The Rain Elf children had been shut up in their houses for ever so long, for it had been hot and the Rain Elves do not like very hot weather. Their mothers, the Rain Clouds, awoke one morning and found the sun was not shining, so they told their children they could drop down and play on the Earth awhile.
“Now, mind you, do not all go. Part of you can go at a time, because there are so many, many millions of you; the poor Earth would be quite overcome if all the Rain Elves went down at once.”
So a few from each family of the Rain Cloud’s children went out the door as their mothers opened it and down they dropped upon the dry Earth.
Oh, the gardens were so glad to see them! The flowers lifted their drooping heads and smiled a glad welcome. “Where have you been?” they asked. “It is so long since you were here we thought you had forgotten us.”
“Oh no, we didn’t forget you!” replied the Rain Elves, “but it has been so hot our mothers would not let us come out. We can stay but a little while, because we have many, many millions of brothers that want to come down to the garden, too; so we will have to go back, and the next shower will bring some of the others.”
The little flowers were grieved when they heard this, for they were so dusty and thirsty they felt they could never get enough of the shining little Elves.
“What shall we do to keep them here?” they whispered among themselves. “If they go back to the clouds, perhaps the others will not come. Oh, if the old Wind Witch would only come along she might help us.”
“She might get us all into trouble also,” said a slender lily. “I think we better trust the Rain Cloud mothers to do what they think best.”
But poor little lily’s words were not noticed and a tall hollyhock was asked to find old Wind Witch and request her to help them keep the Rain Elves all day.
The old Wind Witch laughed with glee when she heard the request, for she saw a chance to work mischief and make it appear she was trying to do good.
“Tell the pretty flowers they shall have the Rain Elves all day, and their brothers, too,” she said to the hollyhock, and off she flew up to the Rain Cloud homes.
She went about the clouds very carefully and gently, for she knew if the Rain Cloud mothers heard her they would call their children home; but by and by she saw her chance, and while the Rain Cloud mothers were busy she softly opened the door of each cloud one by one and beckoned to the Rain Elves.
“Run along quickly,” she said. “Your brothers are having such a fine time they have quite forgotten you; they will not be back today, so run along and be merry with them.”
The little Rain Elves did not stop to think they should wait for their mothers to tell them when to go, they were so eager to get out.
Down they went quite gently at first with a patter, patter, pat, and then they quite lost their heads, thinking of the fun they would have, and down they dropped, splash, splash, splash.
At first the flowers laughed and danced about for joy, for they were getting their leaves and blossoms washed and their thirsty petals satisfied; but in a little while the Rain Elves came so fast and thick the petals dropped off one by one, and then the stems bent under the swift coming of the Elves.
Pretty soon the garden was filled with water so that the grass could not be seen, while old Wind Witch danced about overhead and cackled with delight at the mischief she had done.
“Oh dear! I did not know there were so many of you!” cried a rose as her stem broke and she fell into the water.
“I was afraid of it,” sighed the lily as she fell to the ground. “A few Elves at a time is best. The mother Rain Clouds know.”
Such a commotion as there was in the Rain Cloud homes when the mothers found the doors of their houses open! They hustled about and called for the Rain Elves to come home; but they were so taken up with the fun they were having, spattering and splashing, they did not hear.
By and by old Sun Man saw them, and it did not take him long to throw his hot rays on old Wind Witch and drive her away, and then the Rain Elves felt the Sun Man’s breath and thought of home.
One by one they disappeared. Some hid among the roses and other flowers that were left in the garden, and others were lucky enough to get back to their cloud houses and their mothers, but they left the garden a very sad-looking place.
“Who ever would have thought there were so many of those Rain Elves,” said a bedraggled-looking flower. “I shall never wish for them to stay all day again.”
“The lily was wiser than we thought,” said another. “The Rain Cloud mothers know best what is good for us, and the next time they send a part of their children I think we better be satisfied and not get them all here at once.”
“I think you are right,” sighed the hollyhock from the ground, where he had fallen. “Shall I ever see over the wall again, I wonder. Such a fall as I took none of you can realize.”