The Wayward Brownies entered the Grove bright and early, each one of them looking around sheepishly for Mother Owl, wondering what the outcome would be after Number Six’s ‘Lesson from Lucifer’ during last full moon’s adventure in the haunted cellar.

Each could recall in an instant the shiver that had run through them when Number Six had read the curse out to all of them unaware of what she was doing until she got to the end. The final words about the lantern running out of oil come midnight, reminding them they were also about to be cast into the pitch blackness of the now locked chapel cellar.

They were already formed in a circle and each looked at the other whilst reaching for the hands of their neighbours, joined together as one, they closed their eyes and in silence made a plea.

O Lord, above,
Thy daughters call,
Grant us peace,
Bless us all.

They opened their eyes and waited for a command, due to the situation ‘Plan B’ (the backup plan) was now in effect. Instead of Number Six being in charge of the main decisions (due to it being her adventure), they were now in their ‘Offical Order’ of Number One (who is the eldest), then came her Second in Command (Number Two as the next oldest) and so on down to Number Six who was the youngest. They dropped their hands to their sides and watched for Number One’s next action.

Number One raised her right hand in the official Brownie Salute, each of the others understanding a second hidden meaning (known only between themselves and occasionally other Gnome Sixters they meet at special Brownie Gatherings) and each felt a little calmer in varying degrees.

They waited for Number One to take a breath and they all repeated the Brownie Guide Law together.

“A Brownie Guide thinks of others before herself and does a good turn every day.”

This reminded each of them instantly that they’d spent all morning and much of the previous three weeks (due to certain ‘misunderstandings’ encountered during Number Five’s Adventure), doing good deeds for almost everyone they’d encountered. And each felt happy remembering some of the helpful and kind things they had done for those in need.

Number One took another audible intake of breath and they instantly sprang to attention ready to recite the Brownie Motto.

“We’re the Brownies, here’s our aim, lend a hand and-,” before they could finish the words of the chant, a slow clapping sound could be heard from a shadowy corner of the dusty cellar as though clapping along in time with them. Brownie Gnomes Numbers Two, Three, Four, Five and Six froze on the spot, yet Number One carried on mouthing the Motto to the end, so quietly you could barely hear her.

Suddenly there was a creaking sound of ancient wood as the shadowy figure rose and addressed them with a command.


Bravely, Number One took the breath to lead them into the Chant. At the very same moment the old Miner’s lamp that Number Five and the devil’s curse had warned them about running out at midnight finally gave up and died, they were cast into darkness.


Louder the voice came, more threatening this time, slow footsteps heading towards them almost as audible as the girls’ heartbeats. Number One took another deep breath, loud enough for the others to hear but they seemed to ignore her, their fear having taken hold of them.

“We’re the Brownies, here’s our aim, lend a hand and-,” Just as they got to the last three words, all seven of them jumped in fright when six of them screamed in terror when Mother Owl lit a torch under her face and sang very loudly:

“Play the Game!”

Everyone recovered quickly with relief and laughter all around, even Mother Owl chuckled before addressing them all. “Well done girls, you were very brave! I am sure a new badge or two is on the cards. Oh, and also your punishment for sneaking out again, but that can wait until we get back home.”

She jangled a big, rusty bunch of keys and off they went.



From Tall-ish Tales (Short-ish Stories)