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|OLD AGE||L. Frank Baum|
1. The Mantle of Immortality
|Page 4 of 5||
The King of the Sound Fays added:
"It has existed since the Beginning, and no mortal has ever dared to claim it."
And the Master Mariner of the World arose and stretched his limbs, saying:
"Only by the vote of every immortal can it be bestowed upon a mortal."
"I know all this," answered Ak, quietly. "But the Mantle exists, and if it was created, as you say, in the Beginning, it was because the Supreme Master knew that some day it would be required. Until now no mortal has deserved it, but who among you dares deny that the good Claus deserves it? Will you not all vote to bestow it upon him?"
They were silent, still looking upon one another questioningly.
"Of what use is the Mantle of Immortality unless it is worn?" demanded Ak. "What will it profit any one of us to allow it to remain in its lonely shrine for all time to come?"
"Enough!" cried the Gnome King, abruptly. "We will vote on the matter, yes or no. For my part, I say yes!"
"And I!" said the Fairy Queen, promptly, and Ak rewarded her with a smile.
"My people in Burzee tell me they have learned to love him; therefore I vote to give Claus the Mantle," said the King of the Ryls.
"He is already a comrade of the Knooks," announced the ancient King of that band. "Let him have immortality!"
"Let him have it--let him have it!" sighed the King of the Wind Demons.
"Why not?" asked the King of the Sleep Fays. "He never disturbs the slumbers my people allow humanity. Let the good Claus be immortal!"
"I do not object," said the King of the Sound Imps.
"Nor I," murmured the Queen of the Water Sprites.
"If Claus does not receive the Mantle it is clear none other can ever claim it," remarked the King of the Light Elves, "so let us have done with the thing for all time."
"The Wood-Nymphs were first to adopt him," said Queen Zurline. "Of course I shall vote to make him immortal."
Ak now turned to the Master Husbandman of the World, who held up his right arm and said "Yes!"
And the Master Mariner of the World did likewise, after which Ak, with sparkling eyes and smiling face, cried out:
"I thank you, fellow immortals! For all have voted 'yes,' and so to our dear Claus shall fall the one Mantle of Immortality that it is in our power to bestow!"
"Let us fetch it at once," said the Fay King; "I'm in a hurry."
They bowed assent, and instantly the Forest glade was deserted. But in a place midway between the earth and the sky was suspended a gleaming crypt of gold and platinum, aglow with soft lights shed from the facets of countless gems. Within a high dome hung the precious Mantle of Immortality, and each immortal placed a hand on the hem of the splendid Robe and said, as with one voice:
"We bestow this Mantle upon Claus, who is called the Patron Saint of Children!"
At this the Mantle came away from its lofty crypt, and they carried it to the house in the Laughing Valley.
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|The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
L. Frank Baum
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