|Suddenly, as the owl-topped clock strikes eight, a mysterious figure enters the room. It is Herr Drosselmeyer, Clara and Fritz’s godfather. He is a talented toymaker who has brought with him gifts for the children, including four lifelike dolls—a Harlequin and Columbine, and a Vivandière and Soldier—who dance to the delight of all.
Herr Drosselmeyer, late of Ost-Speicher, had moved, taking the gears and velvet, tools and paints of his trade with him. He set up shop in East Burnham-On-Crouch. Only a few of his dolls adorned the windows, but they were enough. At first, it was only the scruffy urchins from the streets, with their smudged faces, rosy from the chill of New L’Ondon’s cold. Soon, mothers and fathers, trying to find their absent children came also to his shop. As word spread of his works, the clientele became more genteel. He welcomed all of them. They wanted to be angry, those wealthy ones; angry at the good Doktor. He would not sell his beauties. He would sell clever watches that would light up in the darkness. He would sell music boxes that could fill the room with the loveliest fragrances and the most mysterious music. He would sell cunning puppets which could dance by themselves when a pipe was played at just the right pitch.
To say that Herr Drosselmeyer was a genius, was a laughable insult. He was courted by the wealthy patrons of New L’Ondon and plied with food and drink and whispered promises of riches if only he would sell one of his beauties. Always, a smile he gave them, and a head shake. They were not for sale. Why not, he would query, purchase a walking stick with the carved head of the Sphinx, that would chuckle at its own irony as it tapped the ground. Or a jeweled butterfly that would fly about the room before settling on the shoulder of the sweetest child. As beautiful as all of these creations were, they would not satisfy the hungry longings for the beauties.
Sir Edmond wanted only Vivian, Herr Drosselmeyer’s most beautiful of his beauties. A ballerina, she, with hair spun from angel whispers, lips of the essence of sweet dreams and eyes the envy of the sky itself. She would pirouette and twirl, dancing with such grace and beauty, that Sir Edmond had indeed lost his heart to her.
“Gentlemen, this fallen angel is the illegitimate daughter of art and science. A modern marvel of engineering, clockworks elevated to the very natural process which even now is in your blood, racing, your eyes flashing at such irreproachable beauty. Here is Gaia, here is Eve, here is Lilith, and I stand before you as her father. Sprung fully-formed from my brow, dewy and sweet; she can be yours and yours again, for her flesh is the incorruptible pale to be excused from the wages of sin.” *
Gears and paint bedamned, he loved her. He would gaze upon her for hours, memorizing her softly parted lips and smooth porcelain skin. He tried everything to encourage Herr Drosslemeyer to sell her to him. Money, power, women, and eventually rage and tears. Drosselmeyer remained unmoved. And so it continued day into night, week into month. Edmond, a pale imitation of his former self, sat, rumpled and weeping, gazing upon Vivian. New L’Ondon had moved on without him. Always a new delight, always a new allure. Drosselmeyer’s shop became quiet again, save for the tinkling sounds of dolls which dreamt real dreams and soldiers who fired muskets at unseen enemies. Overhead, a candelabra bearing flames that sang, and below, carpets whose woven ocean tapestries carried the scent of distant seas and spices. These were lost to Edmond, as he began to leave this world and enter Vivian’s.
The story was carried as an afterthought in the New L’Ondon Carrier-Times. A ruin of Herr Drosselmeyer’s shop was pictured, still smoking. No sign of Sir Edmond was ever discovered. Cryptic stories of Drosselmeyer entertained the residents of New L’Ondon for many years, but no evidence of him ever emerged. Scattered and broken marvels were found in the ashes, as well as Vivian. Vivian, broken yet still lovely. Vivian, the object of adoration and unrequited love. Broken yet still pure.
* Herr Drosselmeyer’s Doll, by Abney Park