next day was Christmas Eve. They cut a tree, strung cranberries and popcorn, and their Mom made Santa Claus cookies. But it all made Christopher worse. He broke off the heads of the cookies and threw them on the snow for the birds. Cindi noticed he ate the boots though.

On Christmas Eve they always went to bed early - so that Santa could leave the presents under the tree. Of course Cindi, being nine, knew Santa was really Poppa, but she had always played along for Christopher's sake. Then when he was asleep she would creep into the living room to get a look!

This Christmas Eve was no different. Promptly at nine they snuggled into their bunk beds with the flannel sheets and checkered blankets. Cindi looked at the frosty moon and waited for Christopher to go to sleep.. The fairies had painted the windowpane in spangles and glints. She squinted and made the lights flash and dance.

Suddenly Cindi jerked awake! A faint click? She must have fallen asleep - how could she do that on Christmas Eve! Well, it was time for her sneak preview - she eased her feet over the edge of the bunk. She always slept on the top because Christopher was too little.

She must not wake Christopher. Sneaking out to the Christmas tree was her own private adventure. She felt brave and daring doing it. Slowly she let herself down, her bare toes curling around the smooth and worn pine of the bunks. These bunks must have been built forever ago. At least they didn't creak!

She reached the floor and crabbed her toes into her pom-pom slippers before glancing over at Christopher. She felt stealthy and smug! But the pile of checkered blanket looked a little funny. She leaned closer. Christopher was gone!

Cindi scuffled quickly to the living room. She had gone to sleep! Her little brother had stolen her secret! She was disgusted!

There was the tree - it's lights twinkling softly. And there were the presents. A new bike for her. She had known about that - it had been in the rafters of the garage - and she liked it.

But where was Christopher? She looked behind the tree and behind the couch. It was a small living room. There wasn't anywhere else to look. He just wasn't there.

Then she saw the snow by the door - a soft drift, like blows in when you open the door. Oh no! He had said he would look for Santa Claus - surely not - he couldn't - he wouldn't - not in the middle of the night!

Cindi thought about waking her parents - but he couldn't have gone far, now could he! She'd just fetch him back and they'd never know - who'd want Christmas spoiled by a spanking! Cindi quickly pulled on her boots, grabbed her parka. She slipped out the front door and there were his footprints, leading away in the snow!

The moon was high now, and a few clouds slid across its face. The footprints led into the deep woods and Cindi was a little frightened. It was hard to see the footprints where the cedars cast moon-shadows on the snow.

But he couldn't be far, could he? She called out. Christopher! Christopher! But only the cedars answered her. Somewhere a bird startled away. Cindi was worried now and beginning to be more scared.

She thought a bit and decided she better go home. Now! But the clouds had darkened the moon and she wasn't sure of the way. The footprints - where were they? Gone. Gone in the shadows of night.

Cindi started to run. Stumble was more like it. The crusty snow gave under her weight now and then and snow filled her boots. Her flannel night-gown was wet.

She got up and lurched forward, and fell over a lump in the snow. The lump yelled. It was Christopher! They grabbed each other and hugged and hugged.

He sobbed into her parka, "I came to find Santa".

"Shhh" she said, "Shhh. Come on, we'll find Santa at home." She tried to sound brave, but she wasn't. She hadn't the faintest idea which way to go!

They trudged on, holding hands. Christopher's nose was hung with icicles and Cindi's bottom was freezing under her gown. At least she'd slept in long jons. She wondered whether they would freeze out here together. She tried not to think of that. She tried to only think how to get home.

Suddenly Christopher tugged on her hand. There was a glow. The cabin? They started to run. But no, it wasn't the cabin. It came from a tree, an old cedar, whose branches caressed the snow.

They slowed to a walk, then a creep. The glow definitely came from the base of the tree. It was a warm yellow light, not cold like silver light of the winter moon. They knelt in the snow and Cindi carefully parted the branches. There was a hole in the snow by the roots of the tree. And the light, the warm light, came from it.

Christopher broke from her grasp and scrambled toward the light. She grabbed for his boot but it came off in her hand. He was at the edge of the hole and she quickly joined him. The light was warm, but it did not melt the snow.

A tunnel of glowing ice twisted down from the hole. They inched closer. Christopher hung his cold feet into the warmth of the hole. They felt better. They felt warm. He leaned further.

Whoosh! He was gone! Cindi dived after him! Down! Around! Down! Around! The ice was cold and not cold at the same time.

Then they were spinning and spinning on a frozen pool. It was pale green, deep, and solid. A dome arched over it, covered with crystals, thousands of crystals. A few fell off the ceiling and clinked on the frozen floor.

Christopher and Cindi picked themselves up. Several tunnels led off from the pool, warm light glowing from each. In the distance they could hear the metallic sound of chisels. They held hands and, with trepidation and awe, they were drawn toward the sound.

Soon the tunnel opened up into a cavernous room, and the walls gleamed as with a million twinkling Christmas lights. Clumps of emerald crystals jutted from the walls, mounds of red rubies rose from the floor!

All around them were tiny men, busily chipping away at the gems with tiny silver chisels! A tiny silver railroad track led away through another tunnel, and tiny silver ore cars filled with cotton stood waiting on it.

The tiny men were rushing and panting and ignored Cindi and Christopher completely. Each time they freed a gem they ran and placed it carefully on the cotton in one of the tiny silver ore cars.

"Who are you?", said Cindi?

"Where are we?", said Christopher.

"We're Elves", gasped one of the tiny men as he wrestled a huge Emerald onto the tiny train.

They didn't look like elves. They wore striped overalls and instead of pointy shoes they had miniature hard-toed moon boots.

"Don't just stand there!", said the Elf. "Get on the train!".

The train was much too small for Cindi and Christopher to get on, but it was moving away, so they followed it into another tunnel.

Pretty soon it chugged out into an even bigger room. But in this room there were no tiny men. There was one BIG man. Bigger than Poppa! Much bigger! Cindi thought he needed to go on a diet.

He was sitting at a bench furiously polishing stones. Just as they arrived he picked up a big green emerald and started polishing it rapidly. Sparks flew and it seemed to glow even greener! Suddenly he noticed them over his spectacles.

"Who are you?", he said. "I'm Cindi, and this is Christopher, and we're lost and it's Christmas Eve", Cindi answered. She was a little afraid of him.

"Who are you?", she asked.

"I'm Santa Claus", he answered.

That couldn't be. He was big enough, and fat enough, but he wasn't wearing a red suit and he didn't have a beard, and there weren't even any reindeer around, only this tiny train!

"Oh yes, I'm Santa", he said. "And I'm behind! I have to deliver all these tonight!"

"I don't believe you", said Cindi. He stopped and looked at her sharply, then broke into a grin.

"Oh okay, lots of folks don't believe in me, but I'm here all right! You'll see, I'll put on my red suit and my beard and I'll take you home in my sleigh, just as soon as I finish this stone!". He smiled at them and went back to work.

Christopher yawned. He was getting tired. He was happy. He thought he had found Santa Claus, but Cindy knew better.

The man looked at them kindly. "Just lay down there in that cotton", he said.

They looked and the train had suddenly grown much larger and the cotton looked very warm and inviting. Christopher crawled up in it and closed his eyes.

Finally Cindi slipped in beside him, but she would keep her eyes open! This was all too strange! It was warm and soft. She fought to stay awake. She dug her fingers into the cotton, and twisted the strands.

Then Cindi came awake with a start. Instead of soft white cotton the checkered blanket was gripped in her fist. The stars twinkled through the frost on the window. She sat bolt upright! Had this all been only a dream!

Grabbing the rail, she hung upside down and peered into the lower bunk. Christopher was sleeping soundly. She didn't even try to be quiet. She jumped from her bunk and ran to the living room barefoot.

All looked peaceful and quiet, and just the same. Her bike was there. But wait! There was something new under the tree.

A box that glowed! Glowed green! With heart pounding she lifted the lid! There was a perfect emerald! On a fine gold chain. The card said "To Cindi with love from Santa".

She looked at the door. There sitting just inside were her and Christopher's snow boots, with fresh pools of water spreading slowly onto the floor!  

THE END

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