THE ORIGIN OF TOADSTOOLS
 ONCE every year, between the hours of midnight and dawn, the fairy queen and
all the fairies from fairyland meet together and hold a festival.
Here they dance around the May-pole and sing and talk and sip nectar juice
and dainty cream until just before sunrise, when they fly back again to
It was in the heart of a deep and beautiful woodland that they met one night
in May to hold this yearly festival.
Long silver-gray moss hung in cascades from tall cypress trees, and flowers
rich and rare cast their fragrant perfume on the air, while the moon hung
like a crystal lamp over the lake, throwing a shimmering path of light
across its smooth surface.
Seated on a rustic throne of twisted roots the fairy queen held
fairies gathered around her. They were talking together of the earth
 world, and of their plans for the pleasure of the good children
they had done the past year and what they would like to do the next. The
queen was made very happy by the reports she heard from her fairies, and
rising from her rustic bower she said: "Come, fairies, one and all, let us
make something very beautiful for the earth-children to-night. Let us make
them a magic wishing umbrella, such that the first one who stands beneath
it, may make a wish and it will surely come true. Hasten, for the jewelled
dawn will soon be parting the rosy curtains of day, and we have no time to
 So, with a song of gladness, the fairies sprang to their feet, and
catching hands, danced around a fairy ring, singing and weaving as they
danced, and by and by, suspended above their heads, was a most beautiful
silken umbrella—cream on the outside and lined with the most delicate
The handle was pearl and it was quite the prettiest umbrella that anyone
Then the fairy queen, who alone can sprinkle the wonderful wishing dust,
dipped her fingers into the golden powder and sprinkled the dainty umbrella
inside and out—and now it was quite ready for a fairy gift to the
Calling two of the fairies who were fleetest of wing, she told them to carry
the umbrella swiftly to the earth-land and place it on the top of a very
high hill called The Hill of Faith.
The two fairies did as they were told, and then all the little dream
fairies, who carry around the pretty dreams, hastened on wings of love to
the earth-land's sleeping children and whispered in pretty dreams what the
fairies had done for them.
 There are still many children now, like the little boy I have already
told you about, who do not believe in fairies, and so it was in those days.
Night after night the little dream fairies visited their beds and told them
over and over again about the gift of the wonderful wishing umbrella; but
when morning came not a child would believe it enough to climb to the top of
the high Hill of Faith.
True they stood in the streets and in their doorways and talked about the
wonderful umbrella, and even told what wish they would like to make should
they be first to reach the hill-top and stand beneath its magic shelter.
One little blue-eyed boy with fair curls, whose eyes were brighter than any
of the others, said he believed the umbrella must be on the top of the hill,
as the dream fairies had told them.
thought he could really see its dim outline and he started off alone,
the hill, with a happy smile on his rosy lips, but he had gone only a short
way when the hot, shining sun made his head ache, and he
 turned back
saying he believed he must have been mistaken after all, because he could
not see the umbrella as before.
Then a group of merry-hearted girls and boys started off up the hill, but
the sharp stones cut their feet, and one by one they, too, came back, tired
and cross, and they also said they did not believe the umbrella was there.
Now there was a little toad who hopped about in the grass at the foot of the
hill, and though his coat was rusty and his eyes were dull, still he was
wiser than the earth-land children, because he believed in
The dream fairies had not been to him, but his ears were very sharp and he
had heard the children talk and talk and talk about the wonderful wishing
umbrella, until he knew it must be there.
Then, because the little toad had a wish he wanted to make, he started out
one morning very early, up, up, up the high Hill of Faith, and he said to
himself, "I'll go see for myself if what I hear is true." So he hopped and
hopped and hopped
 and hopped and hopped and hopped and hopped, and
though the sun was very hot and the little toad longed for water, still he
would not stop, but hopped higher and higher and higher up the sharp, rocky
path, until by and by the dark night came, and he could not see one inch
ahead of him.
Still he would not turn back, but hopped on higher and higher, feeling his
way in the dark, as he kept thinking of the wishing umbrella, which he
believed he would surely find at the top. And the morning found him still
Now all this time the little toad was hopping higher and higher up the hill,
the earth-children stood in the valley below, gazing at the top, and trying
to see without having to climb up.
"It is too high up, anyway," they grumbled; "no child could climb so high.
Why didn't the fairies put the umbrella at the bottom of the hill if they
wanted to give us anything? It is so much trouble to climb."
But fairies are very wise, you know, and besides they did not want a lazy
 stand beneath the umbrella—because a lazy child would never
know how to make a wise wish.
Then too, they did not want anyone who did not believe in fairies to find
the wishing umbrella, and that was the very reason why they had placed it on
the very top of the high Hill of Faith.
But the little toad still believed, and though the journey was a long one,
it came to an end, and, one bright, beautiful morning, footsore and weary,
he reached the top of the hill, and there was the beautiful fairy umbrella
right before his eyes!
Now the little toad had planned to wish for the world full of
for himself and all the other toads, so that they might always have plenty
to eat without bothering to catch them.
But somehow, when he saw the beautiful wishing umbrella which the fairies
had taken so much trouble to make for the little earth-children, he felt so
very sorry that none of them had been wise enough to believe, and climb to
the top of the hill and see the wonderful umbrella for themselves,
stand beneath its shade and make the wish they wanted most of all—the
toad thought all of this was so very sad that he hopped right up, underneath
the wishing umbrella, and said:
"I wish that thousands of tiny little umbrellas, as beautiful as this one,
may spring up all over the world in valleys and fields and woods, so that
every little earth-child may see for himself and know for a truth of the
fairies' kind gift—the wishing umbrella."
Then the little toad hopped from beneath the umbrella and, much to his
surprise, there was sweet music all around him, and the beautiful umbrella
slowly closed up like a flower, and rose higher and higher and higher until
it was quite out of sight.
And the little toad's wish came true, because, sure enough, that very day
the earth-children found scattered over fields and valleys and woods these
dainty little fairy umbrellas of cream and pink, just large enough for a
toad to sit beneath,—but not for an earth-child.
Often, it is said, the pixies gather the little umbrellas and place them in
 as you have sometimes found them—and here they sit when they
have their moonlight picnics and laugh about the little earth-children who
do not believe in fairies.
Now the fairy queen was very much pleased when she heard about the little
toad and the very kind wish he had made, and she said:
"For ever and ever these dainty fairy umbrellas shall be known as toadstool
umbrellas, in memory of the little toad who heard and believed." And so they
are to this day.