The Fairy Fluffikins lived in a warm woolly nest in a hole down an old oak tree. She was the sweetest, funniest little fairy you ever saw. She wore a little, soft, fluffy brown dress, and on her head a little red woolly cap; she had soft red hair and the brightest, naughtiest, merriest, sharpest brown eyes imaginable.
What a life she led the animals! Fairy Fluffikins was a sad tease; she would creep into the nests where the fat baby dormice were asleep in bed while Mamma dormouse nodded over her knitting and Papa smoked his little acorn pipe; and she would tickle the babies till they screamed with laughter and nearly rolled out of bed, and Mamma scolded, and Papa said in a gruff voice--"What a plague you are, you little dors; go to sleep this minute or I will fetch my big stick."
And then the babies would shake, for they were afraid of the big stick; and naughty Fairy Fluffikins would dance off to find some fresh piece of mischief.
One night she had fine fun. She found a little dead mouse in a field; and at first she was sorry for the mouse, and thought she would bury it and plant a daisy on its grave; but then an idea struck her. She hunted about till she found a piece of long, strong grass, and then she took the little mouse, tied the piece of grass round its tail, and ran away with it to the big tree where the Ancient Owl lived. There was a little hole at the bottom of the tree and into it Fairy Fluffikins crept, leaving the mouse outside in the moonlight. Presently she heard a gruff voice in the tree saying -
"I smell mouse, I smell mouse." Then there was a swoop of wings, and Fairy Fluffikins promptly drew the mouse into the little hole and stuffed its tail into her mouth so that she might not be heard laughing; and the gruff voice said angrily -
"Where's that mouse gone? I smelt mouse, I know I smelt mouse!"
She grew tired of this game after a few times, so she left the mouse in the hole and crept away to a new one. She really was a naughty fairy. She blew on the buttercups so that they thought the morning breeze had come to wake them up, and opened their cups in a great hurry. She buzzed outside the clover and made it talk in its sleep, so that it said in a cross, sleepy voice--"Go away, you stupid busy bee, and don't wake me up in the middle of the night."
She pulled the tail of the nightingale who was singing to his lady- love in the hawthorn bush, and he lost his place in his song and nearly tumbled over backwards into the garden. Then to her joy she met an elderly, domestic puss taking an evening walk with a view to field-mice.
Here was sport. Fluffikins hid in the grass and squeaked; and when the elderly cat came tearing up she pulled his whiskers and flew away (I forgot to tell you that she had little, soft wings), and the elderly cat jumped and said -
"Mouse-traps and mince-meat! Fancy a cat of my age and experience taking a bat for a mouse! But by my claws I heard a mouse's squeak."
Fairy Fluffikins often met the poor elderly cat, and always led him some dreadful dance, now and then taking a ride on his back into the bargain, till he thought he must have got the nightmare.
One day Fairy Fluffikins was well paid out for some of her naughtiness. She was flying away from a tree where she had just wrapped a sleeping bat's head up in a large cobweb, when she heard the sweep of wings, felt a sharp nip--and in less time than it takes to tell found herself in the nest of the Ancient Owl.
"My wig!" said the Ancient Owl, much surprised, "I thought you were a bat." And he called his wife and three children to look.
Now when Fairy Fluffikins saw five pairs of large round eyes blinking and staring at her she lost her head and cried out-- "Please, please, Mr Ancient Owl, don't be angry with me and I will never play tricks with mice any more," and so told the Ancient Owl what he had never even suspected before.
Then the Ancient Owl was MOST DREADFULLY ANGRY and read Fairy Fluffikins a long sermon about the wickedness of deceiving Ancient Owls. The sermon took two hours and a half; and when it was over all the owls hooted at her and pecked her; and Fairy Fluffikins was very glad indeed when at last Mrs Ancient Owl gave her a push and said -
"Go along, you impertinent brown minx," and she was able to go out into the night.
Even this sad adventure did not cure Fairy Fluffikins of getting into mischief--although she never teased the owls any more, you may be sure of that--she took to tormenting the squirrels instead. She used to find their stores of nuts and carry them away and fill the holes with pebbles; and this, when you are a hard-working squirrel with a large family to support, is very trying to the temper. Then she would tie acorns to their tails; and she would clap her hands to frighten them, and pull the baby-squirrels' ears; till at last they offered a reward to anyone who could catch Fairy Fluffikins and bring her to be punished.
No one caught Fairy Fluffikins; but she caught herself, as you shall hear.
She was poking about round a haystack one night, trying to find something naughty to do, when she came upon a sweet little house with pretty wire walls and a wooden door standing invitingly open. In hopped Fluffikins, thinking she was going to have some new kind of fun. There was a little white thing dangling from the roof, and she laid hold of it. Immediately there was a bang; the wooden door slammed; and Fluffikins was caught.
How she cried and stamped and pushed at the door, and promised to be a good fairy and a great many other things! But all to no purpose: the door was tight shut, and Fluffikins was not like some fortunate fairies who can get out of anywhere.
There she remained, and in the morning one of the labourers found her, and, thinking she was some kind of dormouse, he carried her home to his little girl; and if you call on Mary Ann Smith you will see Fairy Fluffikins there still in a little cage. They give her nuts and cheese and bread, and all the things she doesn't like, and there is no one to tease and no mischief to get into; so if there is a miserable little Fairy anywhere it is Fairy Fluffikins, and I'm not sure it doesn't serve her quite right.