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  The Fifth Reindeer.                                                 Page 9 of 9

           After the celebration had been going on for a while, Santa walked up to Comet and said, "Greatest of fliers, to you we owe this Christmas in this most difficult of winters.  Therefore I ask you to choose whether you will lead the team, and who will fly next to you."

          "Lead, yes, lead!" the other reindeer shouted.  They had all forgotten their earlier anger now.

          But Comet said, "I will not lead.  It was Courage who led, with Dasher at her side. Therefore Dasher should lead, and Dancer -- Courage's stallmate -- should fly beside him."

          "And to fly beside you?" Santa urged.

          "Me!" shouted Prancer.

          "Me!" shouted Donder.  "No, me!" shouted Blitzen. 

          Indeed, they all took turns clamoring in front of the great flier.  Only Cupid stood shyly to one side.

          Comet looked at them all for a long moment, then said quietly, "Dancer has moved up beside Dasher.  The newest reindeer should accept with honor the open spot on the team.  I would be honored if Cupid would accept flying beside me.  I will gladly be the fifth reindeer on the team."

          Cupid accepted happily.  And so Santa's team became:

                                            Dasher           Dancer
                                            Prancer          Vixen
                                            Comet            Cupid
                                            Donder           Blitzen

***

         With the help of the Star People, all the necessary toys were made in the remaining weeks, and that Christmas was one of the best ever, coming as it did in so harsh a year.

          Thereafter, Comet, the Fifth Reindeer, became an everlasting member of Santa's famous team.  And though he was known as the best flier among the reindeer, his leg always remained a bit lame and sore, and he needed to rely on Cupid for all landings.

          And the journey of the Fifth Reindeer can be seen even today:  for when people look up in the night sky and see a shower of shooting stars, they know that Comet is leading more Star People to earth to help bring Christmas to the children of the world.

***

          One final note:  the old farmer, who sold Comet to Santa, enjoyed incredible and unexpected prosperity to the end of his days, and his descendants have become among the wealthiest farmers in the region.

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