Originally published in The Housewife, May 1916.
This is a short piece both written and illustrated by John R. Neill.
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Of course, you have gathered the soft pink and white flowers that grow in May, and some with spots of red and stripes of gold.
When you gather them again, look very carefully into their faces and remember how hard the fairies have worked to get the colors right; for before you gather them, those little creatures have worked from early morning with brush and scissors, planning and clipping and cutting. Sometimes they use yellow and pink powders, pearls and diamonds, soft silks stretched over laces, all sewed carefully around the edges.
Those flower fairies sing and dance all day with the birds, and their work is almost play to them.
One very old fairy man, whose business it is to chase away the worms and hard-headed beetles, usually sits on a rock at the edge of the woods. He gives the alarm when the children are coming, and always seems sullen and quiet. Some say he is very disagreeable, and when no other fairy is around to see him, he has been known to poke his cane right through some of the prettiest flowers.
You can at times see very small holes in the flowers. These you will know he has made. But he does not do it often, only when he is feeling out of sorts.
When all the brushes of the fairies are broken, the birds will give them a feather or two from, which they make new brushes in no time.
All their days go quickly and happily, and at night each fairy climbs into the flower she likes best, and the petals close themselves like shutters, holding their little passengers lightly and comfortably swinging until morning.
And whenever a fairy has slept, that flower has the fragrance of its fairy which always stays, and that is all we really know of these wonderful little people.
—John R. Neill
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