A letter by Mr Christian Elias Droßelmeier to his goddaughter, Miss Marie Stahlbaum, soon to be Queen of Toyland
My dear Marie,
It was certainly my meaning to be present at your wedding to my nephew. Though, as you know, I have begun to strangely miss my years of travel and therefore set out on another trip to visit all those far-flung countries I did not explore enough during those years, my meaning was to return home for this day with some great present worth a queen (though, as you already know, it counts for much less whether one is a queen or not, and much more how royal one’s heart is).
But on my travels I have ended up in the court of the Sheik of Hazaristan, from where I am now writing this letter to you. The Sheikh has for a long time wished for someone to repair all the clocks of his palace, and for that purpose he invited me to stay with him. I know to be vary of royals of all sorts, but I was the most curious to see his court and explore his library. Also the royal astronomist, who travels with me, wished dearly to converse with the royal astronomist of Hazaristan, and therefore we decided to accept the invitation. It would take a whole another letter to tell you even briefly of all that I have seen in the mountainous land of Hazaristan and in this curious court.
But I made the mistake of telling the Sheikh about my creations in the past - learn from this, Marie! Never tell anyone more than you have to, and never tell royalty about all that you can do (perhaps this should even include my nephew your future husband, just in case, but if you do not want to include him in your circle of mistrust, I do believe he is much better than royals have a tendency to be). For the Sheikh has now demanded that I should build a miniature copy of his palace, just like the castle I built for you and Fritz on that fateful Christmas when you met the Nutcracker (perhaps the Sheikh shall appreciate it more than you two ungrateful children appreciated that castle). And after that he wishes for me to build copies of all the castles I have seen in Europe, and then a clock to tell him the movements of the stars and tomorrow’s weather as well as the hearts of his enemies. The latter shall be the most difficult and I don’t quite know how to do it. So I am afraid I may not make it to your wedding in time.
I have tried to explain to the Sheikh that I have a royal wedding to attend, but he is the most doubtful of the existence of the Kingdom of Toys. He says that after I have accomplished my task, he and I will journey to meet you and your husband, and then he will give you the most glorious presents if you and your kingdom truly exist. I shall not mention what he plans to give you, for he is capricious and may change his mind about the presents any time, and it would not do to tell you now you are to receive a gown encrusted with jewels, or a thousand beautiful carpets, or a jewellery box made of lapis lazuli, or whatever else it may please him to give you; as by the time we set out he may be planning something quite different. Either way I have told him not to give you any sweets, for in your future kingdom you shall not lack sweeths nor toothache.
But not wanting to forsake my godfather duties, I have begged leave to make you a present which I hope will be as useful to you as my presence would be, or more. I am enclosing a handful of pretty trinkets to please your court, but as a queen you shall need something more refined.
It is a clock, as you can see, and a very pretty one so that you shall not immediately lose your interest, for I know how young you still are. But it does not tell you any ordinary time, oh no! I would rather say it tells the right time.
It shall tell you when it is time to sleep and time to dream; when it is time to speak and time to be quiet; when it is time to listen to others and time to tell them to be quiet and only listen to your own heart, for in certain situations it is the only one who can tell you the truth. It tells you a few other things besides, but you are a fairly intelligent girl so I shall let you discover them yourself.
I hope I have done all my calibrations correctly. These matters are so delicate that it is quite a task for even such an accomplished clockmaker as I am. Therefore I recommend that just to be on the safe side, you will also learn to listen to what that little inner voice tells you at all times, for if you can hear it just right, it will tell you these things more surely than the handsomest clock ever could. Surely enough, most people are not capable of this, for they are constantly listening to the voices of everyone else, hoping that other people will tell them what time it is and what they are to do, even though others are just as confused about it as they are and only invent lies as answers to make themselves feel better. And the Kingdom of Toys will make quite an extraordinary racket, I believe (though still not comparable to a courtroom of lawyers and defendants and witnesses, I am sure of that).
But I have some small faith in you, Marie. Your inner voice was telling you quite resolutely what to do in the case of the unfortunate Nutcracker, although your dear family and even your wise godfather were telling you quite the opposite (I knew what was going on, of course, but it was quite necessary that you be left to following your own heart and instinct only). Therefore you might be one of those rare individuals who learn to listen to their inner voice in all situations. But if not, watch the clock. It should be more trustworthy than people at any rate, and at least it looks very pretty.
This is my wedding gift for you. May you and my good-hearted little nephew be very happy and reign more wisely in your kingdom than any human kings and sheiks reign in theirs (I daresay you shall succeed). I will be on my way to visit you as soon as it is possible. Maybe it will even be possible to trick the Sheikh and come to the wedding after all, but before doing that one must carefully weigh the risks. Therefore I only promise: I shall be there when the time is right.
Christian Elias Droßelmeier