VEVI, Connie and Jane watched Mrs. Gabriel until she was out of sight far down the street.

“Such a fuss about a few stupid tulip bulbs,” Vevi said. “What’s the matter with her anyhow?”

“She’s an old fussbudget,” Jane returned. “Why did that one bag of bulbs mean so much to her?”

“She spoke especially of the pellets that were with the bulbs,” Connie said reflectively. “Whoever heard of setting such store by fertilizer?”

“Anyway, the bulbs are planted now,” Vevi said with a nervous giggle. “Do you suppose she’ll try to make me pay for ’em?”

“She might,” Connie returned. “Mrs. Gabriel said the bulbs were worth a small fortune.”

“That’s silly,” Vevi declared. “Even the best tulip bulbs shouldn’t cost more than a dollar or two a dozen.”

“Some do, I think,” Connie said. “We must have planted at least four dozen.”

“That would amount to eight or ten dollars at least,” Jane computed. “Vevi, if she decides to make trouble, you’re really in for it.”

“Pooh! I’m not worried.”

However, Vevi was only trying to put up a good front. Actually she was deeply concerned. She knew Mrs. Gabriel might accuse her of taking the tulip bulbs on purpose.

The exchange had been accidental, but one that the woman couldn’t seem to understand. Vevi had less than five dollars in her savings bank at home. How could she ever pay the sum Mrs. Gabriel might ask? It made her fairly ill to think of it.

At the next corner, the girls parted to go to their separate homes. As Vevi started away alone, Connie reminded her that all the Brownie Scouts had been invited to take part in a puppet show that evening in the public library.

“Don’t forget, Vevi.”

“I’ll be there,” Vevi promised. With a nervous giggle, she added: “That is, unless Mrs. Gabriel puts me in jail!”

Miss Mohr and Miss Gordon had planned the puppet show as a special treat for the girls. The Brownies themselves had made scenery and painted the clever figures which were to be used in a dramatization of “The Brownie Story” by Juliana H. Ewing.

Using patterns provided by Miss Mohr, the girls had traced them on stiff cardboard. These they had cut out, pasted and painted. Each character had a narrow, stiff strip of cardboard at the back which could be used as a handle to make the figures move in a life-like manner on the little stage.

Besides tiny elves, the girls had created a Tailor, his aging mother, Mary and her little brother, and an Old Owl.

Vevi was assigned to speak the words of the Old Owl and to handle that particular puppet.

Her part had not been hard to learn. Mostly the owl only had to say “Who-oo,” and “Hoot! Hoot!”

“Don’t be late,” Connie warned as she and Jane bade their friend goodbye. “After the puppet show we’re to have an investiture ceremony. Hanny’s to be made a real Brownie.”

“I’ll be on time,” Vevi promised again. “Hoot! Hoot!”

By seven o’clock that night all the troop members were at the library. Vevi as usual was the last to arrive. She seemed so fidgety and nervous that Connie asked her if Mrs. Gabriel had made any more trouble.

“What makes you think she will?” Vevi asked quickly.

“I saw her walking around the library when I came in a few minutes ago,” Connie revealed. “She was looking at the Brownie flower bed too.”

“I wish you wouldn’t keep talking about Mrs. Gabriel and her silly tulip bulbs,” Vevi said, squirming uncomfortably. “I’m not worrying about her.”

“Then what is wrong with you?”

“I’m thinking about my part in the play, that’s all. I’m afraid I may forget my lines.”

“Your lines!” Connie laughed. “All you have to do is hold your owl up in a tree and make bird noises. And you’re afraid you’ll forget!”

The girls were using a large library table for a stage. In the first scene, the Tailor and his elderly wife sat by their fireside discussing Mary and Tommy, who never liked to help with work in the home.

Connie took the part of the Old Tailor, while Rosemary spoke the lines of the aged grandmother. Sunny acted the character of Mary, and Hanny that of the little boy, Tommy.

The play progressed. In the second scene, Tommy and Mary, eager to find Brownies who would do all the housework for their family, set off to the woods to seek advice of the wise old Owl.

Vevi, thoroughly enjoying her role of owl, hooted and whoo’d and advised the children that they could find the “Brownies” only by going to the north side of the pond when the moon was shining.

“Say these words,” she directed in her most owlish voice: “‘Twist me, and turn me and show me the Elf; I looked into the water, and saw—’

“Then,” she further instructed, “at the moment you gaze into the water, think of a word that will rhyme with Elf, and complete the verse.”

In the next scene of the playlet, Sunny and Hanny as Tommy and Mary, were shown at the pond. Gazing down into a circular mirror which represented the water, they saw their own reflections. Sunny recited:

“‘Twist me, and turn me and show me the Elf;

I looked into the water, and saw—’”

“Myself,” Hanny completed the rhyme.

According to the story, the children then knew that they were the real Brownies. The next and final scene showed them doing cheerfully the work of the family. The playlet ended with Connie as the old grandmother, declaring that children were a blessing, not a burden.

Everyone said the show had been a great success.

“I didn’t forget my lines either,” Vevi laughed in relief. “Not a single hoot!”

The time now had come for Hanny formally to be invested as a Brownie Scout. She was sent from the room while the other girls gathered in a circle about the big library table.

At the proper moment, Miss Gordon told Hanny she might return.

In the story room, the lights had been switched off. For a minute Hanny was bewildered as she came in.

Then Vevi took her hand and led her to the big table. The circular mirror, which represented a pool of water, had been placed in the very center.

“Who comes to the fairy wood?” asked Miss Gordon. “I do,” answered the little girl. “Hanny.”

“What do you seek?”

“To be a Brownie Scout,” replied Hanny earnestly.

“Why, Hanny?” asked Miss Gordon. “Why do you wish to become a Brownie?”

Hanny drew a deep breath. For a second, she couldn’t think of anything to say. Then the words came with a rush.

“I want to be a Brownie because I love America!” she cried, her eyes shining. “I want to live here always. I like Rosedale too and all the girls.”

“That is reason enough for becoming a Brownie,” declared Miss Gordon warmly. “Now gaze into the pool.”

Hanny looked down into the mirror. Miss Gordon turned her around twice, and placed a Brownie cap on her head.

“‘Twist me, and turn me, and show me the Elf;’” recited the other Brownies in unison.

“‘I looked into the pool and saw—’”

“MYSELF,” cried Hanny.

The ceremony was completed by having the little girl repeat the Brownie Promise. She gave it word perfect.

Miss Gordon then pinned a Brownie Scout pin on the right-hand side of her collar. She saluted Hanny and shook her hand, using the special grasp known only to troop members.

“Am I a real Brownie now?” Hanny asked happily.

“As real as they come,” declared Miss Mohr, giving her an affectionate hug.

“The best part of all is that I am going to stay in Rosedale,” Hanny told the other girls. “Now that my uncle has won the blue ribbon, he will make a great deal of money. Already he has had many fine offers for the Golden Beauty tulip bulbs.”

All the girls were delighted that Hanny would be able to remain in Rosedale, and told her so.

By this time it was five minutes after eight o’clock.

“Time for the meeting to end,” said Miss Gordon noticing the clock. “School tomorrow as usual, you know. Little Brownies should be in bed early.”

The girls began to put on their jackets and coats. Vevi had left hers in another room. She went for it but did not immediately return.

Impatiently, the other Brownies waited.

“That Vevi!” Jane exclaimed. “She always keeps us waiting!”

“What do you suppose she’s doing now?” Sunny speculated.

The room where Vevi had left her jacket was dark. What, the Brownies wondered, could she be doing so long without a light?

“Hurry up Vevi!” Jane called.

There was no answer from the darkened cloak room.

“She’s holding us up on purpose!” Jane fumed. “Let’s leave without her. It would serve her right for being such a slow poke.”

Miss Gordon, however, would not allow the Brownies to depart without Vevi.

“I’ll see what is keeping her,” she offered.

However, before the Brownie Scout leader could enter the darkened room, Vevi appeared in the doorway.

“Why, you don’t have your jacket even now!” Jane exclaimed. “Vevi McGuire! You’re the limit!”

“We’ve waited an age,” added Rosemary.

Vevi had a strange expression on her face.

“What’s wrong?” Connie asked her quickly. “Have you lost something? Your pocketbook?”

Vevi shook her head. “I want to show you something—”

“Oh, Vevi, we’re in a hurry!” Jane exclaimed indignantly. “You’re always holding us up.”

“This is important. Someone is digging in the Brownie tulip bed.”

“WHAT?” cried the Brownies almost as one person.

“Come and see for yourselves,” invited Vevi. “You can watch from the window. All the tulip bulbs are being scattered on the ground!”

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook