A Puzzled Cicada

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A PUZZLED CICADA

Seventeen years is a long, long time to be getting ready to fly; yet that is what the Seventeen-year Locusts, or Cicadas, have to expect. First, they lie for a long time in eggs, down in the earth. Then, when they awaken, and crawl out of their shells, they must grow strong enough to dig before they can make their way out to where the beautiful green grass is growing and waving in the wind.

The Cicada who got so very much puzzled had not been out of his home in the warm, brown earth for very long. He was the only Cicada anywhere around, and it was very lonely for him. However, he did not mind that so much when he was eating, or singing, or resting in the sunshine, and as he was either eating, or singing, or resting in the sunshine most of the time, he got along fairly well.

Because he was young and healthy he grew fast. He grew so very fast that after a while he began to feel heavy and stiff, and more like sitting still than like crawling around. Beside all this, his skin got tight, and you can imagine how uncomfortable it must be to have one’s skin too tight. He was sitting on the branch of a bush one day, thinking about the wonderful great world, when—pop!—his skin had cracked open right down the middle of his back! The poor Cicada was badly frightened at first, but then, ahhh!!!, it seemed so good and roomy that he took a deep breath, and—pop!—the crack was longer still!

The Cicada found that he had another whole skin under the outside one which had cracked, so he thought, “How much cooler and more comfortable I shall be if I crawl out of this broken covering,” and out he crawled.

It wasn’t very easy work, because he didn’t have anybody to help him. He had to hook the claws of his outer skin into the bark of the branch, hook them in so hard that they couldn’t pull out, and then he began to wriggle out of the back of his own skin. It was exceedingly hard work, and the hardest of all was the pulling his legs out of their cases. He was so tired when he got free that he could hardly think, and his new skin was so soft and tender that he felt quite strange. He found that he had wings of a pretty green, the same color as his legs. He knew these wings must have been growing under his old skin, and he stretched them slowly out to see how big they were. This was in the morning, and after he had stretched his wings he went to sleep for a long time.

When he awakened, the sun was in the western sky, and he tried to think who he was. He looked at himself, and instead of being green he was a dull brown and black. Then he saw his old skin clinging to the branch and staring him in the face. It was just the same shape as when he was in it, and he thought for a minute that he was dreaming. He rubbed his head hard with his front legs to make sure he was awake, and then he began to wonder which one he was. Sometimes he thought that the old skin which clung to the bush was the Cicada that had lain so long in the ground, and sometimes he thought that the soft, fat, new-looking one was the Cicada. Or were both of them the Cicada? If he were only one of the two, what would he do with the other?

While he was wondering about this in a sleepy way, an old Cicada from across the river flew down beside him. He thought he would ask her, so he waved his feelers as politely as he knew how, and said, “Excuse me, Madam Cicada, for I am very puzzled. It took me seventeen years to grow into a strong, crawling Cicada, and then in one day I separated. The thinking, moving part of me is here, but the outside shell of me is there on that branch. Now, which part is the real Cicada?”

“Why, that is easy enough,” said the Madam Cicada; “You are you, of course. The part that you cast off and left clinging to the branch was very useful once. It kept you warm on cold days and cool on warm days, and you needed it while you were only a crawling creature. But when your wings were ready to carry you off to a higher and happier life, then the skin that had been a help was in your way, and you did the right thing to wriggle out of it. It is no longer useful to you. Leave it where it is and fly off to enjoy your new life. You will never have trouble if you remember that the thinking part is the real you.”

And then Madam Cicada and her new friend flew away to her home over the river, and he saw many strange sights before he returned to the meadow.

Benjamin Bat’s Plan 🦇

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Of course, Kiddie Katydid was not always to be found in his favorite nook among the trees in Farmer Green’s front yard. Quite often he went skipping about from tree to tree or from bush to bush, sometimes flying and sometimes leaping. It really made little difference to him which mode of travel he used. And he never stopped to think how lucky he was to be able to move so spryly with the help of either his legs or his wings. He took his good fortune as a matter of course.

There was Mr. Frog! He was a famous jumper; but he couldn’t fly. And there was Mr. Nighthawk! He was a skillful flier; but he couldn’t jump.

Such thoughts, however, never entered Kiddie Katydid’s head. He went cheerfully about his business—which was eating, principally—and jumped or flew as the mood seized him. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for that strange fellow, Benjamin Bat, probably Kiddie never would have realized just what he could—or couldn’t—do.

Since Benjamin was another night-prowler like himself, Kiddie Katydid saw him often. It seemed to Kiddie that he could scarcely ever gaze at the full moon without catching sight of Benjamin Bat’s dusky shape flitting jerkily across the great, round, yellow disk.

When Benjamin was astir in the neighborhood, Kiddie Katydid lay low—or high—in his favorite tree-top. At least, he kept very still until the night was nearly gone, to give Benjamin Bat plenty of time to satisfy his hunger. For Kiddie found Benjamin Bat a much more agreeable companion when he had eaten his fill. Early in the evening, soon after he had woken up, Benjamin was positively ferocious. But the more he ate, the more pleasant he grew. And by the time faint streaks of light began to show in the east he could smile and crack a joke as easily as anybody else.

Well, late one night—or early one morning—Kiddie Katydid and Benjamin Bat were enjoying a chat in the tree-tops, when Benjamin put a new idea into Kiddie’s head.

“We ought to have some sports right here in Farmer Green’s yard,” he suggested. “You’re such a fine jumper that you should try your skill against Mr. Frog. And you’re such a fine flier that you and Freddie Firefly ought to have a race. . . . I’d suggest—” he added—”I’d suggest that the sports take place after dark, almost any evening.”

But Kiddie Katydid spoke up quickly and said that he wouldn’t care to join in the fun until the night was almost gone. He said he was sure he could jump and fly better at that time. And that was quite true, because he knew that if Mr. Bat swallowed him early in the evening he wouldn’t be able to take any part in the sports.

“Very well, then!” Benjamin Bat replied. “But it will be the worst possible time for me.”

“What do you mean?” Kiddie Katydid inquired. “Do you expect to enter any of the contests?”

“Oh, yes!” said Benjamin. “I’m going to hang by my heels from the limb of a tree. And since I’m never so heavy early in the evening, before I’ve had a chance to eat much, I’d prefer to have the sports begin soon after dark.”

But Kiddie Katydid said that there was no doubt Benjamin Bat would win in the sport of hanging head downward by his heels. And he told Benjamin not to worry.

When the night of the races and other sports finally came, a great crowd began to gather about Farmer Green’s place soon after dark. Although Benjamin Bat had told people that the fun wasn’t going to begin until almost morning, they were all so excited that they couldn’t wait for the night to pass.

They lingered around the dooryard and talked so loudly that they actually disturbed the household. Farmer Green was even tempted to get up and shut his door, he found it so hard to go to sleep.

The noisiest of all the gathering was Mr. Frog, the tailor, who lived over by the creek.

He had a great deal to say about everything; and it soon became plain to everyone that he was trying to manage the whole affair.

Mr. Frog objected to every arrangement that Benjamin Bat had made. When he learned that he was expected to enter a jumping contest with Kiddie Katydid he exclaimed that he and Kiddie were such good friends that he hated the thought of trying to beat Kiddie at jumping.

“Kiddie might feel bad,” said Mr. Frog. “People might laugh at him because I won.”

“Don’t you worry about me!” Kiddie Katydid called out.

“Where are you?” asked Mr. Frog, looking all around. “I can hear you, but I can’t see you.”

But Kiddie Katydid refused to show himself.

He preferred, for the time being, to remain safely hidden among the leaves, where he could listen to what people said—and talk to them when he wanted to.

“Wouldn’t you prefer some other sort of contest?” Mr. Frog then asked him. “Now, there’s swimming! We could swim in the watering-trough, or the duck pond. And if I beat you, you could stick your head under water, so you wouldn’t hear what people said. Don’t you think that’s a good idea?”

“Goodness, no!” cried Kiddie. “I’d drown myself in no time.”

“Dear me!” said Mr. Frog. “I never thought of that.”

And then everybody laughed so loudly at him that he hurried off to the watering-trough to dive underwater, and stay there until he was sure that his remarks had been forgotten.

Meanwhile Benjamin Bat was worrying. He couldn’t find anybody who was willing to try the sport of hanging head downward by his heels. He asked Kiddie Katydid; and Kiddie declined flatly to do any such thing.

Now, since Benjamin had not yet dined, he was very short-tempered. And he grew angry at once.

“What’s the matter?” he sneered. “Don’t you know how to do an easy trick like that? If I could see you—” he declared, peering among the maple leaves—”if I could see you I’d show you how it feels to hang beneath a limb.”

Kiddie Katydid said no word in reply. He knew well enough what Benjamin Bat meant. Benjamin wanted to eat him! And he wished that Benjamin would go away and get a good meal somewhere before he came back.

As the hours sped by and the moon at last crossed the sky and dropped out of sight, Kiddie Katydid saw that there was going to be trouble.

He was worried about Benjamin Bat. Early in the evening Benjamin had begun to tease Mr. Frog. And he was so busy doing that that he wouldn’t take the time to go away and snatch even a bite to eat.

Naturally, Benjamin’s temper grew worse as the night lengthened. And Kiddie Katydid had to admit to himself that he would be most unwise if he did any jumping or flying just then. For Benjamin Bat was in so fierce a humor that he was ready to snap at anybody who was smaller than he was. All the tiny flying folk gave him a wide berth. And it began to look as if he were going to spoil the night’s fun.

But all the while Mr. Frog never once lost his temper. Even when Benjamin Bat called him a long-legged, flat-headed, paddle-footed meddler, Mr. Frog only smiled and turned a few somersaults backward.

“What’s the matter with you?” Benjamin Bat asked him at last. “Can’t you speak?”

“Certainly! Certainly!” Mr. Frog said then. “I’ve been trying to think of some way to prevent so much quarreling. It hardly seems fair to Kiddie Katydid—this uproar right in his dooryard. And since you are the one who is making the greatest disturbance, I’d suggest that you go away and leave us to enjoy the rest of the night in peace.”

“I’ll do nothing of the kind!” Benjamin Bat screamed. “This is my party. I thought of it in the first place. And I’m going to stay here until dawn.”

“Very well! Then the rest of us will leave at once,” Mr. Frog told him. And calling good-by to all his friends, Mr. Frog flopped himself briskly away.

The smaller folk, too, vanished as if by magic. Though Benjamin Bat watched sharply, he didn’t even see Freddie Firefly when he slipped away.

“That’s strange!” thought Benjamin. “He must have put out his light, to fool me. But I don’t care, because Kiddie Katydid is hidden somewhere in this tree. And I’m going to find him—for I’m terribly hungry.”

So Benjamin began flying in and out among the maple branches. Nobody but he could have twisted and turned in such a helter-skelter fashion. It made Kiddie Katydid almost dizzy just to watch him. But Kiddie did not take his eyes off Benjamin, because he intended to jump—and jump fast and far—in case Benjamin should see him.

Now, although the Bat family was able to see in the dark as well as Farmer Green’s cat could, Benjamin failed to find Kiddie Katydid anywhere. Crouching motionless upon a leaf, all dressed in green, Kiddie Katydid was almost invisible. But if he had moved the least bit, Benjamin Bat would have found him out.

Looking only for a tiny green figure among the green leaves, Benjamin Bat paid no attention to the grayish branches of the tree. He was really strangely careless. Quite unsuspected by him, while he was wrangling with Mr. Frog, the cat had crept out of the woodshed and stolen softly into that very tree, where she lay motionless along a limb. She had come out upon an early morning hunt for birds.

She was a fierce old cat. There was nothing, almost, that she wasn’t ready and willing to fight. Even old dog Spot had learned to stay away. And now she waited patiently until Benjamin Bat should come within reach of her quick paws.

That silly, blundering fellow bumped squarely into her at last. And how he escaped is still a mystery. The old cat always claimed that when she found Benjamin wasn’t a bird she was so surprised that she let him go. And as for Benjamin himself, he never would discuss his adventure with anybody. Kiddie Katydid was the only other one who saw what happened. But he was so frightened at the time that he only knew that Benjamin Bat tore away towards the swamp as if a thousand cats were following him. And people do say that for some time afterward, Kiddie Katydid shrilled a slightly different ditty. It was Kitty did, Kitty did; she did, she did!

But when Mr. Frog mentioned that news, with a laugh, to Benjamin Bat, over in the swamp, Benjamin only said, “Stuff and nonsense!”

Yet he looked most uncomfortable.

Little Ida’s Flowers 🥀

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My poor flowers are quite faded!” said little Ida. “Only yesterday evening they were so pretty, and now all the leaves are drooping. Why do they do that?” she asked of the student, who sat on the sofa. He was a great favorite with her, because he used to tell her the prettiest of stories and cut out the most amusing things in paper—hearts with little ladies dancing in them, and high castles with doors which one could open and shut. He was a merry student. “Why do the flowers look so wretched to-day?” she asked again, showing him a bouquet of faded flowers.

“Do you not know?” replied the student. “The flowers went to the ball last night, and are tired. That’s why they hang their heads.”

“What an idea,” exclaimed little Ida. “Flowers cannot dance!”

“Of course they can dance! When it is dark, and we are all gone to bed, they jump about as merrily as possible. They have a ball almost every night.”

“And can children go to the ball?” asked Ida.

“Oh, yes,” said the student; “daisies and lilies of the valley, that are quite little.”

“And when is it that the prettiest flowers dance?”

“Have you not been to the large garden outside the town gate, in front of the castle where the king lives in summer—the garden that is so full of lovely flowers? You surely remember the swans which come swimming up when you give them crumbs of bread? Believe me, they have capital balls there.”

“I was out there only yesterday with my mother,” said Ida, “but there were no leaves on the trees, and I did not see a single flower. What has become of them? There were so many in the summer.”

“They are inside the palace now,” replied the student. “As soon as the king and all his court go back to the town, the flowers hasten out of the garden and into the palace, where they have famous times. Oh, if you could but see them! The two most beautiful roses seat themselves on the throne and act as the king and queen. All the pretty flowers come, and there is a great ball. The blue violets represent the naval cadets; they dance with the hyacinths and crocuses, who take the part of young ladies. The tulips and the tall tiger lilies are old ladies,—dowagers,—who see to it that the dancing is well done and that all things go on properly.”

“But,” asked little Ida, “is there no one there to harm the flowers for daring to dance in the king’s castle?”

“No one knows anything about it,” replied the student. “Once during the night, perhaps, the old steward of the castle does, to be sure, come in with his great bunch of keys to see that all is right; but the moment the flowers hear the clanking of the keys they stand stock-still or hide themselves behind the long silk window curtains. Then the old steward will say, ‘Do I not smell flowers here?’ but he can’t see them.”

“That is very funny,” exclaimed little Ida, clapping her hands with glee; “but should not I be able to see the flowers?”

“To be sure you can see them,” replied the student. “You have only to remember to peep in at the windows the next time you go to the palace. I did so this very day, and saw a long yellow lily lying on the sofa. She was a court lady.”

“Do the flowers in the Botanical Garden go to the ball? Can they go all that long distance?”

“Certainly,” said the student; “for the flowers can fly if they please. Have you not seen the beautiful red and yellow butterflies that look so much like flowers? They are in fact nothing else. They have flown off their stalks high into the air and flapped their little petals just as if they were wings, and thus they came to fly about. As a reward for always behaving well they have leave to fly about in the daytime, too, instead of sitting quietly on their stalks at home, till at last the flower petals have become real wings. That you have seen yourself.

“It may be, though, that the flowers in the Botanical Garden have never been in the king’s castle. They may not have heard what frolics take place there every night. But I’ll tell you; if, the next time you go to the garden, you whisper to one of the flowers that a great ball is to be given in the castle yonder, the news will spread from flower to flower and they will all fly away. Then should the professor come to his garden there won’t be a flower there, and he will not be able to imagine what has become of them.”

“But how can one flower tell it to another? for I am sure the flowers cannot speak.”

“No; you are right there,” returned the student. “They cannot speak, but they can make signs. Have you ever noticed that when the wind blows a little the flowers nod to each other and move all their green leaves? They can make each other understand in this way just as well as we do by talking.”

“And does the professor understand their pantomime?” asked Ida.

“Oh, certainly; at least part of it. He came into his garden one morning and saw that a great stinging nettle was making signs with its leaves to a beautiful red carnation. It was saying, ‘You are so beautiful, and I love you with all my heart!’ But the professor doesn’t like that sort of thing, and he rapped the nettle on her leaves, which are her fingers; but she stung him, and since then he has never dared to touch a nettle.”

“Ha! ha!” laughed little Ida, “that is very funny.”

“How can one put such stuff into a child’s head?” said the nanny, who had come into the room. She did not like this student and she did not like jokes and would always say, as she was now: “How can anyone put such notions into a child’s head? They are only foolish fancies.”

But to little Ida all that the student had told her was very entertaining, and she kept thinking it over. She was sure now that her pretty yesterday’s flowers hung their heads because they were tired, and that they were tired because they had been to the ball. So she took them to the table where stood her toys. Her doll lay sleeping, but Ida said to her, “You must get up, and be content to sleep tonight in the table drawer, for the poor flowers are ill and must have your bed to sleep in; then perhaps they will be well again by tomorrow.”

And she at once took the doll out, though the doll looked confused at giving up her cradle to the flowers.

Ida laid the flowers in the doll’s bed and drew the blanket over them, telling them to lie still while she made some tea for them to drink, in order that they might be well next day. And she drew the curtains about the bed, that the sun might not shine into their eyes.

All the evening she thought of nothing but what the student had told her; and when she went to bed herself, she ran to the window where her mother’s tulips and hyacinths stood. She whispered to them, “I know very well that you are going to a ball to-night.” The flowers pretended not to understand and did not stir so much as a leaf, but that did not prevent Ida from knowing what she knew.

When she was in bed she lay for a long time thinking how delightful it must be to see the flower dance in the king’s castle, and said to herself, “I wonder if my flowers have really been there.” Then she fell asleep.

In the night she woke. She had been dreaming of the student and the flowers and the nanny, who told her they were making fun of her. All was still in the room, the night lamp was burning on the table, and her mother and father were both asleep.

“I wonder if my flowers are still lying in Sophie’s bed,” she thought to herself. “How I should like to know!” She raised herself a little and looked towards the door, which stood half open; within lay the flowers and all her playthings. She listened, and it seemed to her that she heard someone playing upon the piano, but quite softly, and more sweetly than she had ever heard before.

“Now all the flowers are certainly dancing,” thought she. “Oh, how I should like to see them!” but she dared not get up for fear of waking her father and mother. “If they would only come in here!” But the flowers did not come, and the music went on so prettily that she could restrain herself no longer, and she crept out of her little bed, stole softly to the door, and peeped into the room. Oh, what a pretty sight it was!

There was no night lamp in the room, but still it was quite bright; the moon shone through the window down upon the floor, and it was almost like daylight. The hyacinths and tulips stood there in two rows. Not one was left on the window, where stood the empty flower pots. On the floor all the flowers danced gracefully, making all the turns, and holding each other by their long green leaves as they twirled around. At the piano sat a large yellow lily, which little Ida remembered to have seen in the summer, for she remembered that the student had said, “How like she is to Miss Laura,” and how everyone had laughed at the remark. But now she really thought that the lily was very like the young lady. It had exactly her manner of playing—bending its long yellow face, now to one side and now to the other, and nodding its head to mark the time of the beautiful music.

A tall blue crocus now stepped forward, sprang upon the table on which lay Ida’s playthings, went straight to the doll’s cradle, and drew back the curtains. There lay the sick flowers; but they rose at once, greeted the other flowers, and made a sign that they would like to join in on the dance. They did not look at all ill now.

Suddenly a heavy noise was heard, as of something falling from the table. Ida glanced that way and saw that it was the rod she had found on her bed on Tuesday, and that it seemed to wish to belong to the flowers. It was a pretty rod, for a wax figure that looked exactly like the nanny sat upon the head of it.

The rod began to dance, and the wax figure that was riding on it became long and great, like the nanny herself, and began to exclaim, “How can one put such stuff into a child’s head?” It was very funny to see, and little Ida could not help laughing, for the rod kept on dancing, and the nanny had to dance too,—there was no help for it,—whether she remained tall and big or became a little wax figure again. But the other flowers said a good word for her, especially those that had lain in the doll’s bed, so that at last the rod left it in peace.

At the same time there was a loud knocking inside the drawer where Sophie, Ida’s doll, lay with many other toys. She put out her head and asked in great astonishment: “Is there a ball here? Why has no one told me of it?” She sat down upon the table, expecting some of the flowers to ask her to dance with them; but as they did not, she let herself fall upon the floor so as to make a great noise; and then the flowers all came crowding about to ask if she were hurt, and they were very polite—especially those that had lain in her bed.

She was not at all hurt, and the flowers thanked her for the use of her pretty bed and took her into the middle of the room, where the moon shone, and danced with her, while the other flowers formed a circle around them. So now Sophie was pleased and said they might keep her bed, for she did not mind sleeping in the drawer the least in the world.

But the flowers replied: “We thank you most heartily for your kindness, but we shall not live long enough to need it; we shall be quite dead by tomorrow. But tell little Ida she is to bury us out in the garden near the canary bird’s grave; and then we shall wake again next summer and be even more beautiful than we have been this year.”

“Oh, no, you must not die,” said Sophie, kissing them as she spoke; and then a great company of flowers came dancing in. Ida could not imagine where they could have come from, unless from the king’s garden. Two beautiful roses led the way, wearing golden crowns; then followed wallflowers and pinks, who bowed to all present. They brought a band of music with them. Wild hyacinths and little white snowdrops jingled merry bells. It was a most remarkable orchestra.

Following these were an immense number of flowers, all dancing—violets, daisies, lilies of the valley, and others which it was a delight to see.

At last all the happy flowers wished one another good night. Little Ida, too, crept back to bed, to dream of all that she had seen.
When she rose next morning she went at once to her little table to see if her flowers were there. She drew aside the curtains of her little bed; yes, there lay the flowers, but they were much more faded today than yesterday. Sophie too was in the drawer, but she looked very sleepy.

“Do you remember what you were to say to me?” asked Ida of her.

But Sophie looked quite surprised and had not a word to say.

“You are not kind at all,” said Ida; “and yet all the flowers let you dance with them.”

Then she chose from her playthings a little box with birds painted on it, and in it she laid the dead flowers.

“That shall be your pretty casket,” said she; “and when my cousins come to visit me, by and by, they shall help me to bury you in the garden, in order that next summer you may grow again and be still more beautiful.”

Why the Lion and the Hare Are Not the Best of Friends

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The lion was feeling hungry. He looked about and spotted a hare nibbling grass on the side of the hill.

The lion crept slowly through the grass. The hare was munching away at the stalks and she didn’t notice the lion until it was too late.

A great hairy paw grabbed her. “Oooh,” squealed the hare, “I didn’t see you there, Lion! What are you doing?”

“I think I will probably EAT YOU,” growled the lion.

“You will find me very small and bony!” squeaked the hare.

“You look like a rather tasty little snack to me,” growled the lion.

“I know where you can find a much bigger meal,” said the hare.

“I know where you can find an animal as big as you!”

The lion paused. “As big as me?”

“Yes!”

“That would be a very nice snack.”

“It isn’t far away either,” added the hare.

“Mmm,” thought the lion. “All right. Show me this place. But if you try to run off I’ll grab you and swallow you down without even chewing!”

The lion loosened his claws and the hare hopped out of his paw.

Then she led him down the hill to a lake. When she got to the edge, she nodded into the water.

“Look,” said the hare. “There it is.”

The lion looked into the water and what do you think he saw?

He saw an animal just his size.

And, what’s more, when he growled, it growled back. When he snarled, it snarled back. And when he roared, it roared back.

The lion felt irritated with the rude animal in the lake. So he swiped a paw at it. And it swiped a paw back! That was just too much.

In a rage, the lion leapt at his own reflection.

Down he splashed into the cold, murky water.

That was how the hare escaped.

And that is why the lion and the hare are not exactly the best of friends.