Gateway to the Classics: The Way of the Gate by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
The Way of the Gate by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

The Hallowe'en Brownies

Just before school closed on Hallowe'en, the teacher had told the children a story about a brownie.

"A strange little man dressed all in brown," she had said he was. "He was a helpful little brownie, always trying to do something kind for other people."

When school was over, the children waited in the school yard, talking about the story.

"How nice it would be if there were really brownies now," Marjory sighed.

"We can play that we are brownies," Harold said. "They don't always help people in their houses. Sometimes," he said "they do other things. To-night I shall play that I am a brownie. I am going. to ring door bells and then run away. Perhaps I shall take off your front gate, Marjory."

"Oh, you wouldn't do that, would you, Harold?" the other children said.

"Don't, Harold. We will tell you something else to do for Hallowe'en—something funny, and nice, too."

Such fun as there was then The children's whispers were like the rustling of the wind in a whole forest full of leaves. When the teacher came out of the school door with the key in her hand, Marjory ran up to her,

"Please don't lock the door yet," she said. "Harold has left his books and he wants to get them. Mrs. Maguire will lock the door when she comes to sweep."

Perhaps the teacher guessed a surprise. She smiled down into Marjory's face and slipped the key into her bag without locking the door.

It was a very quiet Hallowe'en, indeed. There were no door bells rung, and all the gates were left on their hinges. There was a party at Marjory's house with roasted apples and toasted marshmallows and games.

Then it was the next day, and not a single child was late for school. Almost every one was very early. They tiptoed into the schoolroom and sat down as still as mice to wait for their teacher.

She came in quickly, and went right to her desk without stopping. Then she turned to look at the schoolroom. Her eyes shone to see it.

It was more tidy and neat than it had ever been before. Mrs. Maguire was old. Sometimes she could not see papers, and forgot to sweep in the corners. Now there was not a paper to be seen anywhere, or a spot of dust. The desks had been tidied. The books were all piled neatly. The glass in the windows sparkled. There were no broken pencils or bits of chalk to be seen anywhere.

The schoolroom was beautiful, too. In all the window sills were bright wreaths made of autumn leaves. Long branches of crimson vines hung over the pictures. On the teacher's desk was a jar full of golden rod. There was a basket, too, full of fat chestnuts and apples.

The children themselves looked neater than usual. Every boy had black, shining shoes. All their neckties were neatly tied, and they had not soiled their collars or their handkerchiefs on the way to school. Each little girl had kept her dress as tidy and her hair as neatly tied as when she left home.

"Oh," said the teacher, "the brownies were here last night when it was Hallowe'en! How much they helped me!"

"How did you know that it was the brownies?" the children asked.

"Because our schoolroom has never been so tidy and so beautiful before," she said. "But look at us. We are different," Harold said. "We are the brownies."

"As kind, and as neat, and as helpful for all the days?" the teacher asked.

"Oh, yes!" the children said.

Let all things be done decently and in order.

—I Corinthians xiv. 40.

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