Boog and Holly agreed that they would have to keep an extra close eye on Nadie, until they understood their little snelfling. That's what they decided he was, for he wasn't a snow fairy, and he wasn't an elf. So, day after day, they took turns caring for Nadie, but since the penguin incident, things had moved along smoothly. At last they felt it was safe enough to try another outing.

***

            "Wake up, Boppi.  You pwomised to take me pishing"

            Boog yawned.  "Yes, I know." He pulled himself to a sitting position, and stretched.

            "C'mon, Boppi.  Pweas. pweas."

            "Alright, Nadie.  Calm down.  I'm coming." He gratefully accepted a cup of hot cocoa from Holly.

            "How long will you be gone?" she asked.

            "Most of the morning I guess.  I'll be back in time to open the Fix It shop."  Boog smiled at Holly.

            "Pweas, Boppi, pweas."  Nadie's golden cowlick bounced as he spoke.

            "Yup, I'm up.  Can you find the fishing poles?"

            "I godit." Nadie ran from the room.

            Holly took Boog's empty mug.  "Well, he's really excited.  Where will you go?"              "Probably Glacier Lake.  Ice fishing is pretty good this season, or so I've heard.

            "I'm weddy," Nadie yelled.

            Boog stood and nodded.  "I am too, son."  He took Nadie's hand and led him to the tiny kitchen.  "We have to fix some snacks, though."

            Holly handed Boog a couple of paper sacks.  "I packed some twinkle berries and sun nuts--oh and some strawberry-ginger ale."

            "We're set, then."  Boog gave Holly a peck on the cheek. 

            "Bye bye Mummi." Nadie waved to Holly.

            "What? No kiss?" Holly said.

            "Mwaa." Nadie  threw his hand from his mouth toward Holly. "Luh loo.  Wet's go Boppi."

            Boog put Nadie on his shoulders.  "You hang on, and I'll carry the poles and snacks."

***

            "'Lo," Nadie hollered, to the helpers they passed.

            "Hey there, Little Feller," Duck said.  Then to Boog, "You're up early."

            "We're goin' to Gwacier Wake," Nadie said.

            "Ice fishing," Boog added.  "It's not as easy to sleep in as it used to be," he said, winking.

            "Wet's go, Boppi," Nadie pleaded.

            "You're almost there," Duck said.  "I'm on my way to the stables. Can I walk with you, Nadie?"

            "Yess, was da tables?"

            "It's where the reindeer live.  I take care of them."

            "Oh Boppi, weindeer! Can we see the weindeer?  Pweas."

            "Do you want to fish, or see the reindeer?"

            "Yessss!" Nadie squealed.

            Boog sighed and looked at Duck.  "It's gonna be a long day."

            "Yup!" Duck agreed.

            Boog grabbed Nadie from his shouldes and put him on the ground."Okay, what do you want to do first?"        "Wet's go see de weindeer." Nadie trotted behind Boog and Duck.

            "Splendid!" Duck said.  "Ria will be so happy to see you."

            "Was Wia?"

            "An elfling who works with the reindeer.  She loves visitors." Duck chuckled.

            "Was a elfwing?"

            "Something you're not," Boog said.

            "Boppi!  Was a elfwing? Be serwious, Boppi."

            Boog took a deep breath.  "An elfling is a little elf.  She will grow up one day."

            "Me too, Boppi.  I'll gwow up one day, wight, Boppi."

            "Wight!" Duck hooted.

            Boog rolled his eyes.  "Yes, Nadie, you'll grow up one day.  Duck, cut it out."

            "I'm sahwee," Duck said, flizzening. "I can't hehp it.  He's pwiceless!  C'mon Nadie, let's go meet Wia."

            Nadie squealed delightfully.  "And the weindeer!"

            It was Nadie's first visit to Santa's Stables, and he was into everything.  "Was dis? Was dis?  Was dat?"

            Duck and Boog tried to answer his questions, but he was already on to the next thing.

            Duck introduced him to the reindeer.  "And this is Prancer, Dasher, and Blitzen."

            "Oh, I wuv the weindeer! I wealwy wike dis one. Bwitzen!"

            Ria entered the stables. "What do you think you're doing?  Duck, what is he doing?"

            "Was dat?" Nadie asked.

            "Ria, this is Nadie.  He's a snelfling." Duck said.  "He's meeting the reindeer."

            "A snelfling?  Oh, I heard about that." Ria turned to Nadie.  "Your mummie's a snow fairy, right?  Duck, is his mummie a snow fairy?"

            "Yep, Ria, that's right." Duck shook his head and turned to Boog.  "You see, I have a delightful little helper, too."

            "I'm an elfling, right Duck?" Ria asked.

            "Yes, Ria."

            "Who's my mummie?" Ria wondered.

            "I dunno.  Some helpers don't have a mummie.  You already know that, Ria. Some helpers just come straight from the Starlight Forest."

            "Was de Sarwite Foewest?" Nadie asked.

            "Starlight Forest.  It's a golden star forest, southwest of the North Pole, or is it southeast?  It's hard to tell from here." Boog scratched his scruffy short beard. "Anyway, almost all of the helpers come from there."

            "Did I come fwom de Sarwite Foewest?" Nadie asked.

            "Well, yes.  But, when you came, you were still a star, and Mummie and I took care of the star until it twinkled and became you."

            "But I don't have a Mummie or Boppi," Ria stated. 

            "No," Duck said, "You just showed up one day." 

            "Nadie, do you still want to go ice fishing?" Boog sighed.

            "Yesss, Boppi.  Wet's go."

            "Mind your manners, Nadie," Boog said.

            "Oh, tank you, Wia, tank you Duck, tank you Bwitzen.  Bye bye, weindeer."

            Boog loaded Nadie on his shoulders, and grabbed the fishing gear.  "See ya, Duck, Ria.  Thanks for showing Nadie around."  He waved and started down the path.  "So, why did you thank Blitzen?  He didn't do anything."

            "He's my faybwit.  He gots tall antwers.  Wers de Sarwite Foewest?"

            Boob explained that it was a long way, on the other side of the Workshop.  He told Nadie how elves still occasionally migrated from the Starlight Forest. It was some sort of magical formula.  If more helpers were needed, someone would show up.  "Sometimes, though, Mrs. Claus will go into the forest and select a star, ripe for picking."

            "Why?" 

            "Some elflings just need a family, I suppose."  Boog didn't really know how it worked, and he was growing weary of Nadie's questions.

            "I'm gwad I got a famiwy.  Wia don't got a famiwy?"

            "Nadie, I think you have to learn special things to in order to have.  Ria, like most of the elves, went to Helpers Unlimited and started learning her trade.  Now, let's talk about fishing Actually, everyone here is our family."

            Nadie jabbered all the way to Glacier Lake.  When they arrived, Boog put him down, and found his ice saw.  He began to cut into the ice.

            "Wat you doin', Boppi?"

            "Making a hole so we can fish. Find the pole."

            "I god-it," Nadie squealed.

            Boog took the pole and put a clothes pin on it, then added a twinkle berry, for bait.  He handed the fishing pole to Nadie, and prepared one for himself.

            "Now just sit on that chunk of ice, and drop your line in the hole."  Boog eyed Nadie, and lowered his own line into the water.

            Nadie copied Boog, and caught a fish, right away.  "Boppi, Boppi."  Nadie was being pulled toward the hole.

            "You got a bite, pull, pull!" Boog jumped up and grabbed Nadie's pole.  Together they pulled the fish out of the water.

            "Oh, das pwetty," Nadie said.  The fish flopped around.  "Wat 'is name?"

            Boog studied the fish. "It's an alligator fish."

            "Oh. Now what, Boppi?"

            "Now we let him go back home," Boog said, freeing the fish and throwing him back into the water.

            "See ya waiter alwigator."

            Boog chuckled. "After while crocodile."

            "I wanna be a pish, I wanna be a pish!"

            And, just like that, Nadie disappeared into the water.

          


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