Another Christmas! And I almost thought at one time (in November) that there would not be one this year. There would be the 25th of December of course, but nothing from your old great-great-great-etc. grandfather at the North Pole. My pictures tell you part of the story. Goblins. The worst attack we have had for centuries. They have been fearfully wild and angry ever since we took all their stolen toys off them last year, and dosed them with green smoke. You remember the Red Gnomes promised to clear all of them out. There was not one to be found in any hole or cave by New Year's Day. But I said they would crop up again - in a century or so. They have not waited so long! They must have gathered their nasty friends from mountains all over the world, and been busy all the summer while we were at our sleepiest. This time we had very little warning. Soon after All Saints' Day, Polar Bear got very restless. He now says he smelt nasty smells - but as usual he did not say anything: he says he did not want to trouble me. He really is a nice old thing, and this time he absolutely saved Christmas. He took to sleeping in the kitchen with his nose towards the cellar-door, opening on the main stairway down into my big stores.
One night, just about Christopher's birthday,** I woke up suddenly. There was squeaking and spluttering in the room and a nasty smell - in my own best green and purple room that I had just had done up most beautifully. I caught sight of a wicked little face at the window. Then I really was upset, for my window is high up above the cliff, and that meant there were bat-riding Goblins about - which we haven't seen since the goblin-war in 1453 that I told you about. I was only just quite awake when a terrific din began far downstairs - in the store-cellars. It would take too long to describe, so I have tried to draw a picture of what I saw when I got down - after treading on a Goblin on the mat. [ONLY THER WAS MORE LIKE 1000 GOBLINS THAN 15. P.B.] (But you could hardly expect me to draw 1000.) Polar Bear was squeezing, squashing, trampling, boxing, and kicking. Goblins sky-high, and roaring like a 200, and the Goblins were yelling like engine whistles. He was splendid. [SAY NO MORE: I ENJOYED IT IMMENSELY!] WEll, it is a long story. The trouble lasted for over a fortnight, and it began to look as if I should never be able to get my sleigh out this year. The Goblins had set part of the stores on fire and captured several Gnomes who sleep down there on guard before Polar Bear and some more Gnomes came in - and killed 100 before I arrived. Even when we had put the fire out and cleared the cellars and house (I can't think what they were doing in my room unless they were trying to set fire to my bed) the trouble went on. The ground was black with Goblins under the moon when we looked out, and they had broken up my stables and gone off with reindeer. I summoned help; there were several battles (every night they used to attack and set fire to the stores) before we got the upper hand, and I am afraid quite a lot of my dear Elves got hurt. Fortunately we have not lost much except my best string (gold and silver) and packing-papers and holly-boxes. I am very short of these: and I have been very short of messengers. Lots of my people are still away (I hope they will come back safe) chasing the Goblins out of my land, those that are left alive. They have rescued all my reindeer. We are quite happy and settled again now, and feel much safer. It really will be centuries before we get another Goblin-trouble. Thanks to Polar Bear and the Gnomes, there can't be very many left at all. [AND FR. C. I WISH I COULD DRAW OR HAD TIME TO TRY -YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE OLD MAN CAN DOO! LITENING AND FIREWORKS AND THUNDER OF GUNS !] Polar Bear certainly has been busy, helping double help -but he has mixed up some of the girls' presents with the boys' in his hurry. We hope we have got all sorted out - but if you hear of anyone getting a doll when they wanted an engine, you will know why. Actually Polar Bear tells me I am wrong - we did lose a lot of railway stuff - Goblins always go for that - and what we got back was damaged and will have to be repainted. It will be a busy summer next year.
** 21 November.