A Kidnapped Santa Claus
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 again.
Well, these Daemons of the Caves, thinking they had great cause to
dislike old Santa Claus, held a meeting one day to discuss the matter.
"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 envious."
"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 are."
"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 destruction.
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.