ne night, when the cold moon hung low
And winter wrapped the world in snow
And bridged the streams in wood and field
With ice as smooth as shining shield,
Some skaters swept in graceful style
The glistening surface, file on file.
For hours the Brownies viewed the show,
Commenting on the Groups below;
Said one: "That pleasure might be ours -
We have the feet and motive powers;
No mortal need us Brownies teach,
If skates were but within our reach."
Another answered: "Then, my friend,
To hear my plan let all attend.
I have a building in my mind
That we within an hour can find.
Three golden balls hang by the door,
Like oranges from Cuba's shore;
Behind the dusty counter stands
A native of queer, far-off lands;
The place is filled with various things,
From baby-carts to banjo-strings;
Here hangs a gun without a lock
Some Pilgrim bore to Plymouth rock;
And there a pair of goggles lie,
That saw the red-coats marching by;
While piles of club and rocker skates
Of every shape the buyer waits!
Though second-hand, I'm sure they'll do,
And serve our wants as well as new.
That place we'll enter as we may,
Tomorrow night, and bear away
A pair, the best that come to hand,
For every member of the band."
At once, the enterprise so bold
Received support from young and old.
A place to muster near the town,
And meeting hour they noted down;
And then retiring for the night,
They soon were lost to sound and sight.
When evening next her visit paid
To fold the earth in robes of shade,
From out the woods across the mead,
The Brownies gathered as agreed,
To venture boldly and procure
The skates that would their fun insure.
As mice can get to cake and cheese
Without a key whene'er they please,
So, cunning Brownies can proceed
And help themselves to what they need.
For bolts and bars they little care
If but a nail is wanting there!
Or, failing this, with ease descend
Like Santa Claus and gain their end.
As children to the windows fly
At news of Jumbo passing by,
So rushed the eager band away
To fields of ice without delay.
Though far too large at heel and toe,
The skates were somehow made to go.
But out behind and out before,
Like spurs, they stuck a span or more,
Alike afflicting foe and friend
In bringing journeys to an end.
They had their slips and sudden spreads,
Where heels flew higher than their heads,
As people do, however nice,
When venturing first upon the ice.
But soon they learned to curve and wheel
And cut fine scrolls with scoring steel,
To race in clusters to and fro,
To jump and turn and backward go,
Until a rest on bed so cool,
Was more the wonder than the rule.
But from the lake they all withdrew
Some hours before the night was through,
And hastened back with lively feet
Through narrow lane and silent street,
Until they reached the broker's door
With every skate that left the store.
And, ere the first faint gleam of day,
The skates were safely stowed away;
Of their brief absence not a trace
Was left within the dusty place.