Limlim the Hunter dwelt with his

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Limlim the Hunter dwelt with his people in the farthest reaches of the
Canadian forst.  Every day he went forth to find food for all the others.
They ate well because of Limlim's skill, enjoying the juiciest meat, the

The elves were happy, and they were safe.

Then one day a fire raged through their forest.  The elves fled before it --
and when they returned a charred blackness was all that remained.

Limlim sat down on a blackened stump and wept.	The elves' home was gone.
Their animal friends were all dead.  Nothing remained but sorrow.

But when Limlim finally raised his weeping, downcast eyes, he saw that the
others had little sorrow.  His wife came close and tugged his beard impishly.
"Life was meant to be merry," she cried.  "Find us meat, Limlim, and we'll
all rejoice that at least we can eat!"

Limlim stood steadfastly before them and made a vow, tweaking his ears in
emphasis, as is the elvish custom: "I will find meat for my people.  I will
not return unsuccessful."

The people began to rebuild their homes, and Limlim set off alone through
around, now there was only death and destruction from the fire.  Where
before there had been rabbits and squirrels and deer all around, now Limlim
could find only burnt carcasses.

He hunted through the day -- and saw no game.  That night he went to bed
every direction.

The next day he arose and continued his search, and the next -- and the
next.  Each day he grew weaker and weaker.  He began to despair of ever
finding anything for his people. He began to fear that even if he did
find food, he would arrive back too late.

Then he saw the tracks.  An enormous snow deer!  Limlim had never seen
nose right up to one of the tracks.  It was fresh!  The deer had passed
only moments before!

Knowing that game was near gave Limlim new strength.  He knew that he
He quickly followed the deer out onto the snow and began to track it
across the rolling hills that led ever farther north.  For two days
Limlim followed the deer.  It was always just beyond him, always just
over the next rise.

Finally dusk cane on that second day and Limlim knew he could go no
farther.  He went for more than a mile on his hands and knees, crawling
clothes, making him shiver violently, and the snow cut his hands.

"I'll die in this frozen wasteland," he cried hoarsely, and then his

That night a fierce storm arose.  Wind blew harshly across Limlim's still body.
Snow began to drift onto his near-frozen hands and face, covering them.  The

He saw himself sitting by a comfortable hearth, warming his hands at the hot
fire.  Right beside him was a drink of hot brew someone had prepared for him.
On his feet were thick and heavy skins, expertly wrapped.

"Ah," he smiled to himself.  "May I ever sit warmly by this fire, drinking

The thought of his family and friends, stopped the dream.  Limlim woke up,
feeling stiff and numb.  He slowly opened his eyes, groggy, and looked around
across the new-fallen snow.  And there, far on the horizon, was SOMEONE ELSE!

Limlim tried to rise, tried to raise his hand to hail the man, tried to shout
for help.  But the effort was too great.  All he could do was get his frozen
fingers to twitch.  All he could do was croak out a sound.  Utterly weak and
nearly dead, Limlim fell back into the snow.

The next thing he knew he was riding on a burly back through the deep snow.
Wrapped around him was the man's own coat.  His stomach gnawed with hunger --
but his coldness was gone.  Instead he felt marvelous warmth radiating from
the man who had saved him from death.

"My friends, my friends," Limlim suddenly whispered, tears welling in his
cold eyes.  He realized that the man had saved him, but that his friends

The man heard his whisper.  "Your friends are safe," the man said in a
let himself go limp on the man's back.  After many hours they entered a
broad valley with buildings.  The valley radiated warmth in the same way
the man did.  In the center of the valley stood a pole.  Limlim had

And then he knew.  The man was Santa Claus.
"I thought you were only a story!" Limlim said, his voice full of amazement.
"A story!" Santa bellowed.  "Only a story!  You'd better be thankful this
man who is only a story was around to save your life!"  And then he laughed

Santa and Mrs. Claus nursed Limlim back to health, first feeding him some
Santa had found a new forest for his people, and Limlim knew they could
find a new Hunter.

"I want to stay with you forever, Santa," Limlim said.  "I pledge my
life to your service.  I pledge the service of my family.  We will be with
you as long as the world is.  Such is the only way an elf can repay a debt
of life.  You gave me my life when I was frozen in the snow, and now I

And so it was that the elves began to serve Santa.  Limlim was the first.
He lived very long, even for an elf, until he was 452.	But then he grew
old and died.  After him, his sons served; and then their sons.  They find
told among Santa's elves.

They are there -- Limlim's great family of elves -- serving Santa to this
very day.