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Mini-Witch Meets Santa Claus

"Aw, who wants to hear about Santa Claus!" yelled Billy. "Everybody knows there's no Santa Claus."

It was a week before Christmas, and Miss Robbins was just about to read a Christmas story to her class.

Mersina poked Billy. "Yes, there is a Santa Claus!" she hissed.

"Yeah, prove it!" Billy sneered.

"I will!" said Mersina, and she touched him on the shoulder.

In a flash, the two of them were surrounded by a swirl of blinding white -- snow! After a moment, the snow flurry died down, and Billy looked around.

On all sides of them, whiteness stretched out as far as they could see.

"Hey, what ..." Billy started to ask, when a gust of icy wind started his teeth chattering.

Mersina giggled and snatched a handkerchief out of Billy's pocket. She waved it in the air, and instantly the handkerchief turned into a furry coat.

She tossed it to Billy and then made another coat for herself.

Wrapped in the warm coat, Billy finally stopped shivering. "I'll bet you're going to say this is the North Pole," be challenged.

Mersina grinned. Billy reached into his pocket and pulled out a compass.

"See," he jeered. Then he looked at the compass and blinked. "It is the North Pole! But I don't see any Santa Claus."

Mersina pointed. Not far away there was a small sign with a pointing arrow: TO SANTA'S WORKSHOP. It pointed into a crack in a mountain of ice up ahead. "Come on," Mersina called, and climbed up into the gap. Billy scrambled quickly after her. The path led through the ice mountain to a snow-covered plain.

Two large buildings stood in front of them. One of them had a sign: SANTA'S WORKSHOP. Billy gasped. "Is there really a Santa Claus?"

Mersina pulled him along the path. "You'll see."

Outside the workshop, a fat old man with a white beard was sitting on the top step with his head in his hands. He seemed to be almost crying.

"What's the matter, Santa?" Mersina asked.

"My elves have gone out on strike," Santa moaned. He told Mersina and Billy that the elves were never able to celebrate Christmas themselves. They were always too busy making toys for children around the world. They had decided that this year they were going to have a Christmas tree and presents of their own. This morning they had gone off to look for a tree. But there are no trees at the North Pole. The nearest ones are hundreds of miles south.

"None of the toys are finished yet," Santa groaned. "It will be days before the elves come back. By then it will be too late to finish the toys. This Christmas thousands of children are going to wake up to find their stockings empty and no toys around the tree. What am I going to do?"

"Maybe I can help," Mersina said. She asked Billy for his pocket knife.

With it she carefully cut a splinter from one of the logs in the wall of Santa's Workshop. She planted the splinter in the snow and stepped back. She mumbled a few words. At first nothing seemed to happen. Then the splinter of wood began to grow. Faster and faster it grew. Soon it was a Christmas tree, nearly as tall as Santa's workshop.

"If the elves only knew about this!" cried Santa. "But how are we going to get word to them? They've been gone for hours, and I'm not even sure which way they went!"

"Just a minute,' said Mersina. She popped into the workshop. Santa and Billy could hear her bustling about inside as they waited anxiously.

Mersina came out of the workshop with a toy bird in one hand and a paint brush in the other. She put a last touch of color on the bird's wings and blew the paint dry. Then she threw the bird up into the air and clapped her hands.

The bird flew south and disappeared over the ice mountain. "He'll tell them all about the tree," Mersina explained.

And sure enough, soon the elves came trooping back. They cut down the tree and carried it into their big home across from the workshop.

"Now you can get back to work," said Santa, "and finish the toys for Christmas."

"Oh, no," said one of the elves. "We have to trim the tree."

"No you don't," Mersina corrected. She picked up a handful of snow and threw it at the tree. Suddenly the tree was covered with glittering balls and streamers of tinsel.

The elves happily went back to their work benches. Soon there was a lively sound of tapping hammers and whirring drills.

Santa stepped outside with Mersina and Billy. "I want to thank you for helping us. Because of you, all the children can have their toys. Is there anything special I can bring you for Christmas?"

"I want a new bike, a baseball mitt, a chemistry set, a microscope," Billy began.

"And how about you?" Santa interrupted, turning to Mersina. He thought for a moment. "I guess you really don't need anything, do you?" She smiled.

In a flash Mersina and Billy were back in the classroom. Mersina's magic had stretched time at the North Pole. Now it was just a minute after they had vanished from the classroom. Miss Robbins was still reading the Christmas story. She and the class had not even noticed that Mersina and Billy had been gone at all.

Suddenly Billy stood up and shouted, "There really is a Santa Claus. I just saw him!"

Everyone laughed.



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