THE TIRESOME BROWNIE
mushrooms. This year he went to a grassy dell he knew, where many big rounded stones lay that would make good seats. Fiddle arranged
them in a neat ring.
But there was one gap in the ring! Fiddle grinned to himself and went to call on Crawler the Tortoise, who lived by himself at the bottom of a hollow tree.
" Crawler," he said, " will you do something for me? Pretend that you are a nice rock at our meeting. Then, when old Slowcoach, who will be sitting on you, begins to read a paper to himself, just walk quietly off with him, will you? We can finish our meeting without him then, and get home early."
Crawler chuckled. " I'll do it! " he said. So when the evening came for the meeting, the tortoise set himself down in the ring of stones and lay there with his head well-tucked into his shell, waiting.
Fiddle showed the brownies to their seats when the meeting began. He made quite sure that Mister Slowcoach sat on the tortoise. How he smiled when he thought of what would happen!
The meeting began. Bron stood up and talked about all that had happened in Heyho the last year, and papers were given out for every one to look at. Mister Slowcoach took his, and put his big spectacles on. He opened his paper.
" Go on, Crawler," whispered Fiddle. " It's a good time now, when every one is reading! "
Carefully the tortoise began to crawl out of the ring. He went so slowly that Mister Slowcoach didn't even feel any movement. When Bron the chief brownie looked up, he was most surprised to see that Mister Slowcoach was right outside the ring, reading his paper with his nose deep in the sheets.
" Dear me," said Bron in surprise and displeasure, " I suppose Mister Slowcoach doesn't like being in the ring with us! He's gone to sit on another stone outside. I suppose he thinks we might interrupt his reading."
All the brownies snorted. They were vexed.
" Never mind old Slowcoach," said naughty Fiddle. " He's quite happy there. Don't disturb him."
So nobody said a word to him, and the meeting went on, whilst old