Wednesday, December 26, 2012
A Christmas Story for Morrow
“Rrrgh!” she said in annoyance. She stomped to her room and grabbed her gear: magical corrective lenses (which protect not only against being turned into stone when one is seeing a Gorgon, but also helps one see imps, which can easily make themselves invisible); variably-leagued boots (there was a dial on the side of the right boot which controlled both of them), for in case they had gone very far; a protective shawl which had been knitted for her by her great-grandmother; and a hat.
She stepped outside. Her older brother, Taran, was out in his latest invention: a war machine shaped like a crab, with two claws in front and six legs, three on each side. When she explained where she was going, he offered to come after the imps with his war machine, but she politely declined. “It is better to use cleverness than force, when one can,” she said, and off she went.
While she went off after the imps, her two younger brothers came outside to see what was going on. Taran thought that if Morrow was not successful, there might well be a war with the imps, so they offered to man one of his other war machines (it was a two-seater), and they all had great fun digging up enbankments around the house, just in case they might be needed.
Nenya, on the other hand, was very distressed that her older sister had gone off without her, and she sat on the front step and cried until her parents came home, which fortunately was not very much later. Since Taran’s war machines all ran on hot chocolate, Nenya and her parents decided to make up a few batches to keep them going, and Nenya was comforted.
Also, their cousins from the city to the North caught wind of the excitement and decided to come down in their helicopters to provide air support. Now, I must admit that this was a bit of overkill, but they liked to fly their helicopters anyway and they liked to see their cousins anyway, so they didn’t really mind that their services were not strictly necessary.
Morrow quickly caught the trail of the imps, and followed them right to their home where, sure enough, they were all sucking on her snowflakes. Luckily, she knew that imps can be easily distracted with math problems. The youngest imp had recently turned two; she held up two fingers and said, “How many fingers do I have up?”
“Two!” said the almost-baby imp, and she got her snowflake back.
She turned to the middle-sized imp. “If I were given a box with twenty-four chocolates and I ate five of them and my brothers ate fourteen, how many chocolates would be left?” and while the imp was thinking, she got the next snowflake back.
She turned to the oldest imp, who was the cleverest of all. “If I made three snowflakes for each of my siblings, and I have half as many siblings as I have toes on my feet, then how many snowflakes did I make?” And the imp narrowed his eyes as he started thinking, and loosened his grip, and she got her snowflake back.
She started walking slowly home, since she had calmed down now, perhaps from the run in the cold snow on the way there. All of a sudden she felt a tug on her hand. When she looked down, it was a little imp she hadn’t seen before. “Yes?” she asked.
“Please, my brothers stole the snowflakes without me and I didn’t even get a taste. May I please have a snowflake to suck on?” And because Morrow really was a very gracious person, and because this little one had asked so politely, she gave her a fresh one from her pocket that hadn’t been sucked on at all.
Well, when the imps’ parents got home, they were thoroughly ashamed of their childrens’ behavior, and they marched them right over to the Weathercolours’ house to apologize. The Weathercolours were having a cousins’ party and drinking the hot chocolate that had been intended for the war machines, and once the apology was over they offered to share. Morrow even (again, graciously) made them flowers to suck on, and they all enjoyed watching the original snowflakes float about up near the ceiling.
After this I suppose that the Weathercolour children were much more careful about closing the door behind themselves, though the imps did sometimes come over and actually knock on the door and ask to play, which is practically unheard of for imps (knocking, that is) and it all goes to show you the power of graciousness and cleverness and being willing to wait to use war machines to make war.
And that is all. Merry Christmas!
[Answers to math problems may either be emailed to me or posted in the comments.]