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HOW OLAF BROUGHT THE BROWNIE BACK
Did you ever hear how Olaf, one of the village children, went in search of the Brownie and brought him back to the good people of Blednock?

It came about in this way.

Olaf’s father had often told him of the Brownie that had once lived in the village and had helped all the village people to do their work.

“The little lively thing would come night after night and clean the floor, and scrub the table, and wash the dishes, and keep the whole house as clean as a new pin. But one night he went away and he never came back.”

“Why did he go away, father?” asked Olaf.

190“Well,” said his father, “there’s great pride in Brownies. They’ll work their fingers off for love, but you must never thank them, nor give them anything, or away they will go. Good Grannie Duncan had told us that over and over again, but your mother and I forgot all about her wise words. We thought that the little thing ought not to work for nothing. So we bought a piece of green cloth and a piece of brown cloth and your mother sat up all night cutting and stitching. By morning she had made as neat a pair of little trousers and as fine a coat as ever she made for you.

“That night we laid the clothes in a little parcel beside the bowl of broth, and we heard the little thing saying to himself:

“‘A nice pair of green trousers and a little brown coat for me. I can come here no more—no more—till one of the children of the village travels the world over and finds me first.’

“And the strange little creature vanished in the night and no one has seen or heard 191of him since though we have missed him very, very much.”

Olaf thought about the Brownie all day. He felt that, although the world away from the village might be very dangerous, he was quite willing to travel in it if, by so doing, he could bring the Brownie back to Blednock.

Olaf asked each person in the village where to find the Brownie. Also, he asked the oldest apple tree in the orchard, but it said nothing. He asked the cows, but they said nothing. He asked the dog, but he barked about other things. Only the sheep helped him. They said nothing, but they looked as if they knew. Olaf tended the sheep and the young lambs throughout the year, and he wondered and wondered if the lambs learned from the old sheep where the Brownie was hidden.

“I will not come back until a child of this village travels the world over and finds me first,—travels the world over and finds me first,” Olaf kept saying to himself over and over.

192At last one summer evening, as he was coming home from the sheepfolds, he heard the faint sound of bagpipes very near. He heard it again the next night, and the next, and the night after that, and every night, until, at last, he made up his mind to follow the sound and find out who it was that played the pipes so sweetly.

He left the sheep path and followed the music, walking carefully lest he should lose it. The soft sweet notes seemed to come from a mass of rocks which lay on the moor behind him. As he came near the rocks he knew the music was directly above it, so he started to climb up. Halfway up the path was easy to climb, and he soon won his way up to a little tree which thrust itself out of the side of the pile. He twisted himself over the tree and rested there, wondering how he could get up the rest of the way, for he saw six feet of smooth rock up to the top.

All the time the music of the bagpipes, scarcely louder than a concert of bees and crickets, sounded close above his head. “Oho, 193there!” shouted Olaf at last. The music stopped suddenly. A little brown face with a long blue beard looked eagerly over the top of the rocks.

“So it is you, is it?” said a voice. “Here, take hold of my wrist and then pull.”

Olaf caught sight of a long brown arm stretched down toward him. He caught hold of the wrist and pulled, and the next moment Olaf found himself scrambling over a thick mass of heather on to the top of the rocks. He lay sprawling on the edge of a little cleft in the rock with high walls on the sides. In one of these walls there was a little cave, and just in front of the cave was a little three-legged stool that had been upset, and a little set of bagpipes was lying on the ground beside it.

“So here you are!” said the little brown creature as he helped Olaf to his feet. “I’ve been waiting for you a long time. Look!” He ran into the cave and came out dragging a broom behind him, and holding a stone so polished that even in the dim light Olaf 194could see his face in it. And Olaf wondered and wondered.

“Look! I’ve worn out two hundred and thirty of these brooms, and polished that rough stone smooth—all for want of proper work, since I had to leave the village.”

“Are you the Brownie?” asked Olaf, joyfully.

“Yes,” was the answer.

“Are you Aiken-Drum?”

“Yes,” came the answer again.

“I’ve been looking for you ever since I can remember. That was why the sheep knew,—because you live on the moor.”

“Yes,” said the Brownie, “the sheep know me.”

“Will you come back to the village, now?” asked Olaf.

“Not yet,” said the Brownie. “You and I must travel the world together. Then I’ll go back. Your father should have known better than to pay a Brownie. He should have known that we work for love. Here I have been all this time wearing out brooms 195on these rocks and polishing a stone, waiting for the village child to find me. And you’ve come!” said the Brownie, as he danced into the cave. He soon returned carrying a little wooden cage with a big cockroach inside. He opened the cage and took the cockroach on his finger.

“You’ve found me,” he kept saying, “you’ve found me! Now there’s nothing left but the travels. Fly, cockroach,” he cried, “fly fast and straight, and tell my brothers that Olaf has come. Tell them to launch the boat. Tell them we are coming—Olaf and I.”

He let the cockroach fly from his hand and it boomed away in the still air of the summer night. Olaf heard a kr-r-r-r-r-r in the pine woods. It might, he thought, be the Brownies launching the little boat.

And that is how Olaf found the Brownie and came to make his travels with him. They sailed away—away to Glittering Harbor where great ships lay close together in the golden sunset; they won the marvelous 196horse and they found the white flower that can be bought only for love—like the Brownies’ services.

By and by their travels were over and Aiken-Drum returned with Olaf to the village of Blednock. And that is why the kitchen floors of these village people are so wonderfully scrubbed and why the pans shine brighter than those in any other kitchens of the country side. And Aiken-Drum has a merry life as he scrubs the pans and washes the dishes, and he is very, very happy to know that he will never be paid for it.



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