The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus - L. Frank Baum - ebook

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus ebook

L. Frank Baum

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Every child knows about Santa Claus, the jolly man who brings gifts to all on Christmas. There are many stories that tell of his life, but the delightful version relayed in „The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus” is by far the most charming and original of all. Orphaned at an infant Claus is found and raised in the magical Forest of Burzee by a wood-nymph Necile, who convinces the great Ak to allow her to raise Claus for her own. As he grows older he meets his fellow humans, and sees the neglect of children. This sets him on the path to making toys and becoming the beloved Saint Nicholas we are familiar with today. Along the way we learn the origins of the Christmas tree and Christmas stockings and discover the stories behind many Christmas secrets, like why Santa slides down chimneys, how he picks his reindeer, and how he delivers all his toys in one night. Only L. Frank Baum, the man who created the wonderful land of Oz, could have told Santa’s tale in such rich and imaginative detail!

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Contents

YOUTH

1. Burzee

2. The Child of the Forest

3. The Adoption

4. Claus

5. The Master Woodsman

6. Claus Discovers Humanity

7. Claus Leaves the Forest

MANHOOD

1. The Laughing Valley

2. How Claus Made the First Toy

3. How the Ryls Colored the Toys

4. How Little Mayrie Became Frightened

5. How Bessie Blithesome Came to the Laughing Valley

6. The Wickedness of the Awgwas

7. The Great Battle Between Good and Evil

8. The First Journey with the Reindeer

9. "Santa Claus!"

10. Christmas Eve

11. How the First Stockings Were Hung by the Chimneys

12. The First Christmas Tree

OLD AGE

1. The Mantle of Immortality

2. When the World Grew Old

3. The Deputies of Santa Claus

YOUTH

1. Burzee

Have you heard of the great Forest of Burzee? Nurse used to sing of it when I was a child. She sang of the big tree-trunks, standing close together, with their roots intertwining below the earth and their branches 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 those who steal beneath its shade. Coming from the sunlit meadows into its mazes it seems at first gloomy, then pleasant, and afterward filled 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 of birds.

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 these sweet immortals, who revel undisturbed in its depths.

Civilization has never yet reached Burzee. Will it ever, I wonder?

2. The Child of the Forest

Once, so long ago our great-grandfathers could scarcely have heard it mentioned, there 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 guard.

Her hair was the color that lines a chestnut-bur; her eyes were blue in the sunlight and purple in the shade; her cheeks bloomed with the faint pink that edges the clouds at sunset; her lips were full red, pouting and sweet. For costume she adopted oak-leaf green; all the wood-nymphs dress in that color and know no other so desirable. Her dainty feet were sandal-clad, while her head remained bare of covering 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 of her thirsty dependents.

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 duties were lessened, and time grew laggard, while succeeding years became more tiresome and uneventful than the nymph’s joyous spirit loved.

Truly the forest-dwellers did not lack amusement. Each full moon they danced in the Royal Circle of the Queen. There were also the Feast of Nuts, the Jubilee of Autumn Tintings, the solemn ceremony of Leaf Shedding and the revelry of Budding Day. But these periods of enjoyment were far apart, and left many weary hours between.

That a wood-nymph should grow discontented was not thought of by Necile’s sisters. It came upon her only after many years of brooding. But when 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 adventure.

While this mood lay heavy upon pretty Necile it chanced that the great Ak visited the Forest of Burzee and allowed the wood-nymphs as was their wont–to lie at his feet and listen to the words of wisdom that fell from his lips. Ak is the Master Woodsman of the world; he sees 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 who inhabit the open spaces of the earth. They are not of our race, it is true, yet compassion well befits beings so fairly favored as ourselves. Often as I pass by the dwelling of some suffering mortal I am tempted to stop and banish the poor thing’s misery. Yet suffering, in moderation, is the natural lot of mortals, and it is not our place 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.”

Ak smiled.

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