Chapter 10:
Uncle and Nephew

If any of my dear readers have ever cut themselves on glass, then they know how badly it hurts and how dreadfully slowly it heals. Marie had to spend almost a whole week in bed because she became dizzy whenever she tried to get up. But at last she recovered and could run and play as merrily as before.

The glass cabinet had been repaired as good as new and was again filled with trees, flowers, houses, and beautiful dolls. Marie was thrilled to see her beloved Nutcracker standing on the second shelf smiling with all of his teeth intact.

As she looked at her favorite toy, she remembered the story Drosselmeier had told of the history of the Nutcracker and his quarrel with Lady Mouserinks and her son. She realized that her Nutcracker could be none other than the pleasant - but unfortunately cursed - young Drosselmeier from Nuremberg. The clockmaker from the court of Pirlipat's father could be none other than Judge Drosselmeier, which Marie had never once doubted. "But why... why didn't your uncle help you?"

It became clear to Marie that the battle she had seen was in fact a battle for the Nutcracker's kingdom and crown. Were not the dolls his subjects, and had he not fulfilled the astronomer's prediction by becoming their leader? As the clever Marie pondered over this, the more she thought of the Nutcracker and the dolls as living people, and she half-expected them to start moving about. But they remained stiff and motionless in the cabinet. But Marie, certain beyond any doubt that they really were alive, decided it was because of Lady Mouserinks's curse.

"But," she said to Nutcracker, "even if you can't move or speak, dear Mr. Drosselmeier, I know that you can understand me - I know it very well. You can count on me to help you, if you need it. At the very least I'll ask your uncle if he can help."

Nutcracker didn't move or stir, but Marie thought she heard a faint sigh and a gentle voice through the cabinet, just barely audible:

Little Marie,
Guardian sweet,
I'm yours to keep
Little Marie

A shiver ran down Marie's spine, but she was comforted nonetheless.

Dusk fell, and her father stepped into the room with Godfather Drosselmeier. Before long Louise had arranged the tea table and the family sat down and had a merry conversation. Marie quietly moved her little easy chair near Drosselmeier's feet and sat down. When everyone had quieted down she looked up at the judge with her big blue eyes and said, "Godfather Drosselmeier, I realize that the Nutcracker is your nephew, the young Drosselmeier from Nuremberg, and that he has become prince - no, king - as the astronomer had predicted, but you already know this - and that he is at battle with the son of Lady Mouserinks. Why don't you help him?" Marie once again told everyone about the battle and how it went. Everyone except for Fritz and Drosselmeier began laughing.

"Where does the girl get such ridiculous ideas into her head?" Dr. Stahlbaum asked.

"She's always had a vivid imagination," her mother said. "These are just dreams brought about by her fever."

"It's not true, any of it," Fritz said. "My hussars aren't such cowards. If they were, I'd personally discipline them."

But Godfather Drosselmeier put Marie on his lap and with an odd smile said very quietly, "Dear Marie, you were born a princess like Pirlipat, for you rule a bright and beautiful land. But you will have to suffer much if you are to look after Nutcracker, for the Mouse King will pursue him in every land and across any border. I cannot help him - only you can do that. Be faithful and strong."

Neither Marie nor anyone else knew what to say after that. The doctor took Drosselmeier's pulse and said, "You have, my esteemed friend, a severe head cold. I'll write you out a prescription."

But Mrs. Stahlbaum shook her head slowly and said quietly, "I think I know what he's saying, but I can't quite explain it."

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