an ebook published by Project Gutenberg Australia
Title: The Rainy Day
Author: Dorothy Wall
eBook No.: 2301051h.html
Date first posted: September 2023
Most recent update: September 2023
This eBook was produced by: Walter Moore
View our licence and header
Chapter 1. - “Waste”
Chapter 2. - “Thrift”
Chapter 3. - “Success”
Nickety Split bustled around his store-house, flicked a duster here and there, straightened the door-mat, opened the door and peeped out, although it was rather early for his little friends to call. Many little feet had padded the well-worn track leading to Nickety Split’s. The store-house was small, a quaint little building of sticks and stones; but what a wealth it contained! Over the doorway, picked out in pebbles, were the words, “The Rainy Day”. Yes, it does sound queer; but the bush creatures understood what the name meant.
Nickety Split was even quainter than his store. Of course he was a goblin, otherwise he would never have understood his little people. Long wispy hair fell over his spectacles; his eyes peeped around corners in the most surprising way, while from the back of his funny green coat hung a huge book and pencil. They were so large that with every step he took a “flip, flap,” echoed around him. They were “The Rainy Day” book and pencil. Nickety’s shoes were much too large for him; but he tied them on with grass, so what did it matter?
“Why don’t you get your hair trimmed?” Mr. Lyre Bird asked one day as he flaunted his beautiful tail for Nickety to admire.
“What do I want with trimmed hair?” Nickety replied. “It would only grow again, and I’d have to pay Willie Wagtail to pull it out once more.”
“Well, there’s sense in that,” Mr. Lyre Bird remarked, “but are you sure you’re not being mean?”
“Quite sure,” Nickety Split replied. “Willie Wagtail can pluck hair from the cow, and wool from the sheep for his nest, so why should I pay him for a hair trim when there is no need?”
And so Nickety’s friends came and went, each with a little advice tucked away in its ears, for none could doubt the wisdom of this strange little goblin.
Many, many years ago the bush folk had been very sad. Their world had lost its sunshine. Day by day birds and animals died. Even the bees ceased to work, and became so rare that the honey almost vanished from the hives.
A wicked “habit” ruled the bush in those days. Dressed in dirty rags, a horrible bat perched on her shoulder, long bony fingers plucking each lovely flower from its stalk, she left a path of desolation behind her. Her name was “Waste.” She jeered at the bees for working so hard and laughed in a high cackle as each little worker came hurrying home with his load of honey. “He! he! he! You silly creatures,” she called. “What good is it to you? All working instead of lying asleep in the flowers. The drones are the only sensible ones among you. See how they enjoy life.”
The bees took no heed of “Waste” at first, and each day the drones gobbled up the honey in the hive, then flew out to sleep in the beautiful sunshine. Gradually, however, the workers became discontented and began to listen to “Waste.”
“She is quite right,” they said, “we are foolish to work so hard. Let us all become drones.”
The Queen Bee vainly tried to tell them how wrong “Waste” was, but they would not listen to her advice.
Soon the flowers died, for the bees refused to visit them and so germinate their seed, and then, saddest of all, the honey in the hives dwindled to almost nothing. Thousands of bees died from starvation. Then winter came with her cold bitter winds and drenching rains. Poor little bees. “Alas, for listening to cruel ‘Waste’,” they cried. “Now we have nothing to eat. Oh, that we had worked and saved our honey.”
Scarcely a handful of the little creatures was left, and these sought vainly for the flowers to provide the tiniest bit of pollen.
Farther away in the bush all was silent. “Waste” had sown the seeds of want. There, where everything had once been so gay and busy, not even a whisper could be heard. A tiny ’possum peeped nervously from the branches of a tree, his eyes wide open with fright. Last summer he had been so happy and noisy, playing games while gathering his food. The kookaburras had laughed, the butcher birds had carolled, even the lazy wombat had tried to gambol as he laid in his evening meal. Happiness reigned until the day “Waste” came hobbling down the track. Catching sight of the little ’possum collecting his meal she paused to watch him.
“You foolish animal,” she croaked. “Why do you want to collect all that food? Leave it alone. Go and play.”
“But—this is for winter,” the ’possum replied.
“How stupid!” “Waste” laughed. “Look at the thousands of nuts on the trees. There’ll be plenty for you in the winter time. Go and play while summer is here.”
“Are you quite sure?” the little ’possum asked.
“Of course I’m sure,” “Waste” laughed. “Mother Nature will never let you starve.”
So off scampered the ’possum. He forgot that Mother Nature’s bounty was ruled by seasons, and that thriftless animals received no grace if her treasures were flung aside. All through the summer the ’possums played in the trees, plucking the nuts and throwing them on the ground. Some took root, but hundreds and hundreds decayed as they lay among the dead leaves. The birds pecked the berries from the trees before they were ripe, and whistled with delight as they fell to the ground. It was all so easy. Wicked “Waste” pulled her, wretched garments closer around her body as the first breath of winter approached, then went shuffling away farther north into the sunshine.
“What shall we do? We’re so hungry,” the animals cried. “Surely Mother Nature will never let us die!” But Mother Nature was helpless. She had given her “all,” and it had been wasted.
“Let us go and see the owl. He is so wise and may be able to help us,” a tiny bush mouse suggested.
“He’ll be very angry with us,” whimpered the ’possum. “He warned me one day when he caught me throwing nuts away. ‘You’ll be sorry for wasting them,’ he said.”
“He was right,” the wee mouse replied. “He told me that bad habits were easily acquired by foolish people and animals; but how were we to know we were foolish?”
Grasping this thread of hope the little folk set off to find the owl. Some limped, some stumbled, while others fell — they were so weak with hunger.
“Owl! Owl! Kind old owl, where are you?” they cried.
“What’s all the trouble about!” a soft voice asked from a tree stump.
“Oh! There you are!” the animals cried with delight. “We’ve come to ask for your help.”
“I’ve been expecting you for some time,” the owl said seriously. “I know what you want, but what can I do?’’
“You’re so wise,” the wee mouse replied, “surely you can do something for us.”
The owl shook his head very slowly. “I can’t make the nuts ripen on the trees, or command the grass to seed. I can’t make the bushes produce the berries.”
“We’ll all die if you don’t do something to help us,” the ’possum pleaded, pressing his little paws together. Again the old owl shook his head, while a tear trickled slowly down his beak.
“A fool and his wealth are soon parted,” he sighed.
“We didn’t come to you for a lecture,” the wee mouse piped shrilly. “We know only too well how foolish we’ve been, and are ready to work once more. It’s practical help we want.”
“Indeed!” the owl exclaimed in surprise.
“Well, if that’s all the help you can give us, I must do something,” the mouse retorted impatiently. “Follow me!” he ordered in a loud squeak. He looked such a tiny mite, leading the tattered band of animals and birds through the bush.
“Courage! Courage my friends,” he piped, scrambling ahead.
“Sh-h!” he squeaked suddenly. “Listen, I hear something.” The little cavalcade stood listening attentively. Away in the distance someone was whistling merrily. The animals were astonished. The bush had been silent so long. What could it mean?
Now the whistling came nearer, and strangest of all a tiny voice echoed through the bush in song.
“Do you think it is bad old ‘Waste’ trying to trap us?” the ’possum whispered with fright.
“No! No!” the mouse replied excitedly. “She would never sing a happy song.”
Nearer and nearer came the voice. “Put a little bit away, for a rainy day.” The words were quite distinct now, then once again the whistling commenced.
Suddenly, around a bend of the track the queerest little figure appeared. You who read this story will know who it was; but imagine the surprise of the bush folk when they first caught sight of “Nickety Split.”
“Hullo! Hullo! What a queer mix-up you look,” Nickety remarked as he came forward.
The animals seemed to have lost all power of speech, and could only stand and stare.
“And where do you think you’re going?” Nickety asked cheerfully.
“To look for ‘Help’,” the wee mouse squeaked, much to his own amazement; his voice seemed to be braver than his tail, for that trembled horribly.
“Wish it would keep still,” the mouse muttered to himself.
“To look for ‘Help’,” Nickety repeated. “Why, what’s the trouble? You all look as though you’ve been chased by a dingo.”
“Worse—far worse!” the mouse exclaimed. “My poor friends are starving. We listened to ‘Waste’ and threw our winter food away.”
“Dear, dear!” Nickety made a strange clucking noise in his throat. “That is a serious matter. Sit down and tell me all about it.”
The animals and birds told their sad story one by one.
“Something must be done for you,” Nickety said hastily. “It is no use looking any further for ‘Help.’ I passed her on my way through the bush. She was in a great hurry, and very angry, I thought.’’
“Did she speak to you?” the mouse enquired anxiously.
“No!” Nickety said sorrowfully. “She passed with her head down, muttering something about ‘foolish creatures.’ But cheer up! We must all get to work and put matters right again. Come with me, I’ll take you to my home.”
“I believe you are ‘Help’ in disguise,” the wee mouse said
“I am ‘Thrift.’ That is my real name.”
“Thrift,” the animals repeated one to another. “What a strange name.”
“Yes, unfortunately, quite a number of people don’t like my name, so I found it better to change it,” Nickety answered. “But what does it matter—as long as they are willing to do business with me.” Throwing back his head he broke into his song once more. “Put a little bit away, for a rainy day.”
“What a funny. song,” the ’possum remarked, running up to Nickety’s side and placing his paw in the goblin’s hand.
“It’s a very good song,” Nickety replied. “If you little people had put a bit away for a rainy day you would not be in want. You know it can’t be sun-shiny always.”
“Oh! Is that what it means!” the mouse exclaimed. “The sunny days are those when we have plenty, and the rainy days are those when we want.”
“Exactly,” Nickety said with emphasis.
Along the bush track more animals and birds joined the procession. Even the bees who were strong enough flew overhead, buzzing gladly, until at last Nickety’s quaint little house was reached.
“Whew,” he exclaimed, turning around, “where am I going to put you all?”
Such an excited clamour arose. Pushing and jostling, squawking and squeaking, the little folk tried to rush inside.
“Now, now, now, that won’t do!” Nickety reprimanded. “Line up please, while I take your names and occupations. No one enters my house until he promises to work and save. It does not matter how small an amount you save; but everyone at the end of the day, must bring something to store for future needs. No waste will be allowed. Now then! Names please,” and giving a big cough to add importance to his words, he produced the “Rainy Day” book and pencil.
“You, Miss Bee, are you willing to work and every evening bring your surplus honey for me to store in the ‘Rainy Day’?”
“Oh, yes! Indeed I am!” Miss Bee replied.
“Then pass through the doorway and have some honey to eat. You’ll find I’ve stored it on the top shelf. But first, sign your name in the book, please.”
This was a great ordeal for Miss Bee. The pencil was so large; but she bravely made a tiny mark then passed into the storehouse.
“The next bee, please,” Nickety Split commanded. One by one they signed their names.
“Now for the birds, he ordered.
“Caw! Caw!” a large crow cried as he came forward.
“Will you promise to bring all your spare nails and bits of wire to the ‘Rainy Day’?” Nickety asked sternly, looking straight into the keen eyes.
“I’ll bring keys, golf balls, nails, wire, children’s toys that have been left about, watches, spoons, pencils—
“Stop! Stop!” Nickety shouted, “I don’t want you to steal. You must work honestly and save.”
The crow bowed his head, made an untidy mark with the pencil and moved towards the doorway.
“Are there any grubs around,” he enquired, rather meekly.
“Yes,” Nickety replied. “Look under that large stone in the corner. Every evening I went through the bush collecting what you threw away.”
When the last animal had signed its name, the “Rainy Day” book was almost full.
Inside, the storehouse was a picture of activity, rather bewildering to anyone who chanced to peep in at that moment. So many hungry animals and birds were feeding and chattering at once; but a glance at the neatly arranged bundles and packages showed the work of Nickety Split. Dried leaves and berries hung from the ceiling, nuts were piled in a neat heap in a corner, yams and other roots tied together lay on the shelves, beside a huge bowl of honey. Birds’ nests, which had been cast aside as useless, had been carefully gathered and tenderly laid away.
“They may need these some day,” he said to himself as he handled each one tenderly. Many tiny birds were thankful to nestle down in one of the cosy nests that night. Some even recognised their own cast-aways, and, filled with wonder and gratefulness, tucked their little heads under their wings, cheeping softly as they fell asleep.
As winter passed away, “The Rainy Day” became almost empty of its precious stores. The first warm morning was the sign for all to be up and working, and dawn saw the little people start out on their day’s work. Evening was the time for all surplus food to be brought to the store-house.
Nickety Split entered each item in his “Rainy Day” book, crediting each worker with his belongings. Column after column was filled daily.
“How many nuts today?” Nickety asked the ’possum as he placed the bundle on the floor.
“Six,” he replied, and bustled out again.
“And how many yams for you?” Nickety asked a wallaby.
“Ten, today, Sir,” the wallaby replied, pulling them out of her pouch, then hurriedly hopping away.
A glance inside the book showed how saving each animal had become.
Miss Bee, No. 1. … 8 baskets of pollen.
Mrs. Magpie … 2 pieces of meat (one dried).
Mr. Mouse … 15 grains of wheat.
Miss Wagtail … 10 cows’ hairs brown and white.
Mr. ’Possum … 30 nuts (assorted).
Mr. Galah … 6 grass seeds.
Mr. Wallaby … 10 yams (one bruised).
As the weeks went by, “The Rainy Day” became overcrowded, and Nickety spent quite a lot of time hunting around for fresh corners in which to store the goods.
One morning he called a meeting together. “We must build a large store-house,’ he explained, “and everyone who brings new treasures will receive an extra one from me. Thrift deserves its reward.’
“How wonderful!” the little creatures cried. “Only a short time ago we had nothing, and now—look what we have.”
“Let us start building today,” Nickety said. “Let us have plenty for the coming winter.”
A suitable spot was chosen for the new store-house, and the ants were given the honour of laying the foundations. Thousands of thousands each carrying a grain of sand, laid the flooring. Then came the birds with twigs, while others brought mud. Nickety worked like a giant patting the mud and sticks into place, until the walls were built.
“Now for the windows and chimney,” he cried.
“Here they are,” the crows and magpies cried together, pointing to a pile of pebbles and broken glass.
“I’ve brought the door,” Mrs. Rabbit said, as she came puffing around the corner, her mouth full of dried grass.
“Splendid,” Nickety remarked. “Trust a rabbit to look after things.”
In no time “The Rainy Day Branch” was finished, and then once more the bush folk set to work to fill it. Song and whistling filled the air, Nickety at times singing his favourite song, until the parrots came to know it and sang the words from the tree-tops as they gathered the berries. The bush was now the happiest place. Mother Nature gave her wonderful gifts, which each appreciated to the full, and guarded jealously. And all had Nickety Split to thank—or was it “Thrift”? I really forget.
A Stranger walked through the bush, down the track that led to “The Rainy Day”. His head was lowered, his eyes were sad. He walked slowly, thinking, thinking, too weary to lift his tired feet until a bump halted his footsteps. Lifting his head sharply he came out of his dreams, and stood staring in amazement at the little store-house.
“What does it mean?” he asked aloud. “There are no fairies in this world. Only cold facts. Surely I’m dreaming.”
Stepping ever so quietly towards “The Rainy Day” he almost collided with Miss Wallaby as she bounded through the doorway.
“Is this Fairyland?”
“No, indeed,” Miss Wallaby answered hurriedly. “Fairies only play; we work!” and with a hop she was gone.
“Strange, and stranger still,” the man whispered, approaching the doorway; then, noticing the sign over the portal, laughed his loudest.
“Well, I must be dreaming,” he cried.
Nickety peeped around the door, his poor little heart thumping with fear. “A man,” he whispered. “Oh, my poor store-house. He will destroy it and all its treasures. My little friends will never forgive me.”
“I will not harm you or your little house,” the man said in a soft voice.
“What do you want?” Nickety asked nervously.
“A few moments of your precious time—nothing more,” the man replied.
“I’m very busy today. It’s the day we do most of our nut gathering. Could you call another time?”
“I’m afraid I can’t,” the man said sadly. “I’m looking for ‘Help’.”
“Do you need ‘Help’?” Nickety asked, astonished.
“Yes,” the man replied. “Can you tell me where I can find it?”
“Why, ‘Help’ never comes along this way now,” Nickety replied. “We all work so hard to save our earnings that we have no need for her.”
“Ah! You are wise little folk,” the man sighed. “Why aren’t my people like you?”
“Perhaps ‘Waste’ has known them,” Nickety replied softly.
“‘Waste’—wicked ‘Waste.’ What do you know of her?” The man looked surprised.
“Come inside and I will tell you,” Nickety said, beckoning him to enter.
There the story of “The Rainy Day” was told, and a man left with fresh hope in his heart.
“Surely I can build a store-house for my people,” he thought. “A place where they can save their money for which they have laboured. A place to which they can turn on ‘A Rainy Day’.”
Many weeks went by. Over the mountains, away from Nickety Split’s store-house, a great stone building reared its head skywards. The first Bank was in erection. Many months went by. People hurried in and out of its huge door, leaving behind their surplus money to be kept in safe keeping for times of stress. Many years went by. A wealthy city grew, with happy inhabitants.
Children laughed as they played in the parks and schools. Men and women sang at their work, for a good habit lived amongst them. "What was the habit?” I hear you ask. "Was it a Bank or was it Thrift?”
Nickety Split’s timely lesson to the “birds and the bees, and all the tiny creatures that lived among the trees” was not wasted, for here you see them practising that other kind of thrift that is made so easy for you.
At your School, too, there is probably a School Bank, but if not there is a Branch or Agency of the Commonwealth Savings Bank in your district. No matter where you live, therefore, you can have your Savings Account too. Nickety made no charge for helping the forest folk — instead he paid them interest, as you know, and that is just what the Commonwealth Savings Bank does.
Remember the “Rainy Day Store” which helped the bush folk so wonderfully. In just the same way, a Savings Account will provide for your “Rainy Day,” as well as enable you to spend for your comfort and happiness.
COMMONWEALTH SAVINGS BANK OF AUSTRALIA
Project Gutenberg Australia