To your left, as you enter the parlor of the Stahlbaum home, is a tall glass cabinet. Displayed in this case are all the children’s lovely toys. Luisa was a young child when her father had the case constructed by a talented cabinetmaker who installed large, clear glass panes. Mamma meticulously organized all the toys to appear prettier on the shelves than in the hands. Marie and Fritz could not access the upper shelf, where Mamma displayed Godfather Drosselmeier’s fantastic mechanics. A shelf with picture books was located directly below this. Marie and Fritz maintained the two lowest shelves. Marie utilized the lowest shelf as a dollhouse, while Fritz cantoned his troops on the shelf directly above.
As this Christmas Eve drew to a close, Fritz positioned his new toy soldiers on their shelf. Marie set aside Miss Trutchen, her old doll, replacing her with the new, exquisitely dressed Miss Clara. She promptly extended herself an invitation to tea. Two little chairs and a lovely chintz sofa sat in one corner of the dollhouse shelf. A tea table and a crisp, white linen bed decorated the opposite end. Illustrations of whimsical scenes adorned the walls of the cupboard, like a real room. Marie assured Miss Clara she would undoubtedly feel cozy here.
It was past midnight, and Godfather Drosselmeier had long since returned home. The children could not pull themselves away from the glass case, despite their mother’s call for bedtime.
Finally capitulating, Fritz agreed with his mother. “It is true,” he said, referring to his soldier, “The poor boys need to get a little slumber, and as long as I am here, not one of them will dare to nod.” He ended his speech by retiring to bed.
Marie, however, pleaded, “Please, darling mother, let me stay a bit longer. I have two or three things to take care of, and I’ll go to bed as soon as I’m finished.” As Marie was a well-behaved and sensible youngster, her mother agreed. Mamma then extinguished the candles around the cabinet, knowing that the new doll would distract Marie. When her mother left the room only the warm, soothing light of the chandelier remained.