Farewell Aiken Drum

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All good things must come to an end. Here’s how this one ended.

Aiken-Drum might yet be in Blednock gathering the harvest and helping tired people with their work; but someone forgot what the little man had said, and over and over again in his strange little song:

“A bit to eat, a bed on hay, you may give; but nothing pay.”

You see, a Brownie loves to give; he will not work for pay. But someone forgot this.

“I must make something for Aiken-Drum,” said a poor woman whom he helped. “He never will stay to let me thank him. Winter is coming on, and he will be cold in his old worn suit. I will make him a warm coat.”

So she cut and sewed and pressed and made a little coat for the Brownie. She told no one what she was doing. One night she put the last stitch in the pretty little garment. Then she went softly to the miller’s barn and laid it down beside the bowl of broth.

The villagers of Blednock never saw Aiken-Drum again. For a true Brownie must work without reward. He cannot stay where he is paid. The strange little man was obliged to go away.

But sometimes the children hear his voice down by the old mill. It is always soft and low and sweet. He is singing the songs of his own land, just as he used to do when the little ones were gathered around him.

And then the good people in the village remember his kind deeds and his strange saying, “He serves himself best, who serves others most.”

Next Time: “Gwilan’s Harp”

Just When You Need Him

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The Miller invited the Brownie to sleep in the corner of his barn. The Miller’s hospitality paid off.

All the people of the village were a little afraid at first, but in a week there was another story to tell. For Aiken-Drum was the most wonderful worker that ever was seen, and the strange thing was that he did nearly all his work at night.

If there was a tired baby to sing to sleep, or a house to be made tidy, or a churn full of cream that would not turn to butter, or bread that would not rise, Aiken Drum always knew about it. He always came just at the tight time.

He gathered the sheep together on stormy nights. He carried home the heavy bundle for a tired man. He stacked the grain safely.

Manya time some poor mother would be up all night with a sick child. She would sit down in front of the fire and fall fast asleep.

When she awoke she would find that Aiken-Drum had paid her a visit. For the floor would be scrubbed, the dishes washed, the fire made, and the kettle set to boil.

Next time:”Out of Sight”

Out of Sight

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Aiken-Drum, the Brownie of Blednock was always there when the villagers needed him, but always out of sight.

The little man would have slipped quietly away from every home where he lent a hand. He never waited to be thanked. It seemed just as if everybody had wishing-caps, for people had only to wish, and the work was done.

And the village was not lonely, oh, no! People came from everywhere to see if they could catch a glimpse of the strange little visitor.

But they never saw Aiken-Drum again. One could to to the miller’s barn twenty times a say; and twenty times a day one would find nothing but a little heap of hay. The bowl that held his food was always empty in the morning, but no one ever saw the Brownie eating the broth.

Little children were the only ones who ever saw him; and oh! how he loved them! Just befroe bedtime, they would gather around him in some quiet corner by the old mill. Then the villagers would hear wonderful, low, sweet, music. It was Aiken-Drum, singing the songs of his own land to the happy children.

Next time: Farewell Aiken-Drum

The Miller’s Invite

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The people of Blednock got to know the Brownie. Next, what to do about him?

No one new what to say. A little man who would do everything for nothing! It could not be true! There must be something wrong about it! Men began to whisper to each other. “Perhaps it would be better to have nothing to do with him,” they said.

The Granny Duncan spoke up again. “It’s just a harmless Brownie, I tell you.” she said. “Have you not all complained about how hard you work? Here is a good workman all ready for you. Will you turn him away because he looks so strange?”

“But he will frighten strangers,” said the young people. “Our friends will not come to the village if we let him stay. Then it will be lonely here. We will have no good times.”

“I have heard that a Brownie can stack a whole ten-acre field of wheat in a single night,” said Granny Duncan.

“A ten-acre field in a single night! Just think of that!” said all the men. The miller told the brownie that he might sleep in a corner of his barn. Granny Duncan promised him a bowl of broth at bedtime.

Then all said good-night and wen home, looking over their shoulders to see if the strange little man was following them. You may be very sure that no one lingered behind that night. No one asked to stay outside just a little longer.

Next time: “Just When You Need Him”

Questions, Questions

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The townspeople’s fear of the Brownie was pacified by baby Meg’s approval of him. Now the questions begin.

Then everybody grew very brave and crowded around him. And when they were close to him they saw that his hairy face was kind, and that his big eyes had a merry twinkle in them.

“Can you not speak?” asked an old man.  “Tell us where you came from.”

“I cannot tell you where I came from,” said the wee man. “My country has no name, and it is not at all like this land of yours. For there, we all learn to serve, while here, everyone wishes to be served. We love to work. It sometimes happens there is no work for us at home. Then one of us may come to your land, to see if you have need of him.”

“Do you really like to work?” asked idle Tom, who was not torubled in that way. And his eyes looked almost as big as the Brownie’s.

“I love to serve,” said the Bownie. “He serves himself best, who serves others most. If I am needed I will stay in this place for a while. I do not want clothes or a bed or wages. All I ask for is a corner of the barn to sleep in and a bowl of broth at bedtime.

“If no one troubles me, I will be ready to help anyone who needs me. I’ll bring in the sheep from the hill. I’ll gather the harvest by moonlight. I’ll bake your bread on a busy day. I’ll sing the babies to sleep in their cradles. The babies always love me.”

Next time: “The Miller’s Invite”

Baby Meg Approves

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The villagers of Blednock, stared in shock as the Brownie came to town. But Granny Duncan comes up with a test to discern the creature’s intent.

Granny Duncan was the oldest and kindest woman in the village. Oh, she was very old! She knew all the tales of the olden time.

“I think this is just a harmless brownie,” she said. “Long ago I heard of brownies from my father’s father. We will take Baby Meg to see him. If she smiles upon him, he is just a brownie. For babies always love brownies and know them when they see them.”

So baby Meg was brought, and she laughed and crowed and put out her tiny hands to the strange little man.

“He is just a good, kind brownie!” cried Granny Duncan. Many a long day’s work will he do for the people who treat him well.”

Next time: “Questions Questions”

Brownie Shock

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A Brownie has come to the village of Blednock and the people are in shock.

Oh, but I can tell you the people were frightened. The little ones screamed and the larger girls dropped the pails of milk they were carrying home. Even the dogs crept behind their masters;and the big boys, who should have known better, hooted at the little man.

“Did you ever see such eyes?” cried one. “How they twinkle as he walks along!”

“And look at his long beard!” said another; “who ever saw such a red beard before?”

But still the little man went slowly up the street singing:

“Oh, my name is Aiken-Drum, And to do your work I’ve come.

A bit to eat, a bed on hay, you may give; but nothing pay.”

Next time: “Baby Meg Approves”

The Brownie Comes to Town

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Well, it was one summer evening, just when the milking was done, and before the children were put to bed, and everyone was sitting on their doorsteps, talking to their neighbors, and the children were laughing and playing in the front yards.

All at once they heard a queer humming noise. It seemed to come from the riverside, far away.

The sound came nearer and nearer. The talking and the laughing stopped, and everyone looked toward the river.

Andi it was no wonder that they stared, for coming up the road was the strangest little creature that anyone had ever seen.

He looked like a tiny little man; and a strange man at that. Fir his bright red hair was long, and he had a long red beard. His knees knocked together when he walked, and his arms were so long that his hands almost touched the ground. A strange sight it was!

He was singing something over and over. And as he came nearer they could make out the words:

“Oh, my name is Aiken-Drum, And to do your work I’ve come. A bite to eat, a bed on hay, you may give; but nothing pay.”

Monday: “Brownie Shock”

The Brownie of Blednock

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Today we begin a new series that will tell the story of the “Brownie of Blednock.”

A “Brownie” is a tiny, fanciful, good-natured brown elf who secretly helps at night with household chores. Blednock, the modern day spelling which is “Bladnoch,” is a town on the southern tip of Scotland. Today, Bladnoch is famous for its Bladnoch whiskey distillery and the Baldoon Castle, that some say is still haunted by the ghost of Janet Dalrymple.

Did you ever hear how a brownie came to the village of Blednock and was frightened away again?

Well, if you haven’t heard the story, let me tell it to you.

Thursday: “The Brownie Comes to Town”