The Story of the Brownies
(Adapted from The Brownies by Mrs. Ewing)
A dear old brown owl sat on a branch in the soft moonlight crooning that cry quietly to herself.
She was a warm, soft old thing, with great big deep eyes that could see even through the dark, and though many people were rather afraid of her she was really quite harmless, full of kindliness and also full of fun.
She could see a joke, and her “Oot-toot-to-hoo” often rippled away in gurgling laughter.
Once upon a time, many, many years ago, a poor man and his wife lived with their two children, Tommy and Betty, in a small cottage on the edge of a wood. The mother loved both the children but she was always having to find fault with them because they were lazy and forgetful and untidy.
They used to rush about the place yelling and playing their games, upsetting the furniture, breaking the crockery, spoiling their clothes and generally making themselves a nuisance.
As long as they had a good time they never thought what a bother they were to other people.
One evening at the end of a particularly busy day, the Mother sighed and said, "Oh dear, how different things were when we had a Brownie!"
"What is a Brownie?" asked the children.
"The Brownie," answered their Mother, "was a small creature who came to the house before anyone was up and swept the hearth and lit the fire, drew the water and got the breakfast ready. He tidied up the rooms, weeded the garden, he cleaned the shoes and put the children’s clothes away. He did every kind of useful work, but nobody ever saw him. He always slipped away before the people of the house got up, but he was the greatest blessing to everyone. All were happy and the home was bright and clean."
"My word, I wish we had a Brownie!" exclaimed Tommy "He could do all our odd jobs for us."
"Yes," agreed Betty, "and we should never have to tidy up after ourselves. Mother, do tell us how we can find a Brownie."
"There's only one person who can tell you that," replied their Mother, "and that’s the wise brown owl in the woods. She knows all about the Brownies."
So, after dark the two children went out into the wood to see the brown owl. Tommy led the way very bravely at first, but as the path got darker and darker in the silent woods he began to hang back and to feel sorry that he had started on the adventure.
But Betty was eager to find out about the Brownie, and though she felt nervous, she would not allow herself to turn back, and she pushed on, leading her brother after her.
The Brownie Story, is taken from The Brownie Guide Handbook, published by The Girl Guides Association 1968