Once there was a conceited Brownie, who thought he could do more things and do them better than any other of his people. He had not tried yet, for he was very young, but he said he was going to do them some day!
One morning a sly
"Well," said the sly old Brownie, "there is a little Mouse-bird whose tail never bobs. You can easily catch him, for you see, he does not even fly, but crawls like a mouse up the tree," and he pointed to a little brown Creeper. By this time the young Brownie knew that the others were laughing at him, so he said rather hotly, "I'll just show you right now."
He took an acorn cup full of salt, and went after the Mouse-bird. It was at the bottom of the big tree, creeping up, round and round, as if on a spiral staircase, and the Brownie began to climb in the same way. But every little while the climber had to stop and rest. This had strange results, for there is a law in Brownie land, that wherever one of the little people stops to sit down, or rest, a toadstool must spring up for him to sit on. So the track of the Brownie up the trunk became one long staircase of toadstool steps, some close, some far apart, but each showing where the Brownie had rested. They came closer together toward the top where the Brownie had got tired, but he was coming very near to the Creeper now. He got his pinch of salt all ready, as his friends down below kept calling and jeering: "Now you've got him, now is your chance." But just as he was going to leap forward and drop the salt on its tail, the Creeper gave a tiny little laugh like "Tee-tee-tee," spread its wings, for it could fly very well, and sailed away to the bottom of the next tree to do the spiral staircase all over again, while Smarty Brownie was so mad that he jumped to the ground and hid away from his friends for two days. When he came back he did not talk quite so much as he used to. But to this day you can see the staircase of toadstools on the tree trunks where the Brownie went up.