In the olden days, long before washing machines were invented, there were washermen and women who would come to your home and collect your dirty clothes to clean them for you.

Nancy Newell did just that. Rain or shine, she would walk over hill and moor to pick up clothes that needed washing and return them crisp, clean and neatly folded. Nancy worked long hours, but she liked her job and she never complained. The only thing that made her grumble was how much her husband worried when she walked home in the dark.

Every day he would say, “Be careful of the pixies. Make sure they don’t try to lead you away to Fairyland.” And if she came home late, he’d say, “Thank goodness you’re home. I thought the pixies had got you!”

Nancy would tut. “Pixies, indeed! In all these years, I’ve never seen one and, if I did, I wouldn’t be afraid.”

Sometimes her customers worried too. “Are you sure we can’t take you home in the carriage?” they would ask. “The pixies are out at this time of night, and you don’t want to be whisked away. Aren’t you scared?”

“Scared?” Nancy would say. “Not one bit. I’ve never seen a pixie and, if I do, I can take care of myself.”

Compared to her family, neighbours and customers, Nancy was fearless when it came to pixies.

One evening, at sunset, Nancy had delivered her last bundle of washing and was about to set off for home when her customer said, “Thank you, Nancy. Be careful on the way home. It’s the perfect evening for mischief. Don’t let the pixies lead you away.”

Nancy was in high spirits. “Pixies! What nonsense!” she laughed. “I’ve never seen one and, until I do, I don’t even believe they exist. Pixies indeed.”

Her customer gasped, but Nancy bade her a friendly farewell and set off boldly up the lane, thinking what a beautiful evening it was and how much she was looking forward to sharing a meal with her husband.

However, the pixies had overheard Nancy’s words and decided enough was enough. To claim they didn’t even exist was just plain rude!

“How dare she! It’s time to teach that Nancy Newell a lesson,” said the head pixie in a huff. “Let’s prove to her, once and for all, that we exist.”

As the first star twinkled in the sky, Nancy was startled by a noise up ahead. It sounded like hundreds of high-pitched voices chatting and making a commotion.

“There must be a party,” she thought, but she couldn’t imagine why anyone would throw a party in the middle of the moor.

As she drew nearer, the hullabaloo got louder. Soon Nancy reached a huge crowd of tiny people, who were no taller than her knee. They were wearing colourful jackets and tall hats made from flower petals.

Nancy was wide-eyed with surprise. She could see they were pixies and they seemed to be concentrating hard on clambering on top of each other’s shoulders. They were making a giant pixie pyramid!

Just as the head pixie reached the very top of the pyramid, they noticed Nancy standing there, gawping up at them. There were so many pixies that the pyramid towered above her head. Nancy couldn’t believe her eyes.

The head pixie looked down at her and said, “Now do you believe we exist, Nancy Newell?”

For once, Nancy was too shocked to speak, so she nodded her head. A moment later, the pyramid was gone and the pixies had skipped away.

As the head pixie disappeared from view, he called, “You don’t have to see to believe, Nancy!”

Nancy ran all the way home to her husband and never again tutted at or mocked the pixies, but she knew not to be scared of them too.

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