Someone was knocking. Zann removed her spectacles and put them on the desk. Stretching, she stood and went to answer the door.

"Hi Zann," Phred said, grinning. "I'm supposed to help you with a story about our trip to Miami. If we can work together, Santa said I can work here."

"Come in," Zann said. "I was just editing the 'Herald.'  I'm a little tired, so I can use a break."

"Let me make you some coffee," Phred offered.

"Coffee?" Zann was beginning to interview Phred, although she didn't know it.

"Yes, I learned about it in Miami. Lady gave us coffee every morning to help us wake up."

"Well, I'm sure I don't have any, since I don't know what it is," Zann said dryly.

"I'll dust some up," Phred offered. "Then, if you like it, we can figure out how to get some."

"That sounds like a plan." Zann led Phred to the tiny kitchenette, and Phred went to work with his dust. A short time later, they were enjoying a cup of coffee together.

"So, what do you think?" Phred asked.

"Interesting," Zann said. She was beginning to feel a little more alert. "So what else did you learn to do in Miami?"

"Let's see . . . I learned to take pictures."

"Take them where?" Zann wanted to know.

"No, I mean snap pictures . . . photographs."

Zann shook her head. "I don't understand."

"Wait. Let me get the camera." Phred drained his mug and went into the other room.

Zann followed him. She watched as he fumbled around in his bag.


"Here it is." Phred handed the camera to Zann. "Look through this little hole, then push this button. Make sure you look at something. Look at me."

She pointed the camera at Phred, and pushed the button, SNAP! Zann jumped. "Oh! That startled me!"

"It's okay. Now we wait for a bit."

"What are we waiting for?"

"The photograph," Phred said. "This will change the way you do pictures in the 'Herald'."

"I usually ask Ria to draw them," Zann said. "She does nice work, but she's very busy so I try not to bother her too often. What are we waiting for?" she asked again.

"This!" Phred  showed Zann the photo.

"Incredible! Perhaps you can get some pictures for the 'Herald'," she said enthusiastically.  "Let me do that again."

Zann snapped several pictures before she was ready to continue with the interview. "So, did you learn anything else?"

"I learned lots of things. I learned that, when you use wuffle dust, occupying clothing isn't the same as occupying a building." Phred frowned and shared his memory of his embarrassing moment on the beach.

"Oh no," Zann gasped. "What did you do?"

Phred told Zann about the clothing and the money, and he told her about the police. "And now we're home."

"This is going to make a terrific article for the paper," Zann said happily. "We haven't had a story this great in decades!"

"I'm looking forward to working here," Phred said. "I love my camera, and I like talking a lot, too.  Funny, I never talked much before, but then I went  to Miami. I'm a different elf now."


"Hmmm, transformational experiences," Zann said. "You're hired! You can relieve me of some of the news reporting. Of course, you'll need to study at Helpers Unlimited," she added thoughtfully.

Phred frowned. "Hey! Wait a minute!  I'm not planning to go back to school."

"Do you know how to set type?"

"Well, no, but I thought I was going to be a roving reporter."

"And you will, but you will also need to type set your articles. The paper doesn't just appear."

"What about dust?" Phred asked hopefully.

Zann clicked her tongue, "I only use dust in real emergencies. Besides, it won't take you long to learn how to print the paper. It's good for you to know."

It was settled. Phred would have to return to school. He quickly realized that he had no argument with Zann.  She was right. "Oh, alright, but I hope it won't interfere with starting the other part of my job. I'm not really needed out at the Cabin right now."

"Of course not. You will only print the paper after you have learned to do so, but you can begin your roving reporting now. And, take plenty of pictures."

"Where will I stay?"

"Well, North, Too, is probably closest."

"When can I start?" Phred asked.

"You already have. Get your things and move into the Quarters. I'll see you first thing tomorrow."

 

 

 


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