Gateway to the Classics: For the Children's Hour by Carolyn S. Bailey
For the Children's Hour by  Carolyn S. Bailey

How We First Came To Have Umbrellas

T HIS is how we first came to have umbrellas.

One sunny morning in April a wee brownie started out for a walk. He wore a brown jerkin, and brown breeches, and brown pointed shoes, and a little brown pointed cap, as all brownies should, quite new and quite fresh. He carried his basket over his arm, for he had a bit of marketing to do by the way; and he skipped along, dodging the beetles, and peeping in the doors of the ant hills, as merry as any brownie could be on a sunny morning in April.

He bought him a jar of butter at a buttercup shop, and a jar of honey from a wandering bee. He stopped a green measuring worm to see if he had grown tall in the night, but he had not a bit. He was just going home again, when—"Bless me! What's that?" said the brownie. The sunny April day had changed to a showery April day, and it was raining!

It is quite bad enough to be a child and out of doors when it rains, but think of being a tiny, wee little mite of a brownie, with fresh new clothes, and every raindrop as full as a bucket, because you are so tiny! He ran so fast that the jar of honey and the pot of butter rattled like a pair of kettledrums. He crept under the tallest blades of grass, and tried to cover himself with a plantain leaf; but it was of no use—the raindrops fell thicker and faster, and he grew more drenched every minute.

At last he saw, just a little way ahead, a fine, broad toadstool. That would make a good roof! He ran as fast as his little legs would carry him, nearly dropping his basket in his haste to get under the friendly toadstool.

But, ah! some one else needed shelter from the weather, too. The brownie ran straight into a huge, fat, gray dormouse, who lay safe and dry under the toadstool, winking and blinking at the drops trickling through the grass.

Poor little brownie! He trembled with fright. The dormouse looked, to him, as large as a bear, and he was so afraid. But it was warm and dry under the toadstool, and very wet outside. The dormouse did not see him, and he kept on the other side of the stalk, just peeping out now and then.

He began tugging a bit at the toadstool. It was very heavy; but never mind. Tug, tug—up it came, and off scampered the brownie with the toadstool over his head, and the dormouse left out in the rain.


"Off scampered the brownie with the toad stool over his head."

"See the brownie!" cried the crickets, and the beetles, and the grasshoppers, and the ants; "see the brownie with a toadstool over his head to keep off the rain!"

By and by, a large, grown-up person, with very sharp eyes, saw the brownie, too. And the grown-up person went off at once and made himself a larger toadstool from iron and wood and cloth to hold over his head when it rained. So that is how we first came to have umbrellas.

— Carolyn Sherwin Bailey   

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