Written by Thornton W. Burgess
Old Mother West Wind came down from the Purple Hills in the shadowy coolness of the early morning, before even jolly, round, red Mr. Sun had thrown off his rosy covers for his daily climb up through the blue sky. The last little star was blinking sleepily as Old Mother West Wind turned her big bag upside down on the Green Meadows and all her children, the Merry Little Breezes, tumbled out on the soft green grass.
Then Old Mother West Wind kissed them all around and hurried away to hunt for a rain cloud which had gone astray. The Merry Little Breezes watched her go. Then they played hide and seek until jolly, round, red Mr. Sun had climbed out of bed and was smiling down on the Green Meadows.
Pretty soon along came Peter Rabbit, hoppity-hoppity-hop.
“Hello, Peter Rabbit!” shouted the Merry Little Breezes. “Come play with us!”
“Can’t,” said Peter Rabbit. “I have to go find some tender young carrots for my breakfast,” and away he hurried, hoppity-hoppity-hop.
In a few minutes Jimmy Skunk came in sight and he seemed to be almost hurrying along the Crooked Little Path down the hill. The Merry Little Breezes danced over to meet him.
“Hello, Jimmy Skunk!” they cried. “Come play with us!”
Jimmy Skunk shook his head. “Can’t,” he said. “I have to go look for some beetles for my breakfast,” and off he went looking under every old stick and pulling over every stone not too big for his strength.
The Merry Little Breezes watched him for a few minutes and then raced over to the Laughing Brook. There they found Billy Mink stealing softly down towards the Smiling Pool.
“Oh, Billy Mink, come play with us,” begged the Merry Little Breezes.
“Can’t,” said Billy Mink. “I have to catch a trout for Grandfather Mink’s breakfast,” and he crept on towards the Smiling Pool.
Just then along came Bumble the Bee. Now Bumble the Bee is a lazy fellow who always makes a great fuss, as if he was the busiest and most important fellow in the world.
“Good morning, Bumble,” cried the Merry Little Breezes. “Come play with us!”
“Buzz, buzz, buzz,” grumbled Bumble the Bee. “Can’t, for I have to get a sack of honey,” and off he hurried to the nearest dandelion.
Then the Merry Little Breezes hunted up Johnny Chuck. But Johnny Chuck was busy, too busy to play. Bobby Coon was asleep, for he had been out all night. Reddy Fox also asleep. Striped Chipmunk was in such a hurry to fill the pockets in his cheeks that he could hardly stop to say good morning. Happy Jack Squirrel just flirted his big tail and rushed away as if he had many important things to attend to.
Finally the Merry Little Breezes gave up and sat down among the buttercups and daisies to talk it over. Every one seemed to have something to do, every one but themselves. It was such a busy world that sunshiny morning! Pretty soon one of the Merry Little Breezes hopped up very suddenly and began the maddest little dance among the buttercups.
“As we haven’t anything to do for ourselves let’s do something for somebody else!” he shouted.
Up jumped all the Little Breezes, clapping their hands.
“Oh let’s!” they shouted.
Way over across the Green Meadows they could see two long ears above the nodding daisies.
“There’s Peter Rabbit,” cried one. “Let’s help him find those tender young carrots!”
No sooner proposed than off they all raced to see who could reach Peter first. Peter was sitting up very straight, looking this way and that way for some tender young carrots, but not one had he found, and his stomach was empty. The Merry Little Breezes stopped just long enough to tickle his long ears and pull his whiskers, then away they raced, scattering in all directions, to see who could first find a tender young carrot for Peter Rabbit. By and by when one of them did find a field of tender young carrots he rushed off, taking the smell of them with him to tickle the nose of Peter Rabbit.
Peter wriggled his nose, his funny little nose, very fast when it was tickled with the smell of tender young carrots, and the Merry Little Breeze laughed to see him.
“Come on, Peter Rabbit, for this is my busy day!” he cried.
Peter Rabbit didn’t have to be invited twice. Away he went, hoppity-hoppity-hop, as fast as his long legs could take him after the Merry Little Breeze. And soon they came to the field of tender young carrots.
“Oh thank you, Merry Little Breeze!” cried Peter Rabbit, and straightway began to eat his breakfast.
Another Merry Little Breeze, slipping up the Crooked Little Path on the hill, spied the hind legs of a fat beetle sticking out from under a flat stone. At once the Little Breeze remembered Jimmy Skunk, who was hunting for beetles for his breakfast. Off rushed the Little Breeze in merry whirls that made the grasses sway and bend and the daisies nod.
When after a long, long hunt he found Jimmy Skunk, Jimmy was very much out of sorts. In fact Jimmy Skunk was positively cross. You see, he hadn’t had any breakfast, for hunt as he would he couldn’t find a single beetle.
When the Merry Little Breeze danced up behind Jimmy Skunk and, just in fun, rumpled up his black and white coat, Jimmy lost his temper. In fact he said some things not at all nice to the Merry Little Breeze. But the Merry Little Breeze just laughed. The more he laughed the angrier Jimmy Skunk grew, and the angrier Jimmy Skunk grew the more the Merry Little Breeze laughed. It was such a jolly laugh that pretty soon Jimmy Skunk began to grin a little sheepishly, then to really smile and finally to laugh outright in spite of his empty stomach. You see it is very hard, very hard indeed and very foolish, to remain angry when someone else is perfectly good natured.
Suddenly the Merry Little Breeze danced up to Jimmy Skunk and whispered in his right ear. Then he danced around and whispered in his left ear. Jimmy Skunk’s eyes snapped and his mouth began to water.
“Where, Little Breeze, where?” he begged.
“Follow me,” cried the Merry Little Breeze, racing off up the Crooked Little Path so fast that Jimmy Skunk lost his breath trying to keep up, for you know Jimmy Skunk seldom hurries.
When they came to the big flat stone Jimmy Skunk grasped it with both hands and pulled and pulled. Up came the stone so suddenly that Jimmy Skunk fell over flat on his back. When he had scrambled to his feet there were beetles and beetles, running in every direction to find a place to hide.
“Thank you, thank you, Little Breeze,” shouted Jimmy Skunk as he started to catch beetles for his breakfast.
And the Little Breeze laughed happily as he danced away to join the other Merry Little Breezes on the Green Meadows. There he found them very, very busy, very busy indeed, so busy that they could hardly find time to nod to him. What do you think they were doing? They were toting gold! Yes, Sir, toting gold! And this is how it happened:
While the first Little Breeze was showing Peter Rabbit the field of tender young carrots, and while the second Little Breeze was leading Jimmy Skunk to the flat stone and the beetles, the other Merry Little Breezes had found Bumble the Bee. Now Bumble the Bee is a lazy fellow, though he pretends to be the busiest fellow in the world, and they found him grumbling as he buzzed with a great deal of fuss from one flower to another.
“What’s the matter, Bumble?” cried the Merry Little Breezes.
“Matter enough,” grumbled Bumble the Bee. “I’ve got to make a sack of honey, and as if that isn’t enough, old Mother Nature has ordered me to carry a sack of gold from each flower I visit to the next flower I visit. If I don’t I can get no honey. Buzz-buzz-buzz,” grumbled Bumble the Bee.
The Merry Little Breezes looked at the million little flowers on the Green Meadows, each waiting with a sack of gold to give and a sack of gold to receive. Then they looked at each other and shouted happily, for they too would now be able to cry “busy, busy, busy.”
From flower to flower they hurried, each with a bag of gold over his shoulder. Wherever they left a bag they took a bag, and all the little flowers nodded happily to see the Merry Little Breezes at work.
Jolly, round, red Mr. Sun climbed higher and higher and higher in the blue sky, where he could look down and see all things, great and small. His smile was broader than ever as he watched the hurrying, scurrying Little Breezes working instead of playing. Yet after all it was a kind of play, for they danced from flower to flower and ran races across bare places where no flowers grew.
By and by the Merry Little Breezes met Peter Rabbit. Now Peter Rabbit had made a good breakfast of tender young carrots, so he felt very good, very good indeed.
“Hi!” shouted Peter Rabbit, “come play with me.”
“Can’t,” cried the Merry Little Breezes all together, “we have work to do!”
Off they hurried, while Peter Rabbit stretched himself out full length in a sunny spot, for Peter Rabbit is also a lazy fellow.
Down the Crooked Little Path onto the Green Meadows came Jimmy Skunk.
“Ho!” shouted Jimmy Skunk as soon as he saw the Little Breezes, “come play with me.”
“Can’t,” cried the Little Breezes, “for we are busy, busy, busy,” and they laughed happily.
When they reached the Laughing Brook they found Billy Mink curled up in a round ball, fast asleep. It isn’t often that Billy Mink is caught napping, but he had had a good breakfast of trout, he had found no one to play with and, as he never works and the day was so bright and warm, he had first looked for a place where he thought no one would find him and had then curled himself up to sleep, One of the Little Breezes laid down the bag of gold he was carrying and creeping ever so softly over to Billy Mink began to tickle one of Billy’s ears with a straw.
At first Billy Mink didn’t open his eyes, but rubbed his ear with a little black hand. Finally he jumped to his feet wide awake and ready to fight whoever was bothering him. But all he saw was a laughing Little Breeze running away with a bag of gold on his back.
So all day long, till Old Mother West Wind came with her big bag to carry them to their home behind the Purple Hills, the Merry Little Breezes hurried this way and that way over the Green Meadows. No wee flower was too tiny to give and receive its share of gold, and not one was overlooked by the Merry Little Breezes.
Old Mother Nature, who knows everything, heard of the busy day of the Merry Little Breezes. Nobody knows how she heard of it. Perhaps jolly, round, red Mr. Sun told her. Perhaps—oh, never mind. You can’t fool old Mother Nature anyway and it’s of no use to try.
So old Mother Nature visited the Green Meadows to see for herself, and when she found how the Merry Little Breezes had distributed the gold she was so pleased that straightway she announced to all the world that from this day forward and for all time the Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind should have charge of the distribution of the gold of the flowers on the Green Meadows, which they have to this day.
And since that day the Merry Little Breezes have been merrier than ever, for they have found that it is not nearly so much fun to play all the time, but that to work for some good in the world is the greatest fun of all.
So every year when the gold of the flowers, which some people do not know is gold at all but call pollen, is ready you will find the Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind very, very busy among the flowers on the Green Meadows. And this is the happiest time of all.