"I'm done," I said. "Can I go ahead and go the library?"
"Sure," said Santa. "I'll have Pete take you. Pete."
"I'd like to go too," said Abbie.
I was glad Abbie and Jacob were here. They were both really smart and really great readers. Those were two things I knew we were totally going to need.
"Sure," said Santa. "Pete!"
Pete came running with a fish in his beak. "Just a little snack Santa, just a little snack," said Pete.
"Oh sorry, should I get someone else to take them to the library?" asked Santa.
"Nonsense, I'm good to go now. Follow me, kids," said Pete.
"We'll be along soon, kids," said Dad.
"Mind your manners," said Mom.
"Thank you, Mrs. Claus," Abbie and I said in unison, and followed after Pete to the library. Jacob stayed for another helping of dessert.
"I can't believe how utterly exciting this is, " said Abbie.
"I know. It's pretty cool, but how are we going to find a way to destroy the force field around the North Pole? If we don't, Santa can't deliver his toys, and children everywhere will be disappointed and it will all be our fault!" I said.
"We'll find something in the library. You heard Santa, with five extra sets of eyes, we'll probably find the spell to break the force field tonight and be home for Christmas with days to spare. It will have been an adventure though!" said Abbie.
It took only a few minutes to get to the library. Pete opened the double doors and both Abbie and I walked in and saw rows and rows of bookshelves piled high with books. I began to think this might not be as easy as I thought.
"Pete, which of these rows of books are the books on magic?" asked Abbie.
I hoped it wasn't many.
"You see this small section to the right of us?" asked Pete. I did and was thrilled. We could get through that in a day. Pete continued, "It's the only section that isn't magic books. These hold the history of Santa and the North Pole. The rest are magic books," said Pete.
We were doomed!
Pete looked back at us and, seeing our long faces, said, "The good news is that half the books have been digitized and can be searched using a database. We have been working on this project for about ten years but other things just seemed more important at the time. After this incident, I bet we'll spend more penguin power on scanning the rest of the books. Penguins are great at scanning, not so good at typing. We leave that to the elves."
"Okay, where do we start?" I asked.
"Yes, where do the books start that aren't in the computer?" asked Abbie.
"Follow me, follow me," said Pete as he waddled down the rows of books.
We spent the next four hours going through books. Mom, Dad and Jacob came shortly after us. We were all looking for a spell that had to do with force fields. We weren't very successful, but after two hours or so we started marking all the spells that had to do with removing a spell, in hopes that one of those might work. We did get about a dozen of those spells marked, but nothing that had to do specifically with force fields. Santa's magic books didn't have much to do with keeping people confined. After four hours of looking at books, I was tired and a little cranky. I'd never done anything for four hours straight, let alone read books for that long. I was ready to get out!
"Friends, let's take a break for the night. It's almost 11:00 at night and well past your bedtime I' m sure," said Santa. "Everything will look better in the morning when we come back, rested and ready. Pete, take the kids on a short walk around the North Pole. Show them what there is to see. Sue and Larry, I'll take you on a quick tour of the workshop. You haven't had a chance to see anything yet. We'll meet back at the dormitory."
Santa and my parents headed back towards the workshops while Pete led us in the opposite direction, through a door and into a small mudroom filled with coats, boots, mittens, shovels, umbrellas, etc. Abbie and I found our coats while Penguin Pete helped Jacob find some outdoor clothes. I had to find some boots and mittens too, since I was under dressed for the North Pole. Everything we borrowed was a shade of red. They sure like red in the North Pole. We ventured out into the cold, snowy day but I loved it. Snow was everywhere. It was paradise.
Pete pointed out the candy shop where the elves made the candy for Santa. He told us that penguins were strictly forbidden from that place because they had too big a sweet tooth, particularly for the peppermints. We saw Santa's house and a big bunkhouse for the elves plus a smaller house for the penguins. Pete told us that most of the penguins went south with Sandy so they didn't need a big place.
"And here is the main barn, " said Pete. "This is where Santa keeps his sleigh and the where the reindeer live you all know and love. There's another barn further down behind this one where the rest of the reindeer stay when they don't want to be outside. I'll introduce you round to all the reindeer," said Pete as he swung the barn door open.
There stood Rudolph. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. His nose was actually shining.
"Rudolph, quit showing off for the visitors," said Pete.
"I'm not showing off," said Rudolph.
I should have known the reindeer were going to speak too, but it still surprised me a bit.
"Then why's your nose glowing? It only glows if it's dark or you're showing off, and occasionally, if you're embarrassed. We didn't embarrass you, did we?" needled Pete.
His nose glowed redder. A few of the reindeer snickered and I thought he might be getting embarrassed with the way everything was going.
"No, no, no you didn't embarrass me. Come on in. Come on in. We've been wanting to meet the young people who are going to save Christmas for us," said Rudolph. His nose dimmed to a low, red glow. "Come, I'll introduce you round to everyone."
Pete interrupted, "Thanks Rudolph, but I'll introduce them."
Rudolph bowed his front legs, "As you wish Pete, as you wish."
Pete waddled up to Rudolph and stuck out his fin towards him, "This is Matthew Rudolph."
"What?" we all asked in unison.
"This is Matthew Rudolph," repeated Pete.
"Matthew Rudolph?" asked Jacob.
"Yes," said Rudolph, "Matthew is my first name. The famous song only referred to me by my last name. It would have been kind of awkward to fit my entire name in the song. Can you imagine the song as such?" Rudolph proceeded to sing, "Matthew Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose. Doesn't sound right so the author used poetic license and shortened it to Rudolph. I'm okay with it."
"Wow!" exclaimed Abbie. "Do all the reindeer have first and last names?"
"Of course," replied Rudolph.
"Yes, as I was saying," interrupted Pete. "This is Matthew Rudolph and here we have Robert Dasher, Sophie Dancer, Sydney Prancer, Caroline Vixen, Joshua Comet, Joe Cupid, Charlie Donner and Andrew Blitzen. They're quite a handful, these reindeer!"
"What?" the reindeer all replied.
"Think back to the prank of '77. We almost didn't have Christmas that year due to your shenanigans. And let's not forget what happened in '85 or ' 90 or '93 or '97 ," said Pete before he was interrupted by a bunch of groans and protestations.
"After we rescue Christmas, I want details," said Jacob. "I'm always on the lookout for a good prank."
"We never give out details, "said Prancer. "What happened in the past, stays in the past."
"We may not give out details, but we sure do tell a mean story," said Dasher. "After you rescue Christmas and we've delivered all the toys, I'll tell you some 'stories'."
I looked forward to that!
"Come now, we must hurry back," said Pete. "You need your rest."
"Good-bye," all the reindeer said.
"Good-bye," said Rudolph. "Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you."
Pete led us to the dormitory. It was a smaller cottage we hadn't seen yet, tucked in behind the rest. It had everything our family could need plus a couple of bedrooms. My parents were already there getting situated when we came in.
"Pete, this is such a nice cottage," said my Mom. "Please give our thanks again to Santa for letting us use it."
"It's been empty for some time. This is where Sandy used to live. We took all the covers off the furniture and cleaned it earlier today in preparation for your arrival. I hope everything will be to your satisfaction."
"Oh," said Abbie. "Has anyone used it since she left?"
"We occasionally get visitors and this is where Santa has them stay. He calls it the dormitory now, but it used to be Snow Cottage," said Pete.
"Well, thanks for bringing the kids, Pete," said my dad. "What time should we be ready in the morning?"
"Mrs. Claus serves breakfast at 8:00. I can come by for you at 7:30, which will give us plenty of time to get there and seated, unless you want to run by the library first," replied Pete.
"7:30 should be fine, Pete. We'll all be up and ready," said Dad.
We looked around the cottage a bit and then all settled into bed. It was late for me and I was tired. I fell asleep instantly, even though the walls of the cottage reverberated with Dad's snoring. He was tired too. We'd had a lot of excitement.