The Reindeer Race
Once upon a time there was a boy called Jim who lived with his mother in a cottage in the forest.
But the cottage belonged to a very mean and miserly old landlord named Mr Grump and Jim and his Mother were too poor to pay the landlords rent.
And one Christmas Eve when it was very cold and Snowy the Landlord said to them,
"If you can't pay my rent by tonight then I'm throwing you both out on your ear".
"But Mr Grump", pleaded Jim's Mother on her knees, "Its Christmas".
"I don't care what day it is. Either you get my money for me before the stroke of midnight tonight", replied Mr Grump, "Or out you both shall go".
And so, out of desperation, Jims Mother put all her best jewellery into a bundle and told Jim to take it to market and try and sell it.
Unfortunately, as Jim was walking to market he was stopped on the road by a masked bandit who called himself the Christmas bandit and he stole all of Jim's mothers jewels.
"Stealing from people? Thats not very Christmassy is it?", said Jim as the bandit pocketed his mothers jewels.
So the bandit put a holly wreathe round Jims neck and wished him merry Christmas.
But sadly, Jim now had no jewels to sell at the market and couldn't face going home to his mother with the bad news and so he wandered into the forest.
As he was walking through the forest however, he came upon a cave in which there was a woman carved out of ice wearing a crystal crown and pendant and so Jim took the crown and pendant.
"A woman made of ice doesn't need these", he said putting them in his pocket, "And I can sell them at the market place".
Then, as he'd planned, he took the crown and pendant to market and tried to sell them.
Unfortunately, whenever he tried to show them to customers they became invisible and, because he was trying to sell jewellery that no one could see, people thought him mad and chased him out of the market place.
Sighing Sadly, Jim went home to his mother and told her what had happened.
"Oh well", she said, "We had best pack up our things and put on our winter coats for we will have a lot of travelling to do before we find a new home".
Just then however, they saw a man riding by who, getting off of his horse handed them both a notice.
"Its an advertisment for the big Christmas reindeer race", said the man, "Anyone in the kingdom can join and the prize is a hundred pieces of gold".
"A hundred pieces of gold", said Jim to his mother as the man rode away again, "That would be more than enough to pay Mr Grumps rent with".
"It would be", his mother said, "But how can you win a reindeer race. We haven't even got a reindeer".
"No", sighed Jim, disappointedly before adding, "Oh I wish we had a reindeer and could win that race".
But then, just as Jim had finished speaking those words, the crystal crown and pendant in his hands started to glow with a bright white and shimmering light and, suddenly, infront of him there appeared a reindeer wearing a saddle, reins and reindeer shoes.
"Amazing", he said, looking at the reindeer and then at the crown and pendant, "This crown and pendant must be incredibly magical".
"Well then , perhaps its a magic that will help you win the hundred pieces of gold", said his mother.
And so Jim climbed upon the back of the reindeer and rode off to join the Reindeer race.
And there were lots of very good professional reindeer riders there who were all riding on large and very impressive looking reindeers.
Even the Christmas bandit who had robbed Jim earlier was in the race because he had used Jim's Mother Jewels to buy a reindeer and, recognizing Jim he said,
"Sorry to have to steal from you twice in the same day but that hundred pieces of gold is as good as mine".
"How can you be so sure?", said Jim.
"Because I intend to cheat", said the Christmas bandit.
And indeed, as soon as the race began, all of the reindeer riders fell off of their horses because the Christmas bandit had sneakily loosened their saddles.
But Jims saddle, because it was magic, had just refastened itself and so Jim didn't fall off; infact he managed to keep neck and neck with the bandit.
But then the bandit crossed the bridge of ice that all the racers had to cross and, as soon as he reached the other side, he took out his pistol and shot the bridge so that it shattered into pieces and because Jim couldn't stop his reindeer in time, instead of crossing the bridge he went crashing down towards the river.
"Ha!", said the Christmas bandit, "Now that hundred pieces of gold is mine".
But then, just as Jim and his reindeer were about to plunge into the icy river, something magical happened again and, the shoes that his reindeer was wearing beginning to glow with light, it flew upwards and over the river until it landed safely on the other side.
And it wasn't long before, much to the Christmas bandits surprise, they were neck and neck again.
"Drat!", said the bandit, seeing Jims reindeer catch up with his.
But the Christmas bandit had one more trick up the sleeve of his winter coat for then they had to ride through the valley of avalanches and, as soon as the bandit had passed through the valley, he signalled to an accomplice high upon one of the steep sloping sides of the valley who started an avalanche that fell down upon Jim and his reindeer and buried them deep in snow and ice.
"Ha!", laughed the Christmas bandit a second time, "Now theres no way he can beat me".
But then, as the bandit was riding away, a third Christmas miracle occurred for just then the antlers of Jims reindeer became red hot, melting away all the ice and snow that they were buried in.
And then, realizing he still had a chance, Jim pulled upon his reindeers reins and they shot off again and, just as the Christmas bandit was nearing the finish line of the race, to his astonishment, suddenly he saw Jim and his reindeer overtake him and cross the finish line before him.
"Hooray", shouted a crowd of spectators as they watched Jim win the race.
And, realizing that he had won, Jim couldn't wait to ride back holding his bag of gold and give it to his mother and see the smile on her face.
Unfortunately, before the mayor of his region could hand over the bag of gold to him, the Christmas bandit snatched hold of it at gun point and rode off.
"Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas", he shouted as he rode away, grinning.
"Now what are we going to do?", said Jim, sadly, getting back onto his reindeer and riding home to his mother.
And when he told his mother the bad news she said, "Oh well. Atleast we still have each other. Thats the important thing".
But it was now 12 O' clock and, as they heard the chimes of midnight signalling the end of Christmas Eve and the beginning of Christmas day, they saw their evil old landlord Mr Grump approaching with two burly men beside him.
"Its 12 O'clock", he said to them, "I hope for your sake that you have my rent money".
Jim's mother shook her head sobbing.
"No", she said.
Mr Grump grinned with wicked joy.
"Well then", he said, "You know the rules. Out you and your son go and good riddance to you".
But then, suddenly, to their astonishment, all saw a woman approaching, wearing a long, sparkling gown and riding upon a snow white mare.
"Who are you?", Jim asked the woman, amazed.
"Don't you remember", she said, "I was frozen in a cave until you removed the magic crown and pendant from me that kept me frozen. I am princess of a far away land who was trapped in that cave by an evil enchantress long ago but you saved me and so I offer you, out of gratitude, my hand in marriage. Marry me and be my prince".
And so Jim, more than happy to accept the princess's offer, married her and he and his mother went to live in her royal palace and when Jim became prince he even offered a reward for the capture of the Christmas bandit who, it turned out, was really Mr Grump in disguise and so while Mr Grump slept in a cold palace dungeon, Jim his mother and the princess all lived happily ever after.