N OW you thought very likely that there was not to be another story, and it did seem for a while as if nothing more were going to happen to Nutcracker and Sugardolly.
The castle children loved Sugardolly dearly. She sang them all the songs she had learned from the bees, and the birds, and the gold bugs. She told them about the party at the palace of the Fairy Rosebush, and her housekeeping in the cave of the dwarfs.
And Nutcracker, for once in his life, was useful. He was able to climb up to the high places in the garden and fetch down the toys when they were lost—the hoop, the ball, and the shuttlecock. So the children fed Nutcracker all the nuts he could eat, and Sugardolly all the sugar she wished, and matters went very well for a while.
But, after a little, the time drew near to Christmas. In the corner cupboard of the castle playroom there was a mouse hole, and through the mouse hole for weeks before Christmas came the Fairy Honeymouth bringing chains of sugar corn, and silver cobwebs, and gold nuts for the Christmas tree.
Now the castle children never opened the door of the corner cupboard, for they were proper mannered children and knew that they should not. But Nutcracker and Sugardolly grew very curious, and, because they had not good manners, one night, when the whole castle was asleep, they opened the door of the corner cupboard. They saw the gold nuts and the silver cobwebs, and they found the mouse hole.
"Let us go through this dark passage," said Nutcracker, "and see where it ends."
"We will," said Sugardolly.
So the two squeezed themselves through the mouse hole and hurried along until they reached the end of the passage. And there they found themselves in the most beautiful place—the garden of their godmother, the Fairy Honeymouth. There was the same silver fence, and the gold lattice gate. The tree with the great green nuts on one side, and the sugar tree on the other, the birds singing, and sugar, sugar everywhere.
They forgot all about the castle children who had been so kind to them. Nutcracker began pulling out the birds' tail feathers to stick in his cap. He climbed the trees, and shook down all the nuts. Sugardolly filled her pockets and her shoes with sugar, and began tearing up by their roots the sugar flowers.
"Don't do it. Don't do it," sang the birds sadly, as they had sung once before to the peddler and his wife, but Nutcracker and Sugardolly did not heed them. They went on spoiling the garden.
Then, out of her palace in a rage came their godmother, the Fairy Honeymouth.
"Naughty Nutcracker, naughty Sugardolly to run away so often," said the Fairy Honeymouth. She touched them with her wand. "You," she said to Nutcracker, "shall be turned to wood, and crack nuts all your life, but never eat another." And to Sugardolly she said, "You shall be turned to a sugar doll."
And that is what happened to Nutcracker and Sugardolly.
Upon Christmas morning the castle children opened the door of the corner cupboard. Oh, the wonder of it! All the old toys were gone, and new ones stood in their places. In glittering splendor stood the Christmas tree hung with sugar chains, and silver cobwebs, and gold nuts. And listen! On the tip top of the tree stood Sugardolly, her hair still curled, her skirts still outspread, and she was still wearing her dancing shoes, but her hair, and her skirts, and her shoes were made of pink sugar. And beneath Sugardolly, his great head peering out from the branches, his jacket tidily buttoned, and his wide mouth open, ready to crack the Christmas nuts that he might never eat, hung Nutcracker, all made of wood.
The news reached the cock who lived in the peddler's barnyard, and he mounted to the highest church steeple in town to try to see what had become of his old friend Nutcracker. And the cock stands there still, blown by all the winds of heaven, for he was not able to climb down again. And when the nights are chill and frost flies, when the storms beat against the windowpane, little children sit by the fire and tell the true stories of Nutcracker and Sugardolly, who had so many adventures, and who will hang on the Christmas tree as long as children believe in fairies.