THE CHEERFUL CRICKET AND OTHERS
ILLUSTRATED BY EDITH BROWN
HENRY DOUGLAS BACON
AND TO OTHER CHILDREN AS GOOD AND BAD
BIG OR LITTLE
THESE STORIES AND TALES ARE INSCRIBED
THE CHEERFUL CRICKET THE SLOTHFUL TOAD THE SULLEN CATERPILLAR THE GREEN INCH WORM THE MEAN SPIDER THE MARSH GRASS VESPER QUARTETTE THE NOISY FLY THE DIZZY MOTH THE HONEST ANT THE WALKING STICK LADY BUG & MRS. POE TATO-BUG THE TUNEFUL HUMMING BIRD
The Cheerful Cricket had been running around anxiously in the grass all the morning. Mrs. Cricky carried her head down, and when she ran she scuttled, and when she stopped she was absolutely still, except for her eyes, which she turned about brightly in every direction. Mrs. Cricky was looking for food for Chee, Chirk and Chirp. Usually Mr. Cricky brought home the food, but he was a member of the Marsh Grass Vesper Quartette—made up of himself, Miss K. T. Did, Mr. Frisky Frog and Mr. Tree Toad Todson, first cousin to Toadie Todson—and they had all been out very late the night before, so Mrs. Cricky didn't wish to disturb him.
At last Mrs. Cricky found what she wanted, and home she came. Chirp and Chee and Chirk were fed, and then it was time to begin school. Mrs. Cricky always taught her own children. She had rented three little toad-stools, not any bigger than tacks, from Toadie Todson, and these the children used for desks. She often said that she thought round-top desks better than flat, for then the children were not so likely to lean their elbows on them. School began promptly as the sun rose; nine o'clock would have seemed a lazy hour to the little Cricketses. The principal study Mrs. Cricky taught was Cheerfulness, much the same as you are taught reading and writing. She said that the whole duty of a cricket was to be cheerful. After this she gave them some lessons in Fear. These lessons were something like the things your mother tells you, such as, "Don't go near the water," "Fire burns," "Don't put beans in your ears," "Look before you leap;" only Mrs. Cricky told Chirp and Chee and Chirk never to go near one of old Stingy's spider-webs, and when they saw a giant coming with a fish pole in his hand, to hop away as fast as they could. Then, too, she said there was a four-footed animal, called a cat, that caught little crickets to eat them up. After this they all chirruped together as she waved a blade of grass to keep time, then she rang a blue-bell and school was over. She put three little clover-leaf sunbonnets on them and sent them out into the sun to play.
Now Chirp and Chee and Chirk were like other little boys and girls who do not learn their lessons very well. And Chee was careless about listening to his lessons in Fear. They went right out with their three little clover-leaf sunbonnets on and down to the edge of the lake. Chee climbed way up to the top end of a large blade of grass, and was balancing there, much as you like to on a spring-board, when accidentally he fell into the lake. Chirp and Chirk ran to and fro, frightened to death, calling for help. But nobody heard them. In the meantime Chee was kicking in the water and making a great fuss, when a big oak leaf floated by, and Chee scrambled on. If, however, the leaf had not come at just that moment Chee would have drowned. When the leaf floated in shore they all went home and told Mother Cricky. She stopped chirruping for quite a long time and didn't say anything at all. When Mrs. Cricky began to chirrup again she said it served them just right, and she hoped it had taught them all a lesson. Then they all chirruped together, because Chee was safe, and Mrs. Cricky said: "Now let us all sing a little song to show that we are happy." And this is the song they sang:
Jump, jump everywhere, How we like the summer air, Chirp, chirp, chirp in tune, On the grass beneath the moon.
THE SLOTHFUL TOAD
The slothful Toad (his real name was Toadie Todson) crawled out of his hole and looked about. He saw a Bee near by buzzing busily over a rich large clover blossom, and a sturdy Ant dragging a white parcel marked "Food" toward a round sandy house, and a cheery little Cricket marching rapidly up a green stalk in search of a dinner for three hungry little Cricketses. It was a busy time for all except Toadie Todson.
The spring had just come, that much Toadie Todson knew, and all these neighbors were busy putting their houses in order. Well, the Bee was stocking his honeycomb house, the Ant was putting her summer pantry into order and filling it with cookies, cream cheese, cake, and honey that her Majesty, the Queen Bee, sent over every day. And the Cricket, although his house was out of doors under a big green oak leaf that had dropped to the ground, was busy piling up all the food he could find for Mrs. Cricky to guard while she nursed the three little Cricketses.
Toadie Todson was tired to see so much going on. He wished they would all be quiet and stop hurrying around. He drew a long sigh, which made him swell up and look rounder and fatter than ever. Why couldn't his neighbors feed as he did? He just sat there and opened his big red slit of a mouth, gave a lazy snap, and a noisy fly, still buzzing, was swallowed up. He moved a little further away from his hole, dragging one fat, squashy leg after the other, then down he squatted again.
A little ball of green inch-worm dropped off the bush on to Toadie Todson's back and began to measure its length over Toadie's big warts and veins. It made him feel very important to have an inch-worm all to himself to tickle his back, as important as an Egyptian Queen with a slave to tickle the sole of her foot all the hot afternoon long. Toadie Todson swelled with pride as the green inch-worm went measuring up and down, up and down his back.
The Busy Bee just then flew buzzing by and buzzed to Toadie as he went: "There's a sand-slide rolling down this way. I'm getting out's fast as I can." When the Bee said sand-slide it sounded just like "Sz-sz-sz—z-z-z-z—ide." Toadie Todson opened his fat eyes and dropped his mouth in an ugly laugh. It made him sick to see any one in such a hurry. Then the Honest Ant went scurrying past and very kindly gave him the same message. But Toadie only sneered the more. He had been living in this very spot for years, almost as many as you have lived, and nothing had ever happened to him. No, he would stay right there, it was too much trouble to move for anybody. The green inch-worm was very green, and went on measuring Toadie Todson's back, for it didn't understand a word the Bee and Ant had said,
Suddenly, gravel, gravel, gravel, slip, slip, slip—and Toadie Todson was under mountains of sand with a great big rock square on his back. The green inch-worm began to bore its way out of the sand; it could hear Toadie Todson groaning and saying:
"O! O! I wish I'd never been so lazy. I might have lived an' been as happy and rich as the Bee or the Ant. O, O!"
And the green inch-worm knew that Toadie Todson was dead.
Not more than six hours after this Mrs. Cricky overheard the green inch-worm practising a tune. It pleased her so much that she tried to sing it again to Father Cricky for the Marsh Grass Vesper Quartette. Of course it was all about Toadie Todson, and this was it:
Mournful, mournful notes, In our little throats we sing Flowers, flowers dead, For our Toadie's head we bring
THE SULLEN CATERPILLAR
All the little green Inch-Worms and the energetic, thin Road-Worms called him Glummie for short, although his whole name was Longinus Rotundus Caterpillar. That's a very long, hard name, and they couldn't be bothered with a name like that for such a sulky fellow as he. And for fear I shall take too long telling my story about him, we also will call him, not Longinus Rotundus Caterpillar, but Glummie. Glummie was born into a most talented and attractive family—that means a family that could do many things very well and was pretty to look at; but from the time he went out to eat his own leaves he was sullen. Nobody knew exactly what was the matter. It is true his sisters were prettier than he, for they had long yellow hair that waved all over a silky green body, and they had dark yellow-brown eyes. But a boy should not mind having his sisters prettier than he. And he had an older brother they all called "Squirm." He was very much liked; he was browner and larger than Glummie, and he was always doing nice things for his brother, and Glummie shouldn't have been jealous.
But, however all that might be, this day Glummie was sulking away in the grass, and making himself generally disliked. Two Katydids had said a pleasant "Good-morning" to him, and almost jumped out of their green coats when he snapped out, "It ain't" Mrs. Cricky in passing by chirped pleasantly, and Glummie glowered so out of his great, fierce red-brown eyes at her that she hurried on, in terror of her life. There was only one thing snappier than he on the grass by the lake shore that morning, and that was the Snapping Turtle. Presently a Locust came along and turned on his buzzing hum right in Glummie's ear. Then Glummie was furious, raised his head and struck at the Locust. Now the Locust was a tease, and this pleased him immensely. So he cracked his wings right in the very face of Glummie and began to sing:
_The Firefly Song
Not too fast_
Dancing, dancing, Fire—flies dancing, Flash your wings, Frog-gie sings, Dance my little wings, dance.
Glummie fairly raged, till the hairs all over his fat body stood up straight, and his long stiff whiskers—and he had whiskers on both his head and his tail—fairly bristled. He grumbled out that he didn't see why he couldn't live in peace in the grass; that all he wanted was to be let alone. Then he said he knew how he could get away from the society of worms and crickets and katydids he hated, and all the deafening noises they made to drive him crazy. Thereupon, with a sulky twist of his head, he crawled toward the road. He had just crawled into the first wheel-rut when a big, jouncing, yellow Kentucky cart came by and made an end of Longinus Rotundus Caterpillar.
Mrs. Cricky said the moral of his end was very plain to her. She told all the little Cricketses that you couldn't expect to speak sullenly to people and have them like you, and that you couldn't expect to live away from the society of other people without having something killed in you. Mrs. Cricky called it love; and then, perhaps a little inconsistently (ask your mother what that means), she added, she for one was glad Glummie was dead.
Greenie, Toadie Todson's Green Inch-Worm, was measuring his way carefully around a birch tree. Since Toadie Todson's death, he spent a large part of every day looking at trees and measuring distances, so that Stingy could spin his webs in the best manner possible.
All the rainbow qualities of web were spun on white birch trees. Greenie was humming over mournfully to himself the song which Mr. Tree Toad Todson had composed in memory of his cousin Toadie Todson—A Lament. Greenie sang the words over and over again and seemed, as his voice grew more and more mournful, to be happier and still happier. That is often the way with melancholy people. Greenie felt he had good reason to be unhappy. Not so long ago his first cousin, Longinus Rotundus Caterpillar, or by his more familiar name Glummie, had been killed. Then his master, Toadie Todson, with whom he at least had a lazy time, was killed in a sand slide. And now he spent all his days at work for Stingy, who was a very exacting master. If he so much as stopped to nibble a little from a tender green birch leaf, Stingy would fly at him and bid him go to work at once.
But one day Greenie discovered something about him which he intended to use to good advantage. Stingy was in love. Every day at certain hours Stingy went quietly off, and one day Greenie followed him. There down in the meadow under a big apple tree he found Stingy together with five other spiders. They were arranged in a row before Silken Web, more often called Silkie, whom they were courting, and Silkie was waiting, ready to accept the spider who did best. Out danced the first spider. The shining hairs all over his body glistened in the sun, now he seemed silver, now jet black, now crimson as he whirled, jumping lightly into the air. Silkie looked for a second and then turned her head away. It was plain she would have none of him. Off dejectedly crawled the first spider.
Greenie watched, fascinated by this bright colored little spectacle under the blossoming apple tree. Then his eyes grew dark and angry. He had to work when he was hungry. He had not had a single holiday for over a month, he had been spoken to crossly, his Family Tree had been scoffed at, he—well, he had had enough of this!
The last fine cobweb Stingy spun it was Greenie's business to fold and put away carefully in the centre of a buttercup. He would get it and be back before it was time for Stingy to dance. He measured his way quickly over to the buttercup, his little back fairly popped into the air every other half second as he went furiously humping himself along. He found the cobweb covered with the gold dust of the buttercup, and taking it up hastily he hurried back. He knew just the spot where Stingy would dance before Silkie, beside a tall piece of Timothy Grass.
The fifth spider was finishing his dance as Greenie reached the bottom of the Timothy Grass stalk. Out came Stingy with a fierce and self-confident air which plainly said, "All the other five have failed, now I am about to succeed." He looked at Silkie, then began to dance. First he whirled round madly, and so swift and light was he that he seemed to have wings. His broad back and thin, tufted legs shone with dusky, golden colors. After whirling around he hopped several times lightly into the air.
In the meantime Greenie climbed the stalk and was waiting. Stingy was just about to do a sideways-hop, when over him fell inches and inches of his own gold dusted cobweb. Down he tumbled, his legs all tangled up in the web. Fiercely he fought to get out, while off scuttled the other spiders leaving him to his Fate. For a minute, the little green hairs on Greenie's back stuck up straight with merriment. Then complacently he measured his way home to his own Family Tree. Mrs. Cricky as she passed him heard him muttering: "It's a long worm that has no turning, a very long worm that has no turning!"
"Well," said Mrs. Cricky, "that may be true, but it is none of a cricket's business; it is just as well not to take part in other people's quarrels. Your Father says the Cricket Rule is the best precept for living he has ever known, and your Father, children, is a very wise cricket. I dare say Greenie has had a hard time, but then, lazy worms often do. Now let us sing a little song about these flowers we've been hopping about in; it's pleasanter. Chirp, don't sing too loud, Chirk, not too fast, and Chee, don't mumble your words:"
"Everywhere you go You see them dancing, Flowers dancing In the sunlight.
"Nodding heads are shining Like the dew-drops, Sparkling dew-drops, Shining gayly."
THE MEAN SPIDER
Old Stingy sat in the midst of his spider-web, as some old Giant used to sit in his fortress waiting to pounce upon innocent people to kill them and eat them. Stingy's shoulders were all humped up, and his eight claws looked very ugly. He had already tangled up one Noisy Fly, and now he sat waiting for another. Everybody hated him; even Toadie Todson went out of his way to give a lazy snap at Stingy.
All day long Stingy spun webs, caught noisy flies and even other spiders, and yet nobody ever knew what he did with his webs or with the flies he caught. Stingy had never been heard to say one word, and when he wanted exercise, he hung by his leg to a thin cobweb and dangled up and down. But if he saw anything coming he gave a jump, and back he went again into his web. There he would sit with his shoulders humped and his big mean black eyes fairly popping out of his head.
For once in his life Stingy was feeling a little sleepy the evening that something happened to him. All day long the wind had been blowing very hard, and Stingy had to rebuild a great many cobwebs that were blown down. Suddenly he started up. Something was struggling in his web. What do you suppose it was? Nothing less than a beautiful little yellow-winged moth that was caught and was beating his wings and fluttering to get out. Stingy rose slowly and moved his humpy shoulders toward the moth. Quietly he stole on and in a minute more the moth would be choked to death. On, on went Stingy, the tiny yellow moth fluttering more and more feebly. But just at the moment Stingy was almost on the moth, a beak ripped open the web and Stingy went tumbling to the ground while the yellow moth fluttered away toward the waxy white flowers of the nearest syringa bush. The moth had time to see Hummy go whirring off, and that night she told the fireflies and glow-worms and other moths all about it. And each one had some other good deed of Hummy's to relate.
But perhaps you would like to know what became of Stingy? When the web was broken and he tumbled to the ground, he fell into the open mouth of the Frisky Frog, who gave a comfortable croak as he swallowed him. Nobody was sorry that Stingy was swallowed. Mrs. Cricky said it served him right, but then, poor Mrs. Cricky's good wishes were often lost in anxiety, lest harm should come to one of her own little Cricketses, for Stingy, fifteen days before, had been known to smother and eat a little cricket not more than a minute old. Mrs. Cricky herself would probably have been the last person to hurt Stingy, only she could not help feeling relieved; she said it wasn't in cricket-nature to feel otherwise.
Father Cricky was usually too busy singing songs for the Marsh Grass Vesper Quartette to make remarks. But this time he agreed with Mrs. Cricky and said they would all better have their evening song and go to sleep. And this was the song they sang:
Not too fast_
Come, see where the night winds sleep And the dews fall on the ground, While the trees a-rustling keep, And the stars turn round and round. There little frogs leap and croak, And little eels slip and slide, And the crabs lie still and soak, While the marsh is singing wide. The sand hills sleep 'neath the moon And blink away at the sea, While they sing a little sand tune Which is plain as plain can be.
Lullabye, Sleep away, Say, my little one, Bye-bye to the day.
THE MARSH GRASS VESPER QUARTETTE
It was toward evening, and the Marsh Grass Vesper Quartette was seated at the edge of Shiner Pond. The Quartette always gathered here about dusk upon a broad flat toad-stool which grew at the foot of a spreading oak. Mr. Tree Toad Todson had leased this toad-stool for the summer season from his first cousin, the unfortunate Toadie Todson. From pieces of straw he had built up to the edge of it a short flight of steps so that Miss K. T. Did, their first soprano, found it easy to mount to the platform.
To-night was a special evening and the attendance was large. Out on the pond the Snapping Turtles were moving swiftly from one log to another, bearing upon their backs groups of Fireflies. The Fireflies were there in numbers this night, because one of the selections on the program was a "Firefly Dance," composed by Mr. Frisky Frog, and to be danced by Miss K. T. Did. The other members of the Quartette were to sing the song while Miss Katy danced. It spoiled the effect somewhat to lose her clear high soprano, but Mr. Tree Toad Todson filled in with his penetrating tenor, and it was rumored that the Composition would be a great success.
As nearly as I can remember it, this was the program for that evening.
_Sixth Annual In-Season Out of Door Concert
The Marsh Grass Vesper Quartette_
June the twenty-sixth,
Shiner Pond Pavilion
Miss K. T. Did.... Soprano
Mr. Tree Toad Todson.... Tenor
Mr. Cricky... Baritone Mr. Frisky Frog, 3d... Bass Assisted by Miss Glo Worm Mr. Fiah Fli, Jr.
I. A Warm Night Herr June Bug Rendered by Mr. Cricky II. The Firefly Dance Mr. Frisky Frog Danced by Miss K. T. Did III. The Moonbeam Song Miss Glo Worm (Intermission) IV. A Lullabye Mr. T. Toad Todson Mr. T. Toad Todson Assisted by Mrs. Frisky Frog V. A Lament Mr. T. Toad Todson (In memory of Toadie Todson) Sung by T. Toad Todson VI. Mosquito Aria Mr. Cricky Sung by Miss K. T. Did
VII. There's Dreamland Coming
Assisted by Miss Glo Worm and Mr. Fiah Fli, Jr.
It would be impossible to give the whole program without taking you right into the concert. The Lullabye Mrs. Frisky Frog sang together with Mr. T. Toad Todson, and sang very beautifully. She had sung it a great many times to her own little children while they were still polly-wogs. Only when she sang it to them she altered the chorus Mrs. Frisky Frog changed the chorus for her little ones because she knew well enough that her pollywogs never slept at night. At least I never saw any asleep at night of all those who swarm in black clumps there on the edge of Shiner's Pond in the moonlight. But I have not told you yet how Mrs. Frisky Frog sang the chorus.
Wiggle wog Woggle wig Sing my pollywog A tune to every jig.
Once while they were practising the lullabye at rehearsal, Mrs. Frisky Frog forgot, and through force of habit sang the chorus she had made up for her own little polly-woggles. But, dear me! Mr. T. Toad Todson flew into a towering rage and croaked at her till he was fairly hoarse. "Non-sense! Non-sense! Non-sense!" he jerked out, and when finally he could control himself he spluttered aloud that he had never in his life written such nonsense. You remember it was he who composed the song. Poor Mrs. Frisky Frog's eyes rolled back a little further than usual, and her throat jumped up and down with fear. It did not do to speak crossly to Mrs. Frisky, she was so tenderhearted and was never known to speak a cross word to her own little ones, or for that matter to any one. Mrs. Cricky, one day while she was talking with Mrs. Poe Tato-Bug, said that she knew of only one model mother in the community and that was the admirable mother of those ugly little pollywogs. Here Mrs. Cricky heaved a proud sigh as she thought of her own little darlings, Chee and Chirk and Chirp, decked out in their pretty little clover sun-bonnets.
But to go back to Mrs. Frisky Frog. Mr. Frisky Frog, who was a member of the Quartette, became so angry with Mr. T. Toad Todson for the angry croaking at his wife that his eyes fairly glowered at him. Mrs. Cricky always called that kind of anger in Mr. Cricky "righteous indignation." Peace was soon restored, however, as Mr. Tree Toad Todson, very much of a gentleman at heart, was most anxious to ask pardon for this display of temper.
But we have spent too much time in discussing the lullabye and the trouble it brought Mrs. Frisky. The concert began. A Warm Night was vigorously applauded, and the Fire-Fly Dance was the success of the evening. Miss K. T. Did had bought at a most extravagant price from Stingy one fourth of an inch of his best rainbow-hue cobweb. This made for her a beautiful scarf, which she waved over the light of the glow-worms that had been arranged in a wide circle on the broad, flat toad-stool. Around, in and out, now over, now under her scarf, three fireflies sped with burning wings. And Miss Katy never danced better, flashing her cobweb scarf in and out the glow-worm circle as with lightsome foot and wing she danced round and round. Mrs. Cricky said she did wish the little ones had been allowed to come. Usually it did not seem right for children to stay up late at night. But this night she did believe it would have added to their education to see such skill, especially as Chee was a little inclined to toe in and be clumsy. You remember, Chee stumbled and fell into the lake.
All of the evening was successful, and the applause at the close of the concert as they responded to an encore with the Mosquito Aria was wonderful. There were no clapping hands, but rather the beating of wings, the enthusiastic croaking from various kinds of little red throats, and the flash-flash of lights from the Fire-Flies and Glow-Worms. Mr. Cricky in writing it up for the June Bug Journal pronounced it the success of the season. We will close with a few stanzas of "There's Dreamland Coming." Probably you have heard it, for it has a way of singing itself the moment you are off to sleep. Try sleeping and see if it is not heard.
There's Dreamland Coming
Adaptation from EUGENE COWLES "FORGOTTEN"
There's dreamland coming, dearie, And dreaming, coming, too, Sweet dreamland for the weary, To cradle such as you.
Then close your eyes, my darling, And say your little prayer; Dreamland is waiting for you, And God will take you there.
There's dreamland coming, dearie, And dreaming, coming, too, Sweet dreamland for the weary, To cradle such as you.
THE NOISY FLY
Mrs. Cricky came out of her house with an angry flounce. What in the world was all this noise about! zzz! zzz! then a thump and a bump and the strangest little noises, more like a falsetto squeak than anything else. This had been going on for the last minute, which is a whole hour for a cricket, and going on while she was trying to teach Chee and Chirk and Chirp their lessons in Running and Humming. These two things, unlike other people, they always did at the same time.
Mrs. Cricky came out with an angry little flounce, as I said, onto the piazza of Grass Cottage. She had been fearfully disturbed, but the instant she saw the Noisy Fly she broke into chirping merriment. The Noisy Fly had evidently been to last evening's concert and was trying to imitate Miss K. T. Did in the Fire-Fly Dance. He was whisking around at a great rate, his long legs looking very spindly under his fat black body. But what amused Mrs. Cricky most was the way, in trying to do the wing step, his legs got tangled up for all the world as if they were on sticky fly paper. Of course, he fell over, and that accounted for the bumping and the buzzing. But each time he got up and went at it again as if nothing had happened, singing in his high falsetto voice the tune Miss Glo-Worm had sung, which was a little Moonbeam Song,—to find out what a Moonbeam Song is you must look long at the sky.
Not too fast_
Moonbeams weave, About this place, Fairies leave No Fairy trace.
Weave him in And weave him out, Spin it thin And round about.
Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding
See our spell Can hold him fast. Tinkle bell The hour is past.
It was not very polite for Mrs. Cricky to laugh, but really she could not help it. Never did she see such a buzzing, clumsy attempt at imitation as this. By this time the Noisy Fly had spied Mrs. Cricky, and his popping black eyes scanned her anxiously, for he was accustomed to be driven off wherever he went. Mrs. Cricky remembered the interrupted lessons and spoke severely to him:
"Well, Noisy! here again. You are always disturbing somebody. You are just like some other folks who never know when they are not wanted. Noisy people are always a nuisance. You are about, before respectable crickets have a chance to go to sleep. Buzz, Buzz, Buzz! so that there is no sleeping after that. Your noisy wings are worse than Toadie Todson's heavy feet, when he used to come hopping onto the piazza after the folks were asleep. And what is more, you're not much cleaner." By this time Mrs. Cricky had worked herself into a state of "righteous indignation," and concluded all she had to say with a sharp, "Be off."
Off went Noisy in a great flurry and skurry; he fairly dropped from the roof of the piazza, where he had been hanging upside down, in his haste to let go and get away. When Mrs. Cricky went back into the school room she found that Chirp had upset his brown Grasshopper writing ink all over the floor and was wiping it up with his little wing and smearing it onto Chee. Now this ink was expensive, and could be bought only from the Grasshopper who manufactured it himself. She looked at Chirp just one second and told him to bring the Timothy Grass rod hanging in the corner. Chirp knew what that meant, but he took his punishment bravely.
When Mrs. Cricky had finished, she dropped the rod on the floor with a sigh and gathered Chirp into her wings: "O! Chirpie, Chirpie, why will you be such a naughty little cricket and make me punish you?" Then Mother Cricky gave them a little talk about Noisy, and told them there were two things they must always remember to be: Clean, and quiet when it was proper to be quiet. After this she gave them some Red Clover Honey and sent them out to play.
THE DIZZY MOTH
Dizzy batted up against the window, striking his head and wings with a hard rattle. Mother Moth, like a good mother, had told Dizzy time and time again never to fly toward a light. Dizzy had already had some experience with odd lights hung up on poles among the oak-trees. These lights had hoods over them, hard and white. Dizzy often wondered why the white hoods were not as soft as the oak-buds, notwithstanding the fact that his mother as often explained both to him and his little Sister Flutter that electric lights were not oak-buds.
Poor Dizzy, there is no use in preaching! Up, up through the oak-tree he flew, now tumbling against a branch, now untangling himself from a sticky new bud. Up, up Dizzy sped toward a square white glare of light. Little Flutter's yellow wings trembled with fear as she saw her brother start upward. She told him in a faint voice that window panes were very dangerous. Mother Moth had cautioned them both about window panes.
Dizzy stumbled onto the sill with a sickening thud, scattering the diamond dust from his sun-colored pearl wings into a fine glittering mist upon the green paint. Ugh! with a jar up flew the window and Dizzy, thinking faintly about little Flutter, cuddled among the clover blossoms, was swept into the room and its blinding light. The soft, warm fragrance of the night air reminded him of the cozy little place on the grass at the foot of the hill—the little birch-leaf home. Mother Moth, Flutter, and Father Buzz were all down there now, and listening perhaps to the Cob-web Symphony played by the Marsh Grass Vesper Quartette. And this, too, was the evening when the June Bug was to sing the June Bug Wing Solo, composed by himself. Dizzy had heard his father practising the accompaniment; and the melody and words kept running through Dizzy's head somewhat like this:
_The June Bug Wing Solo
"Crack! Crack! my brittle wing," Is all I ever sing, Tho' I've almost always said, When I've struck my little head, That I'm angry, with a buzz, buzz, buzz.
"Crack! Crack! my brittle wing," Be careful how you fling Where the dusty little Toad, Is still sitting on the road, Waiting for you, with a gulp, gulp, gulp.
How distinctly Dizzy could still hear Father Buzz linger over the last line with so much feeling, and with what terror he thought of all the dangers that might befall him.
Round and round the room Dizzy flew, scattering silver hairs from his lacy wings, each moment his head growing heavier. For an instant there was a tiny flash of light and the faint noise of a shrivelling wing. Half of Dizzy's wing had been burned off. What would Flutter think now of the blackened silver wing of her brother! Down went Dizzy, his good wing beating helplessly upon the window sill Flutter and Mother Moth were in his mind. The cool air blew in through the shutter, which a few minutes before had closed upon him.
But, wonderful Providence a big white hand opened the shutter and gently brushed out Dizzy. He had learned his lesson, and Mother Moth did not speak one reproachful word, as with dragging wing he hobbled into the little birch-leaf home. Father Buzz, however, was heard singing in an undertone these words to one of the melodies in the Cob-Web Symphony.
"Singed wings Teach many things!"
THE HONEST ANT
Anty,—when she was Godmother to any of the little ones her full name was given as Anty Hill—well, to go on, Anty was in a great hurry. She often preached against hurry, but she found that there was really so much worth while doing in life and that life was so short, she had to hurry once in a while to get it all done. This particular morning there was more than ever to do. First she had milked the cows, you would call them little white bugs, but they were really cows, which she drove into a tiny pen. There, sitting on a milking stool Sandy Ant had whittled out of a bit of straw for her, she milked as fast as she could make her hands go. After that she went bustling into the house, and taking the silkie tassel from a piece of Timothy Grass she swept the house out till it was as clean and fresh as a May morning.
She was very happy; it was her nephew Sandy Ant's birthday and he was coming of age, for he was just twenty-one hours old. She still had his cake to bake, and candles to make from the waxy bayberries that grew near the shore, and last but not least his presents to arrange. Sandy had always been a very good boy and so to-day everybody had remembered him and wished him well.
But what excited Anty Hill more than anything else was that the King and Queen, for the Ant State was a monarchy, had sent a special messenger to say that they would honor them with their royal presence on this occasion. Anty Hill had been a hard working, honest ant all her life and she felt that this honor was a reward for all that she had done to bring Sandy up as a good and honest citizen of the kingdom.
She bustled about busily, and every time Sandy came in the house she shoo-ed him out and told him to go take care of the horses and cows, By and by she called him in and bade him put on his best clothes. She didn't tell him that the King and Queen were coming, for Sandy was a bashful boy and she was afraid this would frighten him.
Now the King and Queen had heard reports far and wide of the honesty and goodness of Anty Hill and her nephew Sandy. If there were any Ants sick in the kingdom Anty Hill and Sandy did something to help them. All this pleased the King and Queen very much, and they made up their minds to do something for Anty and Sandy. The other guests had come, and it was time for the King and Queen. At last their coach drew up in front of the door. It was a beautiful, shiny green beetle shell drawn by two gnats. Two little liveried green midges tumbled off the coach-box, opened the coach-door, and the King and Queen stepped out, while the guests bowed low to the ground as they passed up the entrance to the house where Anty and Sandy were waiting. Anty Hill bowed low to the King and kissed the Queen's hand, while Sandy bowed very low to both.
Then the King called all the guests about him and made a little speech. He said he always liked to reward kindness and honesty, and that Anty Hill and her nephew Sandy had been as kind and honest as any two people in his kingdom. After this the King drew out his sword which was a fine blade of sharp grass, and telling Sandy to kneel down, he said: "I dub thee Knight of the Red Hill." This was a great honor and ever afterward Sandy served the King; and Anty Hill, who became Lady Hill, lived with him at the court.
That night Mrs. Cricky told all the little Cricketses she hoped they would remember Sandy's honor, and that if they helped other people they, too, might be honored some day. Chee and Chirk and Chirp looked much awed, and waved their little pink clover sunbonnets helplessly in the air till Father Cricky said he did wish they would stop, it kept him from seeing the music he was studying for the Marsh Grass Vesper Quartette.
"What is it, Father?" called Chee, who was always curious.
"It's a Cantata," said Mr. Cricky. Chee nudged Chirk and whispered:
"Say, what's that?"
"O, I don't know," said Chirk, "let's ask him to sing it, then we'll find out."
"All right, you do," said Chee.
Father Cricky was very glad to sing it, and this was the song he sang:
Swing tree top, swing, This morning bright Swing gold and green In gay sunlight Swing, tree-top, swing.
Swing tree top, swing In night time too, There's shining stars, And falling dew, Swing, tree-top, swing.
THE WALKING STICK
The Walking Stick was soberly walking down the path looking spindly in every way: long, thin legs and a long thin body that were for all the world like a stick. Probably you have seen the Walking Stick many times and thought him just a twig. If you hadn't been in such a hurry you might have seen something interesting. Each time he picked up a leg, he seemed to wave it in the air before he put it down again. That was, I suppose, because he had to, each leg was so very long. The Walking Stick had been given the name of the "Parson" by some naughty little crickets, for no other reason, I am sure, than that he was so exceedingly grave.
Chee and Chirk and Chirp were the naughty crickets who gave him the name, and although Mrs. Cricky said it was unkind, yet other people took it up. Now Chee and Chirk were waiting for the "Parson" when they saw him come out of Grass Cottage, where he had been visiting Mrs. Cricky.
"Ssh!" said Chee, "don't make so much noise, he'll hear us. There! Chirk, take that blade of grass and stretch it across the path. He'll never see it. They say he's always thinking about things that folks don't think about at all."
"Say," said Chirk, tugging at the blade of grass, "if I wind it around this buttercup stalk, will that do?"
"Yes," replied Chee, "here he comes. Oh! I wish Chirp was here!"
Along came the "Parson," gravely swinging one leg after the other in the air and thinking with much pleasure of the kindliness of Mrs. Cricky who was always a very cordial hostess.
"Ssh!" whispered Chirk, "he's thinking of Miss K. T. Did. They say—"
But the sentence was never finished, for with a sprawl, the "Parson" stumbled over the blade of grass and came down on the other side with a clatter.
"Tee-hee! Tee-hee! Tee-hee!" chirruped both Chee and Chirk, so amused at the funny tangle of legs in which the Walking Stick was, that they forgot to run away.
Now the "Parson's" long legs made great strides, and before they knew what had happened Chee was being soundly beaten. "Whack! Whack! Whack!" went the Walking Stick on his little shiny black back.
"O! O! O!" cried Chee, "I'll never do it again!"
"No," said the "Parson," in a high thin voice, "I think you won't, you black imp!"
By this time Mrs. Cricky had come out to see what all the noise was about. When she heard the explanation, she said in a sorrowful tone:
"Chee and Chirk, is this the way I've brought you up? When your father hears of this he will be very angry. Come into the house with me at once." And into Grass Cottage they were marched.
When they were inside Grass Cottage Mrs. Cricky said in a sad way, that the worst thing anybody could do in his own house was to be inhospitable to strangers; that they had been rude to Mr. Walking Stick upon their own grounds. Then Mrs. Cricky went on to say that she feared they would never grow up to be gentle crickets if this was the way they intended to behave.
Both Chee and Chirk were too unhappy for words, and said they would never do it again, and that really they did not want to hurt anybody's feelings.
"Well," said Mrs. Cricky, "I don't see how you could forget so soon after that song your father taught you. We will sing it together again, and perhaps you will remember next time." And this was the song they sang:
_The Cricket Rule
Chirp, for chirp is all our song Cheerful chirps Will help a long.
Do not say What will not cheer Try to soothe Each tiny fear
Chirp, for chirp is all our song Cheerful chirps Will help a long.
LADY BUG AND MRS. POE TATO-BUG
"Well," said Mrs. Poe Tato-Bug, "it's a pity such things have to go on. What those horrid black Road-worms mean by eating up all the apple leaves is more than I can see."
Lady Bug listened to this outburst quietly, as if she had been accustomed to such words from her kinswoman. Finally she said:
"Really, I can't see that they do any more harm than—"
"Crack! Crack! Crack!" spluttered Mrs. Poe Tato-Bug, forgetting entirely the dignity of a hyphenated name; "hum! why, there won't be a single leaf on a single apple tree left to shade me and my family by time July comes. Hum, indeed!"
"Yes, my dear," said Lady Bug, who was always reasonable as well as gentle, "I understand all you say, but you know yourself that we eat leaves."
"Huh!" sniffed Mrs. Poe Tato-Bug, "I can't see that it's the same thing at all. What good's a leaf to a Potato, now, just tell me that!"
"I only know this," replied Lady Bug, "last year Mrs. Cricket overheard Farmer Hayseed say that if he could get rid of the Poe Tato-Bug family he'd live twenty years longer. He said we ate up the leaves and made the roots good for nothing. I presume he meant our family"
"For a quiet body you can say the meanest things," exclaimed Mrs. Poe Tato-Bug. Just then Mrs. Cricket, head down, went hurrying by and said as she passed,
"You'd better go home. Farmer Hayseed is pouring white stuff all over your houses. Most of your folks have left, but I saw little Poe and Tato still there."
"Dear me! O! O!" they both cried, "those children will be choked to death!" No two mothers could have hurried home faster. Lady Bug tried to give a little comfort on the way.
"I think," said she, "that Rose Bug will help the children, for all she lives in such a beautiful new home. Rose is so fond of Poe and Tato; and then, too, Bush Manor is not so far away."
Not one word did Mrs. Poe Tato-Bug say, but flying and jumping she hurried home. Her red speckled wings kept cracking louder and louder as she hurried along faster and faster.
"I wish you would not hurry so fast," said Lady Bug, gently, "really I am quite out of breath; and see! there is Farmer Hayseed way up at the other end of the patch. He hasn't reached our home yet."
Mrs. Poe Tato-Bug looked eagerly, and sure enough, there was Farmer Hayseed with a big box marked "Paris Green" in one hand, and in the other a sieve through which he was sifting fine white powder.
"Dear me!" sighed Mrs. Poe Tato-Bug, "this is such a relief. Here we are." At once she began scurrying around over every leaf of her home, but not a sign of little Poe and Tato could she find.
"Gracious!" said Lady Bug, "how very unfortunate. Where do you suppose they are?"
"I don't suppose, but I guess I know," replied Mrs. Poe Tato-Bug, as off she scurried toward the Rose Bush in the old fashioned garden near by.
And as they hurried toward the bush they could see Rose Bug with her wings around little Poe and Tato. She was singing a lullabye, trying to keep them quiet or put them to sleep, and this was the lullabye she sang:
Lullabye Lake Is a place I know Where the tree tops sing, And the breezes blow, Where the treetops sing And the breezes blow.
The moon shines dim With a silver light And the ripples dance And the stars are bright, And the ripples dance And the stars are bright.
The glow worm burns On the misted green And scatters his lights For the Faery Queen, And scatters his lights For the Faery Queen.
Mrs. Poe Tato-Bug listened carefully to the song. At last she exclaimed:
"That Rose Bug always did sing strange songs. I hope my children will not remember any such unpractical nonsense. The Poe-Tato family never was given to notions. What in the world can she mean by the Faery Queen? I dare say some romantic tale!"
THE TUNEFUL HUMMING-BIRD
The clover blossoms grew heavier every day with honey, and their great red heads bobbed about clumsily in the little breezes that visited the grass by the lake shore. Squirm, Glummie's caterpillar brother, had been heard to say that it was so sweet about those clover blossoms that he could scarcely crawl by them; it made him faint. But every morning, just as the sun got up, Hummy came whirring along, singing so busily and sweetly, that even Toadie Todson stuck his head out of his mudhole to listen, and the Frisky Frog on the water's edge stopped croaking.
Hummy came for a very simple reason, and that was to get his breakfast; his luncheon and dinner he always took from the honeysuckle vines and the rose bushes that grew on the side of the Giant's house. He preferred his breakfast, however, from the clover, for he said that the dew on them was fresher than on the blossoms up by the big house. It made Hummy's beak feel cool and fresh, for all the world like a morning bath in the clear, fresh dew. All the time Hummy sang away and made everybody within hearing distance happy because of his tunefulness. And he waved his wings about so prettily that it made you feel good to see them, they were such little rainbows of color.
Every morning when Hummy came round just as the sun got up, Mrs. Cricky called all her children to the door and told them that it was as good as going to school for them to watch the manners of such a perfect gentleman as Master Hummy. She said she wished them always to remember that to be so beautifully clean and so very cheerful as Master Hummy would make up for a multitude of other sins. Then as Hummy flew past their door all the little Cricketses, and Mrs. Cricky, too, gave a hop and a cheerful chirrup, as a good morning to him.
And at every place that Hummy went that day he made a sweet sound and everybody felt happier because he had been there. Hummy did a great many things besides making others happier with his tunefulness. He pulled a young hopper out of a mud puddle into which he had hopped by accident. He turned over a beetle that got stranded on its back. And everything he did was so pleasant and full of song that it was a pleasure to have him do things for you. Anty Hill said she did wish Sandy could learn to sing that way, it did make one feel so much happier when there was somebody around who was always merry and in such a good temper about helping people. She said she didn't see how Ma 'Squiter's family had lived, they were so nagged with her ugly buzz and her bad temper.
Late that same night Anty Hill overheard Sandy trying to sing a song the Frisky Frog had taught him. Sandy's voice was very poor, and this is the song he sang in a most mournful way:
_The Frog Song
Come, Froggie sing Your evening song, The summers short And winters long Come, sing away Now that the day Has faded quite Into the night