ne evening Brownies, peeping down
From bluffs that overlooked the town,
Saw wheelmen passing to and fro
Upon the boulevard below.
"It seems," said one, "an easy trick,
The wheel goes 'round so smooth and quick;
You simply sit and work your feet
And glide with grace along the street.
The pleasure would be fine indeed
If we could thus in line proceed."
"Last night," another answer made,
"As by the river's bank I strayed,
Where here and there a building stands,
And town and country-side join hands,
Before me stood a massive wall
With engine-rooms and chimneys tall."
"To scale the place a way I found,
And creeping in, looked all around;
There bicycles of every grade
Are manufactured for the trade;
Some made for baby hands to guide,
And some for older folk to ride."
"Though built to keep intruders our,
With shutters thick and casings stout,
I noticed twenty ways or more,
By roof, by window, wall and door,
Where we, by exercising skill,
May travel in and out at will."
Another spoke, in nowise slow
To catch at pleasures as they go,
And said, "Why let another day
Come creeping in to drag away?
Let's active measures now employ
To seize at once the promised joy.
On bicycles quick let us ride,
While yet our wants may be supplied."
So when the town grew hushed and still,
The Brownies ventured down the hill,
And soon the band was drawing nigh
The building with the chimneys high.
When people lock their doors at night,
And double-bolt them left and right,
And think through patents, new and old,
To leave the burglars in the cold,
The cunning Brownies smile to see
The springing bolt and turning key;
For well they know if fancy leads
Their band to venture daring deeds,
The miser's gold, the merchant's ware
To them is open as the air.
Not long could door or windows stand
Fast locked before the Brownie band;
And soon the bicycles they sought
From every room and bench were brought.
The rogues ere long began to show
As many colors as the bow;
For paint and varnish lately spread
Besmeared them all from foot to head.
Some turned to jay-birds in a minute,
And some as quick might shame the linnet;
While more with crimson-tinted breast
Seemed fitted for the robin's nest.
But whether red or green or blue,
The work on hand was hurried through;
They took the wheels from blacksmith fires,
Though wanting bolts and even tires,
And rigged the parts with skill and speed
To answer well their pressing need.
And soon, enough were made complete
To give the greater part a seat,
And let the rest through cunning find
Some way of hanging on behind.
And then no spurt along the road,
Or 'round the yard their courage showed,
But twenty times a measured mile
They whirled away in single file,
Or bunched together in a crowd
If width of road or skill allowed.
At times, while rolling down the grade,
Collisions some confusion made,
For every member of the band,
At steering wished to try his hand;
Though some, perhaps, were not designed
For labor of that special kind.
But Brownies are the folk to bear
Misfortunes with unruffled air;
So on through rough and smooth they spun
Until the turning-point was won.
Then back they wheeled with every spoke,
An hour before the thrush awoke.