The Grasshopper Stories
by Elizabeth Davis Leavitt
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The Grasshopper Stories

BY Elizabeth Davis Leavitt

WITH Illustrations by Maude Dewey Doan

Copyright 1912 by Elizabeth Davis Leavitt


Come, read these tales with me! For the secrets they tell You will understand well If you're good as good can be!


"Come, Billy!"

Billy dropped his tin-soldier on the ground and ran in to help his mother wipe the dishes. She gave him a nice, fresh towel and he began to rub the tin plates as fast as he could. He never put one down until he could see himself in it. As for the tin cups, his mother sometimes thought he would rub them entirely away! But he never did quite that. You see, Billy's mother allowed him to dry only the tin dishes because he was so very little, she thought he might break the china ones.

Now, on this particular morning, Billy's mother ran to the front gate to buy the dinner from the vegetable-man. While she was gone, he finished all the tin dishes on the draining-tray. There was still a beautiful, white, china cup to be dried.

"I believe I'll wipe just that one!" said Billy. He reached up, caught hold of the cup and was carefully bringing it down to his other hand, when—"Crash!"—the cup lay on the floor in pieces.

Billy was very frightened. He looked out of the door to see if his mother was coming. But she was still talking to the vegetable-man. Then he did a strange thing. He pushed all the pieces of the broken cup under the table and ran out the back door to his toys. But he did not play with them. He sat down on a stone, chin in hand. The little tin-soldier looked up at him as if to say, "Come on, Billy, let's march!" The little horse-and-wagon stood ready to start, as if saying, "Come on Billy, let's go travelling!" The little Teddy Bear, with his head on one side, seemed to say, "Come on Billy, let's have a romp!"

But Billy did not stir. He just sat there thinking. Suddenly, something said right out loud, "Why what's the matter, Billy?"

Billy jumped. Looking around, he saw a grasshopper sitting on a blade of grass.

"What is the matter this morning, Billy?" the grasshopper asked.

"I'm afwaid—I'm afwaid I'm a bad boy," answered Billy.

"Why, how is that?" exclaimed the grasshopper.

"Well—I was going to wipe one of my mother's china cups this morning and it hit the floor and bwoke!" confessed Billy.

"What did you do then?" said the grasshopper, putting his head on one side.

Billy turned very red. He hated to tell the grasshopper what he had next done.

"If you tell me, perhaps I can help you," said the grasshopper, by way of encouragement.

"Well," said Billy, "I hid the pieces under the table and came out here—to think!"

"Why do you not go and tell your mother all about it?" asked the grasshopper.

"O," gasped Billy, "I could not do that! I'm afwaid!"

"Why should you be afraid," continued the grasshopper. "Doesn't your mother love you?"

"O yes," cried Billy, "a million bushels!"

"And don't you love your mother?" said the grasshopper.

"O yes, a hundwed million bushels!" answered Billy.

"Then go and tell her you broke the cup! You will be happy if you do!"

"I can't," said Billy, "I just can't!"

"Mercy on us!" cried the grasshopper, jumping over to another blade of grass. "I wouldn't be afraid! What kind of a man do you think you'll grow up to be?"

"Well," said Billy, "perhaps I will tell her. You wait here till I come back!"

Very slowly he walked to the door. His heart beat so hard he could hear it thumping. As he stood in the door-way, a shame-faced little Billy, his mother looked up and said, "Did you come to help mother shell the peas?" For that is what she was doing. But Billy did not answer. He walked up close to her. "Mother," he said, "I—I bwoke a cup!"

"Yes, darling," she said, putting her arm around him, "Mother knows it. She found the pieces. And she's been wondering if her little boy wouldn't come in and tell her all about it."

Billy looked up and saw on her face the wonderful smile that he loved.

"I thought you would be sorry!" he said.

"I am sorry, Billy, that you broke the cup but I am glad—so glad—that you were brave enough to tell Mother the truth about it. Mother wants you to grow up to be a brave man." She raised his face and kissed both his flushed little cheeks.

"I'll be back in a minute, Mother," he said, as he drew away and ran out of the door. There was the grasshopper, hopping around. When he saw Billy, he stopped.

"Didn't I tell you!" he said, for he saw Billy's smiling face and knew he was happy again.

"How did you know?" asked Billy.

The grasshopper put his head on one side and said,

"Oh, I am a grasshopper, very, very wise! I know about everything underneath the skies!"

At that he hopped such a big hop, Billy could not see where he went. So he called out, "Good-bye, Grasshopper!"

Then he looked at his sad little toys, lying on the ground, and said, "I'll be back after while to play with you! I am going in to help my mother shell the peas!" And away he ran as fast as his little legs would carry him.


Billy was off for a walk. He had kissed his mother good-bye; he had stood his toys up in the corner; and now, with his little lunch-basket in his hand, he was running down to the gate when somebody said, "Good-morning, Billy! Where are you going?"

He looked around and there sat a grasshopper on a blade of grass.

"Good-morning, Grasshopper," said Billy. "I'm going for a walk."

"I should like to go with you," said the grasshopper. "May I?"

"Of course!" answered Billy. "Shall we run a race?"

They were off like the wind, but the grasshopper hopped such big hops, he had to wait for Billy to catch up after each hop.

"Stop running!" he called out as he sat waiting. "You might tread on this ant."

When Billy came up, he saw an ant trying to pull a piece of bread to the door of her house. How hard the ant was working! Up hill and down hill, for ridges of earth in the road seemed like great hills to the little ant.

"Why don't you help the ant, Billy?" asked the grasshopper.

"That's so!" said Billy. "I will!" He brought a green leaf and said, "Now Mrs. Ant, if you will pull the bread on this leaf, I will help you to get it to your home."

"O, thank you!" said the ant. "My babies are very hungry." So she put the bread on the leaf and sat down beside it and Billy drew the leaf to the little hill of sand that he knew was the ant's house.

"Thank you!" said the ant. "You are very kind, little boy!"

"You are welcome," said Billy and he and the grasshopper went on their way.

Suddenly they stopped. There, on the edge of the road, was a tiny baby-bird. It was trying to fly, but it was too little. Its wings were not strong enough.

"I believe I'll take it home," said Billy.

"O Billy," exclaimed the grasshopper, "Don't you hear its mother calling to it? There she is on that branch, flapping her wings and calling. She wants it in the nest again but she does not know how to get it there. Why don't you put it in the nest for her?"

"That's so!" said Billy. "I will!"

So they hunted in the bushes and found the nest, low enough for Billy to reach. There were two other little baby-birds in it and when Billy put in the little bird that had fallen, they all began to chirp, "Peep! Peep! Peep!" That meant "Thank you!" Then the mother-bird hopped around so gladly and said "Thank you, little boy; you are very kind!"

"You are welcome," replied Billy and he and the grasshopper went on their way.

Pretty soon they grew hungry. They sat down and opened the lunch-basket and while they were eating the bread and jelly and nuts that Billy's mother had put up for him, a little squirrel hopped out of his hole in a tree. He cocked his head on one side and watched them with bright little eyes.

"Why don't you give him a nut?" asked the grasshopper.

"That's so!" said Billy. "I will!"

So he threw a nut on the grass. The squirrel picked up the nut, cracked it with his sharp little teeth and ate it with so much relish that Billy threw him another and another. When everything was gone, the squirrel said, "Thank you, little boy. You are very kind!"

"You are welcome," said Billy, and for some reason he felt very happy.

As he and the grasshopper were walking along again, they saw a beautiful, big butterfly sitting on a tall, yellow poppy. It was quite still. So Billy said, "That butterfly is asleep! I'm going to put it in my hat and take it home!"

"He is not asleep!" contradicted the grasshopper. "He has just waked up! He is waiting for his wings to grow strong, so he can fly. Leave him here in the sunshine. He would be very unhappy if you took him into your house!" The grasshopper hopped way out of sight, for this was the very longest speech he had ever made.

"O, please come back, grasshopper!" called Billy, "and tell me, did the butterfly sleep on that flower?"

The grasshopper was beside Billy before he had finished speaking. "No, no!" he replied to Billy's question. "He slept in the little house that he made for himself before he went to sleep!" The grasshopper looked at an empty cocoon hanging from a twig of a tree.

"Is that his house?" asked Billy, looking at it very curiously, for he had never seen anything like it before. The grasshopper nodded his head and winked an eye.

Just then the butterfly began to move his beautiful yellow and black wings up and down, very, very slowly.

"Why don't you fly?" asked Billy, "I'm not going to take you home with me."

"Thank you for leaving me out in the sunshine," said the butterfly, "I want to fly up to the blue sky very much indeed and, if I wait and work my wings, they will grow stronger and then I shall be able to fly ever so high."

Billy sat down on a stone and the grasshopper perched on a blade of grass.

"Did you know how to fly before you went to sleep?" asked Billy.

"O dear no!" replied the butterfly. "I was only a caterpillar and had to creep along the earth or on cabbage leaves."

"Only a caterpillar!" gasped Billy. "Then where did you get those wings?"

"They grew in the night," answered the butterfly, "while I was asleep."

At this the grasshopper began to laugh. He laughed so hard, he had to hold his sides.

"Why are you laughing, Grasshopper?" asked Billy indignantly.

The grasshopper did not answer him, but said, "Butterfly, do you know how long you slept in that little house you made for yourself when you were a caterpillar?"

"How long?" asked the butterfly, who had been working his wings up and down all this time.

"Many days and many nights, all through the cold winter. The wind rocked you in your little cradle-house; the rain kept your house nice and soft; and now, today, the warm, spring sun has waked you up and soon you will fly!"

At these words, the butterfly pressed his wings down and soared up in the air, over the trees and far away. "Good-bye," he called out as he disappeared among the tall trees, "and thank you, little boy!"

"You are welcome," called Billy and then he sat still and silent.

"What's the matter, Billy?" asked the grasshopper.

"I was wishing that I might fly!" said Billy.

"Who knows!" exclaimed the grasshopper. "Perhaps you may some day!"

"But I can run!" and Billy was off down the road on his way home. The grasshopper overtook him in one hop. "Shall we stop and pick some flowers for your mother?" he asked.

"That's so!" said Billy, "we will!"

So they went into a field and began to pick flowers. Billy picked a daisy and the grasshopper picked a daisy. Billy picked a clover and the grasshopper picked a clover. Billy picked a bluet and the grasshopper picked a bluet. Billy picked a wind flower and the grasshopper picked a wind flower. Then the grasshopper gave his flowers to Billy and Billy thanked him.

"Now, we must go home," said Billy, so they ran until they came to Billy's door.

"I am glad you went with me, Grasshopper," said Billy. "Shall we go again some day?"

"We will go again, some day!" replied the grasshopper, bowing very low.

"Good-bye," said Billy, as he ran in to give his mother the flowers and tell her all about his walk. As she smiled and listened to Billy, the grasshopper peeped in at the open window and sang out,

"Oh, I am a grasshopper, very, very wise! I know about everything underneath the skies!"


Billy sat on his stone in the back yard, his chin in his hand. He had just gotten home from kindergarten and his mother had told him to go out in the yard and play with his toys until dinner was ready.

But he was not playing with his toys. He had laid his tin-soldier on the grass, though the little tin-soldier had been sleeping all morning and felt like a march. He had stood his horse-and-wagon in the shade, though the horse had been resting all morning and felt like a gallop. He had braced his Teddy Bear against a tree, though the Teddy Bear had been leaning against a chair all morning and felt like a romp. They all looked reproachfully at Billy, but he did not notice them. He seemed to be thinking deeply.

Suddenly he put his hand in his pocket. When he drew it out, it was a little fist. When he opened the little fist, he gazed lovingly at a piece of pink worsted, all crumpled up! He took an end of it in each hand and stretched it out as long as he could reach. Then he crumpled it up again and put it in his pocket.

"What's that, Billy?"

Billy jumped. Looking in the direction of the voice, he saw a grasshopper sitting on a blade of grass.

"What's that in your pocket?" asked the grasshopper.

"Just a little piece of worsted," Billy replied, putting his hand in his pocket again to be sure it was there.

"Where did you get it?" asked the grasshopper.

"At kindergarten," answered Billy.

"Teacher give it to you?"

Billy did not answer.

"Did she?" persisted the grasshopper.

"N—no," said Billy reluctantly while his face turned very red.

"Well, who did?" continued the grasshopper.

"Nobody! I found it on the floor!" replied Billy.

"Found it on the kindergarten floor," exclaimed the grasshopper, "and brought it home with you?"

"Well," Billy defended himself, "'findin's keepin's!'"

"O Billy," cried the grasshopper, "if you lost your little tin-soldier, and another little boy found it, wouldn't you want him to bring it back to you?"


The grasshopper put his head on one side and looked at Billy. Billy looked at the ground. Finally he spoke. "My teacher has so much worsted! I don't know how many cards you could sew with all she has—all colors too!"

The grasshopper put his head on the other side and looked at Billy. Billy began to feel very uncomfortable.

"Why don't you take it back and tell your teacher all about it?" asked the grasshopper.

"Take it back!" gasped Billy, "and give it to my teacher! I couldn't! I'll take it back and put it on the the floor."

"Mercy on us!" exclaimed the grasshopper, jumping over to another blade of grass, "Be a man! You will be happier after you have told her."

Now Billy knew that his teacher always stayed at kindergarten, after the children had gone, to "straighten up" and his kindergarten was right across the street. So he thought a moment and then jumped up. "You wait here till I come back!" And away he ran as fast as his little legs would carry him. But when he reached the kindergarten door, he stopped. His teacher was sitting with her back to the door, arranging the worsted in the large, linen worsted-case. She was humming a little song, too. Billy's heart beat fast, for he loved his teacher and thought her the most beautiful lady in all the world next to his mother. He started to run away, but he remembered the grasshopper's words, "Be a man!" So he put his little hand in his pocket and tip-toed into the room, right up to his teacher.

"O," she said, "I thought you were a little mouse, Billy!" She laughed as she said it but Billy looked very grave. He pulled his little fist out of his pocket, held it toward her and opened it.

"I bwought this back to you! I found it on the floor."

"And took it home?" asked his teacher, her beautiful eyes wide open.

"Yes," answered Billy, "I didn't think you would want it."

"And when you got home, you thought I would want it?" she asked.

Billy nodded. The tears had come to his eyes, though he had tried to keep them back.

"Thank you, Billy," she said in a low voice as she smoothed out the crumpled worsted and put it in the case. It was a little soiled but she did not seem to notice that. She put her arm around Billy and drew him close to her. "I am glad you brought the worsted back, Billy," she said, "for it shows me that you are a brave little man! It makes me love you very much."

Billy looked up at her with shining eyes. "I love you too!" he declared.

She kissed his forehead. "Now run home to your dinner!" she said. Billy ran as fast as he could until he saw the grasshopper. Then he stopped.

"You look very happy, Billy," said the grasshopper, "I guess you must have told your teacher all about it!"

"I did," cried Billy, "but how did you know it would make me happy? I did not think it would."

The grasshopper jumped over to another blade of grass, put his head on one side, and sang,

"Oh, I am a grasshopper, very, very wise! I know about everything underneath the skies!"

With that, he hopped such a big hop, Billy could not see where he went.

"Good-bye," called Billy and then he said to his sad little toys, "just wait till I have had my dinner and helped my mother with the dishes and I will come out and play with you!" and away he ran into the house, the happiest little boy in the world.

* * * * *

O ho!

Little boys and girls who are good! You've read these tales with me! Their secrets you know For you plainly show That you're good as good can be!


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