Began editing: Sunday, February 25th, 2001
Ended editing: Wednesday, March 7th, 2001

They used to call me Eleanor. But that was before, before I knew anything of what I was to become. Before I knew who I would one day be. Everyone would know me, many would doubt in me, but I knew nothing of it. No one has called me by my real first name in so long; but that was before, when they used to call me Eleanor.

As the youngest of a very large family of sixteen, I watched my older brothers and sisters leave home when their time came to venture out into the world. They rarely came to visit once they left, but this was not uncommon. It was not tradition for children to come and visit their parents; however, when one did come back home it was a pleasant surprise and my parents always welcomed them in with open arms. I knew that one day, I too would leave home to explore the world and eventually settle down.

And so my day came, and I left.

* * *

I journeyed north, with an ample supply of food my mother had packed for me and reminders of which berries were good to eat. After four days my mother's food ran out; it would have sooner, but I had remembered her advice and eaten berries and other things along the way. I was disappointed her food was gone, as she was an excellent cook, but there was plenty of food if one knew where to look. It was late spring, and I would not starve.

During these first days as I traveled from home, I felt as if an invisible string was pulling me farther and farther north. On the fifth day, the invisible string started pulling me more toward the northwest. I followed agreeably, since I knew it would not matter if I were to get lost; I could settle anywhere. Besides, I trusted the string, and doubted it would bring harm.

On the morning of the eighth day, I stepped out of the woods and came suddenly in view of a great castle. Deciding to stop and replenish my food supply and maybe get a good night's rest, I neared the castle. The castle was surrounded by a lush green lawn broken up by carefully tended gardens; birds chirped as I approached, and the light gray stone of the castle shone brightly in the sunlight, forcing me to squint as I came nearer. It was obviously a very old castle, but in excellent condition; the gardens weren't the inhabitants' only concern being attended to. Finally, I was at the giant door. But before I could knock, it was flung open.

"Hello! Come in, come in! It is so wonderful to see you!" the creature at the door cried. "You're late, Eleanor. I was beginning to think that you weren't coming," it continued. The creature stood upright at about two-and-a-half feet, seeming much too small for the giant castle it lived in. It was covered in violet fur and had large, orange eyes; but besides that, it almost looked as if my sister had been dyed purple. Its eyes sparkled merrily, as if it knew a joke it didn't want to share, and its voice was cheerful.

Not wanting to be rude, but unable to contain my curiosity, I exclaimed, "Late for what? Who are you? How do you know my name? Do you live here by yourself? Why are you purple? Is this castle-?"

"Whoa! Whoa! Calm down. I expect you'll be here for a while. The last one was like this too," it added, a bit under its breath.

"'The Last One?'" I repeated, incredulously. As I continued, my voice began to tremble uncertainly. "Are you going to kill me?"

"Kill you? Certainly not! I will be proud to say I taught you everything! Just wait and all your questions will be answered.

"First of all, I do not live here alone," it began. "Rupert!" it called toward a room to my right. "Please add a place at the table for Eleanor." It turned back toward me. "Rupert lives here with me. He helps out a lot, and I don't know what I would do without him. He enjoys working in the kitchen, preparing food.

"Secondly, I am female, and my name is Rebecca. I am a Gozwart. All Gozwarts are purple. Females have orange eyes, and males have green eyes. There aren't many of us. Rupert is also a Gozwart." Rebecca blushed, the tips of her long, floppy ears turning scarlet, but she continued. "This castle holds many creatures, great and small. None of them will harm you." She began to walk toward the room on the right. Feeling the string again, I decided followed obediently. After less than ten minutes, I already knew I could trust the old castle and everything it held.

"You have been called to this place. I expect you felt something pulling you here?" Rebecca asked.

I nodded. "I followed it. I seemed to know it would not lead me to danger." We entered the room. It was huge, much bigger than the entrance hall, and much more merrily decorated. There were bright colors and banners along the walls, and three long tables; it was the Dining Hall. Food was piled on the tables, and some creatures were still bringing more food out. There were many seats, and remembering the beans-in-the-jar trick in which there are always more than it seems, I realized that my estimation of a hundred seats was low. Still, almost every one was filled. "Wow! That many people live here?" I exclaimed.

"But of course. This castle could fit a great deal more people, as it is."

"Wow," I repeated, the numbers trying to register. Just then, someone came out from a side door carrying an enormous platter covered with even more food. He was also about two-and-a-half feet tall, with purple fur. "Is that Rupert?" I asked.

"Yes," Rebecca said with a fond smile. "That's Rupert."

Rebecca walked to the head of one of the tables. She gestured to an empty seat to her right. "Sit," she said simply; I sat.

I glanced at the Gozwart next to me. "Rebecca," I began, "you still haven't told me why I'm here."

"Ah!" she said with a secret smile. "You will find out soon enough."

Nervous butterflies flew through my stomach, but I didn't say anything. The remaining empty seats were being filled with various creatures, and they all begun to pile food onto their plates. Following suit, I heaped my own plate with food and spent the next several minutes eating.

* * *

"You will be sleeping here," Rebecca announced later that evening as she showed me to a large though cozy room; a canopy bed in the center was piled high with pillows, the walls were painted a subtle yellow to match the plush carpet, and the nightstand and dresser had a beautifully carved oak trim. A crackling noise caught my attention, and on my right I saw a fireplace with an oak mantle carved in the same style. But the thing that really caught my eye was the picture window. It faced west, and the clouds were streaked purple as the last rays of sun disappeared, kissing the world goodbye.

"Don't be afraid, Eleanor. Nothing in this castle can harm you. And," she added with a smile, "I doubt anyone would want to. Everyone here has been waiting for you for a long time, my dear. Good night, Eleanor."

"Good night, Rebecca," I replied. She blew out the candle, and the room went dark.

* * *

The next morning, I didn't know where I was at first; then suddenly I remembered. I wondered exactly who everyone here thought I was. As I started to get dressed, I realized the clothes were not mine. They were new, and obviously very expensive. "Oh, well," I murmured to myself, putting them on; my voice seemed to echo strangely in the large room despite the carpeting. If there was a mistake about my identity, I could give back the clothes. But I wanted to stay at the castle I had already begun to love. "I could help," I thought out loud. "Cooking or cleaning. I'm sure they would let me stay."

A knock at my door made me jump, startling me back to reality. "Come in," I called.

It was Rebecca. "Good morning, Eleanor. Did you sleep well?"

"Yes, I did. I like it here very much," I answered truthfully.

"Wonderful! Just wonderful! Now, follow me to the Dining Hall and we'll have breakfast."

Fortunately, the route from my bedroom to the dining room was not too complicated. I paid attention, etching images into my brain: open windows and billowing curtains, with a lovely garden below. Pale lavender walls. Plush purple carpet. Right. Left. Long hallway. Left again. I allowed my mind to wander a little.

"I'm afraid I still don't understand," I told Rebecca apologetically. "Why am I here? Who are you?"

Rebecca sighed. "It's rather complicated. You see, Eleanor," she paused, and I could tell she was considering how to word what she was about to say. "Eleanor, you will have to undergo training. When your training is done, people everywhere will know who you are, or at least know your story. Many will doubt you, and say your story is make-believe. But many will love you, and you will bring joy to these people." Rebecca paused. We were at the dining room doorway. "I'm sorry," she said, a bit sadly. "I cannot tell you who you are to become. Eleanor-"

"It's ok, Rebecca."

She gave me a sympathetic smile. "I'm sorry I can't tell you more, Eleanor."

* * *

After breakfast, Rebecca took me outside and showed me around the gardens. There were artistic arrangements of beautiful flowers and well-placed bushes, shrubs, and trees. Straight pebbled paths and sections of wide green lawn broke up the expanse of gardens. Little creatures, about the same size as Rebecca and Rupert, were scurrying around.

"What are those?" I asked, gesturing to a few standing on a ladder, pruning an apple tree. They had cream colored fur and large ears. Their ears swiveled in my direction.

"Those are Veramors. They love being outside, and they love taking care of the gardens. They also have excellent hearing." As if to prove Rebecca's point, a bird chirped and the ears of the nearest Veramor cocked in that direction.

Rebecca paused, thoughtful. "You have been wondering if you are the right person," she said, as if reading my thoughts. "You're wondering if there has been a mistake." She turned, studying my face carefully; she laughed, startling me. "There is no mistake," she assured me. "You can only find this place two ways. One, you can be called here; and two, you can be looking for it, for certain purposes only. Otherwise, it will appear invisible."

I considered what Rebecca had said. "You have been called, but you were also looking for this place in your heart," Rebecca continued. "You didn't know it, but you were looking for this castle."

My heart, I thought. "Do you own this place?" I mused.

"No. Anyone who lives here helps out and we share troubles and expenses. It's really quite simple. I am, however, probably in charge," she added, her large orange eyes sparkling. "There are reasons."

I knew she wouldn't tell me the reasons, so instead I asked suddenly, "When will my training begin?"

Rebecca sighed. I noticed she had the habit of doing that whenever she was about to answer a question that she didn't really want to answer. "Tomorrow. Your training will begin tomorrow. You will learn some simple things to start. It will help you later." She looked at me sharply. "I expect you always paid attention in school and this should be no different?" But she spoiled the threat by grinning.

"Of course! I was always a good student," I answered, a bit teasingly. I liked our relationship. It was only my second day at the castle, and we already seemed to be close friends, laughing, joking, and teasing each other.

Rebecca's expression became more serious. "That's why you were chosen," she said softly.

"Sorry, I didn't hear you," I said, glancing at her.

"Nothing." But her eyes still had a faraway look in them. "Let's go and see if Rupert needs any help with lunch."

Following Rebecca down a pebbled path towards the castle, I watched her a bit uneasily. What was she hiding? Why wouldn't she talk about what I was to become? I hoped I would get my answers when my training began the next day. I liked Rebecca, I trusted her, but there was something-

"Eleanor?" Rebecca's voice broke into my thoughts. "Let's help Rupert set up lunch in the dining room."

Hurrying to catch up, I pushed my thoughts aside for later.

* * *

My training was not too complicated. I don't mean to brag, but everything seemed to come easily. I was learning magic. I learned to fly and to become invisible. I also learned to transform things: rocks into eggs, dirt clods into chocolate, and pebbles into jellybeans. Although I wondered what good it would do me, I asked no questions because I doubted Rebecca would answer them.

But I couldn't help it. I itched to know why I was at Rebecca's castle, why I had been called. The question was starving me; I longed for the answer. After two weeks of training, I finally cracked and asked Rebecca: "What good will this do me? Why do I need to know these things?"

Rebecca laughed. "I know you're anxious, but I can't tell you. I wish I could, but I can't. I'm sorry, Eleanor, but don't worry. You'll find out soon enough." She smiled her secret smile. Her smile was pretty, but it frustrated me; I tried hard not to let it show. I seemed to be getting good at hiding my frustration. I had known from the beginning that Rebecca wouldn't give me any information, so I didn't ask again. The not knowing was exasperating. It was hard not to ask, but I knew it would do me no good. I knew it would be awhile before I found out any more about my mysterious purpose at Rebecca's castle.

* * *

Everything got easier the longer I was at Rebecca's castle. The magic itself, of course, along with the strangeness and secrecy of Rebecca, the castle itself, and even the not knowing; all became easier to adjust to and live with. After only a few days, the castle felt more like home than my parents' home had ever. Everyone at the castle was kind, generous, and sweet, especially to me, but that wasn't why I was so at ease. The castle seemed so natural. If I had to live there for the rest of my life, I would be happy.

"Eleanor!"

I looked up in surprise. "Sorry," I said. "What were you saying?"

"I said, could you try flying again now?" Rebecca was my instructor. She was very good at all the magic, and I was eager to learn. But, still. I couldn't stand the suspense of not knowing. Why would I need to know how to fly? But I had never asked Rebecca again. It was mostly pride; I didn't want Rebecca to know how the question was burning me. I buried the question into the deepest part of my being, into the farthest corner of my soul. It was my pride, and I also knew she would never tell me, especially if I acted impatient. If she knew how I felt, as hard as I tried to hide it, she didn't let it show either.

"Okay," I answered. I concentrated on how it would feel to be in the air, with nothing but my thoughts to suspend me. Flying was hard; it took my total concentration, but basically if I thought I could fly I would be able to. Concentrating, I slowly began to rise. Spreading my arms as if to hold myself up, I floated in midair. My concentration slipped as I began to enjoy the feeling of being suspended; I dropped a few feet, but my thoughts turned back toward the task at hand, and I flew higher and higher with joy and exhilaration.

I want to go down now, I thought. I want to go to the ground. My body lowered and a moment later I was standing on my two feet on the ground.

"Eleanor," Rebecca said. "That was pretty good. But you lost your concentration for a few seconds up there."

"I know."

"Once you get better," Rebecca continued, "you won't have to think so hard to stay up. But for now, please try not to forget. We wouldn't want any harm to come to you."

"I know," I repeated. "But it's just so fun to be up in the air!"

Rebecca smiled warmly. "I realize how you feel. The first time I flew, it was so amazing. I just wanted to stay up in the air forever." She smiled again, and this time it was more like a grin. "Don't worry. It will become easier. Trust me."

And it did.

* * *

Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. I got better at everything. By the time winter came, I was able to fly almost without thinking; I could fly much faster and with much more grace than I had ever thought possible in those weeks so long ago. Rebecca was very pleased with my progress.

"You're doing better than I did when I was first learning!" Rebecca exclaimed. From Rebecca, this was a compliment. I glowed with pride.

"Thanks. But I could never have been this good without your help."

"That's true," Rebecca agreed, nodding.

I laughed. "So modest," I teased.

"Good," she joked. "Now that we agree, let's try to fly some more."

* * *

Blinking sleepily in the bright morning sunlight, I sat up in my bed and stretched. Yawning, I looked out my window. And gasped.

"It's so beautiful!" I exclaimed, running to look outside. I just sat there on the window seat, an afghan pulling close around me as I admired the view. Stretching far and wide from the castle, the gardens were covered with a white powder; the unmarked landscape was gorgeous. Snow sparkled as the morning sun shone down on it, like thousands of tiny diamonds sent from heaven.

I finally got up, and walking the familiar path to the Dining Hall for breakfast, I paused to look out each and every window I passed. Each window offered a slightly different view, and they were all remarkable. The world was so beautiful; I couldn't get over it. Being so far south I had never seen snow growing up, but I knew now it was the loveliest sight in the world.

"Good morning, Rebecca!" I greeted as I sat down to eat. "Isn't it such a beautiful day?"

"Yes, it is. A bit chilly outside, though. Better dress warm when we go out today!"

"Sure," I answered obediently. Suddenly an idea struck me. "But the snow is so beautiful. Um, could we fly outside so we won't ruin it? It looks too good to walk across." I stared at her with pleading eyes, exaggerating the look but getting my point across.

Rebecca beamed at me. "Oh, smile normally! That's a wonderful idea. It will be great practice for you."

I grinned and blushed at Rebecca's praise, feeling a bit silly. "Thanks," I answered.

And on that day, the day of my first snow, that's exactly what we did.

* * *

More snow days came and went. When the first hints of spring finally arrived, the Veramors were eager to get back to work on the gardens. Rebecca told me that they knew magic too; everyone at the castle knew some kind of magic. The Veramors used theirs to encourage the plants to grow. Magic helps the plants but they have to work, too; planting flowers, trees, and bushes, pulling up weeds, watering plants, and pruning existing plants were only some of their jobs.

"But they enjoy it. Taking care of the gardens doesn't seem like work for them," Rebecca told me.

"Kind of like how I enjoy flying?"

"Exactly. For you, flying is more like play than work. I'm the same way," she added.

"Who was your teacher?" I asked.

"Someone you know." She spoke hesitantly. "I'll tell you some day. I was very fond of my teacher." Rebecca blushed scarlet. "He taught me so very much."

"I'm fond of you!"

"I never said you weren't," she replied.

Rebecca was more like a good friend than a teacher. Although I knew she was much older than I was, our age difference didn't seem to matter. It didn't keep us from being friends; good friends at that, friends who enjoyed laughing and joking with each other.

* * *

"I will test you soon," Rebecca announced one morning in early spring when we were about to start my training session. "Your training will intensify and I will test you in one week on everything you have been practicing."

"Why?" I asked.

"Well, you came here for a reason. You will begin your purpose in one month."

Nervous butterflies flittered through my stomach. "When will you tell me why I'm here?"

"I'll tell you soon, but not now. And," she continued, "we had better get started on polishing you up for your big test. I imagine everyone will want to see how you've been doing."

Well, that didn't help my nerves. "Everyone?" I exclaimed. "Everyone in the castle?" Images of hundreds of disappointed faces filled my mind. What if no one liked me? What if I wasn't good enough at whatever I was supposed to be doing?

"You are very important. We're all so relieved you came. We've been looking for someone for a few years already. They are all eager to see if I have made a good choice. I'm pretty sure I did," she added with a smile.

"Oh." I was still nervous, but Rebecca's words calmed me a little. Trying not to think too hard about what was going to happen, I looked up at Rebecca and waited for her to continue.

"Let's see how good you are with transformations."

"Ok." Waving my hand at some pebbles, I willed them into becoming jellybeans. The grayish blue stones shimmered and became colorful candies. Then I tried to change the dirt clods. Concentrating hard, I managed to change them into chocolate.

I didn't need to wave my hand. It just seemed to help me. Rebecca told me once that I waved my hand because I was impatient. I wanted the thing to transform faster so I waved my hand to try to speed it up. Then, I remember, she had laughed. "Don't worry. I was the same way," Rebecca had said reassuringly.

"Hmm… you need to work on that. It was pretty good but you should be able to change them faster."

I nodded, and tried again. "That was better," Rebecca decided.

"What else?" I asked.

"Invisibility."

Concentrating hard, I willed myself to become invisible.

"Well," Rebecca began, "that was pretty good. You were a little fuzzy and it didn't last long. But you probably won't need to know how anyway."

"That's good. It's hard."

"But you should still know how. I don't want you thinking you should just slack off on invisibility," she said, half jokingly and half seriously.

"Ok. I guess I know what to work on!"

"I guess you do," Rebecca agreed.

* * *

Test day arrived. Although I was I knew I had practiced hard, I was still nervous. After a hurried breakfast, I went outside to warm up. Trying not to wave my hand, I concentrated on transforming things as quickly as possible. Rebecca had timed me the day before, and was pleased with my results.

"If you were a little better at invisibility you would be fabulous!" she had remarked. "Not perfect, though, because your transformations could be a bit quicker also."

"Thanks," I had replied, beaming from the compliment.

"You will get better over the years," she had added.

Now I willed myself to disappear, quickly and completely. I did a decent job, though it could be quite a bit better. My transformations were also pretty good, thankfully.

From the castle, everyone started arriving to watch my big test. Chairs were set up for my audience. I got more and more nervous. Relax, I thought. Take deep breaths.

I remembered Rebecca's words from the day before. "It's all about confidence. If you think you can, you will."

Following my own instructions, I managed to calm myself down a little. Don't make a fool out of yourself, a little voice said. This is your big chance. Confidence.

"Ok!" Rebecca cried.

And my test began.

* * *

At dinner that night, all anyone could talk about was my big test, and huge success. Right and left I was being congratulated on my success, and Rebecca was complimented on her excellent choice for a replacement. A replacement for what, I still didn't know, but I did know Rebecca was so proud of me.

Two weeks later, Rebecca told me her secret, the reason I had been called. I was shocked, but didn't have time to think about it. The next day, I set out to fulfill my purpose at Rebecca's mysterious castle.

I'm a Gozwart now. The magic has changed me. I have been living and working at Rebecca's castle for 213 years. Rebecca has finally married Rupert, whom she told me was her teacher; and they are enjoying their life together immensely. As for myself, I loved being able to free Rebecca of the duties she held for so long. I'm looking for someone to take my place now, and have found a promising individual. She is still too young, but in a few years she will feel the mysterious string pulling her toward this old castle. And it is no longer Rebecca's castle; it is mine. At this time I am probably the most important of the magical creatures. And no wonder! After all, it's not easy being the Easter Bunny.