[Written 3 December 1969 as the third installment of a Christmas serial.]
[In our boring chronicle of imaginary events, so far nothing much has happened. Basically the problem is this: if Santa cannot get presents to Vietnam cheaply, he will have to call off Christmas there.]
he hastily-called assembly included all the most important elves in Santa’s factories. There was Eins, the head elf; Seiben and Zwölf from the art department; Neun from mechanics; Aucht, the accountant; Vier from the books department; Zehn and Driezehn from clothing; two or three other elves as well as Fünf; and of course Santa himself presided over the meeting.
First, Santa explained the problem to the group (too bad for you if you don’t remember what it was) and then waited for the flood of suggestions.
There was a dead silence. Driezehn unobtrusively left the room, Aucht looked vaguely embarrassed, Seiben appeared lost in thought (although he may have really been falling asleep), and Vier was covertly reading a book. After a few minutes Driezehn returned, looking somewhat relieved about something, but no one ever found out what.
Finally Santa spoke. “Any suggestions?” he said.
Fünf stirred uneasily and said, “Well, I’ve been thinking it over quite a bit, and it seems to me that, since none of us are actually experts in this field, or any field of human affairs, maybe you should call in some experts.”
Santa said, “What kind of experts?”
“Military experts, of course,” responded Zwölf, speaking suddenly. He added as an afterthought, “This being a matter of war.”
“An excellent idea,” said Santa. Then, standing up, he said, “Fünf, Eins, and Zwölf—ou three bring me back a military expert apiece. The rest of ou are on half pay until we get the factories running again. All work will be suspended until this situation is resolved.” With that, he left the room.
Eins, Fünf, and Zwölf quietly left so as to prepare for their various trips, but the other elves remained, glaring at each other or staring fixedly into space, as the mood took them.
At last Vier arose and spoke. “How long,” he said, “How long must we endure the scorn and contempt of a petty tyrant? How long shall we be mistreated and underpaid by a Fascist slave driver? How long must this go on before we arise and throw off the chains in revolt—?”\
At this Seiben leaped to his feet. “What the hell do you propose to do about it?” he demanded.
“Yeah,” chimed in Aucht. “You’re always talking—what about a course of action?”
Vier paused impressively. “We’ll go on strike,” he said.
“How?” demanded Seiben. “Right now we’re being paid for doing nothing. Or almost nothing.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll think of a way,” said Vier. He then turned and stalked out of the room.