A Kidnapped Santa
by L. Frank Baum
Santa Claus lives in the
Laughing Valley, where stands the big, rambling castle in which his toys are
manufactured. His workmen, selected from the ryls, knooks, pixies and
fairies, live with him, and every one is as busy as can be from one year's end
It is called the Laughing Valley because
everything there is happy and gay. The brook chuckles to itself as it
leaps rollicking between its green banks; the wind whistles merrily in the
trees; the sunbeams dance lightly over the soft grass, and the violets and wild
flowers look smilingly up from their green nests. To laugh one needs to be
happy; to be happy one needs to be content. And throughout the Laughing
Valley of Santa Claus contentment reigns supreme.
one side is the mighty Forest of Burzee. At the other side stands the huge
mountain that contains the Caves of the Daemons. And between them the
Valley lies smiling and peaceful.
One would think that
our good old Santa Claus, who devotes his days to making children happy, would
have no enemies on all the earth; and, as a matter of fact, for a long period of
time he encountered nothing but love wherever he might
But the Daemons who live in the mountain caves
grew to hate Santa Claus very much, and all for the simple reason that he made
The Caves of the Daemons are five in
number. A broad pathway leads up to the first cave, which is a finely
arched cavern at the foot of the mountain, the entrance being beautifully carved
and decorated. In it resides the Daemon of Selfishness. Back of this is
another cavern inhabited by the Daemon of Envy. The cave of the Daemon of
Hatred is next in order, and through this one passes to the home of the Daemon
of Malice--situated in a dark and fearful cave in the very heart of the
mountain. I do not know what lies beyond this. Some say there are
terrible pitfalls leading to death and destruction, and this may very well be
true. However, from each one of the four caves mentioned there is a small,
narrow tunnel leading to the fifth cave--a cozy little room occupied by the
Daemon of Repentance. And as the rocky floors of these passages are well
worn by the track of passing feet, I judge that many wanderers in the Caves of
the Daemons have escaped through the tunnels to the abode of the Daemon of
Repentance, who is said to be a pleasant sort of fellow who gladly opens for one
a little door admitting you into fresh air and sunshine
Well, these Daemons of the Caves, thinking they
had great cause to dislike old Santa Claus, held a meeting one day to discuss
"I'm really getting lonesome," said the
Daemon of Selfishness. "For Santa Claus distributes so many pretty Christmas
gifts to all the children that they become happy and generous, through his
example, and keep away from my cave."
"I'm having the
same trouble," rejoined the Daemon of Envy. "The little ones seem quite content
with Santa Claus, and there are few, indeed, that I can coax to become
"And that makes it bad for me!" declared the
Daemon of Hatred. "For if no children pass through the Caves of Selfishness and
Envy, none can get to my cavern."
"Or to mine,"
added the Daemon of Malice.
"For my part," said the
Daemon of Repentance, "it is easily seen that if children do not visit your
caves they have no need to visit mine; so that I am quite as neglected as you
"And all because of this person they call Santa
Claus!" exclaimed the Daemon of Envy. "He is simply ruining our business, and
something must be done at once."
To this they readily
agreed; but what to do was another and more difficult matter to settle.
They knew that Santa Claus worked all through the year at his castle in the
Laughing Valley, preparing the gifts he was to distribute on Christmas Eve; and
at first they resolved to try to tempt him into their caves, that they might
lead him on to the terrible pitfalls that ended in
So the very next day, while Santa Claus
was busily at work, surrounded by his little band of assistants, the Daemon of
Selfishness came to him and said:
"These toys are
wonderfully bright and pretty. Why do you not keep them for yourself? It's
a pity to give them to those noisy boys and fretful girls, who break and destroy
them so quickly."
"Nonsense!" cried the old graybeard,
his bright eyes twinkling merrily as he turned toward the tempting Daemon.
"The boys and girls are never so noisy and fretful after receiving my presents,
and if I can make them happy for one day in the year I am quite
So the Daemon went back to the others, who
awaited him in their caves, and said:
"I have failed,
for Santa Claus is not at all selfish."
day the Daemon of Envy visited Santa Claus. Said he: "The toy shops are
full of playthings quite as pretty as those you are making. What a shame
it is that they should interfere with your business! They make toys by
machinery much quicker than you can make them by hand; and they sell them for
money, while you get nothing at all for your work."
But Santa Claus refused to be envious of the toy
"I can supply the little ones but once a
year--on Christmas Eve," he answered; "for the children are many, and I am but
one. And as my work is one of love and kindness I would be ashamed to
receive money for my little gifts. But throughout all the year the
children must be amused in some way, and so the toy shops are able to bring much
happiness to my little friends. I like the toy shops, and am glad to see
In spite of the second rebuff, the
Daemon of Hatred thought he would try to influence Santa Claus. So the next day
he entered the busy workshop and said:
"Good morning, Santa! I have bad
news for you."
"Then run away, like a good fellow,"
answered Santa Claus. "Bad news is something that should be kept secret and
"You cannot escape this, however,"
declared the Daemon; "for in the world are a good many who do not believe in
Santa Claus, and these you are bound to hate bitterly, since they have so
"Stuff and rubbish!" cried
"And there are others who resent your making
children happy and who sneer at you and call you a foolish old rattlepate!
You are quite right to hate such base slanderers, and you ought to be revenged
upon them for their evil words."
"But I don't
hate 'em!" exclaimed Santa Claus positively. "Such people do me no real harm,
but merely render themselves and their children unhappy. Poor things! I'd
much rather help them any day than injure them."
Indeed, the Daemons could not tempt old Santa Claus in any way. On the
contrary, he was shrewd enough to see that their object in visiting him was to
make mischief and trouble, and his cheery laughter disconcerted the evil ones
and showed to them the folly of such an undertaking. So they abandoned
honeyed words and determined to use force.
It was well
known that no harm can come to Santa Claus while he is in the Laughing Valley,
for the fairies, and ryls, and knooks all protect him. But on Christmas
Eve he drives his reindeer out into the big world, carrying a sleighload of toys
and pretty gifts to the children; and this was the time and the occasion when
his enemies had the best chance to injure him. So the Daemons laid their
plans and awaited the arrival of Christmas Eve.
moon shone big and white in the sky, and the snow lay crisp and sparkling on the
ground as Santa Claus cracked his whip and sped away out of the Valley into the
great world beyond. The roomy sleigh was packed full with huge sacks of
toys, and as the reindeer dashed onward our jolly old Santa laughed and whistled
and sang for very joy. For in all his merry life this was the one day in
the year when he was happiest--the day he lovingly bestowed the treasures of his
workshop upon the little children.
It would be a busy
night for him, he well knew. As he whistled and shouted and cracked his whip
again, he reviewed in mind all the towns and cities and farmhouses where he was
expected, and figured that he had just enough presents to go around and make
every child happy. The reindeer knew exactly what was expected of them,
and dashed along so swiftly that their feet scarcely seemed to touch the
Suddenly a strange thing
happened: a rope shot through the moonlight and a big noose that was in
the end of it settled over the arms and body of Santa Claus and drew tight.
Before he could resist or even cry out he was jerked from the seat of the sleigh
and tumbled head foremost into a snowbank, while the reindeer rushed onward with
the load of toys and carried it quickly out of sight and
Such a surprising experience confused old Santa
for a moment, and when he had collected his senses he found that the wicked
Daemons had pulled him from the snowdrift and bound him tightly with many coils
of the stout rope. And then they carried the kidnapped Santa Claus away to
their mountain, where they thrust the prisoner into a secret cave and chained
him to the rocky wall so that he could not escape.
"Ha, ha!" laughed the Daemons, rubbing their hands together with cruel glee.
"What will the children do now? How they will cry and scold and storm when
they find there are no toys in their stockings and no gifts on their Christmas
trees! And what a lot of punishment they will receive from their parents,
and how they will flock to our Caves of Selfishness, and Envy, and Hatred, and
Malice! We have done a mighty clever thing, we Daemons of the
Now it so
chanced that on this Christmas Eve the good Santa Claus had taken with him in
his sleigh Nuter the Ryl, Peter the Knook, Kilter the Pixie, and a small fairy
named Wisk--his four favorite assistants. These little people he had often
found very useful in helping him to distribute his gifts to the children, and
when their master was so suddenly dragged from the sleigh they were all snugly
tucked underneath the seat, where the sharp wind could not reach
The tiny immortals knew nothing of the capture
of Santa Claus until some time after he had disappeared. But finally they missed
his cheery voice, and as their master always sang or whistled on his journeys,
the silence warned them that something was wrong.
Little Wisk stuck out his head from underneath the seat and found Santa Claus
gone and no one to direct the flight of the reindeer.
"Whoa!" he called out, and the deer obediently slackened speed and came to a
Peter and Nuter and Kilter all jumped upon the
seat and looked back over the track made by the sleigh. But Santa Claus
had been left miles and miles behind.
"What shall we
do?" asked Wisk anxiously, all the mirth and mischief banished from his wee face
by this great calamity.
"We must go back at once and
find our master," said Nuter the Ryl, who thought and spoke with much
"No, no!" exclaimed Peter the Knook,
who, cross and crabbed though he was, might always be depended upon in an
emergency. "If we delay, or go back, there will not be time to get the
toys to the children before morning; and that would grieve Santa Claus more than
"It is certain that some wicked
creatures have captured him," added Kilter thoughtfully, "and their object must
be to make the children unhappy. So our first duty is to get the toys
distributed as carefully as if Santa Claus were himself present. Afterward
we can search for our master and easily secure his
This seemed such good and sensible advice
that the others at once resolved to adopt it. So Peter the Knook called to
the reindeer, and the faithful animals again sprang forward and dashed over hill
and valley, through forest and plain, until they came to the houses wherein
children lay sleeping and dreaming of the pretty gifts they would find on
The little immortals had set
themselves a difficult task; for although they had assisted Santa Claus on many
of his journeys, their master had always directed and guided them and told them
exactly what he wished them to do. But now they had to distribute the toys
according to their own judgment, and they did not understand children as well as
did old Santa. So it is no wonder they made some laughable
Mamie Brown, who wanted a doll, got a drum
instead; and a drum is of no use to a girl who loves dolls. And Charlie
Smith, who delights to romp and play out of doors, and who wanted some new
rubber boots to keep his feet dry, received a sewing box filled with colored
worsteds and threads and needles, which made him so provoked that he
thoughtlessly called our dear Santa Claus a fraud.
there been many such mistakes the Daemons would have accomplished their evil
purpose and made the children unhappy. But the little friends of the
absent Santa Claus labored faithfully and intelligently to carry out their
master's ideas, and they made fewer errors than might be expected under such
And, although they worked as
swiftly as possible, day had begun to break before the toys and other presents
were all distributed; so for the first time in many years the reindeer trotted
into the Laughing Valley, on their return, in broad daylight, with the brilliant
sun peeping over the edge of the forest to prove they were far behind their
Having put the deer in the stable,
the little folk began to wonder how they might rescue their master; and they
realized they must discover, first of all, what had happened to him and where he
So Wisk the Fairy transported himself to the
bower of the Fairy Queen, which was located deep in the heart of the Forest of
Burzee; and once there, it did not take him long to find out all about the
naughty Daemons and how they had kidnapped the good Santa Claus to prevent his
making children happy. The Fairy Queen also promised her assistance, and
then, fortified by this powerful support, Wisk flew back to where Nuter and
Peter and Kilter awaited him, and the four counseled together and laid plans to
rescue their master from his enemies.
It is possible
that Santa Claus was not as merry as usual during the night that succeeded his
capture. For although he had faith in the judgment of his little friends
he could not avoid a certain amount of worry, and an anxious look would creep at
times into his kind old eyes as he thought of the disappointment that might
await his dear little children. And the Daemons, who guarded him by turns,
one after another, did not neglect to taunt him with contemptuous words in his
When Christmas Day dawned the
Daemon of Malice was guarding the prisoner, and his tongue was sharper than that
of any of the others.
"The children are waking up,
Santa!" he cried. "They are waking up to find their stockings empty! Ho,
ho! How they will quarrel, and wail, and stamp their feet in anger! Our
caves will be full today, old Santa! Our caves are sure to be
But to this, as to other like taunts, Santa
Claus answered nothing. He was much grieved by his capture, it is true;
but his courage did not forsake him. And, finding that the prisoner would
not reply to his jeers, the Daemon of Malice presently went away, and sent the
Daemon of Repentance to take his place.
personage was not so disagreeable as the others. He had gentle and refined
features, and his voice was soft and pleasant in tone.
"My brother Daemons do not trust me overmuch," said he, as he entered the
cavern; "but it is morning, now, and the mischief is done. You cannot
visit the children again for another year."
true," answered Santa Claus, almost cheerfully; "Christmas Eve is past, and for
the first time in centuries I have not visited my
"The little ones will be greatly
disappointed," murmured the Daemon of Repentance, almost regretfully; "but that
cannot be helped now. Their grief is likely to make the children selfish
and envious and hateful, and if they come to the Caves of the Daemons to-day I
shall get a chance to lead some of them to my Cave of
"Do you never repent, yourself?" asked
Santa Claus, curiously.
"Oh, yes, indeed," answered
the Daemon. "I am even now repenting that I assisted in your capture. Of
course it is too late to remedy the evil that has been done; but repentance, you
know, can come only after an evil thought or deed, for in the beginning there is
nothing to repent of."
"So I understand," said Santa
Claus. "Those who avoid evil need never visit your
"As a rule, that is true," replied the Daemon;
"yet you, who have done no evil, are about to visit my cave at once; for to
prove that I sincerely regret my share in your capture I am going to permit you
This speech greatly surprised the
prisoner, until he reflected that it was just what might be expected of the
Daemon of Repentance. The fellow at once busied himself untying the knots
that bound Santa Claus and unlocking the chains that fastened him to the wall.
Then he led the way through a long tunnel until they both emerged in the Cave of
"I hope you will forgive me," said the
Daemon pleadingly. "I am not really a bad person, you know; and I believe I
accomplish a great deal of good in the world."
this he opened a back door that let in a flood of sunshine, and Santa Claus
sniffed the fresh air gratefully.
"I bear no malice,"
said he to the Daemon, in a gentle voice; "and I am sure the world would be a
dreary place without you. So, good morning, and a Merry Christmas to
With these words he stepped out to greet the
bright morning, and a moment later he was trudging along, whistling softly to
himself, on his way to his home in the Laughing
Marching over the snow toward the mountain was
a vast army, made up of the most curious creatures imaginable. There were
numberless knooks from the forest, as rough and crooked in appearance as the
gnarled branches of the trees they ministered to. And there were dainty
ryls from the fields, each one bearing the emblem of the flower or plant it
guarded. Behind these were many ranks of pixies, gnomes and nymphs, and in
the rear a thousand beautiful fairies floated along in gorgeous
This wonderful army was led by Wisk, Peter,
Nuter, and Kilter, who had assembled it to rescue Santa Claus from captivity and
to punish the Daemons who had dared to take him away from his beloved
And, although they looked so bright and
peaceful, the little immortals were armed with powers that would be very
terrible to those who had incurred their anger. Woe to the Daemons of the
Caves if this mighty army of vengeance ever met them!
But lo! coming to meet his loyal friends appeared the imposing form of Santa
Claus, his white beard floating in the breeze and his bright eyes sparkling with
pleasure at this proof of the love and veneration he had inspired in the hearts
of the most powerful creatures in existence.
they clustered around him and danced with glee at his safe return, he gave them
earnest thanks for their support. But Wisk, and Nuter, and Peter, and
Kilter, he embraced affectionately.
"It is useless to
pursue the Daemons," said Santa Claus to the army. "They have their place
in the world, and can never be destroyed. But that is a great pity,
nevertheless," he continued musingly.
So the fairies,
and knooks, and pixies, and ryls all escorted the good man to his castle, and
there left him to talk over the events of the night with his little
Wisk had already rendered himself
invisible and flown through the big world to see how the children were getting
along on this bright Christmas morning; and by the time he returned, Peter had
finished telling Santa Claus of how they had distributed the
"We really did very well," cried the fairy, in a
pleased voice; "for I found little unhappiness among the children this
morning. Still, you must not get captured again, my dear master; for we
might not be so fortunate another time in carrying out your
He then related the mistakes that had been
made, and which he had not discovered until his tour of inspection. And
Santa Claus at once sent him with rubber boots for Charlie Smith, and a doll for
Mamie Brown; so that even those two disappointed ones became
As for the wicked Daemons of the Caves, they
were filled with anger and chagrin when they found that their clever capture of
Santa Claus had come to naught. Indeed, no one on that Christmas Day
appeared to be at all selfish, or envious, or hateful. And, realizing that while
the children's saint had so many powerful friends it was folly to oppose him,
the Daemons never again attempted to interfere with his journeys on Christmas
Text edited by Scott Andrew Hutchins, based on photoreproduction from the
December 1904 issue of The Delineator as it appeared in The Best of
the Baum Bugle 1967-1969.