Dolores Flemspackle had said that she needed to go back into the Reindeer stables to look for a ring, but she didn't seem to be spending much time looking at the ground. Instead, the President of Flemspackle industries was looking at the reindeer. She wandered past an elf who was working on the hinge of one of the stall gates.
"Hey! No Yeti in the reindeer stables!" the elf shouted as she walked past. Dolores turned and stared icily at him. "Oh. Oops! Sorry, Ma'am! It's just that from behind, you sort of looked like...um...well, sorry."
"That's quite all right, my good man...er...elf," said Dolores. "If you'ld like to make it up to me, you could answer a few questions. Do you work with the reindeer?"
"Me? Well, I pretty much work wherever they need me. Smitty's my name," said the elf, sticking out a rather grimy hand. Dolores tried to shake it without touching it. "And I'm Dolores Flemspackle," she said.
Smitty's eyes widened. "Old Ha'penny Elf's granddaughter? It's an honor to meet you, ma'am! Ha'penny taught me everything I know about toys! I was the Chief Toymaking Elf before we had the Appendapulator," he said, proudly.
"I see," said Dolores. "And now you're stuck here in the stables, fixing gates. That must make you angry."
"Heck, no!" said Smitty. "The Appendapulator's a great invention. I'm just happy to help wherever I can. I learned that from Ha'penny, too: 'Work where you're needed, and you'll always be needed!'"
"So now you're working with the reindeer? You must know quite a bit about them--like what makes them fly?"
Smitty scratched his head. "Well, gosh, I'm not sure I know much at all. Just the basic stuff, like most reindeer are the species Rangifer tarandus, but these fellas here wandered into the North Pole centuries ago, and became their own separate species: Rangifer hocuspocus, commonly known as 'magical reindeer.' They differ from their non-magical cousins in only three ways: They live longer, they are much smarter, and...um....oh, cheese-and-crackers, I've forgotten the third difference."
"Maybe it's that these reindeer can fly?" asked Dolores.
"Naah, that ain't it," said Smitty. Then he thought for a minute, and said "Oh, yeah, I guess that is it, after all. Like I said, I'm not an expert."
"So there's no magic food? Santa doesn't sprinkle magic dust over them, or anything like that?" asked Dolores.
"Nope," said Smitty. "They eat regular reindeer food: oats. pistachios, and rutabagas. And Santa's allergic to magic dust--it gives him hiccups."
"So just give them some room to run, and they can fly?" asked Dolores.
Smitty leaned in towards Dolores. "To tell you the truth, they don't even need the room to run," he said with a wink. "They can go straight up if they want to--and sometimes they do, when they're on a steep rooftop. I think they just do the running because they think it looks cool."
"Very interesting," said Dolores. "Thank you for your time, Smitty. You're quite a helpful elf!" and as she walked away, she said quietly "And your help is going to make me very, very rich."
What will Dolores do next? Keep reading The North Pole Times to find out!
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