Read Stanley's Christmas Adventure Online

Authors: Jeff Brown

Tags: #Age 7 and Up

Stanley's Christmas Adventure (2 page)

“My stocking wouldn’t do. I have very small feet.”

“Pooh!” Sarah laughed. “You wanted extra gifts, so—”

“Sarah, dear,” Mrs. Lambchop said. “Your father? Has he truly made up his mind, you think?”

“Oh, yes!” Sarah sighed. “But I thought—Stanley being flat, that
really
interested him. I mean, I couldn’t be
sure
, but if nobody ever did anything without—”

“You seem a very nice girl, Sarah.” Mr. Lambchop gave a little laugh. “But you
have
been joking with us, surely? I—”

The phone rang, and he answered it.

“Hello, George,” the caller said. “This is your neighbor, Frank Smith. I know it’s late, but I must congratulate you on your Christmas lawn display! Best—”

“Lawn?” said Mr. Lambchop. “Display?”

“The sleigh! And those lifelike
reindeer!
What makes them move about like that? Batteries, I suppose?”

“Just a moment, Frank.” Mr. Lambchop went to the window and looked out, Mrs. Lambchop beside him.

“My goodness!” she said. “One, two, three, four … Eight! And such a pretty sleigh!”

Mr. Lambchop returned to the phone. “They
are
lifelike, aren’t they? Goodbye. Thank you for calling, Frank.”

“See? I’m not a joking kind of person, actually,” said Sarah Christmas. “Now! My idea
might
work, even without the flatness. Do let Stanley go!”

“To the North Pole?” said Mrs. Lambchop. “At night? By himself? Good gracious, Sarah!”

“It’s not fair, asking Stanley, but not me,” said Arthur, feeling hurt. “It’s always like this! I never—”

“Oh, pooh!” Sarah Christmas smiled. “Actually … You could
all
go. It’s a very big sleigh.”

Mr. and Mrs. Lambchop looked at each other, then at Stanley and Arthur, then at each other again.

“Stanley just might make a difference, George,” Mrs. Lambchop said. “And if we can
all
go … ?”

“Quite right,” said Mr. Lambchop. “Sarah, we will accompany you to Snow City!”

“Hooray!” shouted Stanley and Arthur, and Sarah too.

Mrs. Lambchop thought they should wait until Frank Smith had gone to bed. “Imagine the gossip,” she said, “were he to see our reindeer fly away.”

Mr. Lambchop called his office to leave a message on the nighttime answering machine. He would not be in tomorrow, he said, as he had been called unexpectedly out of town.

“There!” cried Stanley, by the window. “The Smiths’ light is out.”

The Lambchops changed quickly from pajamas to warmer clothing, and followed Sarah to the sleigh.

2
The Sleigh

“Welcome aboard!” said Sarah, from the driver’s seat.

The Lambchops, sitting on little benches that made the big sleigh resemble a roofless bus, could scarcely contain their excitement.

The night sky shone bright with stars, and from the windows of nearby houses red and green Christmas lights twinkled over snowy lawns and streets. Before them, the eight reindeer, fur shiny in the moonlight, tossed their antlered heads.

“Ready when you are, Sarah,” Mr. Lambchop said.

“Good!” Sarah cleared her throat. “Fasten your seat belts, please! We are about to depart for Snow City. My name is Sarah—I guess you know that—and I’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have. Please do not move about without permission of the Sleigh Master—that’s me, at least right now—and obey whatever instructions may—”

“Pu-leeese!” said Arthur.

“Oh, all right!” The Lambchops fastened their seat belts, and Sarah took up the reins. “Ready, One? Ready, Two, Three—”

“Just
numbers
?” cried Mrs. Lambchop. “Why, we know such lovely reindeer names! Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen—”

“Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen!” shouted Arthur. “They’re from a poem we know!”

“Those
are
good names!” said Sarah. “Ready, One through Eight?”

The reindeer pawed the ground, jingling their harness bells.

“Now!” said Sarah.

The jingling stopped suddenly, and a great silence fell.

Now a silver mist rose, swirling, about the sleigh. The startled Lambchops could see nothing beyond the mist, not their house nor the houses of their neighbors, not the twinkling Christmas lights, not the bright stars above. There was only the silver mist, everywhere, cool against their cheeks.

“What is this, Sarah?” Mrs. Lambchop called. “Are we not to proceed to Snow City?”

Sarah’s voice came cheerfully through the mist. “We have proceeded. We’re there!”

3
Snow City

Beyond the mist, excited voices rose. “Sarah’s back! … With strangers! Big ones! … Where’s she been?”

“Poppa’s elves,” said Sarah’s voice. As she spoke, the mist swirled, then vanished as suddenly as it had come. Above them, the stars shone bright again.

The sleigh rested now in a snow-covered square, in front of a pretty red-roofed house. All about the square were tiny cottages, their windows aglow with light.

Elves surrounded the sleigh. “Who
are
these people?” … “Is it true, what we’ve heard?” … “Ask Sarah! She’ll know!”

The Lambchops smiled and waved. The elves seemed much like ordinary men and women, except that they had pointy ears, very wrinkled faces, and were only about half as tall as Arthur. All wore leather breeches or skirts with wide pockets from which tools and needles stuck out.

“Miss Sarah!” came a voice. “Is it true? He won’t go this year?”

Sarah hesitated. “Well, sort of … But perhaps the Lambchops here … Be patient. Go home, please!”

The elves straggled off toward their cottages, grumbling. “Not going?” … “Hah! After all our work?” … “The Whochops?” … “I’d go work somewhere else, but
where?

A plump lady in an apron bustled out of the red-roofed house. “Sarah! Are you all right? Going off like that! Though we did find your note.

Gracious! Are those
all
Lambchops, dear?”

“I’m fine, Momma!” said Sarah. “They wouldn’t let Stanley come by himself. That’s Stanley, there. The other one’s Arthur. Stanley
was
flat, but he got round again.”

“Clever!” said Mrs. Christmas. “Well! Do all come in! Are you fond of hot chocolate?”

“… an excellent plan, I do see that. But—Oh, he’s in
such
a state! And with Stanley no longer flat …” Mrs. Christmas sighed. “More chocolate, Lambchops? I add a dash of cinnamon. Tasty, yes?”

“Delicious,” said Mrs. Lambchop.

Everyone sat silent, sipping.

Mr. Lambchop felt the time had come. “May we see him now, Mrs. Christmas? We should be getting home. So much to do, this time of year.”

“You forget where you are, George,” said Mrs. Lambchop. “Mrs. Christmas, surely, is aware of the demands of the season.”

“I’m sorry about not being flat,” Stanley said. “I did get tired of it, though.”

“No need to apologize,” said Mrs. Christmas. “Flat, round, whatever, people must be what shape they wish.”

“So true,” said Mrs. Lambchop. “But will your husband agree?”

“We shall see. Come.” Mrs. Christmas rose, and the Lambchops followed her down the hall.

Mrs. Christmas knocked on a door. “Visitors, dear! From America.”

“Send ’em back!” said a deep voice.

“Sir?” Mr. Lambchop tried to sound cheerful. “A few minutes, perhaps? ‘’Tis the season to be jolly,’ eh? We—”

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