The Fairies Who Changed Places

The Fairies Who Changed Places

This delightful fairy tale is a perfect spring read. It tells the tale of how snowdrops and snowflakes are made and how their fairy makers came to be. Starblossom the flower fairy and Drop-of-Crystal the snow fairy are great friends and decide to swap jobs to challenge each other. They become very fond of their new roles.

And because Drop-of-Crystal was a snow-fairy, the flowers he made were always like drops of snow; and because Starblossom was a flower-fairy, the snowflakes she made were always like flowers.

This tale is found in Mrs. Stawell’s book Fairies I Have Met originally published in 1907. It was written for a little girl named Penelope, ‘so that she may love the fairies, and keep the sunbeam always in her heart.’


The Fairies Who Changed Places

A Spring Fairy Tale

by Mrs. Rodolph Stawell

The story is about something that happened long, long, and ever so long ago, before the fairies had really settled down to their work.

There was then a little fairy called Starblossom, whose business it was to take care of the earliest Spring flowers; and there was also a fairy called Drop-of-Crystal, whose work it was to make snowflakes. These two fairies were great friends.

One day Starblossom had not very much to do. She had finished sharpening the little green spikes of her flower-leaves, and had even made ready one or two white buds. But when she saw that Drop-of-Crystal was very busy making heavy drops of snow, she thought to herself that there was no need for her to be in a hurry about the Spring flowers. They would be much more comfortable underground if Drop-of-Crystal were going to fling snowflakes all over them. So she carefully covered up her buds and went off to watch the snow-fairy at work.

Drop-of-Crystal was too busy to speak. He was making an enormous quantity of snowflakes. Starblossom was silent for some time, but at last she asked—

“What are they all for?”

“For a snow-storm, of course,” said Drop-of-Crystal shortly.

“Are they all to be used in one storm?” asked Starblossom. “It will be a very big storm, I’m afraid.”

“It will,” said Drop-of-Crystal—”very big. You’d better take care of those flowers of yours, or they’ll be hurt.”

“There are not many of them above ground,” Starblossom answered. “I saw what you were doing. But in any case my flowers are not likely to be hurt by the snow-fairies so much as by the frost-fairies.”

Drop-of-Crystal said nothing to this, but went on working busily.

Presently Starblossom spoke again.

“It seems to me that snowflakes are very easy to make. Your work is really much easier than mine. It is very difficult to make flowers nicely. One has to be so particular about the shape of them.”

“I don’t agree with you at all,” said Drop-of-Crystal rather crossly. “My work is much harder than yours. I have to make thousands and thousands of snowflakes for the very smallest snow-storm. You can take quite a long time arranging the shape of your flowers, but I have to work in a hurry, or the storm would run short of snowflakes. And that would be very serious.”

“Not half so serious as it would be if the Spring were to run short of flowers,” said Starblossom indignantly.

“Look here,” said Drop-of-Crystal, losing his temper, “if you like my work so much I wish you’d do it! You can set to work and make a few thousand snowflakes while I take a rest.”

“I shall be delighted to do such easy work,” said Starblossom; “but of course if I make your snowflakes you must make my flowers. That is only fair.”

“Very well,” said Drop-of-Crystal, “I don’t mind. After all, work of that kind is just the same as resting.”

So he flew off to the place where Starblossom’s flowers were beginning to show their spiky leaves above ground. He had never made a flower before, and did not know how to set about it, but he was much too proud to ask Starblossom how it ought to be done. So he did the best he could by himself.

It was a long time before he had finished a flower-bud. When the first one was done he thought it looked rather odd.

“There is something peculiar about that flower-bud,” he said to himself. “It is really more like a big drop of snow than a flower! I suppose that comes of making snowflakes for so long. I must try again.”

So he tried again, and again, and again. But every time the flower-bud was exactly like a big drop of snow.

“I can’t help it,” he said at last. “They will keep on being like drops of snow. But, after all, there is no reason why a flower should not be like a drop of snow. They are dear little flowers, anyway, and I shall go on making them like this.”

So he went on for a long time making flowers that were like drops of snow, and dear little flowers they were.

In the meantime Starblossom was hard at work making snowflakes. She knew no more about making snowflakes than Drop-of-Crystal knew about making flowers, but, like Drop-of-Crystal, she determined to do the best she could without asking for help. She took a long time to make the first snowflake, because she was accustomed to finish her flowers very carefully, and she liked everything she made to be pretty. She laughed to herself as she put down the first finished snowflake.

“That is what comes of making nothing but flowers,” she said. “That snowflake is exactly like a flower!”

She was quite right. The snowflake was like a delicate, starry flower, light as air, and clear as crystal, and glistening in the sunshine.

“I like that kind of snowflake,” said Starblossom. “I shall make some more.”

So she made a great number of snowflakes, and they were all like feathery flowers, all different in shape, but all beautiful.

“I should like to go on making snow-flowers always,” she said to herself.

At that moment Drop-of-Crystal flew up to her in a great hurry.

“Oh, do come and see my nice new flowers,” he cried. “They are quite a new kind, and they are so pretty—just like drops of snow!”

“And my drops of snow are just like flowers!” cried Starblossom. “And I want to go on making them always, because they are so beautiful.”

“Well then,” said Drop-of-Crystal, clapping his hands, “suppose you and I change places! You shall go on making snowflakes, and I’ll go on making flowers!”

So that was the way they settled it.

And because Drop-of-Crystal was a snow-fairy, the flowers he made were always like drops of snow; and because Starblossom was a flower-fairy, the snowflakes she made were always like flowers.

That is the reason why, to this day, the first flowers of Spring are like drops of snow, and the snowflakes are like beautiful, starry flowers. You must often have noticed it yourself.