Once upon a time a Bee, a Bug, and a Cow went marching up to Mother Carey's palace in the hemlock grove, to tell her of their troubles. They complained that food was poor and scarce, and they were tired of the kinds that grew along the roadsi
Mother Carey heard them patiently, then she said: "Yes, you have some reason to complain, so I will send you a new food called Clover. Its flower shall be full of honey for the Bee, its leaves full of cowfood and its cellar shall be stocked with tiny pudding bags of meal for the Bug, that is for good little Bug-folks who live underground."
Now the tribes of the Bee, the Bug, and the Cow had a fine time feasting, for the new food was everywhere.
But Cows are rather stupid you know. They found the new food so good that they kept on munching everything that had three round leaves, thinking it was Clover, and very soon a lot of them were poisoned with strange plants that no wise Cow would think of eating.
So Mother Carey called a Busy Brownie, and put him on guard to keep the Cows from eating the poison plants by mistake.
At first it was good fun, and the Brownie enjoyed it because it made him feel important. But he got very tired of his job and wanted to go to the ball game.
He sat down on a toadstool, and looked very glum. He could hear the other Brownies shouting at the game, and that made him feel worse. Then he heard a great uproar, and voices yelling "A home run!" "A home run!" That drove him wild. He had been whittling the edge of the toadstool with his knife, and now he slashed off a big piece of the cap, he was so mad.
Then up he got and said to the Cows: "See here, you fool Cows, I can't stay here for ever trying to keep you from eating poison, but I'll do this much. I'll stamp all the good-to-eat leaves with a mark that will be your guide."
So he made a rubber stamp out of part of the toadstool he was sitting on, and stamped every Clover leaf in that pasture, so the Cows could be sure, then skipped away to the ball game.
When Mother Carey heard of his running away from his job, she was very angry. She said: "Well, you Bad Brownie, you should be ashamed, but that white mark was a good idea so I'll forgive you, if you go round, and put it on every Clover leaf in the world."
He had to do it, though it looked like an endless task, and he never would have finished it, had not the other Brownies all over the world come to help him; so it was done at last. And that is the reason that every Clover leaf to-day has on it the white mark like an arrowhead, the Brownie sign for "good-to eat."
The Cows get along better now, but still they are very stupid; they go munching ahead without thinking, and will even eat the blossoms which belong to the Bees. And the Bees have to buzz very loudly and even sting the Cows on their noses to keep them from stealing the bee-food. The good little Bugs underground have the best time, for there the Cows can not harm them, and the Bees never come near. They eat when they are hungry and sleep when they are cold, which is their idea of a good time; so except for some little quarrels between the Cows and the Bees they have all gotten along very well ever since.