It clocked in at 17,045 words, and 42 single-spaced pages. It wrote itself in four days. The words literally flew from my fingertips, and I felt as if I were merely the machinery that enabled the story to be written. It played itself out before me with an ease that was delightful. Ah, my beloved Christmas Tales, you are such ducky-dears! *hugs to my various manuscripts*
I rediscovered how much I love writing in this story. I allowed everything to end happily. No one minds a little bit of cliche at Christmastime. ;) The first word was "Apple", the last "Heath". In fact, I am so happy about this particular Christmas Tale, and it was so obliging to me, I thought I'd let you read the end of the story. Enjoy!
"Mr. Delgrade held out his arms and she (author's note: "she" refers to Nan Thrushwood--the recently discovered daughter of Mr. Delgrade) came to them, and father and child wept together. Lisette slipped away to the window, and stared out through the pane onto the blue and silver tapestry of moon and sky. Her heart ached with a keen longing. A longing for a place in this world. She knew that her services at the Heath were no longer needed. Nan was the only cure Mr. Delgrade needed, the only treatment his illness would require. If his convalescence continued at this same rate, it would only be a few short months until he would be entirely well again. She would leave after Christmas, she decided. It would not be proper to stay any longer than her professional skills were needed. But the thought shook her heart with the force of a gale, and she could not stay the emotions that poured tears down her cheeks and jerked quiet sobs out of her throat. She would leave the father and daughter to themselves, and pack her things quietly. She turned, and tiptoed across the carpet, but the hem of her dress caught on the fireplace tools and knocked them over. She froze as Mr. Delgrade’s voice, warm and whole, fell upon her ear.
“Miss Allenham, where do you think you are going?”
“To my room, sir.”
“To your room? We are in this together, I’m afraid, Miss Allenham.”
“Has our teacher dismissed us yet? How do we know she hasn’t more lessons to teach us?” Mr. Delgrade put Nan to the side with gentle hands, and rose, slow and unsteady in body, yet sure of himself. Lisette stood, immobile, at the fireplace. Mr. Delgrade advanced, and Lisette wished she could flee the room, but his presence commanded her to stay. He reached her side, and picked up one of her cold hands.
“Miss Allenham, will you stay with us?”
Lisette wept bitterly. “I cannot sir. You know I cannot. You will be well and you will not need me anymore. There are other ill folk in the world who need a nurse. I must leave you.”
“Must you?” He tipped her chin with his finger, and she could not withdraw her gaze from the light in his eyes. “After all, Miss Allenham, it was you who showed me first what a prison this darkness was. It was you who suggested the cure. I must be selfish just one moment longer and tell you that if you leave us…if you leave me, my heart will again be as ill and despondent as it ever was. You have taught me love, and to see beauty again. I would have you at my side until the world is no more. Lisette, my love, will you stay?”
She felt Nan’s warm, plump hand slip into her own, and with Mr. Delgrade’s eyes imploring her to answer, she echoed the child’s words. “I never expected a family for Christmas.” The intensity of the love in his eyes warmed her through. She rested her head on Mr. Delgrade’s shoulder and stroked his cheek with her fingers. “I will, stay, sir," she whispered.
And if there are angels who sing yet over the field on Christmas night, they were crowded in glorious realms across the moorland, rejoicing over the Master of Delgrade Heath."