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|MANHOOD||L. Frank Baum|
3. How the Ryls Colored the Toys
|Page 2 of 5||
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 away.
"The other cat won't run, Claus," continued the boy. "Let me hold that one." Claus placed the toy in his arms, and the boy held it 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.
"Were you frightened?"
"It was cold," said Weekum, "and the snow got in my eyes, so I could not see. Then I kept on till I fell in the snow, without knowing where I was, and the wind blew the flakes over me and covered me up."
Claus gently stroked his head, and the boy looked up at him and smiled.
"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 Claus.
"It's a nice cat!" Weekum said, smiling, as Claus tucked the blankets around him; and presently the little one fell asleep with the wooden 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 Valley and across the plain beyond to the poor cottage where Weekum's mother lived.
"See, mama!" cried the boy, as soon as they entered, "I've got a cat!"
The good woman wept tears of joy over the rescue of her darling and thanked Claus many times for his kind act. So he carried a warm and 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 work.
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|The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
L. Frank Baum
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