One bright morning he looked from his window and saw two of the deer he had known in the Forest walking toward his house.
Claus was surprised; not that the friendly deer should visit him, but that they walked on the surface of the snow as easily as if it were solid ground, notwithstanding the fact that throughout the Valley the snow lay many feet deep. He had walked out of his house a day or two before and had sunk to his armpits in a drift.
So when the deer came near he opened the door and called to them:
"Good morning, Flossie! Tell me how you are able to walk on the snow so easily."
"It is frozen hard," answered Flossie.
"The Frost King has breathed on it," said Glossie, coming up, "and the surface is now as solid as ice."
"Perhaps," remarked Claus, thoughtfully, "I might now carry my pack of toys to the children."
"Is it a long journey?" asked Flossie.
"Yes; it will take me many days, for the pack is heavy," answered Claus.
"Then the snow would melt before you could get back," said the deer. "You must wait until spring, Claus."
Claus sighed. "Had I your fleet feet," said he, "I could make the journey in a day."
"But you have not," returned Glossie, looking at his own slender legs with pride.
"Perhaps I could ride upon your back," Claus ventured to remark, after a pause.
"Oh no; our backs are not strong enough to bear your weight," said Flossie, decidedly. "But if you had a sledge, and could harness us to it, we might draw you easily, and your pack as well."
"I'll make a sledge!" exclaimed Claus. "Will you agree to draw me if I do?"
"Well," replied Flossie, "we must first go and ask the Knooks, who are our guardians, for permission; but if they consent, and you can make a sledge and harness, we will gladly assist you."
"Then go at once!" cried Claus, eagerly. "I am sure the friendly Knooks will give their consent, and by the time you are back I shall be ready to harness you to my sledge."
Flossie and Glossie, being deer of much intelligence, had long wished to see the great world, so they gladly ran over the frozen snow to ask the Knooks if they might carry Claus on his journey.
Meantime the toy-maker hurriedly began the construction of a sledge, using material from his wood-pile. He made two long runners that turned upward at the front ends, and across these nailed short boards, to make a platform. It was soon completed, but was as rude in appearance as it is possible for a sledge to be.
The harness was more difficult to prepare, but Claus twisted strong cords together and knotted them so they would fit around the necks of the deer, in the shape of a collar. From these ran other cords to fasten the deer to the front of the sledge.
Before the work was completed Glossie and Flossie were back from the Forest, having been granted permission by Will Knook to make the journey with Claus provided they would to Burzee by daybreak the next morning.
"That is not a very long time," said Flossie; "but we are swift and strong, and if we get started by this evening we can travel many miles during the night."
Claus decided to make the attempt, so he hurried on his preparations as fast as possible. After a time he fastened the collars around the necks of his steeds and harnessed them to his rude sledge. Then he placed a stool on the little platform, to serve as a seat, and filled a sack with his prettiest toys.
"How do you intend to guide us?" asked Glossie. "We have never been out of the Forest before, except to visit your house, so we shall not know the way."
Claus thought about that for a moment. Then he brought more cords and fastened two of them to the spreading antlers of each deer, one on the right and the other on the left.
"Those will be my reins," said Claus, "and when I pull them to the right or to the left you must go in that direction. If I do not pull the reins at all you may go straight ahead."
"Very well," answered Glossie and Flossie; and then they asked: "Are you ready?"
Claus seated himself upon the stool, placed the sack of toys at his feet, and then gathered up the reins.