Surviving to age eighteen, the farm boy Nicholas thinks his life ordinary until he discovers he is born to fulfill a destiny spanning far beyond his natural life. Along the journey to his destiny, he becomes aware of the power of the magical Orphic Forest, and his special relationship with it, and its Oddling creatures. Encouraged by the older brother of Father Time, King Stanislaus, and guided by Wizard Zorna, and helped by Trolls, Sprites, Floral gnomes, Elves, Dragons, and Dwarfs, he becomes champion of both Human and Oddling creatures in his daring fight to restore balance to his suffering world.
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Read an Excerpt
How Nicholas Became Santa Clause
By Sandra Jo Troupe Darrell R Troupe, Sr.
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Sandra Jo Troupe & Darrell R Troupe, Sr.
All right reserved.
Tom and Mary Clause's thirty three-acre farmstead was North East of Elfin, still in the county of Castleton, off the main town road, down in a steep but beautiful valley. An arch of intricately carved oak resembling a braid of variegated holly marked the main entry of the homestead. In the carving, shiny red berries woven into the holly design interlaced with mistletoe. Suspended from the arch, a carving depicted a six prong elk pulling an open sleigh. Marking the homestead borders, a five-foot high split-log notch-lock fence, led from the arch post along both sides. On either side of the entry gate, ditches drained rainwater runoff, the two fosse connected by a conduit under the road. The fence coursed the perimeter of the homestead. Above the entry gate, attached to a wooden arch by short lengths of brass chain, swung a sign, a wood-burned carving:
MASTER CARPENTER THOMAS CLAUSE Everything made with Love and Care
From the main gate to the main farmhouse coursed a wagon furrowed dirt road, one half-mile long. The yellow grit road ended amid a small cluster of buildings. Three hundred yards south of the brook and water wheelhouse, stood the farmhouse, made of logs and stone.
Riding atop the varda Tom could clearly see the house. With pleasure and wistfulness, he imagined the home he had made with Mary over the years as he often did when far from home. Doing so brought Mary closer to him no matter what his distance from home. Smiling, Tom could clearly see in his mind every interior of his home:
Within the farmhouse were three rooms including the cooking area, the dimensions of which a full-grown man could comfortably stand and maneuver. It spanned just three steps back, and five steps side to side. An iron bar spanned either side of the hearth from which hung a forty-pound, four-quart cast iron kettle. Beneath an iron grate the firebox cradled orange embers, which warmed a large pot of simmering stew. Before the hearth, an inlaid row of cobblestones six rows deep, five columns wide glistened in the floor before the fire, from there, into the room a plank floor of oak. Near the fire is where Jingles would curl asleep on the stones.
The big table, centered in the big room was the heart of all family activities. A trap door in the floor, not far from the table, led to the turnip cellar. To the right of the hearth, red and green curtains gently surrounded a big window overlooking Mary's neatly laid garden. Carefully placed next to the glazed Dutch door leaned a well-worn handmade sorghum broom. Further still to the right, a small room with a big feather bed; a dresser with a hand carved mirror, and a chair standing at its side. In the corner, a blanket stand held a goose down quilt lovingly stitched by Mary's hand. A narrow stone covered path coursed from the backdoor to the barn. In his mind he saw Mary's smiling face.
As Tom came closer to the homestead Jingles began to bark. Leaving Tom and the wagon lagging far behind, Jingles scampered up the dirt road toward the farmhouse, and into the barn. He immediately began chasing the cat, which hissed and dashed behind a bale of hay.
Surprised by the commotion, Mary spun on the stool where she sat milking the cow, Patches. Her eyes glimpsed Jingles. That meant one thing: Thomas was back.
Mary felt jittery and her heart raced like that of a little girl. She patted the cow on her broad side and stood, her fingers trembling. Breathless, it took Mary barely an instant to find her thoughts: the days would no longer seem so long.
A slight woman, she had long salt-and-pepper hair twisted into a braid that fell to her waist. Thomas was home.
She instinctively began to touch her face and her hair. She pulled her clothing to flatten out the wrinkles. With her tongue, she wet her lips. She could hear her husband's cart clattering up the path. He was only yards away. Somehow milking the cow seemed unimportant, and the way she looked, more.
Mary rushed to put the sloshing pale of milk into the storage tank. Within a few steps, she was standing at the water pump outside the barn. With several pulls of the pump handle, she raised a column of cold water that poured over her hands. She quickly rinsed. Drying her hands on her apron, she dashed up the path to meet Tom, not quite sure if her feet had actually touched the ground. As he stepped from the buckboard, Mary flew into Tom's arms. She clutched him with an embrace so sturdy a grizzly bear would have fought to get loose.
"My-my-my, Mary." Tom lilted, grunting, inhaling with some effort, "Ha, ... maybe I should have stayed away a little longer? Ho." He laughed. "Come." said Tom. Taking her hands into his, Tom spun Mary around. From side to side, he tugged her, playfully coaxing her from the wagon, up the path and through their front door. Mary was somewhat confused as Tom hurried her across the room.
"Tom? Tom? What are you doing?" She laughed tentatively, resisting a bit, as he nudged her toward the chair. He seated her into his rocker before the hearth.
"Tom this is your chair."
"Never mind that Mary. I have wonderful news." He could see the bewilderment on her face. She reached up to gently touch him on both cheeks as he stared down to her.
"Mary, Mary, Mary, I have a surprise for you." He tittered like a little boy, clapping his hands with childish excitement.
"Tom? Are you all right?" She felt his forehead. "You're sick. You have a fever." But she felt no fever.
"No Mary. I do not have a fever but I am hot with excitement. Cover your eyes and out stretch your arm." He tittered almost vibrating. "No peeking," Tom playfully said. "No peeking," he chuckled, pacing quickly, as he clapped his hands.
Happy, excited, but confused, she bounced on her seat, her fingers to her eyes. "Thomas Anthony Clause, what are you doing?"
"No peeking between your fingers." Quietly, Tom marched from the house.
Mary waited impatiently, wondering what had happened to her husband. In a few moments, Tom tipped back into the house. He brought the small bundle containing Nicholas up to Mary, her eyes still closed. Quiet, the baby did not move.
Face bright and rosy, Tom smiled. "Stretch your arms out, Mary. And-and," Shivering with excitement, Tom placed the bundle into Mary's arms. He bent down to her ear. "You're with ... CHILD," he shrieked.
She startled. Her smile faded, her ebullient expression flattened, replaced with puzzlement.
Mary felt a soft full bundle in her arms. The bundle had an unfamiliar shape, yet somehow familiar. It squirmed. She had warned Tom not to bring home another stray dog. They had Jingles. They needed no other.
"Oh." Mary cried out. Her eyes burst open. "Its smiling, its mouth wide open. He has no teeth Tom." Mary could see that it was certainly no dog, but a baby.
A grin frozen on his face, Tom's head bobbed. "His name is Nicholas, yeah." He intoned. "Nicholas, meet Mary, your new mommy."
Mary looked into the baby's face. Their eyes meeting, Nicholas kicked, and threw his arms upward, blowing bubbles.
"Nicholas is ours Mary, ours forever."
Confounded, Mary shook her head, while at the same time she wanted to take charge of the baby. "Tom, what have you done?" she said, softly with concern. "Whose baby is this?"
"No Tom, how can it be mine and...." She quickly sat.
Tom knelt beside her. Over the next several minutes, he told Mary the sad story of the accident, and his encounter with the magical creatures of the Orphic forest.
Confused, and sorry, Mary gasped, "Oh Tom, his poor parents, this poor child." With no other word, she took the baby. Carefully she removed the bunting. Nervous, Mary began to rock. Her eyebrows angled upward, she rocked faster.
"He's no puppy." She sputtered, "But we can't keep it, can we? I mean what would people think of us. Old folks like us, seriously. Raising a child, Tom?"
"Mary, they won't think anything.... They will be happy for us." Tom said. His finger to the side of his nose, Tom nodded, rubbing his hand across Mary's head down to her shoulders. Mary quieted and began to rock slowly.
Casting down her eyes, she looked into little Nicholas's face. "So you're ... Nicholas. What a fine looking little man you are," Mary's breathing slowed. She swallowed, as she inspected Nicholas from head to toe. He had all his fingers and all his toes. "Soon you will be a big strong man. Today, however, you are my little boy." Mary lovingly peered up to Tom.
Tom parked himself into the other rocker across from Mary. Pondering their improbable turn of fortune in life that was now his new larger family, he lit his pipe.
Rocking, he watched. Nicholas was asleep; Mary glimpsed up from the baby to see the pensive look on Tom's face.
"What are you thinking?" She asked. He breathed deeply, but continued to stare. "What, Tom?" she asked again. She knew that face of his, every line, every wrinkle and when they came something was worth thinking about. His face was a roadmap for the course of their life; she has known him all her life, it seemed. Moreover, his mind was working overtime. He was studying on a problem.
Tom took a deep breath and rocked back in the chair. Watching the fire, he took a long draw on his pipe, and puffed the smoke out from the other side of his mouth. He looked at Mary, nodding.
"There was something unnatural about their deaths," said Tom.
Mary squinted. "What do you mean, unnatural?"
"It's something I feel, here." Tom said, tapping his middle right finger to his heart. "Someone or something had designs on this family. They were the only ones hurt in the storm. It was worse where I found them. It is as if the storm ... came after them. Why? I do not know." He puffed his pipe, glimpsed Nicholas, and blew smoke, which curled around his head. "In the morning I'll construct a bed for him. Tonight he'll sleep beside the chimney where he'll be warm, dry; within arms reach."
Standing, Mary slid Nicholas into Tom's arms.
"All this has been so overwhelming," Mary said, "but I have new business that I must attend to tonight." She smiled demurely, flicking her hair.
It took Tom and instant to grasp her meaning. She could see the light in his eyes, when he did.
"It is not just we anymore." Mary said, "there are three of us now." She showed Tom her most serious face. After all the years, she loved him, she had always hoped to give him a child, but could not. She loved Tom with a love as deep as the first time they locked eyes. Mary felt sixteen again. She strode to the hearth to check her boiling pot, licked by gentle yellow flames. She removed a bowl from the mantle, filled it with rabbit stew from the pot.
She set it on the table, before Tom, with a chunk of bread and a tub of fresh butter.
"The baker made this sour dough bread yesterday." Mary snickered, "He guaranteed freshness. He said, even if I ate part of it and didn't like it, I could ask for a refund tomorrow."
Tom's face furrowed. In an instant, Tom understood her earlier smile. "Oh, yes." He thought of holding her in his arms tonight.
Mary continued, "The Baker began the starter four weeks ago, he said." she cut another slice from the loaf and set it beside his porcelain plate. "Now eat your dinner. All of it." Mary scolded mockingly. She glimpsed Nicholas within the basket where Tom had placed him.
"You mustn't worry now, Tom. It will work out. We'll set a good example ... father." Father, a word Tom had always longed to hear.
"Yes-Mother," smiling, "I'll eat every bite."
Nicholas is Growing Up
As the weeks progressed, Mary and Tom got used to being a family of three instead of two. Life seemed to become more interesting as they watched the young infant's eyes brighten, while he learned new things. Nicholas had worked his way into both their hearts. Tom and Mary worked even harder those days, yet they seemed to enjoy their struggle; as a family, they gained a new sense of purpose.
Time seemed to rush and Nicholas grew. Of his many projects with Nicholas in mind, Tom made a special cart for Nicholas so Mary could keep him nearby while she tended to her chores. A harness fit over Jingles back and shoulders. The leads attached to a small canvas covered buckboard. Tom made it to hold Nicholas's cradle and chair. On the floor of the buckboard, two slots fit the legs of the cradle; two long taut leather straps arching over the cradle cinched it in place. The straps were locked with silver buckles the width of a man's hand. A dog powered wheeled sleigh, Jingles moved Nicholas from place to place as he followed Mary. The inseparable trio became a common sight throughout the homestead and in town, with Nicholas repeating every sound and movement he encountered. He proved to be a fast learner.
After learning to walk, Nicholas showed himself to be a naturally spirited and curious child. He followed every man, animal, or Oddling, mimicking every sound and movement. An attentive child, Nicholas always watched as Tom and Mary went about their chores. He pretended to do the same chores alongside them. Always busy, always moving, always curious, Nicholas was almost hyperactive, and flitted incessantly while talking and repeating anything he heard. Yet, he was able to focus, always able to remember and recall things easily.
* * *
In the barn on a small stool, Mary sat at the cow's flank, poised to milk Patches, when Nicholas sidled up to her. Years since his adoption into the family, both Tom and Mary's hearts burst with pride at the many things Nicholas accomplished. So many things beyond his six years they had not expected him to know so soon. Nevertheless, he had never milked the cow.
An average size cow, Patches was dark brown with a white mouth, black snout, and white ankles. She was five feet high at her withers. He often asked why he could never milk the cow. Having been circumspect, Mary admitted to herself that perhaps she was a bit over protective. Why not, was a good question, but perhaps it was time, she thought.
Again Nicholas asked Mary.
"Mama, why have you never taught me to milk Patches?" Nicholas asked, propping his head on his hand, resting his elbow on her shoulder.
Mary thought for a moment. She wondered if she really had a good reason for not teaching Nicholas.
"Because, cows are very big my son." She said, shaking her head. "This chore is not without danger, if you are small. Cows may kick. They can step on you with their heavy hooves."
"Patches would never do that, mama."
"Not on purpose, son. Your small and she might not see you."
"But you're small Mama and will stay small. I'm not small, and I will grow bigger." Nicholas said, hugging Mary around her neck, "I'm getting to be big, like Papa." Nicholas said, poking out his chest and standing high on his toes. He slapped his flat belly, and showed her his small bicep. Mary saw determination on his face. He was still small but he was a good learner.
"You're a fearless young man and pretty fast on the pick up. Okay, Nicholas." Mary said, her confidence in him welling. "You know what? I am going to show you. Most children your age can't do this, but I think you can." She turned on the stool to face him. "Take your left hand," Mary said, "put it on the udder, and gently squeeze and pull down. You try it."
"Like this Momma." he repeated her actions in the air. "Right hand here, left hand there, squeeze, squeeze, pull, and pull." He latched onto Patches' udders. On an impulse, Nicholas aimed an udder at Mary and pulled. A stray stream of milk shot into Mary's lap "Ha! It worked, Momma."
"Into the bucket if you please, son." Mary insisted. Nicholas's other attempts were more successful. Mary smiled. "I knew you could. Now, fill that bucket. Then you and Jingles may feed the chickens."
One afternoon while playing in the barn, Nicholas watched Mary transfer milk from the holding tank to the butter-churn.
"Momma, May I help you carry that."
"This might be too heavy for you. I think not."
"Do you want to try?" Mary asked. Never very surprised by his wanting to do things, she turned the handle over to him. She laughed as Nicholas took the milk pail. He looped both arms around the handle, and lifted. He took two steps, slammed the pail to the floor; milk sloshed and splashed around the rim. Mary could see the determination on his face. Struggling several times with the heavy pail, Nicholas eventually reached the churn. "See Momma ... told you." He proudly showed her both biceps.
"Yes I see, you're a big boy now." She said.
Excerpted from How Nicholas Became Santa Clause by Sandra Jo Troupe Darrell R Troupe, Sr. Copyright © 2012 by Sandra Jo Troupe & Darrell R Troupe, Sr.. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Home....................1
Chapter 2 The Sheriff....................33
Chapter 3 The Trip....................45
Chapter 4 Trouble with the Aurora....................60
Chapter 5 The Visitors....................71
Chapter 6 Wallace listens....................91
Chapter 7 Wallace brings news....................99
Chapter 8 Making plans....................118
Chapter 9 The challenge....................144
Chapter 10 The Lizard Men....................155
Chapter 11 The Dragons....................184
Chapter 12 Reconciliation....................203
Chapter 13 Child of Two worlds revealed....................219
Chapter 14 Hope....................229
Chapter 15 Doubt....................236
Chapter 16 Something you should know....................245
Chapter 17 Timing is of utmost importance....................251
Chapter 18 The Rescue....................258
Chapter 19 The Castle....................271
Chapter 20 Sarah Found....................286
Chapter 21 Wallace takes control....................303
Chapter 22 Distractions....................325
Chapter 23 The Brothers....................334
Chapter 24 Solstice....................357
Chapter 25 Council of Elders and Kings of the Auroras....................369