Early this morning, a little bird arrived with a message for Master Elrond.
It was from Master Allanon, Elrond's cousin and soon to be Amberle's tutor. It would seem Master Allanon had finished his mission in the Lonely Mountains to gather herbs and other magical sorts of things found only in those wilds. He was planning to return to the Academy today....Christmas Eve. And, it on his way down from the mountains, he met Father Christmas. Father Christmas had quite a lot of gifts to deliver to good girls and boys and was a bit burdened with them all. To be kind, Master Allanon agreed to help him out by delivering our household's gifts himself.
Master Elrond called the household together for a special assembly and announced the good news. The girls were overjoyed!
Well, most of the girls were overjoyed. Amberle didn't look joyous at all...not even with the news Master Allanon was bringing gifts.
While the other girls ran off to tell everyone the good news, Amberle quietly slipped back to her room.
Merilwen and Betsy ran to spread the news to the other little girls of the household.
Tottie, a member of my household and a fellow travel companion, had been visiting the academy and quickly brought the news to our household.
I spread the news to Eilonwy and our larger companion friends....
and to Penny, who was doing double duty as a companion and a Christmas decoration.
I took a moment to climb the Christmas tree to look out the window, hoping perhaps Master Allanon was bringing snow as well as gifts from Father Christmas.
I was disappointed to see only rain, but even a dreary rain can't stop the joy of Christmas.
Once the news was spread, the girls returned to the academy.
Merilwen looked concerned at that. "Well, just make sure you don't use them. If you do and Miss Merriweather finds out I helped you smuggle them in here, I'll be peeling potatos in the kitchen, sweeping all the floors, dusting and doing all sorts of extra chores and assignments until she thinks I've learned my lesson. And, if you get caught, somehow I don't think Master Allanon would object to you having to do extra chores to keep you busy and out of trouble. I really prefer to have fun during my free time, so I do mostly try to keep out of mischief....although I don't always succeed in that."
In the meanwhile, downstairs, Ms. Merriweather heard a rather large "POP!" and Master Allanon suddently appeared in the classroom...right out of thin air!
"Oh Good Heavens! You DID startle me, Master Allanon!" Miss Merriweather exclaimed.
Allanon bowed deeply. "My sincere apologies, my dear Miss Merriweater. I should have given you warning I was coming before just dropping in. I'll be more careful next time."
Miss Merriweather blushed a bit (something we have noticed happens quite frequently around Master Allanon). "Oh, no matter, no matter at all. My, my....are those the gifts for the girls?"
"Yes indeed...in fact, there are gifts for everyone," Allanon smiled.
Before long, Master Allanon was seated in Elrond's study with his bag of gifts. The girls eagerly gathered round. Well, except for Amberle, who refused to leave her room. Even her grandmother could not coax her into joining the festivities.
With a sigh, Lady Celebrian returned to the study and the festivities began. Master Allanon read a Christmas Story to the girls....
And then began presenting the gifts. A wonderful, large doll for the academy girls. Miss Merriweather said she was a sewing model, for the girls to learn to sew and create clothes. The girls paid no mind to that part...to them, she was not a doll at all, but a new companion. They eagerly began trying to think of names for her (without reaching much agreement).
A lovely new necklace for Marley, Miss Merriweather's helper. A pet mouse for Paddington (much to Miss Meriweather's dismay)....A lovely necklace for Miss Merriweather, much to her surprise and delight... (and she really DID blush when Master Allanon handed it to her )...
A necklace for Celebrian and new maps for Elrond.
After he finished handing out the academy gifts, Master Allanon made the rounds of the rest of the household until every companion, except one, had a gift.
Amberle was still sulking in her room. She heard a quiet knock. Thinking it was Merilwen, she told her to come in. When the visitor entered the room, Amberle cried out in dismay and buried her face in her pillow.
"Amberle, my dear niece....it has been quite awhile since I've seen you. You were only a tiny little girl then and now you are a lovely young woman. And quite talented I understand."
Amberle started up in shock. "Talented????" she thought....nobody had ever called her powers a talent.
That is the last thing she expected to hear. She slowly looked at her uncle.
He didn't look as...cross...as she thought he might given his knowledge of her recent exploits. In fact, he looked rather kind. Elspeth, Amberle's dog, even jumped into Allanon's lap. Hmm..that was strange. Elspeth had a good sense for people and she obviously liked her Uncle.
"Don't thank me," chuckled Allanon, "You can thank Father Christmas for that gift."
"But...I do have some gifts for you myself. First of all, a magic textbook...we will be needing that as soon as the holidays are over and we begin our lessons."
"And, some new potions bottles. I made these especially for you."
Amberle's eyes widened. These were the prettiest potions bottles she had ever seen. All made of colored glass with golden stoppers.
Her Uncle continued.
"But, for these, I would like to propose a trade."
Amberle quickly nodded her agreement. My goodness! Merilwen was right! There would be no mischief at the academy anymore!
Her Uncle Allanon simply smiled at her, nodding his head, "Correct you are, my dear."
"You know Amberle, it is really not very late. How would you like to go visit your parents tonight?"Amberle happily agreed, and off they went for a Christmas Eve visit.
In their dorm, the other girls played with their new doll....although still not agreeing on a name. Everyone was having a Merry Christmas indeed.
Much later that evening, the girls were all tucked into bed, with visions of Sugar Plums dancing in their heads....
And the Academy staff settled down for some tea and a nice silent night.
And with that, I bid you all a Most Merry and Peaceful Christmas!