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Title: Busy Brownies

Author: E. Veale

Illustrator: Palmer Cox

Release Date: February 12, 2017 [EBook #54159]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by David Edwards and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by the
University of Florida Digital Collections.)


Image of the book cover






Lots of Brownies with tools, ready to build a palace
Two Brownies having a discussion

All the Brownies had promised to help, and when a Brownie undertakes a thing he works as busily as a beaver until it is accomplished. Now this is what they determined to do.

Brownies chopping wood

The Fairy Queen’s palace had been destroyed—a wind that had swept through the forest carrying trees before it, and spreading ruin as it traveled, had lifted up the Fairy Queen’s home and dashed it all to pieces. Poor little Queen; how sorrowful she felt to lose the pretty house where the royal family of Fairyland had so long lived.

Illustration of the paint incident described below

But true to their nature the Brownies came to the rescue, promising to build a palace far more beautiful than the one that was lost. Such helpful little creatures as the Brownies never lived. No chance of doing good to one in trouble ever escapes these generous little fellows and certainly this was a work to be hailed with much joy.

For a long while before they commenced, you could see them gathered in groups, discussing how and where they should begin, and how they could make the palace more beautiful. They were a funny looking set when they started out for the place where the house was to be built. Each one carried something. One little fellow had an axe, another, hammer and nails, one the mortar hod and still another the plane, while the master worker could be seen with the square in his hand giving directions to the whole crowd.

They commenced their work one beautiful moonlight night. Brownies, you know, work when the darkness has put all the world to sleep. What a time they had getting all the things together. Arriving at the spot, some fell to chopping wood, while others mixed the mortar and rigged up the pulleys by which they were to raise the stuff to the roof. How the hammers rang out as they struck the bright little nails. The grindstone went spinning around so fast it hummed quite a tune, as the carpenter sharpened his tools, for the Brownies had so much to do they must work their very fastest. The plasterer mixed the mortar, the painters made their brushes fly over the house; the masons worked with a will at the chimney, and the paper hanger’s scissors shut with a click as he cut off the paper for the palace walls, which were to be so prettily decorated.

When morning came all was finished and the Brownies felt proud and happy as they looked at their night’s work. They worked as if by Magic and almost before you could think, the palace rose high in the air. The Brownies don’t have accidents very often but they must have been nervous this time for while four or five of them were seated on a “Jack” painting the outside, over went the paint, brushes and all, and the little fellows who were standing on a ladder underneath had an unexpected bath.

Two Brownies

They were only sorry to think that they had left their camera at home for they would have been happy to give the children a picture of the house as it looked when it was finished.

Although they were tired and their eyes were growing heavy with sleep they felt repaid for all their efforts, especially when the Fairy Queen seemed the proudest and happiest of them all. She thanked them heartily for their loving service, and when they had seen her safely settled in her new home, they all disappeared, to be seen no more until there was more good work to be done.


Large group of Brownies on the Isle, looking out to sea

The Isle of Fun and Frolic was the home of the Brownie boys and girls, and no one can e’er deny that the island was well named. These youngsters had no thought but to run and play, to sleep and to eat. They loved the flowers and they loved the birds—and the butterflies led them lively chases in their games of hide and seek. But one day came a change in their lives, and they learned that others lived in the world besides themselves. Little Peak Hat discovered it, as she stood on the rock looking out toward the sea. It was a great vessel ploughing the waves, its white sails flapping in the winds, and as she watched she saw it moving steadily towards the island. All the Brownies came rushing at her call, and their wonder knew no limit. On came the vessel closer and closer, the Brownies watched as long as they dared, and then fearful of being seen hurried away to hide themselves where they might occasionally take a peep. What great big creatures were landing on the island, and what loud voices they had as they called to each other. It sounded to the Brownies like the roar of distant thunder. All day long the little people remained hidden, but when night came they stole from their hiding places to talk it over. What kind little hearts these Brownies had. All the nice pieces of wood should be piled up for these strange people’s comfort, the best grapes should be saved for them, they would coax the fish to nibble, and do all in their power to make these queer guests happy. Indeed they seemed to think of nothing else, and had you visited their home in the old forest, you would have found them busily engaged in planning how they could add to the comfort of their strange guests. The Brownies are never so happy as when they are busy making others happy. They believe that the best way to enjoy life, is to give pleasure to those they meet. Of course the visitors did not know what was making their visit so pleasant, for these busy little creatures always work quietly and secretly. The visitors did not stay long, but the Brownies did good service, and when they had gone they quite missed the pleasure they had felt in making others happy, and they were continually wishing that some favoring wind would bear some other ship to their shores that they might again have an opportunity of renewing their acquaintance with these queer people.

Brownies in the forest, planning for visitors
Brownies under a tree


’Twas the evening of the twenty-fourth of December. The clouds had been gray and heavy all day, and now the snow flakes were beginning to fall thick and fast; so fast that already quite a white blanket was spread over the earth.

This did not please the Brownies; they had work to do, and a snow storm would hinder rather than help its progress.

Somewhere in the woods nobody knew where, for the Brownies kept the secret all to themselves, was a great big Christmas Pudding full of plums and citron, raisins and spices, and the Brownies wanted to bring that pudding home.

Brownies carrying the plum pudding on their raft/ladder thing
The plum pudding

It was so big and heavy that they had built something that made one think of a raft or perhaps a ladder with the sides very far apart. How they put the pudding on it would be hard to tell, but they managed it and bravely they struggled with their burden perched on their little shoulders. They took turns so that no one got too tired, but all were glad when they were safely out of the woods and had landed the pudding in the hollow of the old tree back of the school house, for this had been the spot chosen for the grand feast of the morrow. Then to their homes they skipped away to dream of the good times in store for them, and if their backs did ache and their poor little feet felt sore and weary, the vision of the pudding dancing in their heads made them forget all their woes.

And what a treat they had on Christmas Day! The pudding was so good, and the day was so merry that the Brownies wished as they shut their sleepy eyes that Christmas came more than once a year. They made up their minds that they would never let a Christmas go by without having a plum pudding, for it was the best thing they had ever tasted.

Brownies gathered round the steaming plum pudding


She was Queen of the garden, this beautiful creature, and all the flowers loved her. Each vied with the other in trying to please her. The tall white lillies held their heads still higher as she passed by, the tiny bud opened its curled petals further and further until it burst into a glorious rose, the blue bells tinkled their sweetest music, and the shy, gentle mignonette shed forth its loveliest perfume—every flower did all in its power for her sake.

And the Queen loved all the flowers, too. She begged the sun to shine down upon them, and she asked the morning dews to bathe their bright faces, and the gentle rains to give them plenty to drink.

At last there came a day when the lillies hung their heads; blue bell and heart ease fell from their stems, the poppies that had gleamed so brightly in the sun light covered their faces and shone no more, and all the garden seemed full of gloom and sadness.

The Insects had done it all. With their sharpest weapons they had attacked the flowers, making them one by one yield to their violence.

The Flower Queen and the Brownies in the garden

How this grieved the flower Queen, but at last she thought of the Brownies, and she smiled for well she knew these clever little workers. She found a trumpet flower that had escaped the cruel foe, and blew one gentle blast. Quick as a wink the Brownies came running. Their faces looked sad when they heard the trouble, but they promised to do all in their power to help their gentle Queen, and bravely they went to work. They took turns at the grindstone and sharpened their spears and swords and axes until they glistened in the moonlight, and the insects might well have trembled had they seen them.

Brownies grinding their weapons

In the morning when the sun peeped out to waken the flowers, the insects once more started on their raid, but they were not prepared for what followed. Curled up underneath flowers and bushes hid the Brownies. Out they rushed and war raged fiercely, but the Brownies came off the victors, and the bees and the beetles, the hornets, ants and caterpillars lay dead upon the ground.

The battle


Once upon a time, long, long years ago, there lived somewhere the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, a maiden who was as beautiful as an angel, and better than being beautiful, she was also good and gentle.

Elsie and her father lived alone, for her mother had died many years before, and this beautiful maid kept her father’s house, and managed all things like some wise and noble queen. The poor people of the village loved her, for it was her gentle hands that brought broths and strengthening food to the sick mothers, her beautiful eyes that read comforting words to the old women, and in her untiring arms many a poor little baby had been rocked to the land of dreams.

There was somebody in the village who loved her better than all the people put together, but he dared not tell her, for he was poor, very poor, and she was rich as a young princess. Now it happened that the maiden loved the youth as much as he loved her, but she was too proud to show her love because she thought that the young man did not care for her.

A group of Brownies

One day great changes came to the home of Elsie. Her father had gone on a journey and when he returned he did not come alone but brought with him a wife and she brought with her two proud and unlovely daughters.

It was a great trial for the maiden, she and her father had always been so happy together, and she wept when she thought of how little of his time and love could now be spared for her. Well might she weep—for the new mother set right to work to put her daughters in the place of Elsie, and with cruel words and taunts compelled her to wait upon these step-sisters, until her life became one dreadful burden. Tales, unkind and untrue were carried to the father, and when his wrath was turned upon her she could stand it no longer, and made up her mind to leave her home forever.

Two Brownies

One night when they all had gone to a ball, to which Elsie also had been invited but from which she had been compelled to stay away because her beauty so far out-shone the gaudy make up of the sisters—she packed a few treasures and with many tears and farewell glances, for the spot she loved so well, she went alone into the great wide world.

It chanced that Earnest, the youth who loved the maiden with all his heart, had grown restless and unhappy thinking of his sweetheart, and yet not daring to tell her his love, and he had come to her home thinking that perhaps he might find comfort in being thus near her. He wandered up and down, when all at once he stopped, looked around him, and then rubbed his eyes—for he surely must have been dreaming, this could not be Elsie who stood before him. But it was she and no other—poor Elsie leaving her home, sad and broken hearted.

The Queen of the Brownies addressing Elsie and her young man

Pride no longer held the youth speechless, and sorrow made Elsie see the tenderness and sympathy in her lovers eyes. Oh, how happy she was as she poured out to him all her troubles and found comfort and rest in his loving arms.

While the lovers stood together planning a life for the future—things had been entirely taken out of their hands by the good little Brownies.

They had known Elsie and worshipped her for her goodness, and now the time had come when they might show their appreciation, and while the lovers talked they had gathered silently around them. Then the Queen of the Brownies spoke, “Good and lovely maiden, and noble youth,” said she, “we know of your troubles and we want to help you. Listen to what I tell you, and you shall have riches in abundance. Go, when I have finished talking, enter the Briarly woods. There in the hollow tree you will find a casket filled with bright and shining gold, take it, spend it wisely and take with it the blessings and good will of the Brownies.” It was a wonderful wedding present, and filled the lovers hearts with gratitude.


The Brownies were sorrowful, more sorrowful than they had ever been in their lives before, and that is saying a great deal, for Brownies you know, live such a long, long while, and the saddest part of all was that there seemed no way out of their trouble. The Brownies who lived in the apple orchard saw it first and when they told their friends, all with one voice, cried out, “The wrong must be righted!”

Now this was the trouble. Farmer Grump had bought the Old Clover Farm where the Brownies had lived happily for years, and now each day was full of trials and discomforts, for this cruel farmer seemed always to be finding a way to make the life of his stock miserable. The cows had great boards tied over their eyes—so large that they could not see and so heavy that when the poor creatures went to crop the grass, Bang! Bang! went the board against their noses.

The Brownies and farmyard animals: chickens, pig, cow, donkey

The pigs suffered too. Into their noses had been driven rings that almost made them bleed when rooting in the ground. And what happiness do you suppose life holds for a pig if he cannot root?

The Brownies liked the donkey for he seemed such a patient, long suffering animal but the farmer’s children made his life wretched—they beat him, they stoned him, they even took their naughty little feet and kicked him.

The sheep suffered, and the horses as they dragged the plough through the hard earth or hauled heavy loads along the sandy roads felt constantly the slash, slash of the farmer’s cow-hide whip.

Everything on the place suffered, so do you wonder the Brownies looked sorrowful?

At last they could stand it no longer, and all met one night at the “Seek us further” tree where the oldest Brownies lived. He had gotten up in the limbs so that all might hear, or at any rate see him, and announced that they had long witnessed these scenes of cruelty in silence, but now something must be done, and they wanted all the Brownies to help. He thought it would be a good plan if they went when no one was around and whispered in the sufferers ear that the time had come when they must rebel. They must stand up for their rights.

“Hurrah!” and “Three Cheers,” cried the Brownies in chorus, as they waved their funny little hats. The farmer heard the noise but he thought it was only the wind blowing through the trees in the apple orchard.

Five scenes of animals rebelling against the farmer

The meeting was dismissed, and quietly and carefully the Brownies went about their work—and they did it well, too, for the next morning when the farmer went to harness his horses, and as usual brought the cruel whip down on their back—he found that two could play at the same game for up went the horses heels and sorry trouble Farmer Grump had to get them harnessed.

Cattle, Horses & Mules, PIGS & GOATS, Domestic Fowl.
People arriving for the sale

Then the pigs took their turn. They showed their long white tusks and acted so savagely that the farmer left them in fright. Even Ned the patient donkey, kicked up his heels, galloped away and no one could come near him. Everything seemed possessed with the same spirit and Farmer Grump went to his breakfast the most puzzled man you could possibly find. But the animals won the day, for that very afternoon the farmer went to town and when he came back he was carrying a large board painted in great big letters telling all the neighbors that his stock was to be sold the very next day. This he hung up by the road side, and as it was market day, the farmers learned the news, as their tired horses jogged slowly along towards home. They decided that they would attend the sale, and were on hand bright and early the next day. The old farm place was crowded with buyers, anxious to get horses and pigs and other animals for little money.

A group of Brownies gathered round the cruel
devices of Farmer Grump

How happy the Brownies were as they crowded around, for the new owners had thrown the cruel devices of Farmer Grump away. They were happy when they thought of the good homes these poor animals had found—but gladdest of all where they when they thought of Ned, for Widow Love had bought him to cart to market the beautiful butter that she made every week. They knew that she would be very kind and gentle to their old friend. That he would have the softest of straw for his bed at night, and the finest of oats for his dinner, while there would be no cruel children to beat and kick him and make his life miserable. Ned lived a long while to enjoy this beautiful home, and the Brownies always found him a faithful servant.

The Brownies looking out over a peaceful farm landscape


Horse! Horse! Horse! Horse! Horse!

“Are you in the humor for a lark, boys?” It was Dot, the very smallest and as everybody knows, the most mischievous of all the Brownies, who said it.

“We are that!” was the reply.

They were coming home from school, these Brownie boys, and dinner pails and books were thrown down at once while they crowded around Dot to hear of the prospective fun.

“You know that clover field to the right of the big stone house,” he began, “well some time ago Grimes put up a sign which read ‘Horses taken to Pasture.’ You should see the luck he has had. I guess as many as a dozen horses are running around in that pasture field. It’s bad for them to do nothing but eat all day, so I thought we would be doing a good thing for them, and for ourselves too, if to-night, you know it is moonlight, we borrow these horses and go for a ride.”

You should have heard the yells of delight with which this scheme was greeted. No body but approved, except of course Croak, he always objects to everything.

The plan was for them to meet at the school house at ten o’clock, then go together to the pasture lot. A number of the Brownies were to bring ropes which they would tie around the horses’ necks and haul them into the road.

The hour came; the Brownies met, and the work began. They had forgotten saddles, but some of them crawled through the windows in the harness maker’s shop and came back loaded with both saddles and bridles. Such a time as they had getting them on, and so many Brownies had been invited that there were not enough horses to go around so two and sometimes three saddles must be put on one horse.

The Brownies trying to saddle and rope the horses

All was ready at last and off they started. It was so funny to see them. Some of them actually hung on to the stirrup straps. Things went pretty smoothly at first, but Oh my! what a difference by and by. Saddles slipped, bridles came undone, and the Brownie boys and even the poor horses went over and rolled around in the mud. But the bitter must be taken with the sweet so nobody dared complain, when the ride was over and the horses and harness were put in their proper places, everybody pronounced it one of the best frolics he had ever had in his life.


Three Brownies with A, B, C on their shirts

There was a great commotion in Brownie land, for the good Queen had just sent forth a command that all the Brownie lads and lasses must go to school. She had sent her messenger to all the mothers and fathers, bearing her orders that they must send the children to the old school house early the next evening. They could use the same room that real children used, for they would go to school when most little people were asleep. The Brownies were greatly excited. They could be seen talking together in the most earnest manner; some pleased, others sorry over the unusual event.

Two Brownies

However, all the children and a good many of the parents assembled the next evening and listened with great interest to the words of Prof. Lofty, as he told them what he expected them to do during the winter.

The Queen’s messenger bearing her orders

Brownies have no names you know, so the teacher had to ask the scholars to put a letter on their backs so she could tell them apart. They, looked quite funny running around with this kind of a mark; quite like the kindergarten children when they go on a picnic and have the tags tied to their dresses, so they can be identified when it comes time to go home. The Brownies proved good students, and soon became very wise.

A schoolroom of Brownies with letters on their backs

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