A couple of years ago I started writing stories for my granddaughter, Maggie Belle. I’ve turned it into a Christmas tradition. Here’s the latest.
Once upon a time Miss Maggie Belle took a walk in the woods. It was a wintry day, and there were clouds in the sky that blocked out the sun, but the woods were lovely. It was very still, with only an occasional scurrying chipmunk or rabbit to break the silence.
It was beginning to snow. Large, fluffy flakes brushed the trees and settled on branches and bushes. Maggie looked up as the snowflakes floated downward and downward, until they touched her eyelashes and cheeks. They were so soft. She opened her mouth to catch a few of the flakes, feeling them melt as soon as they touched her tongue. She breathed in the cold wintry air. Everything was so quiet. Everything was beautiful.
“Hello, you’re standing on my hat,” said a very tiny voice.
Maggie was so surprised she jumped backward and landed in a pile of leaves. She sat up, brushed herself off, and looked around. “Who said that?”
“I said it,” said the faraway voice. Maggie looked down and saw a tiny little man dressed in a blue shirt, green pants and brown boots. He sat on a mushroom and picked up a crumpled red hat. “It’s alright,” he said, more to himself than to Maggie. “It’ll be good as new.” He brushed and straightened the hat and put it on his head. Then he looked up. “Pleased to meet you, even if you did step on my hat,” he said. He stuck out a tiny hand. “My name is Hal.”
“Pleased to meet you, Hal,” Maggie said. She took his hand carefully between her thumb and forefinger and shook it ever so lightly. “I didn’t mean to step on your hat. I just didn’t see it.”
“It is red, you know,” Hal said. “Kind of hard to miss.”
“Yes, but I was looking up, not down,” Maggie explained.
“No matter. Fell off my head, it did. Everything is fine,” Hal answered with a smile.
“Do you live around here? Are there more like you?” Maggie asked.
“Sure do. Sure are,” Hal said.
“Who are you and what do you do?” Maggie asked.
“I’m a gnome,” Hal explained. “We take care of the earth, the soils and the rocks. We especially love crystals.” He pointed to a geode on the ground. It was large and round with pink crystals on the sides, and it was hollow in the middle.
“That’s very pretty,” Maggie said. “May I touch it?”
The gnome stepped aside and Maggie bent over and picked up the geode. She turned it over in her hand. It was about the size of half a grapefruit.
Hal pulled himself up to his full height, which wasn’t much, only about six inches. “We make sure the crystals and all the minerals in the earth are in the right balance. We rub and polish them and help them grow.”
“That must keep you very busy,” Maggie said.
“Oh, it does, it does,” stated the gnome. “We work hard. But we play hard, too. When we’re finished with our work we celebrate in the meadow. The lady gnomes cook wonderful meals and we love to dance and sing.”
“Where is everyone else?” Maggie said, putting the geode down.
Hal’s face turned sad. “I don’t know. This morning I went to work underground, and when I came home no one was there. My wife was missing. My children were missing. My neighbors were missing.”
“Where do you think they went?” Maggie asked.
“Well,” Hal began, scratching his head. “There was talk about a monster in the woods, a dragon, but I didn’t believe it. They said he wanted to capture all of us and make us his slaves.”
“Oh, no!” Maggie exclaimed. She felt very sad for the lonely little man who stood there trying to look brave.
Just then they heard leaves rustling, followed by a large crashing sound. A voice roared through the woods. “I’m hungry. I want some gnomes for dinner.”
“Quick!” whispered Hal, running toward a tree a few feet away. “Come with me!” Maggie hurried over to the tree, which had a door big enough for her to squeeze through. Hal dashed inside and Maggie bent over and followed him. When she got inside she saw that the room was rather large, and she could stand up, although her head touched the ceiling. There were little beds with curtains in front, and tables and cupboards along the wall. There was a little stove in the corner with a steaming tea kettle. The floor was neatly swept. It looked so cozy that Maggie expected someone to come out from behind one of the curtains and offer her a cup of tea.
“Welcome to my home,” Hal said. “Actually, it’s my wife’s and children’s home and my parents’ home and my grandparents’ home. I was expecting to come home to a nice supper and play with the children before going to bed. But they are all gone.”
“Is the dragon going to eat them?” Maggie asked.
“Oh, he’d like to, but he can’t see them.”
“Why not?” Maggie wanted to know.
“Well, he captured all the people in the village except me. I was very deep underground and he didn’t know I was there. He took all the men and women he could find. Which was everybody but me. He rounded them up and took them to his castle, where he was going to make the women and children work for him. He was going to eat the men. But he couldn’t.”
“Why not?” Maggie asked.
“Because some of the woodland fairies saw what happened and helped us. They couldn’t fight the dragon and free us from the castle, but they could work a magic spell and make everyone invisible. Which is what they did. And now the dragon is angry because his house is dirty and there’s no one to clean it, and he’s hungry but can’t find anyone to eat. He’s too lazy and stupid to find food in the forest.”
“Well, it serves him right,” Maggie said angrily.
“I can’t stay by myself forever,” Hal said sadly. “Someone has to rescue the people of the village so we can go back to taking care of each other and the earth.”
“How are you going to do that?” Maggie asked.
“Me? I’m not going to try at all. There’s only one of me, and I’m too small. There’s no way I can overcome that giant monster and save my family and my people.” Hal removed his hat and wiped his brow. “You’re not all that big for a human, either. You must be a child. You are definitely too small to slay the dragon.”
“Even if I was a grown-up I’d still be too small to take on a giant dragon, Maggie said.
“There is a way, you know,” Hal said.
“What way? What do you mean?” Maggie asked.
“There is a way you can help us. As I said, the dragon is stupid and lazy. But he knows the secret of the Seven Questions. We gnomes aren’t real strong in the brains department, either. I’ve been thinking and thinking, but I can’t come up with anything, much less seven things. But the fairies tell me that if you can give the answer to the Seven Questions, he has to let the gnomes go home.”
“I don’t know about any Seven Questions,” Maggie said. “There are lots of questions in the world. How am I going to narrow it down to just seven answers to the dragon’s Seven Questions? And even if I do manage to figure it all out, how will we know when the gnomes are home if they’re invisible?”
“When the Seven Questions have been answered, the spell is broken and everyone becomes visible again.” Hal smiled. “See? It’s easy.”
“Easy for you because you’re not the one who’s supposed to know the answers,” Maggie said, stamping her foot. “Why can’t the fairies go visit the dragon and answer his questions?”
Hal rubbed his chin. “The dragon can’t see very well, and the fairies are like little puffs of smoke. He can barely hear or see them. It has to be someone bigger. Like a human child. Like you.”
“But I don’t want to go into a dangerous dragon’s castle, and try to guess the answer to his questions. I don’t think I’ll be able to figure them out, and then when he sees that I can’t he’ll blow fire and roast me and eat me up. No, thanks,” Maggie said.
“But don’t you see? You’re our only hope. If you don’t try, all the gnomes will be lost. If they stay invisible too long they’ll die. And because I can’t take care of the earth’s minerals all by myself, the crust will crack and there will be terrible earthquakes and volcanoes and it will be very bad for you humans.”
“Well, gosh, you make it sound so pleasant,” Maggie said. She thought for a moment. “I’ve never tried to match wits with a dragon before, so you’ll have to excuse me if I seem a bit scared.”
“You’ll be safe as long as you answer each question. One question a day. He can’t touch you after he asks the question, and if you answer correctly he has to let you go until the next day. If you answer all the questions correctly he has to let everyone go, including you.”
“Wait. There’s a chance he could capture me and lock me up and make me work for him? Or eat me?” Maggie shivered.
“You will do well. The fairies will help you, and there are other creatures of the forest who will know some of the answers. I pray you will do this for us. For all of us. For all the earth.”
“Okay,” Maggie said. “What do I do first?”
Hal explained that she had to go to the castle and call out to the dragon. When he came out she had to tell him that she was the Warrior of the Seven Questions. This was the first day and he had to ask her the first question. She would be given three guesses, and if she answered correctly he could not touch her for 24 hours. She was to go home and come back on the second day. If she answered incorrectly the dragon would lock her in the dungeon and fatten her up until she was nice and plump and ready to eat.
“But first we will have a meal and rest. You can see the dragon first thing in the morning,” Hal said, getting up from the table. Maggie wished she was safe at home with her parents and her brothers. But the gnomes needed her help, and she was willing to help because she wanted the gnomes to be safe, and all the earth to be safe. She ate the tiny bowl of porridge the gnome offered her and made a little bed on the floor. She was still a little hungry, but she knew that a human sized meal would be much too difficult for a gnome to cook. She fell asleep and dreamed there were fairies dancing around her, chattering about questions and answers.
* * *
“Hello? Is anybody home?” Maggie stood at the drawbridge of the castle with four towers. She felt small and was more than a little afraid.
“Who knocks at my door?” boomed a voice from within.
“My name is Magnolia Belle, Mr. Dragon,” Maggie said in a shaky voice. “Can I come in?”
“Why do you wish to enter the castle of the fierce and terrible Dragonius?” the creature asked.
“Um, because I’m a warrior at the door . . . I mean, I’m the Warrior of the Seven Questions,” Maggie said.
Maggie walked slowly inside. She knew that the dragon couldn’t hurt her after she told him she was the Warrior of the Seven Questions, because he couldn’t touch her until he’d asked the first question, and then if her answer was correct he couldn’t touch her then, either. Not for 24 hours, anyway. But he was pretty terrifying. She hoped she’d be brave enough to stand without shaking so hard she’d fall down.
A fire-breathing dragon slid into the room. He had an enormous tail with a barb at the end, and had huge scales that smoked in the morning light. He was bright green and his eyes were yellow and red. He had enormous teeth that looked sharp as knives. He blinked his two-colored eyes and looked down at Maggie.
“You have been sent by the gnomes? You must have very sharp eyes, because for some reason they’ve disappeared and I can’t find those pesky creatures.” He peered down at the little girl standing in the sunlight. “You are indeed small for a warrior. I don’t think you will make a very large meal, but let’s get on with it, anyway. Are you brave?”
“Yes, I’m brave,” Maggie said in a strong voice. “Now ask me a question.”
“You seem to be in a hurry,” the dragon said, switching his tail back and forth. “I like to play with my food.”
“Hold on! I’m not your food yet, remember?” Maggie said. “You can’t touch me now because I told you I was the Warrior of the Seven Questions, and you can’t touch me before you ask your first question, and if I answer it correctly you can’t touch me then, either.”
“But only for the first 24 hours. You know your task well, little Warrior,” the dragon said, throwing back his head and showing his razor-sharp teeth. “Can you guess the first question?”
“You haven’t asked it yet. That’s not the way it goes, and you know it,” Maggie said. “I don’t have to know the question. Just the answer.”
“Very well,” said the dragon, flicking his tail. “I’m tired of this game, anyway.” He closed his eyes and started humming to himself. He hummed and hummed until Maggie grew very restless. Was he ever going to stop? Was this his question? Was it a tune she was supposed to know?
Just when she thought she couldn’t stand it any longer, the dragon opened his eyes, lifted his head, and roared: “What are the four things that make up the earth?”
Maggie thought and thought. “Let’s see,” she said to herself. “There are rocks and trees and oceans and clouds and grass and flowers. And animals and people. And the things that people make. Does that count?”
“Let’s get on with it. You have only three guesses. What is your answer?” the dragon bellowed.
“He said there were four things, so that narrows it down,” Maggie mumbled to herself. “There are only a few things . . . a few . . . a few! A – F – E – W. She looked the dragon straight in the eye and said: “The four things that make up the earth are Air, Fire, Earth and Water.”
There was a long silence. The dragon did not come forward to snatch her up. Maggie waited and waited.
The dragon finally spoke. “Begone, child. This day you have had good fortune. Come back tomorrow morning and you may not fare so well. There are six more questions. I plan to eat you, you know.”
“I got that,” Maggie said. Then she turned around and ran out of the castle with the four towers as fast as she could. She ran to the gnome’s house. It was a long way, but it was the only safe place in the forest. She wanted to be there long before the 24 hours were up, in case the dragon decided not to play fair and come after her, anyway.
“You are here. I assume the first day went well?” Hal said when Maggie ran breathlessly into the house.
“Yes, I got the answer to the first question. But there are still six left to go,” she said. She yawned. “I need a nap, because I didn’t sleep too well last night.”
“Very well,” said Hal, laying several blankets down on the floor. “Rest and be strong for the second day.”
Maggie lay down on the soft blankets and fell fast asleep.
* * *
Maggie again stood at the drawbridge in front of the castle. She looked up at its four towers and wondered if anyone else lived there.
“Enter!” the dragon bellowed in his raspy voice.
Maggie went inside the large hall and watched the dragon enter from the other side of the castle.
“It’s question time,” Maggie said, trying to smile. She didn’t want the dragon to know that inside she was really quite afraid.
“Getting right to it, are we?” the dragon asked in a sly voice. “Where’s the fun in that? Wouldn’t you like a cup of tea first?” He waved a scaly paw, but there were no servants to bring him a teapot or a cup. He had eaten them. “Oh, never mind,” he said irritably. “The gnomes will come back, and then I will have my tea.” His face brightened. “ Wait, but you won’t be having tea with me. you’ll be the cookie with my tea.”
He looked Maggie straight in the eye and said, “Very well, then. I’ll give you the second question. How many disabled rodents were dismembered? What was their disability? Who dismembered them? And what body part was dismembered?”
“Wait, no fair,” Maggie responded. “That’s four questions.”
“I make the rules, I break the rules,” roared the dragon, throwing back his head and laughing, which made him hiccup and blow flames. He reached out a scaly paw and Maggie jumped backward.
“Stay right there,” she said, putting out her hand. “I can’t think when you get nasty.” She thought about rodents. What were rodents? Rodents were rats, of course. And mice. Yes, mice! How many mice? One? Two? Three? There were three, and . . . they were blind. “Three blind mice, three blind mice,” Maggie sang. “See how they run. They all ran after the farmer’s wife . . . so she’s the one who dismembered them . . . who cut off their tails. With a carving knife, by the way.” She was very pleased with herself. Things were looking pretty easy at this point. She looked up at the dragon and shouted triumphantly, “The rodents were mice, and there were three of them. Their disability was that they were blind. The farmer’s wife cut off their tails.”
The dragon became very angry. He roared and roared. He opened his jaws and huge flames shot out of his mouth. Maggie couldn’t believe what happened next. The dragon broke the rules and reached out and grabbed Maggie, who was speechless with fright.
He pinned her arms behind her back and took her down, down, down to the dungeon. He threw her into a cell and locked the door. “I’m hungry and I’m tired of waiting for my food. I’ll find one of those stupid she-gnome creatures if it’s the last thing I do, and I’ll have her bring you tasty snacks from my cupboard and you will eat them until you are plump and tender, and then I will eat you up!”
Maggie sat on the edge of the hard bed in the cell and began to cry. How was she ever going to rescue the gnomes? She had answered two of his questions correctly, and instead of freeing the gnomes she made things worse. The dragon would find a way to break the spell and make the gnomes visible, and then they’d become slaves. He would eat her up and she would never get home. Her parents would never know what happened to her. What was she going to do?
Maggie sat on the bed in the dark dungeon and cried herself to sleep.
* * *
“Hello, little one,” a tiny voice said.
Maggie woke up and rubbed her eyes. “Who’s there?” she asked.
“My name is Lilya,” said the tiny voice. “I am a fairy, and I have come to rescue you.”
Maggie looked all around the cell. Near the door she saw a tiny creature with wings. The little creature flew about the room.
“Will you help me get back home to my family?” Maggie asked.
“Alas, I cannot do that, but I can help you defeat the dragon.”
“How are you going to do that? He doesn’t play fair. He wasn’t supposed to touch me if I got the answer right, but I got it right and he did, anyway, and here I am. Why don’t you just answer the questions yourself and let me go home?”
The fairy flew close to Maggie so she could look into her eyes. “Alas, little one, we do not understand his questions, because we don’t understand his world. The gnomes are simply not clever enough to answer, for they live only partially in the world above ground. However, the dragon world and the human world are similar, so his questions are not too difficult for you. After all, you’ve correctly answered two of them already.”
“”More like five,” Maggie mumbled. “His second question wasn’t just one question. It was four.”
“But how do I get out of here?” she continued. “And if you’re able to get me out of here, how will I be safe from that awful dragon before I can answer the rest of his questions?”
“I will cast another magic spell,” Lilya said. “I will put an invisible shield around you that the dragon will not be able to break. It will last through the next questions. But it will work only as long as you can answer the questions correctly. If you give a wrong answer the shield will melt and the dragon will be able to touch you. If that happens, I suggest you run very fast.”
“Wow, that makes me feel great,” Maggie said, frowning. “And then what happens?”
“We will then help you get back to your family,” said the fairy.
She took out her magic wand. “Very well. Let us begin.” She flew in circles around Maggie, round and round and round, weaving a powerful invisible shield. Then she waved her wand and clusters of tiny stars flew out. They settled on the thick metal door and the lock magically opened.
“Hurry!” said the fairy. “This way!” They ran down a long hallway to another door. Lilya opened that lock as well and they ran outside.
“Where do I go now?” Maggie asked. Before the fairy could answer her question a large white unicorn appeared.
“Hello, my name is Sonata. I will take you back to the gnome’s house. Hop up.”
“We will meet again soon,” Lilya called to Maggie as she flew away.
Maggie climbed onto the unicorn’s back and they sailed through the air, above the treetops. Maggie could see the dragon’s castle and it made her shiver. Was she really going to go there again? After being locked up by a dragon who promised he wouldn’t touch her?
“I just want to go home,” she said to Sonata.
“And you shall, my child,” said the unicorn.
“I mean, I want to go home now. Can you take me there?” Maggie asked.
“Unfortunately, I am unable to pierce through my world into the world of humans,” Sonata said. “But the time is coming soon when you will be able to go home.”
Maggie sighed. Would she really be able to see her mother and father and brothers again? She hoped so. She would try to be brave until then. And besides, she was very hungry, because gnomes and dragons did not know how to cook like her mother.
* * *
Maggie stood quietly inside the great hall of the castle. She felt very small and very frightened.
“How did you escape from the dungeon? Did those stupid gnomes help you?” The dragon looked very angry. He swished his tail and opened his gigantic mouth and reached out with his scaly paws, but he could not break through the invisible shield that Lilya had woven around Maggie.
“None of your business,” Maggie replied. “I’m the Warrior of the Seven Questions, remember?” When she saw that the dragon could not reach her, she felt a little braver. “How about asking me another question so I can save the gnomes and go home?”
“Who told you that you could save the gnomes? They belong to me, human child.”
Maggie ignored his fiery bluster. “As if. Question Number Six, please,” she said politely.
The dragon flopped around, waving his paws and blowing fiery blasts, but he could not reach Maggie.
“You have answered only two questions,” the dragon said, narrowing his eyes. “You must answer five more.”
“Um, no, I don’t think so,” Maggie said. “The first was only one question, but the second had four parts.”
This made the dragon so angry he pounded the floor, because he knew that Maggie was right and she had to answer only two more questions, not five. There was nothing he could do about it.
“What did they put in the bed of the princess so that she was unable to sleep?”
“What princess?” Maggie said, looking puzzled.
“That is guess number one and it is not correct. you now have only two guesses left,” roared the dragon.
“No, wait. I’m thinking,” Maggie said, taking a step backward. She tapped her chin and thought about it. Why couldn’t the princess sleep? Did somebody take her pillow? Probably not. Was there something in the bed that should not have been there? Maybe. She tried to remember a story about a princess and a . . . vegetable. A carrot? A tomato? Too messy.
“A pea! It was a pea!” Maggie declared proudly.
The dragon roared and thrashed his heavy tail. He was very, very angry. He reached out and tried to grab Maggie, but try as he might he could not do it.
Maggie turned around, and as she walked out of the great hall she sang, “See you later, alligator.”
And then there was one last question.
* * *
On the morning of the next day Maggie pulled the handle outside the castle door and heard the bell ring inside. No one came to the door. She pulled again. Still no answer. She pushed on the door and it swung open. Maggie walked into the great hall and looked around for the dragon. The hall was empty.
“Mr. Dragonius? Are you home?” Maggie asked. From the back of the hall she heard bumping and scraping and scratching.
Walking farther into the hall, Maggie asked again, “Anybody home?” She was anxious to answer the last question, because then the gnomes would be free and she could go home at last.
She stood still and waited. After several minutes had passed, she saw the dragon coming from the back of the hall. He walked slowly, and he did not thrash his tail. There was no fire coming from his mouth.
“I’d like to answer Question Number Seven, please,” Maggie said. But when she looked more closely at the dragon, she asked, “Are you okay?”
Dragonius did not answer. A puff of cold smoke came out of his mouth and a large tear slid down his cheek.
“It’s time for the last question,” Maggie reminded him, in case he didn’t remember.
Finally the dragon spoke. “Yes, yes, the last answer.” His words were spoken in a much softer voice. In fact, Maggie could barely hear him.
“Very well,” Dragonius began. “What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening? You have three tries. If you are wrong the third time I will throw you in the dungeon and eat you.”
Maggie shivered when she heard this. She didn’t know where her thoughts would take her, but she hoped it would be towards an answer, because this sounded like a hard puzzle.
“Do you have an answer, Warrior of the Seven Questions?” Dragonius asked. His voice sounded a little stronger with each word.
“I need some time to think,” Maggie told him.
“You have until the clock strikes eight,” the dragon said.
Maggie looked up. The clock in the great hall said 7:50. She had ten minutes. What kind of animal was he talking about? Goats and cats and and cows and sheep . . . all kinds of animals walked on four legs, but she’d never seen one stand up and walk on only two of those legs. Well, she did see a dog in a circus walk on his hind legs once, but it had been trained to do so. Maggie didn’t think that was the answer.
And then what about in the evening? If it did stand up and walk on two legs, and then got tired, why would it drop down and only walk on three legs? Did someone chop off the fourth leg? Like in the Three Blind Mice puzzle? No, that probably wasn’t the answer, either.
“Have you come up with an answer, human child?” the dragon prompted.
Maggie was in a hurry to get this over with, so she said, “A dog that does a circus act and then gets caught in a trap and accidentally gets his leg cut off?” It was not the correct answer, and Maggie knew it.
The dragon tilted his head back and laughed a sinister laugh. “We both know that is not the answer. You have two more tries.”
Maybe it’s not an animal, Maggie thought to herself. But then what would it be? What else had four legs to begin with? It was really hard to solve this puzzle.
Maggie felt tired. She thought about home and the people who loved her. She wished she could be there right now. She thought about her brothers when they had been babies, crawling all over the house, like they were puppies with . . . with four legs! Okay, and then when they got older they stood up and walked on two legs. So that was the second part of the puzzle. But what about the part that said three legs? Did humans grow an extra leg when they got older?
She’d never seen a person with three legs. One time she did see an old man crossing the street. He barely made it before the light turned red because he had to use a cane and couldn’t walk very fast.
Wait! Two regular legs and one helper leg. That made three. The morning time was when a person was little and crawled, the afternoon was when they got to be a kid and then a grown-up and used their two good legs, and the evening was when they got old and needed some help, with a walking stick that made a helper leg.
“It’s a person. Someone who lives in my world,” Maggie said. “The world I want to go back to.”
Dragonius opened his mouth and spat fire. He thumped his tail so hard Maggie thought it would fall off. He jumped as high as a dragon could jump (which actually isn’t that high) and came down with a huge thud.
As he threw himself and thrashed about, Maggie realized he was getting smaller. She watched as his tail grew shorter and his mouth could no longer spit fire. His scales fell off, one by one, and his eyes became rounder. He stood up straighter, and his scaly paws lengthened and smoothed out. Maggie could hardly believe her eyes. She blinked a couple of times, and after several minutes the dragon was totally gone. In the dragon’s place stood a tall man with a beard and a crown on his head.
“Hello, Warrior of the Seven Questions,” said the king, for he was a king. “You have saved the forest creatures and broken the spell an evil witch had placed upon me a hundred years ago. I was forced to be a dragon. The gnomes and the fairies and all the animals were afraid of me, for I did terrible things. The witch said that only a little warrior with yellow hair could save me, one who could answer the seven questions. You are a small warrior and have yellow hair, and you have answered these questions bravely and honestly. The gnomes are free.
Maggie watched as hundreds of little people with pointed hats came streaming into the hall, followed by a twinkling of fairies that flew in like snowflakes. “Hail, Magnolia Belle,” they shouted.
Hal came forward then. “We can go back to working with the minerals that make our earth. We will be forever grateful to you, Warrior of the Seven Questions. Will you be our queen?”
“Um, thank you very much for inviting me,” Maggie said, shaking hands all around. “I’m glad I could help, but I really need to go back to my home.”
The king told Maggie that if she ever needed anything, she should come back to the woods and stand on the spot between two large rocks and make a wish.
“I’ll do that,” Maggie said, shaking the king’s hand.
“Are you ready?” Sonata trotted in and stood beside Maggie.
“Good-bye, everyone,” she called out, and hopped on his back. “Take me home, Sonata.” They flew up into the air.
As she climbed off the back of the unicorn in front of her home between the big oak trees, she wondered, “How am I ever going to explain this to my parents?”