The Life and Adventures of
by L. Frank
you heard of the great Forest of Burzee? Nurse used to sing of
I was a child. She sang of the big tree-trunks, standing
together, with their roots intertwining below the earth and
intertwining above it; of their rough coating of bark
and queer, gnarled
limbs; of the bushy foliage that roofed the entire
forest, save where the
sunbeams found a path through which to touch
the ground in little spots and
to cast weird and curious shadows over
the mosses, the lichens and the drifts
of dried leaves.
The Forest of Burzee is mighty and grand and awesome to
steal beneath its shade. Coming from the sunlit meadows into
mazes it seems at first gloomy, then pleasant, and afterward
with never-ending delights.
For hundreds of years it has
flourished in all its magnificence, the
silence of its inclosure unbroken
save by the chirp of busy chipmunks,
the growl of wild beasts and the songs
Yet Burzee has its inhabitants--for all this. Nature
peopled it in
the beginning with Fairies, Knooks, Ryls and Nymphs. As
long as the
Forest stands it will be a home, a refuge and a playground to
sweet immortals, who revel undisturbed in its
Civilization has never yet reached Burzee. Will it ever, I
2. The Child of the Forest
Once, so long
ago our great-grandfathers could scarcely have heard it
lived within the great Forest of Burzee a wood-nymph
named Necile. She
was closely related to the mighty Queen Zurline,
and her home was beneath the
shade of a widespreading oak. Once every
year, on Budding Day, when the
trees put forth their new buds, Necile
held the Golden Chalice of Ak to the
lips of the Queen, who drank
therefrom to the prosperity of the Forest.
So you see she was a nymph
of some importance, and, moreover, it is said she
was highly regarded
because of her beauty and grace.
When she was
created she could not have told; Queen Zurline could not
have told; the great
Ak himself could not have told. It was long ago
when the world was new
and nymphs were needed to guard the forests
and to minister to the wants of
the young trees. Then, on some day
not remembered, Necile sprang into
being; radiant, lovely, straight
and slim as the sapling she was created to
Her hair was the color that lines a chestnut-bur; her eyes were
in the sunlight and purple in the shade; her cheeks bloomed with
faint pink that edges the clouds at sunset; her lips were full
pouting and sweet. For costume she adopted oak-leaf green; all
wood-nymphs dress in that color and know no other so desirable.
dainty feet were sandal-clad, while her head remained bare of
other than her silken tresses.
Necile's duties were few and
simple. She kept hurtful weeds from
growing beneath her trees and
sapping the earth-food required by her
charges. She frightened away the
Gadgols, who took evil delight in
flying against the tree-trunks and wounding
them so that they drooped
and died from the poisonous contact. In dry
seasons she carried
water from the brooks and pools and moistened the roots
That was in the beginning. The weeds
had now learned to avoid the
forests where wood-nymphs dwelt; the loathsome
Gadgols no longer dared
come nigh; the trees had become old and sturdy and
could bear the
drought better than when fresh-sprouted. So Necile's
lessened, and time grew laggard, while succeeding years became
tiresome and uneventful than the nymph's joyous spirit
Truly the forest-dwellers did not lack amusement. Each full
danced in the Royal Circle of the Queen. There were also the
Nuts, the Jubilee of Autumn Tintings, the solemn ceremony of
Shedding and the revelry of Budding Day. But these periods
enjoyment were far apart, and left many weary hours between.
wood-nymph should grow discontented was not thought of by
sisters. It came upon her only after many years of brooding.
once she had settled in her mind that life was irksome she
had no patience
with her condition, and longed to do something of real
interest and to pass
her days in ways hitherto undreamed of by forest
nymphs. The Law of the
Forest alone restrained her from going forth
in search of
While this mood lay heavy upon pretty Necile it chanced that
Ak visited the Forest of Burzee and allowed the wood-nymphs as
their wont--to lie at his feet and listen to the words of wisdom
fell from his lips. Ak is the Master Woodsman of the world; he
everything, and knows more than the sons of men.
That night he
held the Queen's hand, for he loved the nymphs as a
father loves his
children; and Necile lay at his feet with many of her
sisters and earnestly
harkened as he spoke.
"We live so happily, my fair ones, in our forest
glades," said Ak,
stroking his grizzled beard thoughtfully, "that we know
nothing of the
sorrow and misery that fall to the lot of those poor mortals
inhabit the open spaces of the earth. They are not of our race, it
true, yet compassion well befits beings so fairly favored
ourselves. Often as I pass by the dwelling of some suffering mortal
am tempted to stop and banish the poor thing's misery. Yet
in moderation, is the natural lot of mortals, and it is not our
to interfere with the laws of Nature."
"Nevertheless," said the
fair Queen, nodding her golden head at the
Master Woodsman, "it would not be
a vain guess that Ak has often
assisted these hapless mortals."
"Sometimes," he replied, "when they are very young--'children,'
mortals call them--I have stopped to rescue them from misery. The
and women I dare not interfere with; they must bear the burdens
has imposed upon them. But the helpless infants, the
children of men, have a right to be happy until they become
and able to bear the trials of humanity. So I feel I am
assisting them. Not long ago--a year, maybe--I found four
children huddled in a wooden hut, slowly freezing to death.
parents had gone to a neighboring village for food, and had left
fire to warm their little ones while they were absent. But a
arose and drifted the snow in their path, so they were long on
road. Meantime the fire went out and the frost crept into the
of the waiting children."
"Poor things!" murmured the Queen
softly. "What did you do?"
"I called Nelko, bidding him fetch wood
from my forests and breathe
upon it until the fire blazed again and warmed
the little room where
the children lay. Then they ceased shivering and
fell asleep until
their parents came."
"I am glad you did thus," said
the good Queen, beaming upon the
Master; and Necile, who had eagerly listened
to every word, echoed in
a whisper: "I, too, am glad!"
"And this very
night," continued Ak, "as I came to the edge of Burzee I
heard a feeble cry,
which I judged came from a human infant. I looked
about me and found,
close to the forest, a helpless babe, lying quite
naked upon the grasses and
wailing piteously. Not far away, screened
by the forest, crouched
Shiegra, the lioness, intent upon devouring
the infant for her evening
"And what did you do, Ak?" asked the Queen,
"Not much, being in a hurry to greet my nymphs. But I
Shiegra to lie close to the babe, and to give it her milk to quiet
hunger. And I told her to send word throughout the forest, to
beasts and reptiles, that the child should not be harmed."
glad you did thus," said the good Queen again, in a tone of
relief; but this
time Necile did not echo her words, for the nymph,
filled with a strange
resolve, had suddenly stolen away from the group.
Swiftly her lithe form
darted through the forest paths until she
reached the edge of mighty Burzee,
when she paused to gaze curiously
about her. Never until now had she
ventured so far, for the Law of
the Forest had placed the nymphs in its
Necile knew she was breaking the Law, but the thought did
pause to her dainty feet. She had decided to see with her own
this infant Ak had told of, for she had never yet beheld a child
man. All the immortals are full-grown; there are no children
them. Peering through the trees Necile saw the child lying on
grass. But now it was sweetly sleeping, having been comforted by
milk drawn from Shiegra. It was not old enough to know what
means; if it did not feel hunger it was content.
nymph stole to the side of the babe and knelt upon the
sward, her long robe
of rose leaf color spreading about her like a
gossamer cloud. Her
lovely countenance expressed curiosity and
surprise, but, most of all, a
tender, womanly pity. The babe was
newborn, chubby and pink. It
was entirely helpless. While the nymph
gazed the infant opened its
eyes, smiled upon her, and stretched out
two dimpled arms. In another
instant Necile had caught it to her
breast and was hurrying with it through
the forest paths.
3. The Adoption
Woodsman suddenly rose, with knitted brows. "There is a
presence in the Forest," he declared. Then the Queen and her
turned and saw standing before them Necile, with the sleeping
tightly in her arms and a defiant look in her deep
for a moment they remained, the nymphs filled with surprise
consternation, but the brow of the Master Woodsman gradually
clearing as he
gazed intently upon the beautiful immortal who had
wilfully broken the
Law. Then the great Ak, to the wonder of all,
laid his hand softly on
Necile's flowing locks and kissed her on her
first time within my knowledge," said he, gently, "a nymph
has defied me and
my laws; yet in my heart can I find no word of
chiding. What is your
"Let me keep the child!" she answered, beginning to
falling on her knees in supplication.
"Here, in the Forest
of Burzee, where the human race has never yet
"Here, in the Forest of Burzee," replied the nymph, boldly. "It
home, and I am weary for lack of occupation. Let me care for
babe! See how weak and helpless it is. Surely it can not harm
nor the Master Woodsman of the World!"
"But the Law, child, the
Law!" cried Ak, sternly.
"The Law is made by the Master Woodsman,"
returned Necile; "if he bids
me care for the babe he himself has saved from
death, who in all the
world dare oppose me?" Queen Zurline, who had
to this conversation, clapped her pretty hands gleefully at
"You are fairly trapped, O Ak!" she exclaimed,
laughing. "Now, I pray
you, give heed to Necile's petition."
Woodsman, as was his habit when in thought, stroked his grizzled
slowly. Then he said:
"She shall keep the babe, and I will give it
my protection. But I
warn you all that as this is the first time I have
relaxed the Law, so
shall it be the last time. Never more, to the end
of the World, shall
a mortal be adopted by an immortal. Otherwise would
we abandon our
happy existence for one of trouble and anxiety. Good
night, my nymphs!"
Then Ak was gone from their midst, and Necile hurried
away to her
bower to rejoice over her new-found
Another day found Necile's
bower the most popular place in the Forest.
The nymphs clustered around her
and the child that lay asleep in her
lap, with expressions of curiosity and
delight. Nor were they wanting
in praises for the great Ak's kindness
in allowing Necile to keep the
babe and to care for it. Even the Queen
came to peer into the
innocent childish face and to hold a helpless, chubby
fist in her own
"What shall we call him, Necile?" she
asked, smiling. "He must have a
name, you know."
"Let him be
called Claus," answered Necile, "for that means
"Rather let him be called Neclaus,"** returned the Queen, "for
will mean 'Necile's little one.'"
The nymphs clapped their hands
in delight, and Neclaus became the
infant's name, although Necile loved best
to call him Claus, and in
afterdays many of her sisters followed her
Necile gathered the softest moss in all the forest for Claus to
upon, and she made his bed in her own bower. Of food the infant
no lack. The nymphs searched the forest for bell-udders, which
upon the goa-tree and when opened are found to be filled with
milk. And the soft-eyed does willingly gave a share of their milk
support the little stranger, while Shiegra, the lioness, often
stealthily into Necile's bower and purred softly as she lay beside
babe and fed it.
So the little one flourished and grew big and
sturdy day by day, while
Necile taught him to speak and to walk and to
His thoughts and words were sweet and gentle, for the nymphs knew
evil and their hearts were pure and loving. He became the pet of
forest, for Ak's decree had forbidden beast or reptile to molest
and he walked fearlessly wherever his will guided him.
the news reached the other immortals that the nymphs of
Burzee had adopted a
human infant, and that the act had been
sanctioned by the great Ak.
Therefore many of them came to visit the
little stranger, looking upon him
with much interest. First the Ryls,
who are first cousins to the
wood-nymphs, although so differently
formed. For the Ryls are required
to watch over the flowers and
plants, as the nymphs watch over the forest
trees. They search the
wide world for the food required by the roots of
the flowering plants,
while the brilliant colors possessed by the full-blown
flowers are due
to the dyes placed in the soil by the Ryls, which are drawn
the little veins in the roots and the body of the plants, as
reach maturity. The Ryls are a busy people, for their flowers
and fade continually, but they are merry and light-hearted and
very popular with the other immortals.
Next came the Knooks, whose
duty it is to watch over the beasts of the
world, both gentle and wild.
The Knooks have a hard time of it, since
many of the beasts are ungovernable
and rebel against restraint. But
they know how to manage them, after
all, and you will find that
certain laws of the Knooks are obeyed by even the
animals. Their anxieties make the Knooks look old and
crooked, and their natures are a bit rough from associating with
creatures continually; yet they are most useful to humanity and to
world in general, as their laws are the only laws the forest
recognize except those of the Master Woodsman.
Then there were
the Fairies, the guardians of mankind, who were much
interested in the
adoption of Claus because their own laws forbade
them to become familiar with
their human charges. There are instances
on record where the Fairies
have shown themselves to human beings, and
have even conversed with them; but
they are supposed to guard the
lives of mankind unseen and unknown, and if
they favor some people
more than others it is because these have won such
as the Fairies are very just and impartial. But the
idea of adopting
a child of men had never occurred to them because it was in
opposed to their laws; so their curiosity was intense to
little stranger adopted by Necile and her sister
Claus looked upon the immortals who thronged around him with
eyes and smiling lips. He rode laughingly upon the shoulders
merry Ryls; he mischievously pulled the gray beards of the
Knooks; he rested his curly head confidently upon the dainty
the Fairy Queen herself. And the Ryls loved the sound of his
the Knooks loved his courage; the Fairies loved his
The boy made friends of them all, and learned to know their
intimately. No forest flower was trampled beneath his feet, lest
friendly Ryls should be grieved. He never interfered with the
of the forest, lest his friends the Knooks should become angry.
Fairies he loved dearly, but, knowing nothing of mankind, he could
understand that he was the only one of his race admitted to
intercourse with them.
Indeed, Claus came to consider that he
alone, of all the forest
people, had no like nor fellow. To him the
forest was the world.
He had no idea that millions of toiling, striving
And he was happy and content.
Some people have spelled this name Nicklaus and others Nicolas,
which is the reason that Santa Claus is still known in some
as St. Nicolas. But, of course, Neclaus is his right
Claus the nickname given him by his adopted mother,
the fair nymph
5. The Master
Years pass swiftly in Burzee, for the nymphs have no need to
time in any way. Even centuries make no change in the dainty
ever and ever they remain the same, immortal and
Claus, however, being mortal, grew to manhood day by
day. Necile was
disturbed, presently, to find him too big to lie in her
lap, and he
had a desire for other food than milk. His stout legs
carried him far
into Burzee's heart, where he gathered supplies of nuts and
as well as several sweet and wholesome roots, which suited his
better than the belludders. He sought Necile's bower less
till finally it became his custom to return thither only to
The nymph, who had come to love him dearly, was puzzled to
the changed nature of her charge, and unconsciously altered her
mode of life to conform to his whims. She followed him
through the forest paths, as did many of her sister nymphs,
as they walked all the mysteries of the gigantic wood and the
and nature of the living things which dwelt beneath its
The language of the beasts became clear to little Claus; but
never could understand their sulky and morose tempers. Only
squirrels, the mice and the rabbits seemed to possess cheerful
merry natures; yet would the boy laugh when the panther growled,
stroke the bear's glossy coat while the creature snarled and bared
teeth menacingly. The growls and snarls were not for Claus, he
knew, so what did they matter?
He could sing the songs of the
bees, recite the poetry of the
wood-flowers and relate the history of every
blinking owl in Burzee.
He helped the Ryls to feed their plants and the
Knooks to keep order
among the animals. The little immortals regarded
him as a privileged
person, being especially protected by Queen Zurline and
her nymphs and
favored by the great Ak himself.
One day the Master
Woodsman came back to the forest of Burzee. He had
visited, in turn,
all his forests throughout the world, and they were
Not until he entered the glade where the Queen and her nymphs
assembled to greet him did Ak remember the child he had
Necile to adopt. Then he found, sitting familiarly in the
lovely immortals, a broad-shouldered, stalwart youth, who, when
stood fully as high as the shoulder of the Master himself.
paused, silent and frowning, to bend his piercing gaze upon Claus.
eyes met his own steadfastly, and the Woodsman gave a sigh
of relief as he
marked their placid depths and read the youth's brave
heart. Nevertheless, as Ak sat beside the fair Queen, and
chalice, filled with rare nectar, passed from lip to lip,
the Master Woodsman
was strangely silent and reserved, and stroked his
beard many times with a
With morning he called Claus aside, in kindly fashion,
"Bid good by, for a time, to Necile and her sisters; for you
accompany me on my journey through the world."
pleased Claus, who knew well the honor of being companion
of the Master
Woodsman of the world. But Necile wept for the first
time in her life,
and clung to the boy's neck as if she could not bear
to let him go. The
nymph who had mothered this sturdy youth was still
as dainty, as charming and
beautiful as when she had dared to face Ak
with the babe clasped to her
breast; nor was her love less great. Ak
beheld the two clinging
together, seemingly as brother and sister to
one another, and again he wore
his thoughtful look.
6. Claus Discovers
Taking Claus to a small clearing in the forest, the Master
"Place your hand upon my girdle and hold fast while we journey
the air; for now shall we encirle the world and look upon many of
haunts of those men from whom you are descended."
caused Claus to marvel, for until now he had thought himself
the only one of
his kind upon the earth; yet in silence he grasped firmly
the girdle of the
great Ak, his astonishment forbidding speech.
Then the vast forest of
Burzee seemed to fall away from their feet,
and the youth found himself
passing swiftly through the air at a
Ere long there were
spires beneath them, while buildings of many
shapes and colors met their
downward view. It was a city of men, and
Ak, pausing to descend, led
Claus to its inclosure. Said the Master:
"So long as you hold fast
to my girdle you will remain unseen by all
mankind, though seeing clearly
yourself. To release your grasp will
be to separate yourself forever
from me and your home in Burzee."
One of the first laws of the Forest is
obedience, and Claus had no
thought of disobeying the Master's wish. He
clung fast to the girdle
and remained invisible.
Thereafter with each
moment passed in the city the youth's wonder
grew. He, who had supposed
himself created differently from all
others, now found the earth swarming
with creatures of his own kind.
"Indeed," said Ak, "the immortals are
few; but the mortals are many."
Claus looked earnestly upon his
fellows. There were sad faces, gay
and reckless faces, pleasant faces,
anxious faces and kindly faces,
all mingled in puzzling disorder. Some
worked at tedious tasks; some
strutted in impudent conceit; some were
thoughtful and grave while
others seemed happy and content. Men of many
natures were there, as
everywhere, and Claus found much to please him and
much to make him sad.
But especially he noted the children--first
curiously, then eagerly,
then lovingly. Ragged little ones rolled in
the dust of the streets,
playing with scraps and pebbles. Other
children, gaily dressed, were
propped upon cushions and fed with
sugar-plums. Yet the children of
the rich were not happier than those
playing with the dust and
pebbles, it seemed to Claus.
the time of man's greatest content," said Ak, following
thoughts. "'Tis during these years of innocent pleasure
that the little
ones are most free from care."
"Tell me," said Claus, "why do not all
these babies fare alike?"
"Because they are born in both cottage and
palace," returned the
Master. "The difference in the wealth of the
parents determines the
lot of the child. Some are carefully tended and
clothed in silks and
dainty linen; others are neglected and covered with
"Yet all seem equally fair and sweet," said Claus,
"While they are babes--yes;" agreed Ak. "Their joy is
in being alive,
and they do not stop to think. In after years the doom
overtakes them, and they find they must struggle and worry, work
fret, to gain the wealth that is so dear to the hearts of men.
things are unknown in the Forest where you were reared." Claus
silent a moment. Then he asked:
"Why was I reared in the
forest, among those who are not of my race?"
Then Ak, in gentle voice,
told him the story of his babyhood: how he
had been abandoned at the forest's
edge and left a prey to wild
beasts, and how the loving nymph Necile had
rescued him and brought
him to manhood under the protection of the
"Yet I am not of them," said Claus, musingly.
not of them," returned the Woodsman. "The nymph who cared
for you as a
mother seems now like a sister to you; by and by, when
you grow old and gray,
she will seem like a daughter. Yet another
brief span and you will be
but a memory, while she remains Necile."
"Then why, if man must perish,
is he born?" demanded the boy.
"Everything perishes except the world
itself and its keepers,"
answered Ak. "But while life lasts everything
on earth has its use.
The wise seek ways to be helpful to the world, for the
are sure to live again."
Much of this Claus failed to
understand fully, but a longing seized
him to become helpful to his fellows,
and he remained grave and
thoughtful while they resumed their
They visited many dwellings of men in many parts of the
watching farmers toil in the fields, warriors dash into cruel
and merchants exchange their goods for bits of white and yellow
And everywhere the eyes of Claus sought out the children in love
pity, for the thought of his own helpless babyhood was strong
him and he yearned to give help to the innocent little ones of
race even as he had been succored by the kindly nymph.
Day by day
the Master Woodsman and his pupil traversed the earth, Ak
speaking but seldom
to the youth who clung steadfastly to his girdle,
but guiding him into all
places where he might become familiar with
the lives of human
And at last they returned to the grand old Forest of Burzee,
Master set Claus down within the circle of nymphs, among whom
pretty Necile anxiously awaited him.
The brow of the great Ak was
now calm and peaceful; but the brow of
Claus had become lined with deep
thought. Necile sighed at the change
in her foster-son, who until now
had been ever joyous and smiling, and
the thought came to her that never
again would the life of the boy be
the same as before this eventful journey
with the Master.
7. Claus Leaves the Forest
good Queen Zurline had touched the golden chalice with her fair
lips and it
had passed around the circle in honor of the travelers'
return, the Master
Woodsman of the World, who had not yet spoken,
turned his gaze frankly upon
Claus and said:
The boy understood, and rose slowly to his
feet beside Necile. Once
only his eyes passed around the familiar
circle of nymphs, every one
of whom he remembered as a loving comrade; but
tears came unbidden to
dim his sight, so he gazed thereafter steadfastly at
"I have been ignorant," said he, simply, "until the great Ak
kindness taught me who and what I am. You, who live so sweetly
your forest bowers, ever fair and youthful and innocent, are no
comrades for a son of humanity. For I have looked upon man,
him doomed to live for a brief space upon earth, to toil for
things he needs, to fade into old age, and then to pass away as
leaves in autumn. Yet every man has his mission, which is to
the world better, in some way, than he found it. I am of the race
men, and man's lot is my lot. For your tender care of the
forsaken babe you adopted, as well as for your loving
during my boyhood, my heart will ever overflow with
foster-mother," here he stopped and kissed Necile's white
shall love and cherish while life lasts. But I must leave
take my part in the endless struggle to which humanity is doomed,
to live my life in my own way."
"What will you do?" asked the
"I must devote myself to the care of the children of
mankind, and try
to make them happy," he answered. "Since your own
tender care of a
babe brought to me happiness and strength, it is just and
I devote my life to the pleasure of other babes. Thus will
of the loving nymph Necile be planted within the hearts of
of my race for many years to come, and her kindly act be recounted
and in story while the world shall last. Have I spoken well, O
"You have spoken well," returned Ak, and rising to his feet
continued: "Yet one thing must not be forgotten. Having been
as the child of the Forest, and the playfellow of the nymphs, you
gained a distinction which forever separates you from your
Therefore, when you go forth into the world of men you shall
the protection of the Forest, and the powers you now enjoy will
with you to assist you in your labors. In any need you may call
the Nymphs, the Ryls, the Knooks and the Fairies, and they will
you gladly. I, the Master Woodsman of the World, have said it,
Word is the Law!"
Claus looked upon Ak with grateful
"This will make me mighty among men," he replied. "Protected
kind friends I may be able to make thousands of little children
I will try very hard to do my duty, and I know the Forest people
give me their sympathy and help."
"We will!" said the Fairy
"We will!" cried the merry Ryls, laughing.
will!" shouted the crooked Knooks, scowling.
"We will!" exclaimed the
sweet nymphs, proudly. But Necile said
nothing. She only folded
Claus in her arms and kissed him tenderly.
"The world is big," continued
the boy, turning again to his loyal
friends, "but men are everywhere. I
shall begin my work near my
friends, so that if I meet with misfortune I can
come to the Forest
for counsel or help."
With that he gave them all a
loving look and turned away. There was
no need to say good by, by for
him the sweet, wild life of the Forest
was over. He went forth bravely
to meet his doom--the doom of the
race of man--the necessity to worry and
But Ak, who knew the boy's heart, was merciful and guided his
Coming through Burzee to its eastern edge Claus reached the
Valley of Hohaho. On each side were rolling green hills, and a
wandered midway between them to wind afar off beyond the valley.
his back was the grim Forest; at the far end of the valley a
plain. The eyes of the young man, which had until now reflected
grave thoughts, became brighter as he stood silent, looking out
the Laughing Valley. Then on a sudden his eyes twinkled, as stars
on a still night, and grew merry and wide.
For at his feet the
cowslips and daisies smiled on him in friendly
regard; the breeze whistled
gaily as it passed by and fluttered the
locks on his forehead; the brook
laughed joyously as it leaped over
the pebbles and swept around the green
curves of its banks; the bees
sang sweet songs as they flew from dandelion to
daffodil; the beetles
chirruped happily in the long grass, and the sunbeams
pleasantly over all the scene.
"Here," cried Claus, stretching
out his arms as if to embrace the
Valley, "will I make my home!"
was many, many years ago. It has been his home ever since. It
his home now.
1. The Laughing
When Claus came the Valley was empty save for the grass, the
the wildflowers, the bees and the butterflies. If he would make
home here and live after the fashion of men he must have a house.
puzzled him at first, but while he stood smiling in the sunshine
found beside him old Nelko, the servant of the Master
bore an ax, strong and broad, with blade that gleamed
silver. This he placed in the young man's hand, then
without a word.
Claus understood, and turning to the Forest's edge he
number of fallen tree-trunks, which he began to clear of their
branches. He would not cut into a living tree. His life
nymphs who guarded the Forest had taught him that a live tree
sacred, being a created thing endowed with feeling. But with the
and fallen trees it was different. They had fulfilled their
as active members of the Forest community, and now it was fitting
their remains should minister to the needs of man.
The ax bit
deep into the logs at every stroke. It seemed to have a
force of its
own, and Claus had but to swing and guide it.
When shadows began creeping
over the green hills to lie in the Valley
overnight, the young man had
chopped many logs into equal lengths and
proper shapes for building a house
such as he had seen the poorer
classes of men inhabit. Then, resolving
to await another day before
he tried to fit the logs together, Claus ate some
of the sweet roots
he well knew how to find, drank deeply from the laughing
lay down to sleep on the grass, first seeking a spot where no
grew, lest the weight of his body should crush them.
he slumbered and breathed in the perfume of the wondrous
Valley the Spirit of
Happiness crept into his heart and drove out all
terror and care and
misgivings. Never more would the face of Claus be
anxieties; never more would the trials of life weigh him
down as with a
burden. The Laughing Valley had claimed him for its own.
we all might live in that delightful place!--but then,
maybe, it would become
overcrowded. For ages it had awaited a tenant.
Was it chance that led
young Claus to make his home in this happy
vale? Or may we guess that
his thoughtful friends, the immortals, had
directed his steps when he
wandered away from Burzee to seek a home in
the great world?
it is that while the moon peered over the hilltop and flooded
with its soft
beams the body of the sleeping stranger, the Laughing
Valley was filled with
the queer, crooked shapes of the friendly
Knooks. These people spoke no
words, but worked with skill and
swiftness. The logs Claus had trimmed
with his bright ax were carried
to a spot beside the brook and fitted one
upon another, and during the
night a strong and roomy dwelling was
The birds came sweeping into the Valley at daybreak, and their
so seldom heard in the deep wood, aroused the stranger. He
web of sleep from his eyelids and looked around. The house
met his gaze.
"I must thank the Knooks for this," said he,
gratefully. Then he
walked to his dwelling and entered at the
doorway. A large room faced
him, having a fireplace at the end and a
table and bench in the
middle. Beside the fireplace was a
cupboard. Another doorway was
beyond. Claus entered here, also,
and saw a smaller room with a bed
against the wall and a stool set near a
small stand. On the bed were
many layers of dried moss brought from the
"Indeed, it is a palace!" exclaimed the smiling Claus. "I
the good Knooks again, for their knowledge of man's needs as well
for their labors in my behalf."
He left his new home with a glad
feeling that he was not quite alone
in the world, although he had chosen to
abandon his Forest life.
Friendships are not easily broken, and the immortals
Upon reaching the brook he drank of the pure water, and
then sat down
on the bank to laugh at the mischievous gambols of the ripples
pushed one another against rocks or crowded desperately to see
should first reach the turn beyond. And as they raced away
listened to the song they sang:
"Rushing, pushing, on we
Not a wave may gently flow--
All are too
Ev'ry drop, delighted,
Turns to spray in merry
As we tumble on our way!"
Next Claus searched for roots to
eat, while the daffodils turned their
little eyes up to him laughingly and
lisped their dainty song:
"Blooming fairly, growing
Never flowerets were so gay!
As our colors we display."
Claus laugh to hear the little things voice their happiness as
gracefully on their stems. But another strain caught his
ear as the
sunbeams fell gently across his face and whispered:
gladness, that our rays
Warm the valley through the
Here is happiness, to give
Comfort unto all who
"Yes!" cried Claus in answer, "there is happiness and joy in
things here. The Laughing Valley is a valley of peace and
He passed the day talking with the ants and beetles and
jokes with the light-hearted butterflies. And at night he
lay on his
bed of soft moss and slept soundly.
Then came the Fairies,
merry but noiseless, bringing skillets and pots
and dishes and pans and all
the tools necessary to prepare food and to
comfort a mortal. With these
they filled cupboard and fireplace,
finally placing a stout suit of wool
clothing on the stool by the bedside.
When Claus awoke he rubbed his eyes
again, and laughed, and spoke
aloud his thanks to the Fairies and the Master
Woodsman who had sent
them. With eager joy he examined all his new
what some might be used for. But, in the days
when he had clung to
the girdle of the great Ak and visited the cities of
men, his eyes
had been quick to note all the manners and customs of the race
which he belonged; so he guessed from the gifts brought by the
that the Master expected him hereafter to live in the fashion
"Which means that I must plow the earth and plant
corn," he reflected;
"so that when winter comes I shall have garnered food in
But, as he stood in the grassy Valley, he saw that to turn up
earth in furrows would be to destroy hundreds of pretty,
flowers, as well as thousands of the tender blades of grass.
he could not bear to do.
Therefore he stretched out his arms
and uttered a peculiar whistle he
had learned in the Forest, afterward
"Ryls of the Field Flowers--come to me!"
Instantly a dozen
of the queer little Ryls were squatting upon the
ground before him, and they
nodded to him in cheerful greeting.
Claus gazed upon them
"Your brothers of the Forest," he said, "I have known and
years. I shall love you, also, when we have become
friends. To me
the laws of the Ryls, whether those of the Forest or of
the field, are
sacred. I have never wilfully destroyed one of the
flowers you tend
so carefully; but I must plant grain to use for food during
winter, and how am I to do this without killing the little
that sing to me so prettily of their fragrant blossoms?"
Yellow Ryl, he who tends the buttercups, made answer:
"Fret not, friend
Claus. The great Ak has spoken to us of you. There
is better work
for you in life than to labor for food, and though, not
being of the Forest,
Ak has no command over us, nevertheless are we
glad to favor one he
loves. Live, therefore, to do the good work you
are resolved to
undertake. We, the Field Ryls, will attend to your
After this speech the Ryls were no longer to be seen, and
from his mind the thought of tilling the earth.
he wandered back to his dwelling a bowl of fresh milk stood
upon the table;
bread was in the cupboard and sweet honey filled a
dish beside it. A
pretty basket of rosy apples and new-plucked grapes
was also awaiting
him. He called out "Thanks, my friends!" to the
invisible Ryls, and
straightway began to eat of the food.
Thereafter, when hungry, he had but
to look into the cupboard to find
goodly supplies brought by the kindly
Ryls. And the Knooks cut and
stacked much wood for his fireplace.
And the Fairies brought him warm
blankets and clothing.
So began his
life in the Laughing Valley, with the favor and
friendship of the immortals
to minister to his every want.
2. How Claus Made the First
Truly our Claus had wisdom, for his good fortune but strengthened
resolve to befriend the little ones of his own race. He knew his
was approved by the immortals, else they would not have favored
So he began at once to make acquaintance with
mankind. He walked
through the Valley to the plain beyond, and crossed
the plain in many
directions to reach the abodes of men. These stood
singly or in
groups of dwellings called villages, and in nearly all the
whether big or little, Claus found children.
soon came to know his merry, laughing face and the kind
glance of his bright
eyes; and the parents, while they regarded the
young man with some scorn for
loving children more than their elders,
were content that the girls and boys
had found a playfellow who seemed
willing to amuse them.
children romped and played games with Claus, and the boys rode
shoulders, and the girls nestled in his strong arms, and the
fondly to his knees. Wherever the young man chanced to
be, the sound of
childish laughter followed him; and to understand
this better you must know
that children were much neglected in those
days and received little attention
from their parents, so that it
became to them a marvel that so goodly a man
as Claus devoted his time
to making them happy. And those who knew him
were, you may be sure,
very happy indeed. The sad faces of the poor and
abused grew bright
for once; the cripple smiled despite his misfortune; the
hushed their moans and the grieved ones their cries when their
friend came nigh to comfort them.
Only at the beautiful palace
of the Lord of Lerd and at the frowning
castle of the Baron Braun was Claus
refused admittance. There were
children at both places; but the
servants at the palace shut the door
in the young stranger's face, and the
fierce Baron threatened to hang
him from an iron hook on the castle
walls. Whereupon Claus sighed and
went back to the poorer dwellings
where he was welcome.
After a time the winter drew near.
flowers lived out their lives and faded and disappeared; the
far into the warm earth; the butterflies deserted the
meadows; and the voice
of the brook grew hoarse, as if it had taken cold.
One day snowflakes
filled all the air in the Laughing Valley, dancing
boisterously toward the
earth and clothing in pure white raiment the
roof of Claus's
At night Jack Frost rapped at the door.
"Come in!" cried
"Come out!" answered Jack, "for you have a fire inside."
Claus came out. He had known Jack Frost in the Forest, and liked
jolly rogue, even while he mistrusted him.
"There will be rare sport for
me to-night, Claus!" shouted the sprite.
"Isn't this glorious weather?
I shall nip scores of noses and ears
and toes before daybreak."
you love me, Jack, spare the children," begged Claus.
"And why?" asked
the other, in surprise.
"They are tender and helpless," answered
"But I love to nip the tender ones!" declared Jack. "The
are tough, and tire my fingers."
"The young ones are weak,
and can not fight you," said Claus.
"True," agreed Jack,
thoughtfully. "Well, I will not pinch a child
this night--if I can
resist the temptation," he promised. "Good
The young man went in and closed the door, and Jack Frost ran on
the nearest village.
Claus threw a log on the fire, which burned up
brightly. Beside the
hearth sat Blinkie, a big cat give him by Peter
the Knook. Her fur
was soft and glossy, and she purred never-ending
songs of contentment.
"I shall not see the children again soon," said
Claus to the cat, who
kindly paused in her song to listen. "The winter
is upon us, the snow
will be deep for many days, and I shall be unable to
play with my
The cat raised a paw and stroked her
nose thoughtfully, but made no
reply. So long as the fire burned and
Claus sat in his easy chair by
the hearth she did not mind the
So passed many days and many long evenings. The cupboard
full, but Claus became weary with having nothing to do more than
feed the fire from the big wood-pile the Knooks had brought
One evening he picked up a stick of wood and began to cut it with
sharp knife. He had no thought, at first, except to occupy his
and he whistled and sang to the cat as he carved away portions of
stick. Puss sat up on her haunches and watched him, listening at
same time to her master's merry whistle, which she loved to hear
more than her own purring songs.
Claus glanced at puss and then
at the stick he was whittling, until
presently the wood began to have a
shape, and the shape was like the
head of a cat, with two ears sticking
Claus stopped whistling to laugh, and then both he and the cat
at the wooden image in some surprise. Then he carved out the
the nose, and rounded the lower part of the head so that it
upon a neck.
Puss hardly knew what to make of it now, and sat
up stiffly, as if
watching with some suspicion what would come
Claus knew. The head gave him an idea. He plied his
and with skill, forming slowly the body of the cat, which he
sit upon its haunches as the real cat did, with her tail wound
her two front legs.
The work cost him much time, but the
evening was long and he had
nothing better to do. Finally he gave a
loud and delighted laugh at
the result of his labors and placed the wooden
cat, now completed,
upon the hearth opposite the real one.
thereupon glared at her image, raised her hair in anger, and
defiant mew. The wooden cat paid no attention, and Claus,
Then Blinkie advanced toward the wooden image to eye it
smell of it intelligently: Eyes and nose told her the
wood, in spite of its natural appearance; so puss resumed her
her purring, but as she neatly washed her face with her padded paw
cast more than one admiring glance at her clever master. Perhaps
felt the same satisfaction we feel when we look upon good
The cat's master was himself pleased with
his handiwork, without
knowing exactly why. Indeed, he had great cause
himself that night, and all the children throughout the world
have joined him rejoicing. For Claus had made his first
3. How the Ryls Colored the Toys
A hush lay
on the Laughing Valley now. Snow covered it like a white
pillows of downy flakes drifted before the dwelling where
Claus sat feeding
the blaze of the fire. The brook gurgled on beneath
a heavy sheet of
ice and all living plants and insects nestled close
to Mother Earth to keep
warm. The face of the moon was hid by dark
clouds, and the wind,
delighting in the wintry sport, pushed and
whirled the snowflakes in so many
directions that they could get no
chance to fall to the ground.
heard the wind whistling and shrieking in its play and thanked
Knooks again for his comfortable shelter. Blinkie washed her
lazily and stared at the coals with a look of perfect content.
The toy cat
sat opposite the real one and gazed straight ahead, as toy
Suddenly Claus heard a noise that sounded different from the
the wind. It was more like a wail of suffering and
He stood up and listened, but the wind, growing boisterous,
door and rattled the windows to distract his attention. He
until the wind was tired and then, still listening, he heard once
the shrill cry of distress.
Quickly he drew on his coat, pulled
his cap over his eyes and opened
the door. The wind dashed in and
scattered the embers over the
hearth, at the same time blowing Blinkie's fur
so furiously that she
crept under the table to escape. Then the door
was closed and Claus
was outside, peering anxiously into the
The wind laughed and scolded and tried to push him over, but he
firm. The helpless flakes stumbled against his eyes and dimmed
sight, but he rubbed them away and looked again. Snow was
white and glittering. It covered the earth and filled the
The cry was not repeated.
Claus turned to go back into the
house, but the wind caught him
unawares and he stumbled and fell across a
snowdrift. His hand
plunged into the drift and touched something that
was not snow.
This he seized and, pulling it gently toward him, found it to
a child. The next moment he had lifted it in his arms and carried
into the house.
The wind followed him through the door, but Claus shut it
He laid the rescued child on the hearth, and brushing away the
discovered it to be Weekum, a little boy who lived in a house
Claus wrapped a warm blanket around the little one
and rubbed the
frost from its limbs. Before long the child opened his
seeing where he was, smiled happily. Then Claus warmed milk
it to the boy slowly, while the cat looked on with sober
Finally the little one curled up in his friend's arms and sighed
fell asleep, and Claus, filled with gladness that he had found
wanderer, held him closely while he slumbered.
The wind, finding
no more mischief to do, climbed the hill and swept
on toward the north.
This gave the weary snowflakes time to settle
down to earth, and the Valley
became still again.
The boy, having slept well in the arms of his friend,
opened his eyes
and sat up. Then, as a child will, he looked around the
room and saw
all that it contained.
"Your cat is a nice cat, Claus,"
he said, at last. "Let me hold it."
But puss objected and ran
"The other cat won't run, Claus," continued the boy. "Let me
that one." Claus placed the toy in his arms, and the boy held
lovingly and kissed the tip of its wooden ear.
"How did you get
lost in the storm, Weekum?" asked Claus.
"I started to walk to my
auntie's house and lost my way," answered Weekum.
"It was cold," said Weekum, "and the snow got in my eyes, so
not see. Then I kept on till I fell in the snow, without
where I was, and the wind blew the flakes over me and covered me
Claus gently stroked his head, and the boy looked up at him and
"I'm all right now," said Weekum.
"Yes," replied Claus,
happily. "Now I will put you in my warm bed, and
you must sleep until
morning, when I will carry you back to your mother."
"May the cat sleep
with me?" asked the boy.
"Yes, if you wish it to," answered
"It's a nice cat!" Weekum said, smiling, as Claus tucked the
around him; and presently the little one fell asleep with the
toy in his arms.
When morning came the sun claimed the Laughing
Valley and flooded it
with his rays; so Claus prepared to take the lost child
back to its mother.
"May I keep the cat, Claus?" asked Weekum.
"It's nicer than real
cats. It doesn't run away, or scratch or
bite. May I keep it?"
"Yes, indeed," answered Claus, pleased that
the toy he had made could
give pleasure to the child. So he wrapped the
boy and the wooden cat
in a warm cloak, perching the bundle upon his own
broad shoulders, and
then he tramped through the snow and the drifts of the
across the plain beyond to the poor cottage where Weekum's mother
"See, mama!" cried the boy, as soon as they entered, "I've got a
The good woman wept tears of joy over the rescue of her darling
thanked Claus many times for his kind act. So he carried a warm
happy heart back to his home in the Valley.
That night he said to
puss: "I believe the children will love the
wooden cats almost as well as the
real ones, and they can't hurt them
by pulling their tails and ears.
I'll make another."
So this was the beginning of his great
The next cat was better made than the first. While Claus
whittling it out the Yellow Ryl came in to make him a visit, and
pleased was he with the man's skill that he ran away and
several of his fellows.
There sat the Red Ryl, the Black Ryl,
the Green Ryl, the Blue Ryl and
the Yellow Ryl in a circle on the floor,
while Claus whittled and
whistled and the wooden cat grew into
"If it could be made the same color as the real cat, no one would
the difference," said the Yellow Ryl, thoughtfully.
ones, maybe, would not know the difference," replied
Claus, pleased with the
"I will bring you some of the red that I color my roses and
with," cried the Red Ryl; "and then you can make the cat's lips
"I will bring some of the green that I color my
grasses and leaves with,"
said the Green Ryl; "and then you can color the
cat's eyes green."
"They will need a bit of yellow, also," remarked the
Yellow Ryl; "I
must fetch some of the yellow that I use to color my
"The real cat is black," said the
Black Ryl; "I will bring some of the
black that I use to color the eyes of my
pansies with, and then you
can paint your wooden cat black."
you have a blue ribbon around Blinkie's neck," added the Blue
will get some of the color that I use to paint the bluebells
forget-me-nots with, and then you can carve a wooden ribbon on the
neck and paint it blue."
So the Ryls disappeared, and by the time Claus
had finished carving
out the form of the cat they were all back with the
paints and brushes.
They made Blinkie sit upon the table, that Claus
might paint the toy
cat just the right color, and when the work was done the
it was exactly as good as a live cat.
"That is, to all
appearances," added the Red Ryl.
Blinkie seemed a little offended by the
attention bestowed upon the
toy, and that she might not seem to approve the
imitation cat she
walked to the corner of the hearth and sat down with a
But Claus was delighted, and as soon as morning came he
and tramped through the snow, across the Valley and the plain,
he came to a village. There, in a poor hut near the walls of
beautiful palace of the Lord of Lerd, a little girl lay upon
wretched cot, moaning with pain.
Claus approached the child and
kissed her and comforted her, and then
he drew the toy cat from beneath his
coat, where he had hidden it, and
placed it in her arms.
Ah, how well
he felt himself repaid for his labor and his long walk
when he saw the little
one's eyes grow bright with pleasure! She
hugged the kitty tight to her
breast, as if it had been a precious
gem, and would not let it go for a
single moment. The fever was quieted,
the pain grew less, and she fell
into a sweet and refreshing sleep.
Claus laughed and whistled and sang
all the way home. Never had he
been so happy as on that
When he entered his house he found Shiegra, the lioness, awaiting
Since his babyhood Shiegra had loved Claus, and while he dwelt in
Forest she had often come to visit him at Necile's bower. After
had gone to live in the Laughing Valley Shiegra became lonely and
at ease, and now she had braved the snow-drifts, which all
abhor, to see him once more. Shiegra was getting old and her
were beginning to fall out, while the hairs that tipped her ears
tail had changed from tawny-yellow to white.
Claus found her lying
on his hearth, and he put his arms around the
neck of the lioness and hugged
her lovingly. The cat had retired into
a far corner. She did not
care to associate with Shiegra.
Claus told his old friend about the cats
he had made, and how much
pleasure they had given Weekum and the sick
girl. Shiegra did not
know much about children; indeed, if she met a
child she could
scarcely be trusted not to devour it. But she was
Claus' new labors, and said:
"These images seem to me
very attractive. Yet I can not see why you
should make cats, which are
very unimportant animals. Suppose, now
that I am here, you make the
image of a lioness, the Queen of all
beasts. Then, indeed, your
children will be happy--and safe at the
Claus thought this
was a good suggestion. So he got a piece of wood
and sharpened his
knife, while Shiegra crouched upon the hearth at his
feet. With much
care he carved the head in the likeness of the
lioness, even to the two
fierce teeth that curved over her lower lip
and the deep, frowning lines
above her wide-open eyes.
When it was finished he said:
a terrible look, Shiegra."
"Then the image is like me," she answered;
"for I am indeed terrible
to all who are not my friends."
carved out the body, with Shiegra's long tail trailing
behind it. The
image of the crouching lioness was very life-like.
"It pleases me," said
Shiegra, yawning and stretching her body
gracefully. "Now I will watch
while you paint."
He brought the paints the Ryls had given him from the
colored the image to resemble the real Shiegra.
lioness placed her big, padded paws upon the edge of the table
herself while she carefully examined the toy that was
"You are indeed skillful!" she said, proudly. "The
children will like
that better than cats, I'm sure."
Then snarling at
Blinkie, who arched her back in terror and whined
fearfully, she walked away
toward her forest home with stately strides.
4. How Little
Mayrie Became Frightened
The winter was over now, and all the
Laughing Valley was filled with
joyous excitement. The brook was so
happy at being free once again
that it gurgled more boisterously than ever
and dashed so recklessly
against the rocks that it sent showers of spray high
in the air. The
grass thrust its sharp little blades upward through the
mat of dead
stalks where it had hidden from the snow, but the flowers were
timid to show themselves, although the Ryls were busy feeding
roots. The sun was in remarkably good humor, and sent his
dancing merrily throughout the Valley.
Claus was eating his
dinner one day when he heard a timid knock
on his door.
"Come in!" he
No one entered, but after a pause came another
Claus jumped up and threw open the door. Before him stood
girl holding a smaller brother fast by the hand.
Tlaus?" she asked, shyly.
"Indeed I am, my dear!" he answered, with a
laugh, as he caught both
children in his arms and kissed them. "You are
very welcome, and you
have come just in time to share my dinner."
took them to the table and fed them with fresh milk and nut-cakes.
had eaten enough he asked:
"Why have you made this long journey to see
"I wants a tat!" replied little Mayrie; and her brother, who had
yet learned to speak many words, nodded his head and exclaimed like
"Oh, you want my toy cats, do you?" returned Claus,
greatly pleased to
discover that his creations were so popular with
The little visitors nodded eagerly.
continued, "I have but one cat now ready, for I
carried two to children in
the town yesterday. And the one I have
shall be given to your brother,
Mayrie, because he is the smaller; and
the next one I make shall be for
The boy's face was bright with smiles as he took the precious
Claus held out to him; but little Mayrie covered her face with her
and began to sob grievously.
"I--I--I wants a t--t--tat now!" she
Her disappointment made Claus feel miserable for a moment.
suddenly remembered Shiegra.
"Don't cry, darling!" he said,
soothingly; "I have a toy much nicer
than a cat, and you shall have
He went to the cupboard and drew out the image of the lioness,
he placed on the table before Mayrie.
The girl raised her arm
and gave one glance at the fierce teeth and
glaring eyes of the beast, and
then, uttering a terrified scream, she
rushed from the house. The boy
followed her, also screaming lustily,
and even dropping his precious cat in
For a moment Claus stood motionless, being puzzled and
Then he threw Shiegra's image into the cupboard and ran after
children, calling to them not to be frightened.
stopped in her flight and her brother clung to her
skirt; but they both cast
fearful glances at the house until Claus had
assured them many times that the
beast had been locked in the cupboard.
"Yet why were you frightened at
seeing it?" he asked. "It is only a
toy to play with!"
bad!" said Mayrie, decidedly, "an'--an'--just horrid, an' not a
"Perhaps you are right," returned Claus, thoughtfully.
"But if you
will return with me to the house I will soon make you a pretty
So they timidly entered the house again, having faith in
friend's words; and afterward they had the joy of watching Claus
out a cat from a bit of wood and paint it in natural colors. It
not take him long to do this, for he had become skillful with his
by this time, and Mayrie loved her toy the more dearly because she
seen it made.
After his little visitors had trotted away on their
Claus sat long in deep thought. And he then decided
that such fierce
creatures as his friend the lioness would never do as models
which to fashion his toys.
"There must be nothing to frighten the
dear babies," he reflected;
"and while I know Shiegra well, and am not afraid
of her, it is but
natural that children should look upon her image with
Hereafter I will choose such mild-mannered animals as squirrels
rabbits and deer and lambkins from which to carve my toys, for
the little ones will love rather than fear them."
He began his
work that very day, and before bedtime had made a wooden
rabbit and a
lamb. They were not quite so lifelike as the cats had
they were formed from memory, while Blinkie had sat very
still for Claus to
look at while he worked.
But the new toys pleased the children
nevertheless, and the fame of
Claus' playthings quickly spread to every
cottage on plain and in
village. He always carried his gifts to the
sick or crippled
children, but those who were strong enough walked to the
house in the
Valley to ask for them, so a little path was soon worn from the
to the door of the toy-maker's cottage.
First came the children
who had been playmates of Claus, before he
began to make toys. These,
you may be sure, were well supplied. Then
children who lived farther
away heard of the wonderful images and made
journeys to the Valley to secure
them. All little ones were welcome,
and never a one went away
This demand for his handiwork kept Claus busily occupied,
but he was
quite happy in knowing the pleasure he gave to so many of the
children. His friends the immortals were pleased with his success
supported him bravely.
The Knooks selected for him clear pieces of
soft wood, that his knife
might not be blunted in cutting them; the Ryls kept
him supplied with
paints of all colors and brushes fashioned from the tips of
grasses; the Fairies discovered that the workman needed saws
chisels and hammers and nails, as well as knives, and brought him
goodly array of such tools.
Claus soon turned his living room into a
most wonderful workshop. He
built a bench before the window, and
arranged his tools and paints so
that he could reach everything as he sat on
his stool. And as he
finished toy after toy to delight the hearts of
little children he
found himself growing so gay and happy that he could not
singing and laughing and whistling all the day
"It's because I live in the Laughing Valley, where everything
laughs!" said Claus.
But that was not the
5. How Bessie Blithesome Came to the Laughing
One day, as Claus sat before his door to enjoy the sunshine
he busily carved the head and horns of a toy deer, he looked up
discovered a glittering cavalcade of horsemen approaching through
When they drew nearer he saw that the band consisted of a score
men-at-arms, clad in bright armor and bearing in their hands spears
battle-axes. In front of these rode little Bessie Blithesome,
pretty daughter of that proud Lord of Lerd who had once driven
from his palace. Her palfrey was pure white, its bridle was
with glittering gems, and its saddle draped with cloth of
richly broidered. The soldiers were sent to protect her from
while she journeyed.
Claus was surprised, but he continued to
whittle and to sing until the
cavalcade drew up before him. Then the
little girl leaned over the
neck of her palfrey and said:
Claus, I want a toy!"
Her voice was so pleading that Claus jumped up at
once and stood
beside her. But he was puzzled how to answer her
"You are a rich lord's daughter," said he, "and have all
"Except toys," added Bessie. "There are no
toys in all the world
"And I make them for the poor
children, who have nothing else to amuse
them," continued Claus.
poor children love to play with toys more than rich ones?"
"I suppose not," said Claus, thoughtfully.
"Am I to blame
because my father is a lord? Must I be denied the
pretty toys I long
for because other children are poorer than I?" she
"I'm afraid you must, dear," he answered; "for the poor have
else with which to amuse themselves. You have your pony to
servants to wait on you, and every comfort that money can
"But I want toys!" cried Bessie, wiping away the tears that
themselves into her eyes. "If I can not have them, I shall
Claus was troubled, for her grief recalled to him
the thought that his
desire was to make all children happy, without regard to
condition in life. Yet, while so many poor children were
for his toys he could not bear to give one to them to
Blithesome, who had so much already to make her happy.
my child," said he, gently; "all the toys I am now making are
others. But the next shall be yours, since your heart
so longs for
it. Come to me again in two days and it shall be ready
Bessie gave a cry of delight, and leaning over her pony's neck
kissed Claus prettily upon his forehead. Then, calling to
men-at-arms, she rode gaily away, leaving Claus to resume his
"If I am to supply the rich children as well as the poor ones,"
thought, "I shall not have a spare moment in the whole year! But
it right I should give to the rich? Surely I must go to Necile
talk with her about this matter."
So when he had finished the toy
deer, which was very like a deer
he had known in the Forest glades, he walked
into Burzee and made
his way to the bower of the beautiful Nymph Necile, who
his foster mother.
She greeted him tenderly and lovingly,
listening with interest to his
story of the visit of Bessie
"And now tell me," said he, "shall I give toys to rich
"We of the Forest know nothing of riches," she replied.
"It seems to
me that one child is like another child, since they are all made
the same clay, and that riches are like a gown, which may be put on
taken away, leaving the child unchanged. But the Fairies
guardians of mankind, and know mortal children better than I. Let
call the Fairy Queen."
This was done, and the Queen of the Fairies
sat beside them and heard
Claus relate his reasons for thinking the rich
children could get
along without his toys, and also what the Nymph had
"Necile is right," declared the Queen; "for, whether it be rich
poor, a child's longings for pretty playthings are but natural.
Bessie's heart may suffer as much grief as poor Mayrie's; she can
just as lonely and discontented, and just as gay and happy. I
friend Claus, it is your duty to make all little ones glad,
they chance to live in palaces or in cottages."
are wise, fair Queen," replied Claus, "and my heart tells
me they are as just
as they are wise. Hereafter all children may
Then he bowed before the gracious Fairy and, kissing Necile's
lips, went back into his Valley.
At the brook he stopped to drink,
and afterward he sat on the bank and
took a piece of moist clay in his hands
while he thought what sort of
toy he should make for Bessie Blithesome.
He did not notice that his
fingers were working the clay into shape until,
glancing downward, he
found he had unconsciously formed a head that bore a
to the Nymph Necile!
At once he became
interested. Gathering more of the clay from the
bank he carried it to
his house. Then, with the aid of his knife and
a bit of wood he
succeeded in working the clay into the image of a toy
skillful strokes he formed long, waving hair on the head
and covered the body
with a gown of oakleaves, while the two feet
sticking out at the bottom of
the gown were clad in sandals.
But the clay was soft, and Claus found he
must handle it gently to
avoid ruining his pretty work.
rays of the sun will draw out the moisture and cause the
clay to become
hard," he thought. So he laid the image on a flat
board and placed it
in the glare of the sun.
This done, he went to his bench and began
painting the toy deer, and
soon he became so interested in the work that he
forgot all about the
clay nymph. But next morning, happening to notice
it as it lay on the
board, he found the sun had baked it to the hardness of
stone, and it
was strong enough to be safely handled.
painted the nymph with great care in the likeness of Necile,
deep-blue eyes, white teeth, rosy lips and ruddy-brown hair.
The gown he
colored oak-leaf green, and when the paint was dry Claus
himself was charmed
with the new toy. Of course it was not nearly so
lovely as the real
Necile; but, considering the material of which it
was made, Claus thought it
was very beautiful.
When Bessie, riding upon her white palfrey, came to
his dwelling next
day, Claus presented her with the new toy. The little
were brighter than ever as she examined the pretty image, and
loved it at once, and held it close to her breast, as a mother does
"What is it called, Claus?" she asked.
knew that Nymphs do not like to be spoken of by mortals, so
he could not tell
Bessie it was an image of Necile he had given her.
But as it was a new toy he
searched his mind for a new name to call it
by, and the first word he thought
of he decided would do very well.
"It is called a dolly, my dear," he
said to Bessie.
"I shall call the dolly my baby," returned Bessie,
kissing it fondly;
"and I shall tend it and care for it just as Nurse cares
Thank you very much, Claus; your gift has made me happier than I
ever been before!"
Then she rode away, hugging the toy in her
arms, and Claus, seeing her
delight, thought he would make another dolly,
better and more natural
than the first.
He brought more clay from the
brook, and remembering that Bessie had
called the dolly her baby he resolved
to form this one into a baby's
image. That was no difficult task to the
clever workman, and soon the
baby dolly was lying on the board and placed in
the sun to dry. Then,
with the clay that was left, he began to make an
image of Bessie
This was not so easy, for he found
he could not make the silken robe
of the lord's daughter out of the common
clay. So he called the
Fairies to his aid, and asked them to bring him
colored silks with
which to make a real dress for the clay image. The
Fairies set off at
once on their errand, and before nightfall they returned
generous supply of silks and laces and golden threads.
now became impatient to complete his new dolly, and instead of
the next day's sun he placed the clay image upon his
hearth and covered it
over with glowing coals. By morning, when he
drew the dolly from the
ashes, it had baked as hard as if it had lain
a full day in the hot
Now our Claus became a dressmaker as well as a toymaker. He
lavender silk, and nearly sewed it into a beautiful gown that
fitted the new dolly. And he put a lace collar around its neck
pink silk shoes on its feet. The natural color of baked clay is
light gray, but Claus painted the face to resemble the color of
and he gave the dolly Bessie's brown eyes and golden hair and rosy
It was really a beautiful thing to look upon, and sure to bring
some childish heart. While Claus was admiring it he heard a
his door, and little Mayrie entered. Her face was sad and her
red with continued weeping.
"Why, what has grieved you, my dear?"
asked Claus, taking the child in
"I've--I've--bwoke my tat!"
"How?" he inquired, his eyes twinkling.
dwopped him, an' bwoke off him's tail; an'--an'--then I dwopped
him an' bwoke
off him's ear! An'--an' now him's all spoilt!"
"Never mind, Mayrie dear," he said. "How would you like
dolly, instead of a cat?"
Mayrie looked at the silk-robed
dolly and her eyes grew big
"Oh, Tlaus!" she cried,
clapping her small hands together with
rapture; "tan I have 'at boo'ful
"Do you like it?" he asked.
"I love it!" said she.
"It's better 'an tats!"
"Then take it, dear, and be careful not to break
Mayrie took the dolly with a joy that was almost reverent, and
face dimpled with smiles as she started along the path toward
6. The Wickedness of the Awgwas
I must now
tell you something about the Awgwas, that terrible race of
caused our good Claus so much trouble and nearly
succeeded in robbing the
children of the world of their earliest and
I do not like
to mention the Awgwas, but they are a part of this
history, and can not be
ignored. They were neither mortals nor
immortals, but stood midway
between those classes of beings. The
Awgwas were invisible to ordinary
people, but not to immortals. They
could pass swiftly through the air
from one part of the world to
another, and had the power of influencing the
minds of human beings to
do their wicked will.
They were of gigantic
stature and had coarse, scowling countenances
which showed plainly their
hatred of all mankind. They possessed no
consciences whatever and
delighted only in evil deeds.
Their homes were in rocky, mountainous
places, from whence they
sallied forth to accomplish their wicked
The one of their number that could think of the most horrible
for them to do was always elected the King Awgwa, and all the
obeyed his orders. Sometimes these creatures lived to become
hundred years old, but usually they fought so fiercely among
that many were destroyed in combat, and when they died that
was the end of
them. Mortals were powerless to harm them and the
when the Awgwas were mentioned, and always avoided
them. So they
flourished for many years unopposed and accomplished
glad to assure you that these vile creatures have long since
passed from earth; but in the days when Claus was making
his first toys they
were a numerous and powerful tribe.
One of the principal sports of the
Awgwas was to inspire angry
passions in the hearts of little children, so
that they quarreled and
fought with one another. They would tempt boys
to eat of unripe
fruit, and then delight in the pain they suffered; they
girls to disobey their parents, and then would laugh when the
were punished. I do not know what causes a child to be naughty
these days, but when the Awgwas were on earth naughty children
usually under their influence.
Now, when Claus began to make
children happy he kept them out of the
power of the Awgwas; for children
possessing such lovely playthings as
he gave them had no wish to obey the
evil thoughts the Awgwas tried to
thrust into their minds.
one year when the wicked tribe was to elect a new King,
they chose an Awgwa
who proposed to destroy Claus and take him away
"There are, as you know, fewer naughty children in the world
Claus came to the Laughing Valley and began to make his toys,"
the new King, as he squatted upon a rock and looked around at
scowling faces of his people. "Why, Bessie Blithesome has not
her foot once this month, nor has Mayrie's brother slapped
sister's face or thrown the puppy into the rain-barrel. Little
took his bath last night without screaming or struggling, because
mother had promised he should take his toy cat to bed with him!
a condition of affairs is awful for any Awgwa to think of, and
only way we can direct the naughty actions of children is to take
person Claus away from them."
"Good! good!" cried the big Awgwas,
in a chorus, and they clapped
their hands to applaud the speech of the
"But what shall we do with him?" asked one of the
"I have a plan," replied the wicked King; and what his plan
will soon discover.
That night Claus went to bed feeling very
happy, for he had completed
no less than four pretty toys during the day, and
they were sure, he
thought, to make four little children happy. But
while he slept the
band of invisible Awgwas surrounded his bed, bound him
cords, and then flew away with him to the middle of a dark forest
far off Ethop, where they laid him down and left him.
came Claus found himself thousands of miles from any
human being, a prisoner
in the wild jungle of an unknown land.
From the limb of a tree above his
head swayed a huge python, one of
those reptiles that are able to crush a
man's bones in their coils. A
few yards away crouched a savage panther,
its glaring red eyes fixed
full on the helpless Claus. One of those
monstrous spotted spiders
whose sting is death crept stealthily toward him
over the matted
leaves, which shriveled and turned black at its very
But Claus had been reared in Burzee, and was not
"Come to me, ye Knooks of the Forest!" he cried, and gave the
peculiar whistle that the Knooks know.
The panther, which was
about to spring upon its victim, turned and
slunk away. The python
swung itself into the tree and disappeared
among the leaves. The spider
stopped short in its advance and hid
beneath a rotting log.
no time to notice them, for he was surrounded by a band of
Knooks, more crooked and deformed in appearance than
any he had ever
"Who are you that call on us?" demanded one, in a gruff
"The friend of your brothers in Burzee," answered Claus. "I
brought here by my enemies, the Awgwas, and left to perish
Yet now I implore your help to release me and to send me home
"Have you the sign?" asked another.
They cut his bonds, and with his free arms he made the secret sign
Instantly they assisted him to stand upon his feet, and
him food and drink to strengthen him.
"Our brothers of
Burzee make queer friends," grumbled an ancient Knook
whose flowing beard was
pure white. "But he who knows our secret sign
and signal is entitled to
our help, whoever he may be. Close your
eyes, stranger, and we will
conduct you to your home. Where shall we
"'Tis in the
Laughing Valley," answered Claus, shutting his eyes.
"There is but one
Laughing Valley in the known world, so we can not go
astray," remarked the
As he spoke the sound of his voice seemed to die away, so Claus
his eyes to see what caused the change. To his astonishment he
himself seated on the bench by his own door, with the Laughing
spread out before him. That day he visited the Wood-Nymphs
related his adventure to Queen Zurline and Necile.
have become your enemies," said the lovely Queen,
thoughtfully; "so we must
do all we can to protect you from
"It was cowardly to
bind him while he slept," remarked Necile,
ones are ever cowardly," answered Zurline, "but our friend's
not be disturbed again."
The Queen herself came to the dwelling of Claus
that evening and
placed her Seal on every door and window, to keep out the
under the Seal of Queen Zurline was placed the Seal of the
the Seal of the Ryls and the Seals of the Knooks, that the charm
become more powerful.
And Claus carried his toys to the children
again, and made many more
of the little ones happy.
You may guess how
angry the King Awgwa and his fierce band were when
it was known to them that
Claus had escaped from the Forest of Ethop.
They raged madly for a whole
week, and then held another meeting among
"It is useless to
carry him where the Knooks reign," said the King,
"for he has their
protection. So let us cast him into a cave of our
own mountains, where
he will surely perish."
This was promptly agreed to, and the wicked band
set out that night to
seize Claus. But they found his dwelling guarded
by the Seals of the
Immortals and were obliged to go away baffled and
"Never mind," said the King; "he does not sleep
Next day, as Claus traveled to the village across the plain,
intended to present a toy squirrel to a lame boy, he was suddenly
upon by the Awgwas, who seized him and carried him away to the
There they thrust him within a deep cavern and rolled many
against the entrance to prevent his escape.
of light and food, and with little air to breathe, our
Claus was, indeed, in
a pitiful plight. But he spoke the mystic words
of the Fairies, which
always command their friendly aid, and they came
to his rescue and
transported him to the Laughing Valley in the
twinkling of an
Thus the Awgwas discovered they might not destroy one who had
the friendship of the immortals; so the evil band sought other
of keeping Claus from bringing happiness to children and so
Whenever Claus set out to carry his toys to the
little ones an Awgwa,
who had been set to watch his movements, sprang upon
him and snatched
the toys from his grasp. And the children were no more
than was Claus when he was obliged to return home
he persevered, and made many toys for his little
friends and started
with them for the villages. And always the Awgwas
robbed him as soon
as he had left the Valley.
They threw the stolen
playthings into one of their lonely caverns, and
quite a heap of toys
accumulated before Claus became discouraged and
gave up all attempts to leave
the Valley. Then children began coming
to him, since they found he did
not go to them; but the wicked Awgwas
flew around them and caused their steps
to stray and the paths to
become crooked, so never a little one could find a
way into the
Lonely days now fell upon Claus, for he
was denied the pleasure of
bringing happiness to the children whom he had
learned to love. Yet
he bore up bravely, for he thought surely the time
would come when the
Awgwas would abandon their evil designs to injure
He devoted all his hours to toy-making, and when one plaything
been completed he stood it on a shelf he had built for that
When the shelf became filled with rows of toys he made another
and filled that also. So that in time he had many shelves filled
gay and beautiful toys representing horses, dogs, cats,
lambs, rabbits and deer, as well as pretty dolls of all sizes
balls and marbles of baked clay painted in gay colors.
he glanced at this array of childish treasures, the heart of
good old Claus
became sad, so greatly did he long to carry the toys to
And at last, because he could bear it no longer,
he ventured to go to the
great Ak, to whom he told the story of his
persecution by the Awgwas, and
begged the Master Woodsman to assist him.
7. The Great
Battle Between Good and Evil
Ak listened gravely to the recital of
Claus, stroking his beard the
while with the slow, graceful motion that
betokened deep thought. He
nodded approvingly when Claus told how the
Knooks and Fairies had
saved him from death, and frowned when he heard how
the Awgwas had
stolen the children's toys. At last he
"From the beginning I have approved the work you are doing among
children of men, and it annoys me that your good deeds should
thwarted by the Awgwas. We immortals have no connection whatever
the evil creatures who have attacked you. Always have we
them, and they, in turn, have hitherto taken care not to cross
pathway. But in this matter I find they have interfered with one
our friends, and I will ask them to abandon their persecutions, as
are under our protection."
Claus thanked the Master Woodsman most
gratefully and returned to his
Valley, while Ak, who never delayed carrying
out his promises, at once
traveled to the mountains of the
There, standing on the bare rocks, he called on the King and
people to appear.
Instantly the place was filled with throngs of
the scowling Awgwas,
and their King, perching himself on a point of rock,
"Who dares call on us?"
"It is I, the Master
Woodsman of the World," responded Ak.
"Here are no forests for you to
claim," cried the King, angrily.
"We owe no allegiance to you, nor to any
"That is true," replied Ak, calmly. "Yet you have
interfere with the actions of Claus, who dwells in the Laughing
and is under our protection."
Many of the Awgwas began
muttering at this speech, and their King
turned threateningly on the Master
"You are set to rule the forests, but the plains and the
ours!" he shouted. "Keep to your own dark woods! We
will do as we
please with Claus."
"You shall not harm our friend in
any way!" replied Ak.
"Shall we not?" asked the King, impudently.
"You will see! Our
powers are vastly superior to those of mortals, and
fully as great as
those of immortals."
"It is your conceit that
misleads you!" said Ak, sternly. "You are a
transient race, passing
from life into nothingness. We, who live
forever, pity but despise
you. On earth you are scorned by all, and
in Heaven you have no
place! Even the mortals, after their earth
life, enter another
existence for all time, and so are your superiors.
How then dare you, who are
neither mortal nor immortal, refuse to
obey my wish?"
sprang to their feet with menacing gestures, but their King
"Never before," he cried to Ak, while his voice trembled with
"has an immortal declared himself the master of the Awgwas!
shall an immortal venture to interfere with our actions again!
will avenge your scornful words by killing your friend Claus
three days. Nor you, nor all the immortals can save him from
wrath. We defy your powers! Begone, Master Woodsman of the
In the country of the Awgwas you have no place."
"It is war!"
declared Ak, with flashing eyes.
"It is war!" returned the King,
savagely. "In three days your friend
will be dead."
turned away and came to his Forest of Burzee, where he
called a meeting of
the immortals and told them of the defiance of the
Awgwas and their purpose
to kill Claus within three days.
The little folk listened to him
"What shall we do?" asked Ak.
"These creatures are of no
benefit to the world," said the Prince of
the Knooks; "we must destroy
"Their lives are devoted only to evil deeds," said the Prince of
Ryls. "We must destroy them."
"They have no conscience, and
endeavor to make all mortals as bad as
themselves," said the Queen of the
Fairies. "We must destroy them."
"They have defied the great Ak,
and threaten the life of our adopted
son," said beautiful Queen
Zurline. "We must destroy them."
The Master Woodsman
"You speak well," said he. "These Awgwas we know to be a
race, and they will fight desperately; yet the outcome is
For we who live can never die, even though conquered by our
while every Awgwa who is struck down is one foe the less to oppose
Prepare, then, for battle, and let us resolve to show no mercy to
Thus arose that terrible war between the immortals and the
evil which is sung of in Fairyland to this very day.
King Awgwa and his band determined to carry out the threat to
Claus. They now hated him for two reasons: he made children
was a friend of the Master Woodsman. But since Ak's visit
reason to fear the opposition of the immortals, and they
defeat. So the King sent swift messengers to all parts of the
summon every evil creature to his aid.
And on the third day after the
declaration of war a mighty army was at
the command of the King Awgwa.
There were three hundred Asiatic
Dragons, breathing fire that consumed
everything it touched. These
hated mankind and all good spirits.
And there were the three-eyed
Giants of Tatary, a host in themselves, who
liked nothing better than
to fight. And next came the Black Demons from
Patalonia, with great
spreading wings like those of a bat, which swept terror
through the world as they beat upon the air. And joined to
the Goozzle-Goblins, with long talons as sharp as swords, with
they clawed the flesh from their foes. Finally, every mountain
the world had come to participate in the great battle with the
The King Awgwa looked around upon this vast army and his heart
high with wicked pride, for he believed he would surely triumph
his gentle enemies, who had never before been known to fight. But
Master Woodsman had not been idle. None of his people was used
warfare, yet now that they were called upon to face the hosts of
they willingly prepared for the fray.
Ak had commanded them to
assemble in the Laughing Valley, where Claus,
ignorant of the terrible battle
that was to be waged on his account,
was quietly making his toys.
the entire Valley, from hill to hill, was filled with the
immortals. The Master Woodsman stood first, bearing a gleaming
that shone like burnished silver. Next came the Ryls, armed
sharp thorns from bramblebushes. Then the Knooks, bearing the
they used when they were forced to prod their savage beasts
submission. The Fairies, dressed in white gauze with
wings, bore golden wands, and the Wood-nymphs, in their uniforms
oak-leaf green, carried switches from ash trees as weapons.
laughed the Awgwa King when he beheld the size and the arms of
foes. To be sure the mighty ax of the Woodsman was to be dreaded,
the sweet-faced Nymphs and pretty Fairies, the gentle Ryls and
were such harmless folk that he almost felt shame at
having called such a
terrible host to oppose them.
"Since these fools dare fight," he said to
the leader of the Tatary
Giants, "I will overwhelm them with our evil
To begin the battle he poised a great stone in his left hand and
it full against the sturdy form of the Master Woodsman, who turned
aside with his ax. Then rushed the three-eyed Giants of Tatary
the Knooks, and the Goozzle-Goblins upon the Ryls, and
firebreathing Dragons upon the sweet Fairies. Because the Nymphs
Ak's own people the band of Awgwas sought them out, thinking
overcome them with ease.
But it is the Law that while Evil,
unopposed, may accomplish terrible
deeds, the powers of Good can never be
overthrown when opposed to
Evil. Well had it been for the King Awgwa
had he known the Law!
His ignorance cost him his existence, for one flash
of the ax borne by
the Master Woodsman of the World cleft the wicked King in
rid the earth of the vilest creature it contained.
marveled the Tatary Giants when the spears of the little
Knooks pierced their
thick walls of flesh and sent them reeling to the
ground with howls of
Woe came upon the sharp-taloned Goblins when the thorns of the
reached their savage hearts and let their life-blood sprinkle all
plain. And afterward from every drop a thistle grew.
Dragons paused astonished before the Fairy wands, from whence
rushed a power
that caused their fiery breaths to flow back on
themselves so that they
shriveled away and died.
As for the Awgwas, they had scant time to
realize how they were
destroyed, for the ash switches of the Nymphs bore a
to any Awgwa, and turned their foes into clods of earth at
When Ak leaned upon his gleaming ax and turned to
look over the field
of battle he saw the few Giants who were able to run
the distant hills on their return to Tatary. The
Goblins had perished
every one, as had the terrible Dragons, while all that
remained of the
wicked Awgwas was a great number of earthen hillocks dotting
And now the immortals melted from the Valley like dew at
resume their duties in the Forest, while Ak walked slowly
thoughtfully to the house of Claus and entered.
"You have many
toys ready for the children," said the Woodsman, "and
now you may carry them
across the plain to the dwellings and the
"Will not the Awgwas harm me?" asked Claus, eagerly.
Awgwas," said Ak, "have perished!"
Now I will gladly have done with
wicked spirits and with fighting and
bloodshed. It was not from choice
that I told of the Awgwas and their
allies, and of their great battle with
the immortals. They were part
of this history, and could not be
8. The First Journey with the
Those were happy days for Claus when he carried his
toys to the children who had awaited them so long.
imprisonment in the Valley he had been so industrious that all
shelves were filled with playthings, and after quickly supplying
little ones living near by he saw he must now extend his travels
Remembering the time when he had journeyed with Ak
through all the
world, he know children were everywhere, and he longed to
make as many
as possible happy with his gifts.
So he loaded a great
sack with all kinds of toys, slung it upon his
back that he might carry it
more easily, and started off on a longer
trip than he had yet
Wherever he showed his merry face, in hamlet or in farmhouse,
received a cordial welcome, for his fame had spread into far lands.
each village the children swarmed about him, following his
he went; and the women thanked him gratefully for
the joy he brought their
little ones; and the men looked upon him
curiously that he should devote his
time to such a queer occupation as
toy-making. But every one smiled on
him and gave him kindly words,
and Claus felt amply repaid for his long
When the sack was empty he went back again to the Laughing
once more filled it to the brim. This time he followed
into a different part of the country, and carried happiness to
children who never before had owned a toy or guessed that such
delightful plaything existed.
After a third journey, so far away
that Claus was many days walking
the distance, the store of toys became
exhausted and without delay he
set about making a fresh supply.
seeing so many children and studying their tastes he had acquired
ideas about toys.
The dollies were, he had found, the most delightful of
for babies and little girls, and often those who could not say
would call for a "doll" in their sweet baby talk. So Claus
to make many dolls, of all sizes, and to dress them in
clothing. The older boys--and even some of the
images of animals, so he still made cats and elephants and
And many of the little fellows had musical natures, and longed
drums and cymbals and whistles and horns. So he made a number of
drums, with tiny sticks to beat them with; and he made whistles
the willow trees, and horns from the bog-reeds, and cymbals from
of beaten metal.
All this kept him busily at work, and before he
realized it the winter
season came, with deeper snows than usual, and he knew
he could not
leave the Valley with his heavy pack. Moreover, the next
take him farther from home than every before, and Jack Frost
mischievous enough to nip his nose and ears if he undertook the
journey while the Frost King reigned. The Frost King was
father and never reproved him for his pranks.
So Claus remained
at his work-bench; but he whistled and sang as
merrily as ever, for he would
allow no disappointment to sour his
temper or make him unhappy.
bright morning he looked from his window and saw two of the deer
he had known
in the Forest walking toward his house.
Claus was surprised; not that the
friendly deer should visit him, but
that they walked on the surface of the
snow as easily as if it were
solid ground, notwithstanding the fact that
throughout the Valley the
snow lay many feet deep. He had walked out of
his house a day or two
before and had sunk to his armpits in a
So when the deer came near he opened the door and called to
"Good morning, Flossie! Tell me how you are able to walk on
"It is frozen hard," answered
"The Frost King has breathed on it," said Glossie, coming up,
surface is now as solid as ice."
"Perhaps," remarked Claus,
thoughtfully, "I might now carry my pack of
toys to the children."
it a long journey?" asked Flossie.
"Yes; it will take me many days, for
the pack is heavy," answered Claus.
"Then the snow would melt before you
could get back," said the deer.
"You must wait until spring,
Claus sighed. "Had I your fleet feet," said he, "I could
journey in a day."
"But you have not," returned Glossie,
looking at his own slender legs
"Perhaps I could ride upon
your back," Claus ventured to remark, after
"Oh no; our backs
are not strong enough to bear your weight," said
"But if you had a sledge, and could harness us to
it, we might draw you
easily, and your pack as well."
"I'll make a sledge!" exclaimed
Claus. "Will you agree to draw me if
Flossie, "we must first go and ask the Knooks, who are
our guardians, for
permission; but if they consent, and you can make a
sledge and harness, we
will gladly assist you."
"Then go at once!" cried Claus, eagerly.
"I am sure the friendly
Knooks will give their consent, and by the time you
are back I shall be
ready to harness you to my sledge."
Glossie, being deer of much intelligence, had long wished
to see the great
world, so they gladly ran over the frozen snow to ask
the Knooks if they
might carry Claus on his journey.
Meantime the toy-maker hurriedly began
the construction of a sledge,
using material from his wood-pile. He
made two long runners that
turned upward at the front ends, and across these
nailed short boards,
to make a platform. It was soon completed, but was
as rude in
appearance as it is possible for a sledge to be.
harness was more difficult to prepare, but Claus twisted strong
together and knotted them so they would fit around the necks of
the deer, in
the shape of a collar. From these ran other cords to
fasten the deer to
the front of the sledge.
Before the work was completed Glossie and
Flossie were back from the
Forest, having been granted permission by Will
Knook to make the
journey with Claus provided they would to Burzee by
"That is not a very long time," said
Flossie; "but we are swift and
strong, and if we get started by this evening
we can travel many miles
during the night."
Claus decided to make the
attempt, so he hurried on his preparations
as fast as possible. After a
time he fastened the collars around the
necks of his steeds and harnessed
them to his rude sledge. Then he
placed a stool on the little platform,
to serve as a seat, and filled
a sack with his prettiest toys.
you intend to guide us?" asked Glossie. "We have never been
out of the
Forest before, except to visit your house, so we shall not
Claus thought about that for a moment. Then he brought more
fastened two of them to the spreading antlers of each deer, one on
right and the other on the left.
"Those will be my reins," said
Claus, "and when I pull them to the
right or to the left you must go in that
direction. If I do not pull
the reins at all you may go straight
"Very well," answered Glossie and Flossie; and then they asked:
Claus seated himself upon the stool, placed the sack
of toys at his
feet, and then gathered up the reins.
"All ready!" he
shouted; "away we go!"
The deer leaned forward, lifted their slender
limbs, and the next
moment away flew the sledge over the frozen snow.
The swiftness of
the motion surprised Claus, for in a few strides they were
Valley and gliding over the broad plain beyond.
The day had
melted into evening by the time they started; for, swiftly
as Claus had
worked, many hours had been consumed in making his
the moon shone brightly to light their way,
and Claus soon decided it was
just as pleasant to travel by night
as by day.
The deer liked it
better; for, although they wished to see something
of the world, they were
timid about meeting men, and now all the
dwellers in the towns and farmhouses
were sound asleep and could not
Away and away they sped, on
and on over the hills and through the
valleys and across the plains until
they reached a village where Claus
had never been before.
called on them to stop, and they immediately obeyed. But a
difficulty now presented itself, for the people had locked their
they went to bed, and Claus found he could not enter the
houses to leave his
"I am afraid, my friends, we have made our journey for nothing,"
he, "for I shall be obliged to carry my playthings back home
without giving them to the children of this village."
the matter?" asked Flossie.
"The doors are locked," answered Claus, "and
I can not get in."
Glossie looked around at the houses. The snow
was quite deep in that
village, and just before them was a roof only a few
feet above the
sledge. A broad chimney, which seemed to Glossie big
enough to admit
Claus, was at the peak of the roof.
"Why don't you
climb down that chimney?" asked Glossie.
Claus looked at it.
would be easy enough if I were on top of the roof," he answered.
hold fast and we will take you there," said the deer, and they
gave one bound
to the roof and landed beside the big chimney.
"Good!" cried Claus, well
pleased, and he slung the pack of toys over
his shoulder and got into the
There was plenty of soot on the bricks, but he did not mind
by placing his hands and knees against the sides he crept
until he had reached the fireplace. Leaping lightly over
smoldering coals he found himself in a large sitting-room, where a
light was burning.
From this room two doorways led into smaller
chambers. In one a woman
lay asleep, with a baby beside her in a
Claus laughed, but he did not laugh aloud for fear of waking the
Then he slipped a big doll from his pack and laid it in the crib.
little one smiled, as if it dreamed of the pretty plaything it was
find on the morrow, and Claus crept softly from the room and entered
the other doorway.
Here were two boys, fast asleep with their arms around
neck. Claus gazed at them lovingly a moment and then
placed upon the
bed a drum, two horns and a wooden elephant.
not linger, now that his work in this house was done, but
climbed the chimney
again and seated himself on his sledge.
"Can you find another chimney?"
he asked the reindeer.
"Easily enough," replied Glossie and
Down to the edge of the roof they raced, and then, without
leaped through the air to the top of the next building, where a
old-fashioned chimney stood.
"Don't be so long, this time,"
called Flossie, "or we shall never get
back to the Forest by
Claus made a trip down this chimney also and found five
sleeping in the house, all of whom were quickly supplied with
When he returned the deer sprang to the next roof, but on
the chimney Claus found no children there at all. That was
the case in this village, however, so he lost less time than you
suppose in visiting the dreary homes where there were no little
When he had climbed down the chimneys of all the houses in
village, and had left a toy for every sleeping child, Claus found
his great sack was not yet half emptied.
"Onward, friends!" he
called to the deer; "we must seek another village."
So away they dashed,
although it was long past midnight, and in a
surprisingly short time they
came to a large city, the largest Claus
had ever visited since he began to
make toys. But, nothing daunted by
the throng of houses, he set to work
at once and his beautiful steeds
carried him rapidly from one roof to
another, only the highest being
beyond the leaps of the agile deer.
last the supply of toys was exhausted and Claus seated himself in
with the empty sack at his feet, and turned the heads of
Glossie and Flossie
Presently Flossie asked:
"What is that gray streak in
"It is the coming dawn of day," answered Claus, surprised to
it was so late.
"Good gracious!" exclaimed Glossie; "then we
shall not be home by
daybreak, and the Knooks will punish us and never let us
"We must race for the Laughing Valley and make our best
returned Flossie; "so hold fast, friend Claus!"
fast and the next moment was flying so swiftly over the
snow that he could
not see the trees as they whirled past. Up hill
and down dale, swift as
an arrow shot from a bow they dashed, and
Claus shut his eyes to keep the
wind out of them and left the deer to
find their own way.
It seemed to
him they were plunging through space, but he was not at
all afraid. The
Knooks were severe masters, and must be obeyed at all
hazards, and the gray
streak in the sky was growing brighter every moment.
Finally the sledge
came to a sudden stop and Claus, who was taken
unawares, tumbled from his
seat into a snowdrift. As he picked
himself up he heard the deer
"Quick, friend, quick! Cut away our harness!"
drew his knife and rapidly severed the cords, and then he wiped
from his eyes and looked around him.
The sledge had come to a stop in the
Laughing Valley, only a few feet,
he found, from his own door. In the
East the day was breaking, and
turning to the edge of Burzee he saw Glossie
and Flossie just
disappearing in the Forest.
Claus thought that none of the children would ever know where
came from which they found by their bedsides when they wakened
following morning. But kindly deeds are sure to bring fame, and
has many wings to carry its tidings into far lands; so for miles
miles in every direction people were talking of Claus and
wonderful gifts to children. The sweet generousness of his
caused a few selfish folk to sneer, but even these were forced
admit their respect for a man so gentle-natured that he loved to
his life to pleasing the helpless little ones of his race.
inhabitants of every city and village had been eagerly
watching the coming of
Claus, and remarkable stories of his beautiful
playthings were told the
children to keep them patient and contented.
When, on the morning
following the first trip of Claus with his deer,
the little ones came running
to their parents with the pretty toys
they had found, and asked from whence
they came, they was but one
reply to the question.
"The good Claus
must have been here, my darlings; for his are the only
toys in all the
"But how did he get in?" asked the children.
At this the
fathers shook their heads, being themselves unable to
understand how Claus
had gained admittance to their homes; but the
mothers, watching the glad
faces of their dear ones, whispered that
the good Claus was no mortal man but
assuredly a Saint, and they
piously blessed his name for the happiness he had
"A Saint," said one, with bowed head,
"has no need to unlock doors if
it pleases him to enter our
And, afterward, when a child was naughty or disobedient, its
"You must pray to the good Santa Claus for
forgiveness. He does not
like naughty children, and, unless you repent,
he will bring you no
more pretty toys."
But Santa Claus himself would
not have approved this speech. He
brought toys to the children because
they were little and helpless,
and because he loved them. He knew that
the best of children were
sometimes naughty, and that the naughty ones were
often good. It is
the way with children, the world over, and he would
not have changed
their natures had he possessed the power to do
And that is how our Claus became Santa Claus. It is possible
man, by good deeds, to enshrine himself as a Saint in the hearts
10. Christmas Eve
The day that
broke as Claus returned from his night ride with Glossie
and Flossie brought
to him a new trouble. Will Knook, the chief
guardian of the deer, came
to him, surly and ill-tempered, to complain
that he had kept Glossie and
Flossie beyond daybreak, in opposition to
"Yet it could
not have been very long after daybreak," said Claus.
"It was one minute
after," answered Will Knook, "and that is as bad as
one hour. I shall
set the stinging gnats on Glossie and Flossie, and
they will thus suffer
terribly for their disobedience."
"Don't do that!" begged Claus.
"It was my fault."
But Will Knook would listen to no excuses, and went
away grumbling and
growling in his ill-natured way.
For this reason
Claus entered the Forest to consult Necile about
rescuing the good deer from
punishment. To his delight he found his
old friend, the Master
Woodsman, seated in the circle of Nymphs.
Ak listened to the story of the
night journey to the children and of
the great assistance the deer had been
to Claus by drawing his sledge
over the frozen snow.
"I do not wish my
friends to be punished if I can save them," said the
toy-maker, when he had
finished the relation. "They were only one
minute late, and they ran
swifter than a bird flies to get home
Ak stroked his
beard thoughtfully a moment, and then sent for the
Prince of the Knooks, who
rules all his people in Burzee, and also for
the Queen of the Fairies and the
Prince of the Ryls.
When all had assembled Claus told his story again, at
and then the Master addressed the Prince of the Knooks,
"The good work that Claus is doing among mankind deserves the
of every honest immortal. Already he is called a Saint in some
towns, and before long the name of Santa Claus will be lovingly
in every home that is blessed with children. Moreover, he is a
our Forest, so we owe him our encouragement. You, Ruler of
Knooks, have known him these many years; am I not right in saying
deserves our friendship?"
The Prince, crooked and sour of visage as
all Knooks are, looked only
upon the dead leaves at his feet and muttered:
"You are the Master
Woodsman of the World!"
Ak smiled, but continued,
in soft tones: "It seems that the deer which
are guarded by your people can
be of great assistance to Claus, and as
they seem willing to draw his sledge
I beg that you will permit him to
use their services whenever he
The Prince did not reply, but tapped the curled point of his
with the tip of his spear, as if in thought.
Then the Fairy
Queen spoke to him in this way: "If you consent to Ak's
request I will see
that no harm comes to your deer while they are away
And the Prince of the Ryls added: "For my part I will allow to
deer that assists Claus the privilege of eating my casa plants,
give strength, and my grawle plants, which give fleetness of foot,
my marbon plants, which give long life."
And the Queen of the
Nymphs said: "The deer which draw the sledge of
Claus will be permitted to
bathe in the Forest pool of Nares, which
will give them sleek coats and
The Prince of the Knooks, hearing these promises,
shifted uneasily on
his seat, for in his heart he hated to refuse a request
of his fellow
immortals, although they were asking an unusual favor at his
and the Knooks are unaccustomed to granting favors of any
Finally he turned to his servants and said:
When surly Will came and heard the demands of the immortals
protested loudly against granting them.
"Deer are deer," said he,
"and nothing but deer. Were they horses it
would be right to harness
them like horses. But no one harnesses deer
because they are free, wild
creatures, owing no service of any sort to
mankind. It would degrade my
deer to labor for Claus, who is only a
man in spite of the friendship
lavished on him by the immortals."
"You have heard," said the Prince to
Ak. "There is truth in what
"Call Glossie and
Flossie," returned the Master.
The deer were brought to the conference
and Ak asked them if they
objected to drawing the sledge for
"No, indeed!" replied Glossie; "we enjoyed the trip very
"And we tried to get home by daybreak," added Flossie, "but
unfortunately a minute too late."
"A minute lost at daybreak
doesn't matter," said Ak. "You are
forgiven for that
"Provided it does not happen again," said the Prince of
"And will you permit them to make another journey
with me?" asked
The Prince reflected while he gazed at
Will, who was scowling, and at
the Master Woodsman, who was
Then he stood up and addressed the company as
"Since you all urge me to grant the favor I will permit the deer
with Claus once every year, on Christmas Eve, provided they
return to the Forest by daybreak. He may select any number
pleases, up to ten, to draw his sledge, and those shall be known
us as Reindeer, to distinguish them from the others. And they
bathe in the Pool of Nares, and eat the casa and grawle and
plants and shall be under the especial protection of the Fairy
And now cease scowling, Will Knook, for my words shall be
He hobbled quickly away through the trees, to avoid the thanks
Claus and the approval of the other immortals, and Will, looking
cross as ever, followed him.
But Ak was satisfied, knowing that he
could rely on the promise of the
Prince, however grudgingly given; and
Glossie and Flossie ran home,
kicking up their heels delightedly at every
"When is Christmas Eve?" Claus asked the Master.
ten days," he replied.
"Then I can not use the deer this year," said
"for I shall not have time enough to make my sackful of
"The shrewd Prince foresaw that," responded Ak, "and therefore
Christmas Eve as the day you might use the deer, knowing it
cause you to lose an entire year."
"If I only had the toys the
Awgwas stole from me," said Claus, sadly,
"I could easily fill my sack for
"Where are they?" asked the Master.
"I do not
know," replied Claus, "but the wicked Awgwas probably hid
them in the
Ak turned to the Fairy Queen.
"Can you find them?" he
"I will try," she replied, brightly.
Then Claus went back
to the Laughing Valley, to work as hard as he
could, and a band of Fairies
immediately flew to the mountain that had
been haunted by the Awgwas and
began a search for the stolen toys.
The Fairies, as we well know, possess
wonderful powers; but the
cunning Awgwas had hidden the toys in a deep cave
and covered the
opening with rocks, so no one could look in. Therefore
all search for
the missing playthings proved in vain for several days, and
sat at home waiting for news from the Fairies, almost despaired
getting the toys before Christmas Eve.
He worked hard every moment,
but it took considerable time to carve
out and to shape each toy and to paint
it properly, so that on the
morning before Christmas Eve only half of one
small shelf above the
window was filled with playthings ready for the
But on this morning the Fairies who were searching in the
had a new thought. They joined hands and moved in a straight
through the rocks that formed the mountain, beginning at the
peak and working downward, so that no spot could be missed by
bright eyes. And at last they discovered the cave where the toys
been heaped up by the wicked Awgwas.
It did not take them long to
burst open the mouth of the cave, and
then each one seized as many toys as he
could carry and they all flew
to Claus and laid the treasure before
The good man was rejoiced to receive, just in the nick of time, such
store of playthings with which to load his sledge, and he sent word
Glossie and Flossie to be ready for the journey at nightfall.
all his other labors he had managed to find time, since the last
repair the harness and to strengthen his sledge, so that when
the deer came
to him at twilight he had no difficulty in harnessing them.
"We must go
in another direction to-night," he told them, "where we
shall find children I
have never yet visited. And we must travel fast
and work quickly, for
my sack is full of toys and running over the brim!"
So, just as the moon
arose, they dashed out of the Laughing Valley and
across the plain and over
the hills to the south. The air was sharp
and frosty and the starlight
touched the snowflakes and made them
glitter like countless diamonds.
The reindeer leaped onward with
strong, steady bounds, and Claus' heart was
so light and merry that he
laughed and sang while the wind whistled past his
"With a ho, ho, ho!
ha, ha, ha!
And a ho, ho! ha, ha, hee!
Now away we
O'er the frozen snow,
As merry as we can
Jack Frost heard him and came racing up with his nippers, but
saw it was Claus he laughed and turned away again.
owls heard him as he passed near a wood and stuck their
heads out of the
hollow places in the tree-trunks; but when they saw
who it was they whispered
to the owlets nestling near them that it was
only Santa Claus carrying toys
to the children. It is strange how
much those mother owls
Claus stopped at some of the scattered farmhouses and climbed down
chimneys to leave presents for the babies. Soon after he reached
village and worked merrily for an hour distributing playthings among
sleeping little ones. Then away again he went, signing his joyous
"Now away we go
While the deer run swift and free!
to girls and boys
We carry the toys
That will fill
their hearts with glee!"
The deer liked the sound of his deep bass
voice and kept time to the
song with their hoofbeats on the hard snow; but
soon they stopped at
another chimney and Santa Claus, with sparkling eyes and
red by the wind, climbed down its smoky sides and left a present
every child the house contained.
It was a merry, happy
night. Swiftly the deer ran, and busily their
driver worked to scatter
his gifts among the sleeping children.
But the sack was empty at last,
and the sledge headed homeward; and
now again the race with daybreak
began. Glossie and Flossie had no
mind to be rebuked a second time for
tardiness, so they fled with a
swiftness that enabled them to pass the gale
on which the Frost King
rode, and soon brought them to the Laughing
It is true when Claus released his steeds from their harness
eastern sky was streaked with gray, but Glossie and Flossie were
in the Forest before day fairly broke.
Claus was so wearied with
his night's work that he threw himself upon
his bed and fell into a deep
slumber, and while he slept the Christmas
sun appeared in the sky and shone
upon hundreds of happy homes where
the sound of childish laughter proclaimed
that Santa Claus had made
them a visit.
God bless him! It was
his first Christmas Eve, and for hundreds of
years since then he has nobly
fulfilled his mission to bring happiness
to the hearts of little
11. How the First Stockings Were Hung by the
When you remember that no child, until Santa Claus began his
had ever known the pleasure of possessing a toy, you will
how joy crept into the homes of those who had been favored with
visit from the good man, and how they talked of him day by day in
tones and were honestly grateful for his kindly deeds. It is
great warriors and mighty kings and clever scholars of that
day were often
spoken of by the people; but no one of them was so
greatly beloved as Santa
Claus, because none other was so unselfish as
to devote himself to making
others happy. For a generous deed lives
longer than a great battle or a
king's decree of a scholar's essay,
because it spreads and leaves its mark on
all nature and endures
through many generations.
The bargain made with
the Knook Prince changed the plans of Claus for
all future time; for, being
able to use the reindeer on but one night
of each year, he decided to devote
all the other days to the
manufacture of playthings, and on Christmas Eve to
carry them to the
children of the world.
But a year's work would, he
knew, result in a vast accumulation of
toys, so he resolved to build a new
sledge that would be larger and
stronger and better-fitted for swift travel
than the old and clumsy one.
His first act was to visit the Nome King,
with whom he made a bargain
to exchange three drums, a trumpet and two dolls
for a pair of fine
steel runners, curled beautifully at the ends. For
the Nome King had
children of his own, who, living in the hollows under the
mines and caverns, needed something to amuse them.
days the steel runners were ready, and when Claus brought the
the Nome King, his Majesty was so greatly pleased with
them that he
presented Claus with a string of sweet-toned
sleigh-bells, in addition to the
"These will please Glossie and Flossie," said Claus, as he
bells and listened to their merry sound. "But I should have
strings of bells, one for each deer."
"Bring me another trumpet
and a toy cat," replied the King, "and you
shall have a second string of
bells like the first."
"It is a bargain!" cried Claus, and he went home
again for the toys.
The new sledge was carefully built, the Knooks
bringing plenty of
strong but thin boards to use in its construction.
Claus made a high,
rounding dash-board to keep off the snow cast behind by
hoofs of the deer; and he made high sides to the platform so that
toys could be carried, and finally he mounted the sledge upon
slender steel runners made by the Nome King.
It was certainly a
handsome sledge, and big and roomy. Claus painted
it in bright colors,
although no one was likely to see it during his
midnight journeys, and when
all was finished he sent for Glossie and
Flossie to come and look at
The deer admired the sledge, but gravely declared it was too big
heavy for them to draw.
"We might pull it over the snow, to be
sure," said Glossie; "but we
would not pull it fast enough to enable us to
visit the far-away
cities and villages and return to the Forest by
"Then I must add two more deer to my team," declared Claus,
"The Knook Prince allowed you as many as
ten. Why not use them all?"
asked Flossie. "Then we could speed
like the lightning and leap to
the highest roofs with ease."
of ten reindeer!" cried Claus, delightedly. "That will
splendid. Please return to the Forest at once and select eight
deer as like yourselves as possible. And you must all eat of the
plant, to become strong, and of the grawle plant, to become fleet
foot, and of the marbon plant, that you may live long to accompany
on my journeys. Likewise it will be well for you to bathe in the
of Nares, which the lovely Queen Zurline declares will render
rarely beautiful. Should you perform these duties faithfully there
no doubt that on next Christmas Eve my ten reindeer will be the
powerful and beautiful steeds the world has ever seen!"
Glossie and Flossie went to the Forest to choose their mates, and
to consider the question of a harness for them all.
In the end he called
upon Peter Knook for assistance, for Peter's
heart is as kind as his body is
crooked, and he is remarkably shrewd,
as well. And Peter agreed to
furnish strips of tough leather
for the harness.
This leather was cut
from the skins of lions that had reached such an
advanced age that they died
naturally, and on one side was tawny hair
while the other side was cured to
the softness of velvet by the deft
Knooks. When Claus received these
strips of leather he sewed them
neatly into a harness for the ten reindeer,
and it proved strong and
serviceable and lasted him for many
The harness and sledge were prepared at odd times, for Claus
most of his days to the making of toys. These were now much
than the first ones had been, for the immortals often came to
house to watch him work and to offer suggestions. It was
idea to make some of the dolls say "papa" and "mama." It was
thought of the Knooks to put a squeak inside the lambs, so that when
child squeezed them they would say "baa-a-a-a!" And the Fairy
advised Claus to put whistles in the birds, so they could be made
sing, and wheels on the horses, so children could draw them
Many animals perished in the Forest, from one cause or another,
their fur was brought to Claus that he might cover with it the
images of beasts he made for playthings. A merry Ryl suggested
Claus make a donkey with a nodding head, which he did, and
found that it amused the little ones immensely. And so the
in beauty and attractiveness every day, until they were the wonder
even the immortals.
When another Christmas Eve drew near there was
a monster load of
beautiful gifts for the children ready to be loaded upon
sledge. Claus filled three sacks to the brim, and tucked every
of the sledge-box full of toys besides.
Then, at twilight, the
ten reindeer appeared and Flossie introduced
them all to Claus. They
were Racer and Pacer, Reckless and Speckless,
Fearless and Peerless, and
Ready and Steady, who, with Glossie and
Flossie, made up the ten who have
traversed the world these hundreds
of years with their generous master.
They were all exceedingly
beautiful, with slender limbs, spreading antlers,
velvety dark eyes
and smooth coats of fawn color spotted with
Claus loved them at once, and has loved them ever since, for they
loyal friends and have rendered him priceless service.
harness fitted them nicely and soon they were all fastened to
the sledge by
twos, with Glossie and Flossie in the lead. These wore
the strings of
sleigh-bells, and were so delighted with the music they
made that they kept
prancing up and down to make the bells ring.
Claus now seated himself in
the sledge, drew a warm robe over his
knees and his fur cap over his ears,
and cracked his long whip as a
signal to start.
Instantly the ten
leaped forward and were away like the wind, while
jolly Claus laughed
gleefully to see them run and shouted a song in
his big, hearty
"With a ho, ho, ho!
ha, ha, ha!
And a ho, ho, ha, ha, hee!
Now away we
O'er the frozen snow,
As merry as we can
In our load of toys,
As many a child will
We'll scatter them wide
wild night ride
O'er the crisp and sparkling snow!"
Now it was on
this same Christmas Eve that little Margot and her
brother Dick and her
cousins Ned and Sara, who were visiting at
Margot's house, came in from
making a snow man, with their clothes
damp, their mittens dripping and their
shoes and stockings wet through
and through. They were not scolded, for
Margot's mother knew the snow
was melting, but they were sent early to bed
that their clothes might
be hung over chairs to dry. The shoes were
placed on the red tiles of
the hearth, where the heat from the hot embers
would strike them, and
the stockings were carefully hung in a row by the
over the fireplace. That was the reason Santa Claus
noticed them when
he came down the chimney that night and all the household
asleep. He was in a tremendous hurry and seeing the stockings
belonged to children he quickly stuffed his toys into them and
up the chimney again, appearing on the roof so suddenly that
reindeer were astonished at his agility.
"I wish they would all
hang up their stockings," he thought, as he
drove to the next chimney.
"It would save me a lot of time and I
could then visit more children before
When Margot and Dick and Ned and Sara jumped out of bed next
and ran downstairs to get their stockings from the fireplace they
filled with delight to find the toys from Santa Claus inside them.
face, I think they found more presents in their stockings than
other children of that city had received, for Santa Claus was in
hurry and did not stop to count the toys.
Of course they told all
their little friends about it, and of course
every one of them decided to
hang his own stockings by the fireplace
the next Christmas Eve. Even
Bessie Blithesome, who made a visit to
that city with her father, the great
Lord of Lerd, heard the story
from the children and hung her own pretty
stockings by the chimney
when she returned home at Christmas time.
his next trip Santa Claus found so many stockings hung up in
his visit that he could fill them in a jiffy and be
away again in half the
time required to hunt the children up and place
the toys by their
The custom grew year after year, and has always been a great
Santa Claus. And, with so many children to visit, he surely
the help we are able to give him.
First Christmas Tree
Claus had always kept his promise to the Knooks
by returning to the
Laughing Valley by daybreak, but only the swiftness of
has enabled him to do this, for he travels over all the
He loved his work and he loved the brisk night ride on his sledge
the gay tinkle of the sleigh-bells. On that first trip with the
reindeer only Glossie and Flossie wore bells; but each year
for eight years Claus carried presents to the children of the
King, and that good-natured monarch gave him in return a string
bells at each visit, so that finally every one of the ten deer
supplied, and you may imagine what a merry tune the bells played
the sledge sped over the snow.
The children's stockings were so
long that it required a great many
toys to fill them, and soon Claus found
there were other things
besides toys that children love. So he sent
some of the Fairies, who
were always his good friends, into the Tropics, from
returned with great bags full of oranges and bananas which they
plucked from the trees. And other Fairies flew to the
Valley of Mo, where delicious candies and bonbons grow
on the bushes, and returned laden with many boxes of sweetmeats
the little ones. These things Santa Claus, on each Christmas
placed in the long stockings, together with his toys, and the
were glad to get them, you may be sure.
There are also warm
countries where there is no snow in winter, but
Claus and his reindeer
visited them as well as the colder climes, for
there were little wheels
inside the runners of his sledge which
permitted it to run as smoothly over
bare ground as on the snow. And
the children who lived in the warm
countries learned to know the name
of Santa Claus as well as those who lived
nearer to the Laughing Valley.
Once, just as the reindeer were ready to
start on their yearly trip, a
Fairy came to Claus and told him of three
little children who lived
beneath a rude tent of skins on a broad plain where
there were no
trees whatever. These poor babies were miserable and
their parents were ignorant people who neglected them
resolved to visit these children before he returned home,
his ride he picked up the bushy top of a pine tree which the wind
broken off and placed it in his sledge.
It was nearly morning when
the deer stopped before the lonely tent of
skins where the poor children lay
asleep. Claus at once planted the
bit of pine tree in the sand and
stuck many candles on the branches.
Then he hung some of his prettiest toys
on the tree, as well as
several bags of candies. It did not take long
to do all this, for
Santa Claus works quickly, and when all was ready he
candles and, thrusting his head in at the opening of the
"Merry Christmas, little ones!"
With that he
leaped into his sledge and was out of sight before the
children, rubbing the
sleep from their eyes, could come out to see who
had called them.
can imagine the wonder and joy of those little ones, who had never
lives known a real pleasure before, when they saw the tree,
lights that shone brilliant in the gray dawn and hung
with toys enough to
make them happy for years to come! They joined
hands and danced around
the tree, shouting and laughing, until they
were obliged to pause for
breath. And their parents, also, came out
to look and wonder, and
thereafter had more respect and consideration
for their children, since Santa
Claus had honored them with such
The idea of the
Christmas tree pleased Claus, and so the following
year he carried many of
them in his sledge and set them up in the
homes of poor people who seldom saw
trees, and placed candles and toys
on the branches. Of course he could
not carry enough trees in one
load of all who wanted them, but in some homes
the fathers were able to
get trees and have them all ready for Santa Claus
when he arrived; and
these the good Claus always decorated as prettily as
possible and hung
with toys enough for all the children who came to see the
These novel ideas and the generous manner in which they
out made the children long for that one night in the year when
friend Santa Claus should visit them, and as such anticipation is
pleasant and comforting the little ones gleaned much happiness
wondering what would happen when Santa Claus next arrived.
you remember that stern Baron Braun who once drove Claus from
his castle and
forbade him to visit his children? Well, many years
afterward, when the
old Baron was dead and his son ruled in his
place, the new Baron Braun came
to the house of Claus with his train
of knights and pages and henchmen and,
dismounting from his charger,
bared his head humbly before the friend of
"My father did not know your goodness and worth," he said,
therefore threatened to hang you from the castle walls. But I
children of my own, who long for a visit from Santa Claus, and I
come to beg that you will favor them hereafter as you do other
Claus was pleased with this speech, for Castle Braun was the
place he had never visited, and he gladly promised to bring
to the Baron's children the next Christmas Eve.
went away contented, and Claus kept his promise faithfully.
Thus did this
man, through very goodness, conquer the hearts of all;
and it is no wonder he
was ever merry and gay, for there was no home
in the wide world where he was
not welcomed more royally than any king.
1. The Mantle of Immortality
And now we come
to a turning-point in the career of Santa Claus, and
it is my duty to relate
the most remarkable that has happened since
the world began or mankind was
We have followed the life of Claus from the time he was found
helpless infant by the Wood-Nymph Necile and reared to manhood in
great Forest of Burzee. And we know how he began to make toys
children and how, with the assistance and goodwill of the
he was able to distribute them to the little ones throughout the
For many years he carried on this noble work; for the
hard-working life he led gave him perfect health and strength.
doubtless a man can live longer in the beautiful Laughing Valley,
are no cares and everything is peaceful and merry,
than in any other part of
But when many years had rolled away Santa Claus grew
old. The long
beard of golden brown that once covered his cheeks and
became gray, and finally turned to pure white. His hair
too, and there were wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, which
plainly when he laughed. He had never been a very tall man, and
he became fat, and waddled very much like a duck when he walked.
in spite of these things he remained as lively as ever, and was
as jolly and gay, and his kind eyes sparkled as brightly as they
that first day when he came to the Laughing Valley.
Yet a time is
sure to come when every mortal who has grown old and
lived his life is
required to leave this world for another; so it is
no wonder that, after
Santa Claus had driven his reindeer on many and
many a Christmas Eve, those
stanch friends finally whispered among
themselves that they had probably
drawn his sledge for the last time.
Then all the Forest of Burzee became
sad and all the Laughing Valley
was hushed; for every living thing that had
known Claus had used to
love him and to brighten at the sound of his
footsteps or the notes of
his merry whistle.
No doubt the old man's
strength was at last exhausted, for he made no
more toys, but lay on his bed
as in a dream.
The Nymph Necile, she who had reared him and been his
was still youthful and strong and beautiful, and it seemed to
a short time since this aged, gray-bearded man had lain in her
and smiled on her with his innocent, baby lips.
In this is shown
the difference between mortals and immortals.
It was fortunate that the
great Ak came to the Forest at this time.
Necile sought him with troubled
eyes and told him of the fate that
threatened their friend Claus.
once the Master became grave, and he leaned upon his ax and stroked
grizzled beard thoughtfully for many minutes. Then suddenly he
straight, and poised his powerful head with firm resolve, and
his great right arm as if determined on doing some
mighty deed. For a
thought had come to him so grand in its conception
that all the world might
well bow before the Master Woodsman and honor
his name forever!
well known that when the great Ak once undertakes to do a
thing he never
hesitates an instant. Now he summoned his fleetest
messengers, and sent
them in a flash to many parts of the earth.
And when they were gone he turned
to the anxious Necile and
comforted her, saying:
"Be of good heart, my
child; our friend still lives. And now run to
your Queen and tell her
that I have summoned a council of all the
immortals of the world to meet with
me here in Burzee this night. If
they obey, and harken unto my words,
Claus will drive his reindeer for
countless ages yet to come."
midnight there was a wondrous scene in the ancient Forest of
for the first time in many centuries the rulers of the
immortals who inhabit
the earth were gathered together.
There was the Queen of the Water
Sprites, whose beautiful form was as
clear as crystal but continually dripped
water on the bank of moss
where she sat. And beside her was the King of
the Sleep Fays, who
carried a wand from the end of which a fine dust fell all
that no mortal could keep awake long enough to see him, as mortal
were sure to close in sleep as soon as the dust filled them. And
to him sat the Nome King, whose people inhabit all that region
the earth's surface, where they guard the precious metals and
jewel stones that lie buried in rock and ore. At his right hand
the King of the Sound Imps, who had wings on his feet, for his
are swift to carry all sounds that are made. When they are busy
carry the sounds but short distances, for there are many of them;
sometimes they speed with the sounds to places miles and miles
from where they are made. The King of the Sound Imps had an
and careworn face, for most people have no consideration for his
and, especially the boys and girls, make a great many unnecessary
which the Imps are obliged to carry when they might be better
The next in the circle of immortals was the King of the Wind
slender of frame, restless and uneasy at being confined to one
for even an hour. Once in a while he would leave his place and
around the glade, and each time he did this the Fairy Queen
obliged to untangle the flowing locks of her golden hair and tuck
back of her pink ears. But she did not complain, for it was not
that the King of the Wind Demons came into the heart of the
After the Fairy Queen, whose home you know was in old Burzee,
came the King
of the Light Elves, with his two Princes, Flash and
Twilight, at his
back. He never went anywhere without his Princes,
for they were so
mischievous that he dared not let them wander alone.
Prince Flash bore a
lightning-bolt in his right hand and a horn of
gunpowder in his left, and his
bright eyes roved constantly around, as
if he longed to use his blinding
flashes. Prince Twilight held a
great snuffer in one hand and a big
black cloak in the other, and it
is well known that unless Twilight is
carefully watched the snuffers
or the cloak will throw everything into
darkness, and Darkness is the
greatest enemy the King of the Light Elves
In addition to the immortals I have named were the King of the
who had come from his home in the jungles of India; and the King of
Ryls, who lived among the gay flowers and luscious fruits of
Sweet Queen Zurline of the Wood-Nymphs completed the circle of
But in the center of the circle sat three others who possessed
so great that all the Kings and Queens showed them
These were Ak, the Master Woodsman of the World, who rules the
and the orchards and the groves; and Kern, the Master Husbandman
the World, who rules the grain fields and the meadows and the
and Bo, the Master Mariner of the World, who rules the seas and
the craft that float thereon. And all other immortals are more
less subject to these three.
When all had assembled the Master
Woodsman of the World stood up to
address them, since he himself had summoned
them to the council.
Very clearly he told them the story of Claus,
beginning at the time
when as a babe he had been adopted a child of the
Forest, and telling
of his noble and generous nature and his life-long labors
"And now," said Ak, "when he had won the love
of all the world, the
Spirit of Death is hovering over him. Of all men
who have inhabited
the earth none other so well deserves immortality, for
such a life can
not be spared so long as there are children of mankind to
miss him and
to grieve over his loss. We immortals are the servants of
and to serve the world we were permitted in the Beginning to
But what one of us is more worthy of immortality than this man
who so sweetly ministers to the little children?"
He paused and
glanced around the circle, to find every immortal
listening to him eagerly
and nodding approval. Finally the King of
the Wind Demons, who had been
whistling softly to himself, cried out:
"What is your desire, O
"To bestow upon Claus the Mantle of Immortality!" said Ak,
That this demand was wholly unexpected was proved by the
springing to their feet and looking into each other's face with
and then upon Ak with wonder. For it was a grave matter, this
with the Mantle of Immortality.
The Queen of the Water Sprites
spoke in her low, clear voice, and the
words sounded like raindrops splashing
upon a window-pane.
"In all the world there is but one Mantle of
Immortality," she said.
The King of the Sound Fays added:
existed since the Beginning, and no mortal has ever dared to
And the Master Mariner of the World arose and stretched his limbs,
"Only by the vote of every immortal can it be bestowed upon a
"I know all this," answered Ak, quietly. "But the Mantle
if it was created, as you say, in the Beginning, it was because
Supreme Master knew that some day it would be required. Until now
mortal has deserved it, but who among you dares deny that the
Claus deserves it? Will you not all vote to bestow it upon
They were silent, still looking upon one another
"Of what use is the Mantle of Immortality unless it is
Ak. "What will it profit any one of us to allow it to
remain in its
lonely shrine for all time to come?"
"Enough!" cried the
Nome King, abruptly. "We will vote on the
matter, yes or no. For
my part, I say yes!"
"And I!" said the Fairy Queen, promptly, and Ak
rewarded her with a smile.
"My people in Burzee tell me they have learned
to love him; therefore
I vote to give Claus the Mantle," said the King of the
"He is already a comrade of the Knooks," announced the ancient King
that band. "Let him have immortality!"
"Let him have it--let
him have it!" sighed the King of the Wind Demons.
"Why not?" asked the
King of the Sleep Fays. "He never disturbs the
slumbers my people allow
humanity. Let the good Claus be immortal!"
"I do not object," said
the King of the Sound Imps.
"Nor I," murmured the Queen of the Water
"If Claus does not receive the Mantle it is clear none other can
claim it," remarked the King of the Light Elves, "so let us have
with the thing for all time."
"The Wood-Nymphs were first to
adopt him," said Queen Zurline. "Of
course I shall vote to make him
Ak now turned to the Master Husbandman of the World, who held
right arm and said "Yes!"
And the Master Mariner of the World
did likewise, after which Ak, with
sparkling eyes and smiling face, cried
"I thank you, fellow immortals! For all have voted 'yes,' and
our dear Claus shall fall the one Mantle of Immortality that it is
our power to bestow!"
"Let us fetch it at once," said the Fay King;
"I'm in a hurry."
They bowed assent, and instantly the Forest glade was
in a place midway between the earth and the sky was
gleaming crypt of gold and platinum, aglow with soft lights shed
the facets of countless gems. Within a high dome hung the
Mantle of Immortality, and each immortal placed a hand on the hem
the splendid Robe and said, as with one voice:
"We bestow this
Mantle upon Claus, who is called the Patron
Saint of Children!"
this the Mantle came away from its lofty crypt, and they carried it
house in the Laughing Valley.
The Spirit of Death was crouching very near
to the bedside of Claus,
and as the immortals approached she sprang up and
motioned them back
with an angry gesture. But when her eyes fell upon
the Mantle they
bore she shrank away with a low moan of disappointment and
that house forever.
Softly and silently the immortal Band
dropped upon Claus the precious
Mantle, and it closed about him and sank into
the outlines of his body
and disappeared from view. It became a part of
his being, and neither
mortal nor immortal might ever take it from
Then the Kings and Queens who had wrought this great deed dispersed
their various homes, and all were well contented that they had
another immortal to their Band.
And Claus slept on, the red
blood of everlasting life coursing swiftly
through his veins; and on his brow
was a tiny drop of water that had
fallen from the ever-melting gown of the
Queen of the Water Sprites,
and over his lips hovered a tender kiss that had
been left by the
sweet Nymph Necile. For she had stolen in when the
others were gone
to gaze with rapture upon the immortal form of her foster
2. When the World Grew Old
morning, when Santa Claus opened his eyes and gazed around
the familiar room,
which he had feared he might never see again, he
was astonished to find his
old strength renewed and to feel the red
blood of perfect health coursing
through his veins. He sprang from
his bed and stood where the bright
sunshine came in through his window
and flooded him with its merry, dancing
rays. He did not then
understand what had happened to restore to him
the vigor of youth, but
in spite of the fact that his beard remained the
color of snow and
that wrinkles still lingered in the corners of his bright
Santa Claus felt as brisk and merry as a boy of sixteen, and was
whistling contentedly as he busied himself fashioning new
Then Ak came to him and told of the Mantle of Immortality and
Claus had won it through his love for little children.
It made old
Santa look grave for a moment to think he had been so
favored; but it also
made him glad to realize that now he need never
fear being parted from his
dear ones. At once he began preparations
for making a remarkable
assortment of pretty and amusing playthings,
and in larger quantities than
ever before; for now that he might
always devote himself to this work he
decided that no child in the
world, poor or rich, should hereafter go without
a Christmas gift if
he could manage to supply it.
The world was new in
the days when dear old Santa Claus first began
toy-making and won, by his
loving deeds, the Mantle of Immortality.
And the task of supplying cheering
words, sympathy and pretty
playthings to all the young of his race did not
seem a difficult
undertaking at all. But every year more and more
children were born
into the world, and these, when they grew up, began
over all the face of the earth, seeking new homes; so that
found each year that his journeys must extend farther and farther
the Laughing Valley, and that the packs of toys must be made
and ever larger.
So at length he took counsel with his fellow
immortals how his work
might keep pace with the increasing number of children
that none might
be neglected. And the immortals were so greatly
interested in his
labors that they gladly rendered him their
assistance. Ak gave him
his man Kilter, "the silent and swift."
And the Knook Prince gave him
Peter, who was more crooked and less surly than
any of his brothers.
And the Ryl Prince gave him Nuter, the sweetest tempered
known. And the Fairy Queen gave him Wisk, that tiny,
lovable Fairy who knows today almost as many children as does
With these people to help make the toys and to
keep his house in order
and to look after the sledge and the harness, Santa
Claus found it
much easier to prepare his yearly load of gifts, and his days
follow one another smoothly and pleasantly.
Yet after a few
generations his worries were renewed, for it was
remarkable how the number of
people continued to grow, and how many
more children there were every year to
be served. When the people
filled all the cities and lands of one
country they wandered into
another part of the world; and the men cut down
the trees in many of
the great forests that had been ruled by Ak, and with
the wood they
built new cities, and where the forests had been were fields of
and herds of browsing cattle.
You might think the Master
Woodsman would rebel at the loss of his
forests; but not so. The wisdom
of Ak was mighty and farseeing.
"The world was made for men," said he to
Santa Claus, "and I have but
guarded the forests until men needed them for
their use. I am glad my
strong trees can furnish shelter for men's weak
bodies, and warm them
through the cold winters. But I hope they will
not cut down all the
trees, for mankind needs the shelter of the woods in
summer as much as
the warmth of blazing logs in winter. And, however
crowded the world
may grow, I do not think men will ever come to Burzee, nor
Great Black Forest, nor to the wooded wilderness of Braz; unless
seek their shades for pleasure and not to destroy their giant
By and by people made ships from the tree-trunks and crossed
oceans and built cities in far lands; but the oceans made
difference to the journeys of Santa Claus. His reindeer sped
waters as swiftly as over land, and his sledge headed from east
west and followed in the wake of the sun. So that as the earth
slowly over Santa Claus had all of twenty-four hours to encircle
each Christmas Eve, and the speedy reindeer enjoyed these
journeys more and more.
So year after year, and generation
after generation, and century after
century, the world grew older and the
people became more numerous and
the labors of Santa Claus steadily
increased. The fame of his good
deeds spread to every household where
children dwelt. And all the
little ones loved him dearly; and the
fathers and mothers honored him
for the happiness he had given them when they
too were young; and the
aged grandsires and granddames remembered him with
and blessed his name.
3. The Deputies
of Santa Claus
However, there was one evil following in the path of
caused Santa Claus a vast amount of trouble before he
discovered a way
to overcome it. But, fortunately, it was the last
trial he was forced
One Christmas Eve, when his reindeer
had leaped to the top of a new
building, Santa Claus was surprised to find
that the chimney had been
built much smaller than usual. But he had no
time to think about it
just then, so he drew in his breath and made himself
as small as
possible and slid down the chimney.
"I ought to be at the
bottom by this time," he thought, as he
continued to slip downward; but no
fireplace of any sort met his view,
and by and by he reached the very end of
the chimney, which was
in the cellar.
"This is odd!" he reflected,
much puzzled by this experience. "If
there is no fireplace, what on
earth is the chimney good for?"
Then he began to climb out again, and
found it hard work--the space
being so small. And on his way up he
noticed a thin, round pipe
sticking through the side of the chimney, but
could not guess what it
Finally he reached the roof and said
to the reindeer:
"There was no need of my going down that chimney, for I
could find no
fireplace through which to enter the house. I fear the
live there must go without playthings this
Then he drove on, but soon came to another new house with a
chimney. This caused Santa Claus to shake his head doubtfully,
tried the chimney, nevertheless, and found it exactly like the
Moreover, he nearly stuck fast in the narrow flue and tore his
trying to get out again; so, although he came to several such
that night, he did not venture to descend any more of
"What in the world are people thinking of, to build such
chimneys?" he exclaimed. "In all the years I have traveled with
reindeer I have never seen the like before."
True enough; but Santa
Claus had not then discovered that stoves had
been invented and were fast
coming into use. When he did find it out
he wondered how the builders
of those houses could have so little
consideration for him, when they knew
very well it was his custom to
climb down chimneys and enter houses by way of
Perhaps the men who built those houses had outgrown their own
toys, and were indifferent whether Santa Claus called on
children or not. Whatever the explanation might be, the poor
were forced to bear the burden of grief and
The following year Santa Claus found more and more of
new-fashioned chimneys that had no fireplaces, and the next year
more. The third year, so numerous had the narrow chimneys become,
even had a few toys left in his sledge that he was unable to give
because he could not get to the children.
The matter had now become so
serious that it worried the good man
greatly, and he decided to talk it over
with Kilter and Peter and
Nuter and Wisk.
Kilter already knew
something about it, for it had been his duty to run
around to all the houses,
just before Christmas, and gather up the
notes and letters to Santa Claus
that the children had written,
telling what they wished put in their
stockings or hung on their
Christmas trees. But Kilter was a silent
fellow, and seldom spoke of
what he saw in the cities and villages. The
others were very indignant.
"Those people act as if they do not wish
their children to be made
happy!" said sensible Peter, in a vexed tone.
"The idea of shutting
out such a generous friend to their little
"But it is my intention to make children happy whether their
wish it or not," returned Santa Claus. "Years ago, when I
began making toys, children were even more neglected by their
than they are now; so I have learned to pay no attention to
or selfish parents, but to consider only the longings of
"You are right, my master," said Nuter, the Ryl; "many
lack a friend if you did not consider them, and try to make
"Then," declared the laughing Wisk, "we must abandon any
using these new-fashioned chimneys, but become burglars, and
into the houses some other way."
"What way?" asked Santa
"Why, walls of brick and wood and plaster are nothing to
I can easily pass through them whenever I wish, and so can
and Nuter and Kilter. Is it not so, comrades?"
pass through the walls when I gather up the letters," said
Kilter, and that
was a long speech for him, and so surprised Peter and
Nuter that their big
round eyes nearly popped out of their heads.
"Therefore," continued the
Fairy, "you may as well take us with you on
your next journey, and when we
come to one of those houses with stoves
instead of fireplaces we will
distribute the toys to the children
without the need of using a
"That seems to me a good plan," replied Santa Claus, well
having solved the problem. "We will try it next
That was how the Fairy, the Pixie, the Knook and the Ryl all rode
the sledge with their master the following Christmas Eve; and they
no trouble at all in entering the new-fashioned houses and
toys for the children that lived in them.
And their deft
services not only relieved Santa Claus of much labor,
but enabled him to
complete his own work more quickly than usual, so
that the merry party found
themselves at home with an empty sledge a
full hour before
The only drawback to the journey was that the mischievous
persisted in tickling the reindeer with a long feather, to see
jump; and Santa Claus found it necessary to watch him every minute
to tweak his long ears once or twice to make him behave
But, taken all together, the trip was a great success, and to
the four little folk always accompany Santa Claus on his yearly
and help him in the distribution of his gifts.
indifference of parents, which had so annoyed the good Saint,
continue very long, and Santa Claus soon found they were
really anxious he
should visit their homes on Christmas Eve and leave
presents for their
So, to lighten his task, which was fast becoming very
indeed, old Santa decided to ask the parents to assist
"Get your Christmas trees all ready for my coming," he said to
"and then I shall be able to leave the presents without loss of
and you can put them on the trees when I am gone."
And to others
he said: "See that the children's stockings are hung up
in readiness for my
coming, and then I can fill them as quick as a wink."
And often, when
parents were kind and good-natured, Santa Claus would
simply fling down his
package of gifts and leave the fathers and
mothers to fill the stockings
after he had darted away in his sledge.
"I will make all loving parents
my deputies!" cried the jolly old
fellow, "and they shall help me do my
work. For in this way I shall
save many precious minutes and few
children need be neglected for lack
of time to visit them."
carrying around the big packs in his swift-flying sledge old
Santa began to
send great heaps of toys to the toy-shops, so that if
parents wanted larger
supplies for their children they could easily
get them; and if any children
were, by chance, missed by Santa Claus
on his yearly rounds, they could go to
the toy-shops and get enough to
make them happy and contented. For the
loving friend of the little
ones decided that no child, if he could help it,
should long for toys
in vain. And the toy-shops also proved convenient
whenever a child
fell ill, and needed a new toy to amuse it; and sometimes,
birthdays, the fathers and mothers go to the toy-shops and get
gifts for their children in honor of the happy event.
you will now understand how, in spite of the bigness of the
Claus is able to supply all the children with beautiful
gifts. To be
sure, the old gentleman is rarely seen in these days;
but it is not because
he tries to keep out of sight, I assure you.
Santa Claus is the same loving
friend of children that in the old days
used to play and romp with them by
the hour; and I know he would love
to do the same now, if he had the
time. But, you see, he is so busy
all the year making toys, and so
hurried on that one night when he
visits our homes with his packs, that he
comes and goes among us like
a flash; and it is almost impossible to catch a
glimpse of him.
And, although there are millions and millions more
children in the
world than there used to be, Santa Claus has never been known
complain of their increasing numbers.
"The more the merrier!" he
cries, with his jolly laugh; and the only
difference to him is the fact that
his little workmen have to make
their busy fingers fly faster every year to
satisfy the demands of so
many little ones.
"In all this world there
is nothing so beautiful as a happy child,"
says good old Santa Claus; and if
he had his way the children would
all be beautiful, for all would be
This text has been slightly edited. Viewing Baum's Oz and Oz-related tales as a long mythology, this book contained two references to other volumes that were changed over time. Chapter 12 reads "...other Fairies flew to the wonderful Valley of Phunniland, where delicious candies and bonbons grow thickly on the bushes." This was a reference to "A New Wonderland," which was later retitled and edited into "The Magical Monarch of Mo." The reference to "Phunniland" was changed to "Mo" for this text. In the previous chapter, the "Gnome King" and his "gnomes" appear. In "Ozma of Oz," Baum changed the spelling to "Nome King" and "nomes." He felt this would make it easier for children to read. The same idea is used here. This is done simply to make all of the tales presented here flow together.