Sunday, July 5, 2009

Senta and the Steel Dragon - Humboldt’s Fine Toys


A small shop in the middle of the Avenue Phoenix is Humbolt's Fine Toys. It is a location of interest for 8 year old Senta, who would love a doll more than just about anything.

Stopping to press her face against the glass, right below the printed sign that said “Humboldt’s Fine Toys”, Senta stared at the wonders in the store. She had never been inside, but had stopped to look in the window many times. The centerpiece of the store display was a mechanical bird. It worked with gears and sprockets and springs and was made of metal, but it was covered in real bird feathers in a rainbow of hues, and would sit and peck and chirp and sing as though it were alive, until it finally wound down, and the toy maker would walk to the window and say the word to reactivate the bird’s magic spell. Senta knew that the bird would remain in the window for a long, long time, until some young prince or princess needed a new birthday gift, because that bird would have cost as much as the entire Café Carlo. Arranged around it were various mechanical toy vehicles—ships, trains, and steam carriages. Some were magical and some worked with a wind-up key, but they all imitated the real life conveyances from which they were patterned.

None of these wonderful toys held as much fascination for Senta though, as the doll which sat in the corner of the window. It wasn’t magical. It wasn’t even animated by a wind-up mechanism. It was a simple doll with a rag body and porcelain hands, feet, and face. It was wearing a simple black dress. Its blond hair had been cut in a short little bob, and looked like real human hair. It had a painted face with bright blue eyes and pink lips. It may well have been one of the lesser priced toys in the shop. It was definitely the least expensive item in the window, but Senta would never be able to purchase it. Had she been able to save every pfennig she earned, it still would have taken her more than thirty weeks before she had enough to purchase the doll. And she could not save every pfennig she earned. Most weeks, she could not even save one.

Pushing herself regretfully away from the glass, and leaving two hand smudges, a forehead smudge, and a nose smudge, Senta ran across Prince Tybalt Boulevard, which crossed perpendicularly, making a “T” at the end of Avenue Phoenix.

I don't remember where Humbolt came from. It's just one of those names that popped into my head.

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