As the voice sang the song again, still very quietly, the rat scanned the tree. The song did not come from the shiny baubles, or the tinsel, or the small silver horse, or the matchbox covered in silver paper and tied with a bow. It did not come from the softly glowing lights, gently fading and brightening. At last, he looked at the top of the tree, and there, almost at the top, tilted slightly at an angle, was a small doll, dressed in a white knitted dress, with wings, fastened slightly awkwardly, carrying a glittering silver stick in her hand.
The rat climbed the tree until he was at an unthreatening distance below her, and said, in as gentle a tone as he could:
“It was you, wasn’t it?”
“Yes,” said his new friend, so quietly that he could barely hear her.
“Do you know any more?”
“No. I heard the lady who lives here singing it while she does the washing up. Sometimes the little girl who lives here takes me off the tree and plays with me. She thinks I can do magic.”
“Magic?” said the rat, puzzled.
“I am a fairy. That is why I have the wings, and the crown, and the wand.”
“Oh,” said the rat.
“But I can’t do magic. I have never done any magic at all. Not a thing.”
“Oh,” said the rat.
“And I am afraid that she will find out and she will stop loving me and I will be taken off the tree and forgotten. And I will disappoint her and I will be sad.”
“Um, may I interject?” said the glittery egg, rather loudly, “I think you will find that our little girl is not the kind of person who will forget an old friend. She hung me next to the egg here because she knows that we like to be together. And your position, at the very top of the tree, should be taken as a mark of great favour.”
“Oh,” said the fairy, “It is very nice of you to say so. I hadn’t thought of it like that. The fairy always goes on top of the tree. It is the law. I am afraid that I am a disappointment. I am afraid that I am not magical enough.”
“Are you sure that wasn’t magic?” said the rat doubtfully. “What you just did, I mean.”