Back in 1904 Santa Clause lived in Laughing Valley, where toys were made by ryls, knooks, pixies and fairies. (Since I’ve only heard of elves helping Santa, I’m guessing his former workers retired and moved to a warmer climate.) You would think that everyone would love dear old Santa but, unfortunately, he had a few nasty neighbors. Near Laughing Valley was a mountain that contains the Caves of the Daemons. There are five caves and 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.”
If that seems like a pleasant cave to enter remember that looks can be deceiving. That first cave is the home of the Daemon of Selfishness, and behind that is the cave of the Daemon of Envy. Then comes the caves of the Daemon of Hatred, and the Daemon of Malice. Behind all those caves is the one where the Daemon of Repentance resides, and he is said to be a pleasant fellow, who is always willing to open a door that allows visitors to escape from the mountain.
The Daemons were getting lonesome because Santa Claus was causing children to be so happy, and so willing to be generous, that they weren’t becoming selfish, or bothered by envy, hatred or malice. Even the Daemon of Repentance was sad because children with no need to repent had no reason to visit him.
One by one the first four Daemons visited Santa and tried to win him over to taking on their favorite vice, and stop the giving-away-toys nonsense. That didn’t work, so they decided to use force. But they couldn’t harm him in Laughing Valley, for there were all those loyal workers to protect him. They had to wait until he left home, which only happened on Christmas Eve.
On Christmas Eve Santa loaded his roomy sleigh with toys and, fortunately, took along four helpers – Nuter the Ryl, Peter the Knook, Kilter the Pixie and Wisk the fairy – who all sat under the seat to keep out of the wind. The reindeer were harnessed to the sleigh, flew through the air, and the journey began. But alas someone threw a rope, lassoed Santa, pulled him out of the sleigh and tumbled him into a snowbank. The Daemons quickly tied him up and carried him off to the mountain were he was chained to the wall of yet another cave.
It didn’t take Santa’s helpers long to figure out something was amiss, and when it was discovered Santa was gone they wanted to go look for him, but decided he’d be worried about toys being delivered, so they continued the journey, traveled around the world, and only made two errors. A girl who wanted a doll got a drum, and a boy who wanted rubber boots got a sewing kit. (Since those were the only mistakes, and they hadn’t gotten the gifts the other one wanted, I’m guessing Santa takes along extra items, just in case he gets the urge to be especially generous along the way.)
The helpers took a little longer to deliver all the gifts, and didn’t return to Laughing Valley until it was daylight. Then Wisk the fairy went off to see the Fairy Queen, and she figured out who the bad guys were.
But what about poor Santa? Even though he had faith in his helpers, he was one of those hands-on employers, and liked to be on the scene to make sure there were no mix-ups. He was worried about disappointed children, plus the Daemons were taking turns guarding him, and four of them were a bunch of meanies, who taunted him with predictions of hordes of angry children rushing to the Caves of the Daemons. The last of the guards was the Daemon of Repentance and, since he wasn’t such a bad fellow, he repented.
Santa Claus left the mountain and was met by an army of helpers who had set out to find him. But what happened next? Would he tell the ryls, knooks, pixies and fairies to be mean to the Daemons? Was there hope of a happy Christmas for the girl with the drum and the boy with the sewing kit?
A Kidnapped Santa Claus was by L. Frank Baum, who not only wrote the Land of Oz children’s book series, but also wrote The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, so he apparently knew a thing or two about the man who delighted in giving presents to children on Christmas Eve. The story first appeared in the December 1904 issue of the women’s magazine The Delineator.
If you’d like to read the entire story it can be downloaded, free of charge, at: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/519.