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Title: Insect Stories
Author: Kellogg, Vernon L. (Vernon Lyman), 1867-1937
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Insect Stories" ***

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     American Nature Series

     Group V. Diversions from Nature




    _With Illustrations_




     COPYRIGHT, 1908,
     Published June, 1908


               WHO ARE MARY


In these days many strange, true stories about animals are being
written and read, but it seems to me that some of our most intimate
and interesting animal companions are being overlooked. So I have
tried to write about a few of them. These stories are true. I know
this, for Mary and I have really seen almost everything I have told;
and they seem to us strange. If there have slipped into the stories
occasional slight attempts to show some reason for the strange things
or to point an unobtrusive moral, it is because the teacher's habit
has overcome the story-teller's intention. So the slips may be

Of course I recognize that it is taking great chances nowadays with
one's reputation for honesty and truth-telling to write or tell
stories about animal behavior. Nature writers seem to be held, as a
class, not to be above suspicion. But is a truthful man to be kept
silent by criticism or abuse, or, on the other hand, is he to
surrender, even for cash, to bad examples? I call out, "No!" and beat
on the table as I say this until the pens and paper hop, and Mary
asks, "No what?" Which reminds me that I must make some exception to
my sweeping declaration of the truth of the whole of this little book.
I am not responsible for Mary! She is, bless her, a child of dreams,
and sometimes her dreams get into her talk. So some of Mary in this
book is fancy; but the beasties and their doings are--I say it
again--true, quite true.

                                                           V. L. K.





I first got acquainted with Mary when she was collecting tarantula
holes. This appealed to me strongly. It was so much more interesting
than collecting postmarks or even postage-stamps.

It is part of my work, the part which is really my play--to go out and
look at things. To do the same, I found out, is Mary's play--which is,
of course, her most serious employment. We easily got acquainted when
we first met, and made an arrangement to go out and look at things,
and collect some of them, together. So after Mary had shown me that
collecting tarantula holes is really quite simple--although at first
thought of it you may not think so--I proposed to her to come along
and help me collect a few wasp holes. They are smaller of course than
tarantula holes and do not make quite such a fine showing when you get
them home, but they have several real advantages over the spider
burrows, only one of which I need tell you now. This one is, that you
can watch the wasps make their holes because they do it in the
daytime, while you can't watch the tarantula make its hole because it
does it at night. So Mary and I went together to the place of the

I ought to tell you right away that Mary and I live in California.
This explains to you partly why we are so happy in our rambles,
because for any one whose work or whose play it is to go out and look
at things, California is a wonderfully good place to live in. In fact,
I know of none better. But I should tell you more of where we live,
because California is so many places at once, that is, so many
different kinds of places, such as high mountains, burning deserts,
great forests, fertile plains, salt lakes, blue ocean, low soft hills,
wide level marshes, fragrant orchards, brilliant flower gardens, hot
springs and volcanic cones, deep cañons and rushing rivers,--O,
indeed, almost all the kinds of places that the physical geography
tells about.

Mary and I live in a beautiful valley between two ranges of mountains
and very near the marsh-lined shores of a great ocean bay. Over beyond
one range of mountains is the ocean itself stretching blue and ripply
all the way to China, while beyond the other range of mountains is a
desert with jackrabbits and burrowing owls and cactuses. Not the
worst--or best--sort of desert like that far south toward Mexico, but
one that gets a little rain, and hence is called a "Land of Great
Possibilities" by men who sell pieces of it now and then to people
from Maine.

It is easy for us to get from the little town in which we live to
several very good places for looking at things. The foothills and
mountain sides with their forests and coverts and swift little brooks;
the orchards and flower gardens and grain and grass fields; the wide
flat marshes with their salt-grass and pickle-weed, their wide
channels and pools, and finally the bay itself; all are near by and
all are fine places for observing and collecting things.

When I met Mary first--the time she was collecting tarantula holes--we
were on the gentle slopes of the lower foothills of the mountains. The
big hairy tarantulas are very numerous there, although one rarely sees
them because they mostly stay in their holes in daytime. There are
tarantula hawks there too, enormous black and rusty-red wasps with
wings stretching three inches from tip to tip. Mary and I saw one of
these giant wasps swoop down on a big tarantula just as he came out of
his hole one evening after sundown, and that was a battle to remember,
and it had a very strange ending. The tarantula--but I must save that
battle for another chapter all to itself. I must try and stick to the
wasp holes in this one.

It was a day in September. This month in California is the last one of
the long, rainless, sun-filled summer, and everywhere it is very dry
and brown. The valley floors and foothill slopes lie thirsty and
cracking under the ardent sun, and a thin cover of fine dust lies on
all the leaves of the live-oak and eucalyptus trees. Everything out of
doors is waiting for the first rain. The birds are still and the frogs
all hidden away. The insects buzz about rather heavily and keep pretty
well under cover. If one wants to see much lowly life it is necessary
to go to the banks of the few persisting streams or lakes or to the
shores of bay or ocean. So Mary and I left the dry foothill slopes and
their many silk-lined holes with a big black hairy tarantula sitting
quietly at the bottom of each, and took the gently dropping dusty
road to the marshes.

I like the salt marshes of California. They are a change and relief,
in their soothing monotony and simple plant life, from the lush and
variegated flower fields, the dense and hostile chaparral thickets,
the dark forests of great trees, and the miles of artificial
plantations of orchards and vines. On the marshes you are greater and
more important than the plants. In an orchard or a giant-tree forest,
you feel second-rate someway. The fruit-trees have men for servants,
while to the giant trees with their outlook from a height of three
hundred feet and their memories of two thousand years, a man is no
more than an ant. But in the marshes you feel that you are much more
important a kind of creature than the pickle-weed, and that is almost
the only plant that grows there.

There are many curious little bare dry spots in the marshes where we
know it. Flat, smooth, salt-encrusted, clean white spots rather
circular in outline, and perhaps twenty feet in diameter. All around
is the low thick growth of fat-leaved pickle-weed, but for some reason
it doesn't invade these pretty little empty rooms. Mary and I like to
lie on the clean dry floor of one of these unroofed rooms and look up
at the blue sky and out beyond the low side walls of pickle-weed far
across the flat marsh stretches, over the shining bay, and on through
the quivering blue to the beautiful mountains that bound our views on
both sides. On clear afternoons we can see a gleaming white speck on
the top of the highest mountain in the eastern range. That is the
famous Lick Observatory, where the astronomers are looking always into
the sky to read the riddle of the stars and planets and comets. We
feel rather small, Mary and I, when we realize that we are only
loafing or at best watching insignificant little insects and
collecting wasp holes that lie at our noses' ends, while those men up
there are looking at wonders millions of miles away. But we are so
interested and contented with our small doings and small wonders that
we do not at all envy the astronomers on the mountain top. While they
watch the conflagrations of the stars and the mighty sailing of the
planets through the blackness of space, we watch the work and play and
living of our lowly companions on the sun-flooded marshes. They like
the cold glittering sky; we like the warm brown earth.

We had been lying quietly on the white salt sand in one of the
unroofed marsh rooms for some time this September day before we saw
the first wasp begin to work. She was standing on her head,
apparently, and biting most energetically with her jaws, cutting a
little circle in the salt crust. When she got the circle all cut, she
tugged and buzzed until she dug up, unbroken, the little circular
piece (perhaps one-third of an inch across) of crust. She dragged
this about three inches away. Then she returned to the spot thus
cleaned and dug out with her sharp jaws a bit or pellet of soil.
Holding this in her mouth, she flew away about a foot and dropped it.
Then came back. Then dug out another pellet of soil and carried and
dropped it a foot or so away. Then back again and so on until it was
plain that she was digging out a little cylindrical vertical hole or
burrow. As the hole got deeper, the wasp had to crawl down into it,
first with head and fore legs, then with head and half her body;
finally her whole body, long legs, wings and all, was hidden as she
dug deeper and deeper. She had to come out of the hole of course to
carry away each bit of dug up soil. She always backed upward out of
the burrow, and all the while she was digging she kept up a low
humming sound. It was this humming sound that attracted our attention
to other narrow-waisted wasps like the first one. By moving about
cautiously and listening and looking carefully, we found more than a
dozen others digging holes, each one going about the work just like
every other one.

When our first wasp had made its hole deep enough--this took a pretty
long time; we found out later that it was about three inches deep--she
brought back the first little circular piece of salt crust and
carefully put it over the top of the burrow, thus covering it up
entirely and making it look as if no hole were there. Then she flew
away, out of the little bare room and off into the pickle-weed
somewhere. We waited several minutes but she didn't come back, so we
turned our eyes to another wasp near by which had its hole only just
begun. It was interesting to see how closely like the first wasp this
second one worked. Prying and pulling with the jaws, the same
fluttering of the wings and humming, the same backing out of the hole
and the swift little flight for a foot or two feet away from the hole
to drop the pellet of soil.

I tried to point out to Mary that this was the way animals do which
work by instinct and not by reason. That all the animals of the same
kind do things in the same way, and that they do them without any
teaching or imitating or reasoning out. They are born with the
knowledge and skill and the impulse to do the things in the particular
way they do. But Mary found this very tiresome and let her eyes rove,
and it is well she did or we might not have made our great discovery:
a really thrilling discovery it was for us, too.

The first wasp had come back! But not empty handed, or rather not
empty mouthed, for in her pointed jaws she held a limp measuring-worm
about an inch and a quarter long. A measuring-worm or looper is the
caterpillar of a certain kind of moth, and it loops or measures when
it walks because it has no feet on the middle of the under side of
the body as other caterpillars have, and so has to draw its tail
pretty nearly up its head to take a step forward. This naturally makes
its body rise up in a fold or loop. "See," cried Mary, "the wasp is
going to put the measuring-worm into the hole."

That is exactly what happened. How the wasp could tell where the hole
was, was surprising, for it had so carefully put the bit of salt crust
in place that you couldn't tell the top of the hole from the rest of
the crust-covered ground. But our wasp came straight to the right
place. Perhaps as a carrier-pigeon comes to its loft from a hundred
miles away, or a cat carried away in a bag to a strange place finds
its way quickly back home.

Some of the other wasps that we watched later weren't so sure of their
holes, though, and other people who have watched digger-wasps in other
places have found them showing varying degrees of uncertainty about
locating their nests. Mr. and Mrs. Peckham, who have studied the
behavior of the various kinds of digger-wasps more than anybody else
in this country, have concluded that the wasps "are guided in their
movements by their memory of localities. They go from place to place
quite readily because they are familiar with the details of the
landscape in the district they inhabit. Fair eyesight and a moderately
good memory on their part are all that need be assumed in this simple
explanation of the problem."

But quite different from this conclusion is that of Fabre, the
wonderful French observer of wasps, who experimented on them in regard
to this matter of finding and knowing their holes, by carrying them
away shut up in a dark box to the center of a village three kilometers
from the nesting ground, and releasing them after being kept all night
in the dark boxes. These wasps when released in the busy town,
certainly a place never visited by them before, immediately mounted
vertically to above the roofs and then instantly and energetically
flew south, which was the direction of their holes. Nine separate
wasps released one at a time did this without a moment's hesitation,
and the next day Fabre found them all at work again at their
hole-digging. He knew them by two spots of white paint he had put on
each one.

"Are the wasps guided by memory when placed by man beyond their
bearings and carried to great distances into regions with which they
are unacquainted and in unknown directions?" asks Fabre. "By memory so
quick that when, having reached a certain height at which they can in
some sort take their bearings, they launch themselves with all their
power of wing towards that part of the horizon where their nests are?
Is it memory which traces their aerial way across regions seen for the
first time? Evidently not," emphatically declares Fabre. So there you
are. Where doctors (of science) fall out it is not for you or me to

But Mary was growing excited. "See, she has put the worm down and is
prying up the top of the hole. She has got it off. She is--"

"Ss-h," say I, for wasps can hear. Or, wait; that's quite dogmatic.
Wasps fly away when you talk too loud. That's better. That's not
judging wasp doing by what we can do. That is just telling an observed

Mary "ssh"-ed, but she pointed a plump little finger; a finger
trembling with excitement. The wasp had gone down into the uncovered
hole with the worm. Then she backed out, found the lid, covered up the
hole and flew away into the pickle-weed again!

In twenty minutes she came back, _with another limp measuring-worm_,
straight to the covered hole; worm dropped on the ground; lid taken
off; worm dragged in; wasp backed out; lid carefully replaced; flight
to the distant jungle of pickle-weed again!

O, this was exciting. Mary fairly exploded into exclamations and
questions after the wasp was well away. What are the worms for? Are
they dead? The second one seemed to wriggle feebly a little on the
ground by the nest while the wasp was getting off the lid. Will she
bring more? Will she fill the hole full of worms? Now I knew the
answers to some of these questions, for I had been in this happy place
before, but I wanted Mary to find out, to discover--exquisite and
prideful pleasure--for herself. So I remained dumb.

Three more times the wasp brought worms. Three more times went through
all the performance. But the last time she didn't come up for a long
time; that is, for several minutes, and when she did come, instead of
putting the salt crust on the hole, she got a little pellet of soil
and dropped it in; and then another, and many others. Sometimes she
scraped them in with her front feet, but there weren't many bits of
soil close enough for that, for she had carried them all a foot or so
away as she brought them out of the hole. She worked very
industriously: jumping and running about, making little buzzing leaps
and flights, until she had quite filled up the hole with the five dead
worms in the bottom.

Then she did the most wonderful thing. With her fore feet she pawed
and raked the surface until it was quite smooth, and with her jaws and
horny head she pressed down and tamped the fine bits of soil until
they were a little below the surface of the salt crust around the
hole, and then she brought again the little circular lid or top of
salt crust and carefully put it in the little depression on the top
of the filled-in burrow, so that it fitted perfectly with the hard
uncut salt crust around the hole's edge!

This is true. Does it seem wonderful to you? Why? Because we think
that other animals cannot do what would be a very simple thing indeed
for us? Our wasp was evidently concealing the whereabouts of her
worm-stored burrow. I don't say that she _wanted_ to conceal it; or
_decided_ to conceal it; or even _intended_ to conceal it. She was
simply, I say, concealing it. That seems quite certain, doesn't it?
Well, this action of cutting out and replacing the bit of salt crust
over the burrow was about the simplest and most effective way of
concealing the hole that could be reasoned out, if we ourselves were
to undertake it. The wasp, and all the other wasps of the same kind in
our marshes, concealed their holes in the way that our reason would
suggest to us as the best way. But I do not say anything about the
wasp's mental processes toward getting at this behavior. One thing is
pretty sure. Among a score or hundred of us doing this work, there
would be pretty sure to be some to do it in a different sort of way
from the others. The wasps of the same kind all do it alike. Perhaps
that is the chief difference between reason and instinct.

But if our digger-wasp--whose name is Ammophila, the sand-lover--made
Mary's and my eyes bulge out by her cleverness, what shall we think of
that other Ammophila that Dr. Williston watched on the plains of
Kansas, or that other one still which the Peckhams studied in
Wisconsin? These other Ammophilas, instead of using their hard heads
to tamp down the soil in the hole, hunted about until they found a
suitable little stone which, held tightly in the jaws, was used as a
tool to pack and smooth the dirt! And the Kansas wasp did another odd
thing. Instead of making its hole of the same caliber or width all
the way down, the upper half-inch or so was made of greater diameter
than the rest of the burrow so that a little circular shelf ran around
the inside of the hole half an inch below the top. Now when the clever
Kansas wasp closed the burrow each time it went away to hunt for
measuring-worms, it did it in a curious way. I quote the exact words
of Professor Williston, the observer: "When the excavation had been
carried to the required depth"--this is our professional way of
saying, when the hole had been dug deep enough--"the wasp, after
surveying the premises, flying away, soon returned with a large pebble
in its mandibles, which it carefully deposited within the opening;
then, standing over the entrance upon her four posterior feet, she
rapidly and most amusingly scraped the dust, 'hand over hand' back
beneath her till she had filled the hole above the stone to the top.
[The stone of course was resting on the little circular shelf half an
inch down in the hole.] ... When she had heaped up the dirt to her
satisfaction, she again flew away and immediately returned with a
smaller pebble, perhaps an eighth of an inch in diameter, and then
standing more nearly erect, with the front feet folded beneath her,
she pressed down the dust all over and about the opening, smoothing
off the surface and accompanying the action with a peculiar rasping

Is this not a creature of wits, this Kansas wasp? And an undaunted
worker? For each time she went away to get a nice fat looper, she
covered up her hole in this elaborate way, and each time she came
back, she had to remove the half-inch of tamped-down soil and the
little covering stone resting on the shelf in the hole.

The Peckhams, too, saw an Ammophila in Wisconsin use a pebble as a
tool, and what is especially interesting and important, this wasp was
only a single individual of several others watched by the observers,
all these wasps being of one kind, that is, belonging to the same
species. The tool-user thus revealed an individuality that made its
actions seem to be dictated by something else than rigid instinct;
certainly so if instinct is to be defined as untaught and unreasoned
behavior common to all the individuals of a kind. In fact the Peckhams
(most persistent, practised and intelligent observers) insist that "in
all the processes of Ammophila the character of the work differs with
the individual."

But where is Mary in all this digression of mine? Never fear for Mary.
While I was mumbling about instinct and reason and automatism and
individual idiosyncrasy, Mary was crawling slowly and cautiously about
over the salt-crust floor of our room, counting the wasp holes in
course of making, and she was making a second discovery. The
measuring-worms, limp and lifeless as they appeared, were really not
dead! She had seen at least two, left lying on the ground by the hole
while the wasp prized off the cover, give feeble wriggles, and one
that she poked with a pin squirmed rather energetically. That is, it
did if she poked it at one end, but not if she poked it in the middle,
which is such a great discovery that it really gets to be science!

Now as one is entitled to take violent measures for the sake of
science, Mary and I decided after considerable serious discussion to
"collect" the hole which our wasp had finished and apparently left for
good. So we dug it up, and on the spot we examined it and all of its
insides. And we found it quite true that the loopers were not dead,
but they were _paralyzed_! When we poked a head or tail, each worm
could squirm just a little, but if we touched them in the middle, they
didn't know it, and on one of them, the top one, we found a little
shining white speck.

Mary's excitement became merged into an intense thoughtfulness. Then
she cried aloud with eyes shining: "My, it's the egg! the egg of the
wasp! and the worms are for food for the young wasp when it hatches!"

Ah, Mary, you have wits! Have you ever heard any one tell about this?
Did you really guess it, or not guess it, but actually reason it out
for yourself? Mary, I have great hopes of you.

For it is quite true what Mary says. The little white seed-like thing
glued on to the last looper's body is the egg of the wasp, and the
stung and paralyzed but not killed measuring-worms are the food stored
up by this extremely clever narrow-waisted mother for the wingless,
footless, blind, almost helpless wasp grub, when it shall hatch from
the egg. Down in the darkness of the cell, there will be a horrible
tragedy. For days and weeks together the wasp grub will nibble away
on the helpless loopers until all five are eaten alive! Then the grub
will change to a winged wasp with strong sharp jaws with which she
will dig her way up and out of the noisome prison and into the free
air and sunlight of the marsh room. And she will then dig holes of her
own, find and sting and store loopers, lay an egg on one, and close up
the hole just as her mother did. Or at least all this would happen if
we hadn't collected the hole. But it will happen in the other holes.

But why should the loopers be only paralyzed instead of killed? Isn't
it plain that if killed they would only be decaying carrion by the
time the wasp grub was ready to eat them, and young wasps must have
fresh meat, not dead and decayed flesh. And if the loopers were simply
put in alive, not paralyzed, wouldn't their violent squirming in the
hole surely crush the delicate egg or the more delicate newly hatched
wasp grub? Or wouldn't they simply dig their way with their heavy
jaws out of the hole and away? Or, indeed, could the slender-bodied
mother wasp carry and handle successfully a strong squirming looper
over an inch long? The reason for the paralyzing of the worms is plain
then. But how is this extraordinary condition brought about? And the
answer to this, which Mary and I didn't discover for ourselves, but
had to find out from the accounts of the men who did, like Fabre and
others, reveals the most extraordinary thing that our wasps do. Most
people think the wasps that live in communities or large families in
big paper nests (the yellow-jackets and hornets) are the most
interesting and most intelligent or clever of the wasps. But Mary and
I do not think so. The solitary wasps do the most wonderful things,
and of all they do, the paralyzing of the insects they store up as
food for their young is the hardest to explain on any basis except
that of wasp reasoning. But of course we don't have to explain it,
which is fortunate for the high record of truth we are trying to
establish in this book.

Fabre, the patient Frenchman, waited for years and years for a chance
to see just how the Ammophila paralyzes her victims, and at last he
saw and understood it. To understand the matter from Fabre's account
of it, we must remember that the measuring-worm's body is made up of a
series of rings or body segments, in each of which (except the very
last) is a little nerve center or brain situated just under the skin
on the under side of the body. And all this row of brains is connected
by a slender nerve cord running along the middle line of the under
side of the long body. Now Fabre saw that the wasp darted its sting
into each looper, "once for all at the fifth or sixth segment of the
victim." And when he pricked the stung worms with a needle in various
parts of the body, he found, just as Mary did, that the needle could
entirely pierce the middle of the body (which is where the fifth and
sixth segments are), without causing any movement of the worm. "But
prick even slightly a segment in front or behind and the caterpillar
struggles with a violence proportioned to the distance from the
poisoned segment."

Now what is the reason, asks Fabre, for the wasp's selecting this
particular spot for stinging the worm, and he answers his own question
as follows:

"The loopers have the following organization, counting the head as the
first segment: Three pairs of true feet on rings two, three, and four;
four pairs of membranous feet on rings seven, eight, nine, and ten,
and a last similar pair set on the thirteenth and final ring; in all
eight pairs of feet, the first seven making two marked groups--one of
three, the other of four pairs. These two groups are divided by two
segments without feet, which are the fifth and sixth.

"Now, to deprive the caterpillar of means of escape, and to render it
motionless, will the Hymenopteron [that's the wasp] dart its sting
into each of the eight rings provided with feet? Especially will it do
so when the prey is small and weak? Certainly not: a single stab will
suffice if given in a central spot, whence the torpor produced by the
venomous droplet can spread gradually with as little delay as possible
into the midst of those segments which bear feet. There can be no
doubt which to choose for this single inoculation; it must be the
fifth or sixth, which separate the two groups of locomotive rings. The
point indicated by rational deduction is also the one adopted by
instinct. Finally, let us add that the egg of the Ammophila is
invariably laid on the paralyzed ring. There, and there alone, can the
young larva bite without inducing dangerous contortions; where a
needle prick has no effect, the bite of a grub will have none either,
and the prey will remain immovable until the nursling has gained
strength and can bite farther on without danger."

But some Ammophilas catch much larger caterpillars than the inch-long,
slender, little loopers. Fabre found a wasp dragging to its nest a
caterpillar weighing fifteen times the weight of the wasp. Does one
stab suffice for such a giant caterpillar? Here is what Fabre saw: An
Ammophila was noticed scratching in the ground around the crown of a
plant. She was "pulling up little grass roots, and poking her head
under the tiny clods which she raised up, and running hurriedly, now
here, now there, round the thyme, visiting every crack which gave
access under it; yet she was not digging a burrow, but hunting
something hidden underground, as was shown by manoeuvres like those
of a dog trying to get a rabbit out of its hole. And presently,
disturbed by what was going on overhead and closely tracked by the
Ammophila, a big gray worm made up his mind to quit his abode and
come up to daylight. It is all over with him; the hunter is instantly
on the spot, gripping the nape of his neck and holding on in spite of
his contortions. Settled on the monster's back, the Ammophila bends
her abdomen, and, methodically, deliberately--like a surgeon
thoroughly familiar with the anatomy of his subject--plunges a lancet
into the ventral surface of every segment, from the first to the last.
Not one ring is omitted; with or without feet each is stabbed in due
order from the front to the back."

This is what the patient, careful observer saw, with all the "leisure
and ease required for an irreproachable observation." "The wasp acts,"
says Fabre, "with a precision of which science might be jealous; it
knows what man but rarely knows; it is acquainted with the complex
nervous system of its victim, and keeps repeated stabs for those with
numerous ganglia. I said 'It knows; is acquainted'; what I ought to
say is, 'It acts as if it did.' What it does is suggested to it; the
creature obeys, impelled by instinct, without reasoning on what it
does. But whence comes this sublime instinct? Can theories of atavism,
of selection, of the struggle for life, interpret it reasonably?"

When I had finished reading this to Mary she looked up and said
softly: "Of course I don't understand all this that he says about
'avatism and selection' and so on, but I think the wasp knows. Don't

"Mary," I reply promptly, "the word is 'atavism,' not 'avatism,'
please remember!"

"I hope I can," said Mary.



The meadow lark on the fence post behind my house is unusually voluble
this uncertain morning; maybe he is getting his day's singing off
before the sun shall hide, discomfited, behind the unrolling cloud
furls. A solemn grackle, with yellow eyes and bronzed neck, stalks
with cocking head in the wet green of the well-groomed front lawn; a
whisking bevy of goldfinches, which chat to each other in high-pitched
hurried phrases, disposes itself with much concern in the bare tree
across the road, and swinging along overhead, a woodpecker cries its
harsh greetings. But the life here on the street is tame and usual
compared to that busy living and to those eventful happenings taking
place in a remoter corner of the garden. There where the warm dust is
figured with the dainty tracks of the quail hosts and the flower-flies
hum their contentedest note; there in that half-artificial, half-wild
covert of odorous vegetation, a life in miniature, with the excitement
and stresses, the failures and successes and the inevitable comedies
and tragedies of any world of life is going on, with the history of it
all unrecorded.

Mary has just come to call on me, bringing an unkempt bouquet of
Scotch broom from the garden. On these branches of broom are many
conspicuous white spots. They are not flowers, for it is not broom
flower time, and the flowers are yellow when their time does come. But
these white spots, soft little cottony masses, like little pillows or
cushions, and with regular tiny flutings along the top, have puzzled
Mary, and she has come to ask me about them, for I am supposed to know
all things. Well, luckily, I do happen to know about these, but I
suggest that we go into the garden together and see if we can find
out. The truth is, I am glad of an excuse to get away from this
tiresome German book about _Entwicklungslehre_. And then, too, I want
to look at things and talk with Mary.

Mary has such a fascinatingly serious way of doing things that aren't
serious at all. She has got the curious notion lately that many little
people live among the grasses, the grass people she calls them, and
that that is the reason there are so many very little white flowers
coming up in my lawn. My own notion had been that some rascally
seedsman had sold me unclean grass seed, but Mary's notion that the
grass people are planting and raising these little flowers for their
own special delectation is, of course, a much wiser one. So when we
walk on the lawn, we go very slowly, and I have to poke constantly
among the grasses with my stick as we move along so that the little
people may know we are coming and have time to scurry away from under
our great boots.

When we got out to the row of brooms, we found many of the soft white
cushions on all the bushes. But some of them were torn and
dishevelled. And in these torn masses many tiny round particles could
be seen. These little black specks are simply eggs, insect eggs, as I
told Mary, and soon she had discovered among them some slightly larger
but still very small red spots which were waving tiny black feet and
feelers about. They were of course the baby insects just hatching from
the eggs.

"Does the mother lay the eggs in these little white cushions and then
go away and leave them?" asks Mary.

"No, she stays right by them," I answer.

"But where is she then? I can't--Yes I can too," cries Mary in great
triumph. "Here she is at one end of the egg cushion. She is a part of

"Well, no, not exactly," I have to say. "It is part of _her_, or
rather she spins the cushion, which is really a sac or soft box of
white wax, in which to lay her eggs. Something the way the spiders do,
you know. Only their egg box is made of silk and usually fastened to a
fence rail or on the bark of a tree and left there. But some of the
spiders, the large, swiftly running, black kinds that live under
stones, carry the silken ball with the eggs inside about with them,
fastened to the end of the body. Well, this cottony cushion scale
insect--that's its right name--keeps its waxen sac of eggs fastened to
it, but as the egg sac is much larger than the insect itself, it can't
run about any more, but has to stay for all the rest of the time until
it dies in the spot where it makes the sac. However, as it gets all
the food it wants by sticking its slender little beak into the broom
or other plant it is on and sucking up the fresh sap, it gets on very

"But what makes some of the egg cushions--how pretty they are,
too!--so torn and pulled open," asks Mary, who has listened to my long
speech very nicely. She often gets impatient when I lecture for too
many minutes together.

"That is for you to find out," I say. "There is a dreadful thing going
on here if you can only see it. But a rather good thing too. Good for
the broom bushes anyway, and as they are _my_ broom bushes and I like
their flowers, good for me."

Just then a very stubby, round-backed, quick little red beetle with
black spots walked off a broom stem on to Mary's hand. She didn't
scream, of course, nor even jerk her hand away. She may learn when she
is older to be frightened when pretty, harmless, little lady-bird
beetles walk on her. But now she likes all sorts of small animals, and
is not afraid at all.

Mary is not at all slow to understand things, and when this
hard-bodied little beetle, with a body like half a red-and-black
pill, walked off the broom on to her hand, she guessed that he might
have something to do with the torn-up egg cushions. So it didn't take
her long to find another little beast like him actually nosing about
in an egg sac and voraciously snapping up all the unfortunate tiny,
red, black-legged baby scale insects. He ate the eggs, too, and seemed
to take some bites at the mother insect herself, and then Mary found
more of the lady-bird beetles, and still more. They were on all the
broom bushes where the white cushions were. And so one of the dreadful
tragedies going on in my garden was soon quite plain to Mary, and she
was very sorry for the helpless white insects.

"Where did the red beetles come from?" she asked pretty soon.

"From Australia," I answered. "Or rather their
great-great-grandparents did. These particular beetles were probably
born right here in the garden, because a colony of them live here.
But they couldn't if there were not some cottony cushion scale insects
here too. For this particular kind of lady-bird beetle can't live on
any other food--at least they don't--except this particular kind of
scale insect and its eggs, which is surely a curious thing, isn't it?"

But Mary is so used to finding that the insects have extremely unusual
and curious habits--that is, habits different from ours--that she
doesn't get excited any more when I tell her about them. She does
though when she finds them out for herself, which makes me wonder if I
haven't wasted a good deal of time in my life giving lectures to
students about things instead of always making them find out for
themselves. And maybe I am wasting some more time now while I am

"How did they come from Australia?" asks Mary. For she knows that
Australia is several thousand miles away across the ocean from
California, and lady-bird beetles do not swim. At least not from
Australia to America. So I have to give Mary another informing
lecture, and this is it:

"Years and years ago, there lived in some fragrant-leaved orange-trees
in Australia some white cottony cushion insects whose life was
untroubled by other cares than those of eating and of looking after
the children. As each insect was fastened for life on the leaf or twig
that supplied it with all the food it needed, which was simply an
occasional drink of sap, and as the white insects always died before
their children were born, neither of these cares was very harassing.
On thousands of other similar fragrant-leaved orange-trees in
Australia lived millions of other similar white insects. And for a
long time this race of white insects enjoyed life. Those were happy
days. But on a time there came into one of the trees a few small red
beetles, who eagerly and persistently set about the awful business of
eating the defenceless white insects. From this tree the red beetles,
or the children of them, went to other trees where white insects
lived, and with unrelenting rapacity and uncloyed appetite ate all the
white insects they could find. And so in other trees; and finally,
with years, the red beetles had invaded all of the thousands of
fragrant-leaved orange-trees in Australia, and had eaten nearly all of
the millions of white insects.

"One day a very small orange-tree was taken out of the ground in
Australia and sent with many others across the ocean to California. On
this small tree there were a few of the white insects. The little tree
was planted again in California and soon put out many fresh fragrant
leaves. The white insects were astonished and rejoiced that day after
day went by without the appearance of any red beetles. The white
insects increased in numbers; there were thousands of fragrant-leaved
orange-trees in California, and in a few years there were millions of
white insects in them. One morning a man stood among the trees and
said, 'Confound these bugs; they'll ruin me; what shall I do?' and a
man who knew said, 'Get some red beetles from Australia.' So this
orange-grower, with some others, paid a man to go to Australia and
collect some live red beetles. The collector went across the ocean,
three weeks' steady steaming, and sent back a few of the voracious
little beetles in a pill box. They were put into a tree in a
California orange-orchard in which there were many cottony cushion
scale insects. The red insects promptly began eating the white ones;
and their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren have kept
up this eating ever since. And so the orange-growers never tire of
telling how the red beetles (whose name is Vedalia) were brought from
Australia to save them from ruin by the white insects (whose name is

Now there are not many cottony cushion scales left in California. A
very promising colony of them seems to have sprung up in my Scotch
broom bushes. But the red beetles have found their way there already,
as Mary and I discovered to-day, and so we think that by the time the
broom flowers come, there will be few white insects left in the

[Illustration: THE VENDETTA]


This is the story of a fight. In the first story of this book, I said
that Mary and I had seen a remarkable fight one evening at sundown on
the slopes of the bare brown foothills west of the campus. It was not
a battle of armies--we have seen that, too, in the little world we
watch,--but a combat of gladiators, a struggle between two champions
born and bred for fighting, and particularly for fighting each other.
One champion was Eurypelma, the great, black, hairy, eight-legged,
strong-fanged tarantula of California, and the other was Pepsis, a
mighty wasp in dull-blue mail, with rusty-red wings and a poisonous
javelin of a sting that might well frighten either you or me. Do you
have any wasp in your neighborhood of the ferocity and strength and
size of Pepsis? If not, you can hardly realize what a terrible
creature she is. With her strong hard-cased body an inch and a half
long, borne on powerful wings that expand fully three inches, and her
long and strong needle-pointed sting that darts in and out like a
flash and is always full of virulent poison, Pepsis is certainly queen
of all the wasp amazons. But if that is so, no less is Eurypelma
greatest, most dreadful, and fiercest, and hence king, of all the
spiders in this country. In South America and perhaps elsewhere in the
tropics, live the fierce bird-spiders with thick legs extending three
inches or more on each side of their ugly hairy bodies. Eurypelma, the
California tarantula, is not quite so large as that, nor does he
stalk, pounce on and kill little birds as his South American cousin is
said to do, but he is nevertheless a tremendous and fear-inspiring
creature among the small beasties of field and meadow.

But not all Eurypelmas are so ferocious; or at least are not ferocious
all the time. There are individual differences among them. Perhaps it
is a matter of age or health. Anyway, I had a pet tarantula which I
kept in an open jar in my room for several weeks, and I could handle
him with impunity. He would sit gently on my hand, or walk
deliberately up my arm, with his eight, fixed, shining, little reddish
eyes staring hard at me, and his long seven-jointed hairy legs
swinging gently and rhythmically along, without a sign of hesitation
or excitement. His hair was almost gray and perhaps this hoariness and
general sedateness betokened a ripe old age. But his great fangs were
unblunted, his supply of poison undiminished, and his skill in
striking and killing his prey still perfect, as often proved at his
feeding times. He is quite the largest Eurypelma I have ever seen. He
measures--for I still have his body, carefully stuffed, and fastened
on a block with legs all spread out--five inches from tip to tip of
opposite legs.

At the same time that I had this hoary old tarantula, I had another
smaller, coal-black fellow who went into a perfect ecstasy of anger
and ferocity every time any one came near him. He would stand on his
hind legs and paw wildly with fore legs and palpi, and lunge forward
fiercely at my inquisitive pencil. I found him originally in the
middle of an entry into a classroom, holding at bay an entire excited
class of art students armed with mahl-sticks and paint-brushes. The
students were mostly women, and I was hailed as deliverer and greatest
_dompteur_ of beasts when I scooped Eurypelma up in a bottle and
walked off with him.

But this is not telling of the sundown fight that Mary and I saw
together. We had been over to the sand-cut by the golf links, after
mining-bees, and were coming home with a fine lot of their holes and
some of the bees themselves, when Mary suddenly called to me to "see
the nice tarantula."

Perhaps nice isn't the best word for him, but he certainly was an
unusually imposing and fluffy-haired and fierce-looking brute of a
tarantula. He had rather an owly way about him, as if he had come out
from his hole too early and was dazed and half-blinded by the light.
Tarantulas are night prowlers; they do all their hunting after dark,
dig their holes and, indeed, carry on all the various businesses of
their life in the night-time. The occasional one found walking about
in daytime has made a mistake, someway, and he blunders around quite
like an owl in the sunshine.

All of a sudden, while Mary and I were smiling at this too early bird
of a tarantula, he went up on his hind legs in fighting attitude, and
at the same instant down darted a great tarantula hawk, that is, a
Pepsis wasp. Her armored body glinted cool and metallic in the red
sunset light, and her great wings had a suggestive shining of dull
fire about them. She checked her swoop just before reaching Eurypelma,
and made a quick dart over him, and then a quick turn back, intending
to catch the tarantula in the rear. But lethargic and owly as
Eurypelma had been a moment before, he was now all alertness and
agility. He had to be. He was defending his life. One full fair stab
of the poisoned javelin, sheathed but ready at the tip of the
flexible, blue-black body hovering over him, and it would be over with
Eurypelma. And he knew it. Or perhaps he didn't. But he acted as if he
did. He was going to do his best not to be stabbed; that was sure. And
Pepsis was going to do her best to stab; that also was quickly

At the same time Pepsis knew--or anyway acted as if she did--that to
be struck by one or both of those terrible vertical, poison-filled
fangs was sure death. It would be like a blow from a battle-axe, with
the added horror of mortal poison poured into the wound.

So Eurypelma about-faced like a flash, and Pepsis was foiled in her
strategy. She flew up and a yard away, then returned to the attack.
She flew about in swift circles over his head, preparatory to darting
in again. But Eurypelma was ready. As she swooped viciously down, he
lunged up and forward with a half-leap, half-forward fall, and came
within an ace of striking the trailing blue-black abdomen with his
reaching fangs. Indeed it seemed to Mary and me as if they really
grazed the metallic body. But evidently they had not pierced the
smooth armor. Nor had Pepsis in that breathless moment of close
quarters been able to plant her lance. She whirled up, high this time
but immediately back, although a little more wary evidently, for she
checked her downward plunge three or four inches from the dancing
champion on the ground. And so for wild minute after minute it went
on; Eurypelma always up and tip-toeing on those strong hind legs, with
open, armed mouth always toward the point of attack, and Pepsis ever
darting down, up, over, across, and in and out in dizzy dashes, but
never quite closing.

Were Mary and I excited? Not a word could we utter; only now and then
a swift intake of breath; a stifled "O" or "Ah" or "See." And then of
a sudden came the end. Pepsis saw her chance. A lightning swoop
carried her right on to the hairy champion. The quivering lance shot
home. The poison coursed into the great soft body. But at the same
moment the terrible fangs struck fair on the blue armor and crashed
through it. Two awful wounds, and the wings of dull fire beat
violently only to strike up a little cloud of dust and whirl the
mangled body around and around. Fortunately Death was merciful, and
the brave amazon made a quick end.

But what of Eurypelma, the killer? Was it well with him? The
sting-made wound itself was of little moment; it closed as soon as the
lancet withdrew. But not before the delicate poison sac at its base
inside the wasp-body had contracted and squirted down the slender
hollow of the sting a drop of liquid fire. And so it was not well with
Eurypelma in his insides. Victor he seemed to be, but if he could
think, he must have had grave doubts about the joys of victory.

For a curious drowsiness was coming over him. Perhaps, disquieting
thought, it was the approaching stupor of the poison's working. His
strong long legs became limp, they would not work regularly, they
could not hold his heavy hairy body up from the ground. He would get
into his hole and rest. But it was too late. And after a few uneven
steps, victor Eurypelma settled heavily down beside his amazon
victim, inert and forevermore beyond fighting. He was paralyzed.

And so Mary and I brought him home in our collecting box, together
with the torn body of Pepsis with her wings of slow fire dulled by the
dust of her last struggles. And though it is a whole month now since
Eurypelma received his stab from the poisoned javelin of Pepsis, he
has not recovered; nor will he ever. When you touch him, he draws up
slowly one leg after another, or moves a palpus feebly. But it is
living death; a hopeless paralytic is the king.

Dear reader, you are of course as bright as Mary, and so you have
noticed, as she did right away, the close parallel between what
happened to Eurypelma and what happened to the measuring-worms brought
by Ammophila to her nest burrow as described in the first story in
this book. And so, like Mary, you realize that the vendetta or life
feud between the tarantula family and the family of Pepsis, the
tarantula hawk, is based on reasons of domestic economy rather than on
those of sentiment, which determine vendettas in Corsica and feuds in

To be quite plain, Pepsis fights Eurypelma to get his huge, juicy body
for food for her young; and Eurypelma fights Pepsis to keep from
becoming paralyzed provender. If Pepsis had escaped unhurt in the
combat at which Mary and I "assisted," as the French say, as
enthralled spectators, we should have seen her drag by mighty effort
the limp, paralyzed, spider giant to her nest hole not far distant--a
great hole twelve inches deep and with a side chamber at the bottom.
There she would have thrust him down the throat of the burrow, and
then crawled in and laid an egg on the helpless beast, from which in
time would have hatched the carnivorous wasp grub. Pepsis has many
close allies among the wasps, all black or steely blue with smoky or
dull-bronze wings, and they all use spiders, stung and paralyzed, to
store their nest holes with.

"Do the little black and blue wasps hunt the little spiders and the
larger ones the big spiders?" asks Mary.

"Exactly," I respond, "and the giant wasp of them all, Pepsis, the
queen of the wasp amazons, hunts only the biggest spider of them all,
Eurypelma, the tarantula king, and we have seen her do it."

"Well," says Mary, "even if she wants him for her children to eat,
it's a real vendetta, isn't it?"

"Indeed it is," I answer, "it's more real, and fiercer, and more
relentless, and more persistent than any human vendetta that ever was.
For every Pepsis mother in the world is always hunting for Eurypelmas
to fight. And not _all_ Corsicans have a vendetta on hand, nor all
Kentuckians a feud."



"It seemed that some one was calling to me in a whisper--'Sahib!
Sahib! Sahib!' exactly as my bearer used to call me in the mornings. I
fancied that I was delirious until a handful of sand fell at my
feet. Then I looked up and saw a head peering down into the
amphitheater--the head of Dunnoo, my dog-boy, who attended to my
collies. As soon as he had attracted my attention, he held up his hand
and showed a rope. I motioned, staggering to and fro the while, that
he should throw it down. It was a couple of leather punkah-ropes
knotted together, with a loop at one end. I slipped the loop over my
head and under my arms; heard Dunnoo urge something forward; was
conscious that I was being dragged, face downward, up the steep
sand-slope, and the next instant found myself choked and half-fainting
on the sand-hills overlooking the crater."

And then Mary broke in. We were lying in a sunny warm spot on an open
hillside a little way off the road, and I was reading aloud from a
favorite author.

"That is a fairy story," said Mary, "and I thought we were not going
to read any more fairy stories now that I am grown up."

Mary's idea of being grown up is to be more than three feet eleven
inches high and to have her hair no longer in two braids.

"Not exactly a fairy story," I replied. "For Kipling rather prefers
soldiers to fairies and machines to caps of invisibility. Of course,
though, he wrote the Mowgli stories."

"But those are not fairy stories," interrupted Mary. "Those were about
a real boy and real animals only a long way off and different from

"Ah-um, real? Well, perhaps; anyway, the Mowgli animals seem more real
than most real animals. But this story of the sand-pit and the man
sliding down into it and not being able to get out isn't impossible at
all. Only the other people down in the bottom seem a little unusual."

"No, there can't be any such place," said Mary positively, "and as
there can't be any such place, nobody could have slid into it or been
in the bottom, and so it is a fairy story. Any story that isn't so is
a fairy story."

"Well, that makes it easy to tell a fairy story from the other kinds,
and I never knew exactly how before. But I once saw a place much like
the sand-pit that Morrowbie Jukes slid into, or that Kipling says he
slid into. It is on the side of a great mountain in Oregon; Mt. Hood
its name is. I had climbed far above timber line, that is, above where
all the trees and bushes stop because it is too cold for them to live,
and there is only bare rocks and snow and ice, and had sat down to
rest near a great snowbank a mile long. As I looked back down the
mountain I saw a curious yellowish smoke rising in little puffs and
curls. I decided to find out about this smoke on my way down; perhaps
it was the beginning of a forest fire, and ought to be put out.

"Well, when I got to it there was no fire; the puffs and curls were
not smoke. It was a real Morrowbie Jukes pit; a great crater-like hole
in the mountain, with its side so steep that the loose volcanic sand
and rocks (for the whole mountain is an old volcano) kept slipping
down in little avalanches from which puffs and curls of fine yellow
dust kept rising and drifting lazily away. If I had made the mistake
of going too close to the edge, I should certainly have started one
of these avalanches and gone slipping and sliding, faster and faster,
to the very bottom, a thousand feet below."

"My!" said Mary; "and were there horrible people in the bottom, and

"Well, really, Mary, I couldn't see on account of the dust-smoke."

"Of course there weren't, probably," said Mary thoughtfully and a
little wistfully.

"Probably not," I had to reply regretfully.

But a bright thought came to me. I remembered something. Several days
before I had tramped along this hillside road near which Mary and I
were lying and I had seen--well, just wait. So I said to Mary: "But I
know where there is a Morrowbie Jukes pit, several of them, indeed,
near here. Sha'n't we go and see them?"

"Why, of course," said Mary rather severely.

"Let us go galloping as Morrowbie Jukes did," said I. So we took hold
of hands and as soon as we got out of the chaparral, we went
galloping, hop, hop, hoppity, hop, down the road. I must confess that
I got out of breath pretty soon and my knees seemed to creak a little.
And when a swift motor-car came exploding by, going up the hill, all
the people stared and smiled to see an elderly gentleman with
spectacles and a long coat hop-hopping along with a yellow-haired
red-cheeked little girl in knee skirts. But we don't mind people much!
They simply don't know all the things that go with being happy.

Pretty soon--and it was high time, for I had only three breaths
left--we came to a place where the road bent sharply around the
hillside and was especially broad.

"Now, Mary," I said, "be careful and don't fall in. I'm afraid I
could not get you out."

"Fall in where? Get me out of what?" asked Mary, quite puzzled. She
was staring about excitedly, looking most of the time down into the
cañon with its spiry redwood trees pushing far up from the bottom. And
then suddenly she saw. She flopped down on her hands and knees in the
warm sand by the roadside and cried out, "What funny little holes!"

"Why, Mary," I said with pained surprise. "You don't really mean to
call these awful Morrowbie Jukes pits 'funny little holes'! That isn't
fair after all we've done to find them. Especially after my galloping
all the way right to the very edge of this largest one."

As I spoke I pointed it out with the toe of my shoe, but inadvertently
filled it all up by poking a couple of tablespoonfuls of sand and dust
into it. But size is quite a relative matter, and for the tiny
creatures with whom Mary and I have to deal, the little crater-like
holes in the sand of the roadside are large and dangerous pits. We
sprawled down on our stomachs among the pits to see what we could see.

Mary saw first. Ah, those bright eyes! My spectacles are rather in the
way out-of-doors, I find. But if I keep on getting younger--and I
certainly am younger since I got acquainted with Mary--I shall be able
soon to leave them at home in my study when I go out to see things.

Mary, then, saw first. What she saw were two very small shining,
brown, gently curved, sharp-pointed, sickle-like jaws sticking up out
of the loose sand in the very bottom of one of the pits. They moved
once, these curved and pointed jaws, and that movement caught Mary's

"It's the dragon of the pit," I cried. "Dig him out!"

So Mary dug him out. He was very spry and had a strong tendency to
shuffle backwards down into the hiding sand. But it takes a keen
dragon to get away from Mary, and this one wasn't and didn't.

He was an ugly little brute, squat and hump-backed, with sand sticking
to his thinly haired body. But he was fierce-looking for all his
diminutiveness. Remember again that whether a thing is big or little
to you depends on whether you are big or little. This dragon of the
sand-pit was little to us. He is terribly big to the ants.

When Mary got him out and had put him down on the sand near the pit,
he trotted about very actively but always backwards. He seems to have
got so used to pulling backwards against the frantic struggles of his
prey to get up and out of the pit, that he can now only move that way.
After we watched him a while, we "collected" him; that is, put him
into a bottle, with some sand, to take home and see if we could keep
him in our room of live things. Then we turned our attention to
another crater. It was about three inches across at the top and about
two inches deep; a symmetrical little broad-mouthed funnel with the
loose sand-slopes just as steep as they could be. The slightest
disturbance, a touch with a pencil-point for example, would start
little sand avalanches down the slopes anywhere. It is, of course,
easy to see how this horrible pit-trap works. And, in fact, in the
very next moment we saw actually how it did work.

A foraging brown ant that was running swiftly over the ground plunged
squarely over the verge of the crater before she could stop. She
certainly tried hard to stop when once over, but it was too late.
Slipping and sliding with the rolling sand-grains, down she went right
toward those waiting scimitar-like jaws.

Now, these jaws deserve a word of description. Because, horrible as
they may seem to the unfortunate ants, they are so well arranged for
their particular purpose that they must attract our admiration. The
dragon of the pit, ant-lion he is usually called, has no open, yawning
mouth behind those projecting jaws, as might be expected. Indeed there
is no mouth at all, just a throat, thirsty for ant blood! The slender
scimitar jaws have each a groove on the concave inner side, and down
this groove runs the blood of the struggling victim, held impaled on
the sharp points of the curving mandibles. The two fine grooves lead
directly into the throat, and thus there is no need of open mouth with
lips and tongue, such as other insects have.

"But see," cried Mary, "the ant has stopped sliding. It is going to
get out!"

Ah, Mary, you are not making allowance for all the resources of this
dreadful dragon of the pit. Not only is the pit a nearly perfect trap,
and the eager jaws at the bottom more deadly than any array of spikes
or spears at the bottom of an elephant pit, but there is another most
effective thing about this fatal dragon's trap, and that is this: it
is not merely a passive trap, but an active one. Already it is in
action. And Mary sees now how hopeless it is with the ant. For a
shower of sand is being thrown up from the bottom of the pit against
the ant and it is again sliding down. The dragon has a flat, broad
head and powerful neck muscles, and has wit enough to shovel up and
hurl masses of dry sand-grains against the victim on the loose slopes.
And this starts the avalanche again, and so down slides the frantic

What follows is too painful for Mary and me to watch and certainly too
cruel to describe. But one must live, and why not ant-lions as well as
ants? If truth must be told, many ants have as cruel habits and as
bloodthirsty tastes as the ant-dragon. Indeed, more cruel and
revolting habits. For ants have a gastronomic fondness for the babies
of other ants, which is a fondness quite different from that which
they ought to have. It means that they like these babies--to eat. Some
communities of ants, indeed, spend most of their time fighting other
communities just to rob them of their babies, which they carry off to
their own nests and use in horrible cannibalistic feasts.

Mary and I had seen enough of the Morrowbie Jukes pits. So we went
back to our little open sunny spot in the chaparral on the hillside
and lay quiet and silent for a long time. Then Mary murmured, "I
wonder how the ant-lion digs its pit."

"I can tell you, Mary," I replied. "For a man who once saw one digging
told me. It is this way: First he makes a circular groove the full
circumference of the top of the pit. Then he burrows into the sand
inside of the groove and piles sand-grains on top of his flat, horny,
shovel-like head with his fore feet. This sand he tosses over the
groove so that it will fall outside. He works his way all around the
groove, doing this over and over, and then makes another groove inside
the first, and digs up and tosses the sand out as before. And so on,
groove after groove, each inside the one made before, thus gradually
making a conical pit with the sides as steep as the loose sand will
lie. The pit must always be made in a dry sandy spot, and is usually
located in a warm sunny place at the foot of a large rock. This man
said that it is easy to get the ant-lions to dig pits in boxes of sand
in the house, and so we can try with our 'collected' fellow."

Mary was silent some moments. Then she said softly, "But how will he
get anything to eat?"

"Why," said I, "of course we can give him--" Mary looked up at me in a
special way she has. I go on, more slowly, but still without very
much hesitation: "But, of course, we sha'n't do that, shall we?"

And Mary said quietly: "No, we sha'n't."

We rested our chins on our hands and lay still, looking down over the
chaparral-covered hillside and far out across the hazy valley. On the
distant bay were little white specks, small schooners that carry wood
and tan-bark and hay from the bay towns to San Francisco; and across
the blue bay lifted the bare, brown mountains of the Coast Range, with
always that gleaming white spot of the Observatory a-tiptop of the
highest peak. It was a soft, languid, lazy day. Such a peace-giving,
relaxing, healing day! And we were so enveloped by it, Mary and I,
that we simply lay still and happy, with hardly a word. I had, of
course, intended to give Mary an informing lecture about how the ugly,
horrid ant-lion finally stops preying on ants and rolls himself up in
a neat little silk-and-sand ball, and changes into a beautiful,
slender-bodied, gauzy-winged creature without any resemblance at all
to its earlier incarnation. But I didn't. It was too fine a day to
spoil with informing lectures.

And so Mary and I lay still and happy. Finally it was time to go. As
we went down the road we passed again the place of the pits, and Mary
looked once more at the neat little craters with their patient waiting
jaws at the bottom.

"I wonder," she said, musingly, "if Mr. Kipling ever saw an ant-lion

"I wonder," said I.



Argiope of the Silver Shield is the handsomest spider that Mary and I
know. Do you know a handsomer? Or are you of those who have
prejudices, and hold all spiders to be ugly, hateful things? We are so
sorry for you if you are, for that means you can never enjoy having a
pet Argiope. The truth is, Mary and I like clever and skillful people,
but when we can't find that kind, we rather prefer clever and skillful
spiders and wasps or other lowly beasties to the other sort of people,
which shows just how far a fancy for nature may lead one.

It _is_ rather bad, of course, to prefer to chum with a spider, even
such a wonderfully handsome and clever one as Argiope, instead of
with a human soul. But that isn't our situation exactly. We prefer
human souls to anything else on earth, but not human stomachs and
livers and human bones and muscles and sick human nerves. And,
someway, too many people leave on one an impression of bowels or sore
eyes rather than one of mind and soul. So we rush to the fields or
woods or roads after such an experience and live a while with the keen
bright eyes, the sensitive feelers, the dexterous feet and claws and
teeth, and the sharp wits of the small folk who, while not human, are
nevertheless inhabitants and possessors of this earth, side by side
with us, and are truly our blood-cousins, though some incredible
number of generations removed.

Mary and I scraped acquaintance with our Argiope in a cypress-tree.
That is, Argiope had her abiding-place there; she was there on her
great symmetrical orb-web, with its long strong foundation lines,
its delicate radii and its many circles with their thousands of
tiny drops of viscid stuff to make them sticky. In the center was the
hub, her resting-place, whence the radii ran out, and where she had
spun a broad zigzaggy band of white silk on which she stood or sat
head downward. Her eight long, slender, sensitive legs were
outstretched and rested by their tips lightly on the bases of the taut
radii so that they could feel the slightest disturbance in the web.
These many radii, besides supporting the sticky circles or spiral,
which was the real catching part of the web, acted like so many
telegraph lines to carry news of the catching to waiting Argiope at
the center.

I have said that Mary and I think Argiope of the Silver Shield
the most handsome spider we know. There are, however, other
Argiopes to dispute the glory with our favorite; for example, a
golden-yellow-and-black one and another beautiful silver-and-russet
one. Other people, too, may fancy other spiders; perhaps the little
pink-and-white crab-spiders of the flower-cups, or the curious spiny
Acrosomas and Gasteracanthas with their brilliant colors and bizarre
patterns and shape. Others may like the strawberry Epeira, or the
diadem-spider, or the beautiful Nephilas. There are enough kinds and
colors and shapes of spiders to satisfy all tastes. But we like best
and admire most the long-legged, agile, graceful Argiopes, and
particularly her of the silver shield. Her full, firm body with its
flat, shield-shaped back, all shining silver and crossed by staring
black-and-yellow stripes, the long tapering legs softly ringed with
brown and yellow, the shining black eyes on their little rounded
hillock of a forehead, and the broad, brown under body with eight
circular silver spots; all go to make our Argiope a richly dressed and
stately queen of spiders. But the royal consort--O, the less said of
him, the better. A veritable dwarf; insignificant, inconspicuous and
afraid for his life of his glorious mate. How such a queen could
ever--but there, how tiresome, for that is what gets said of most
matches, royal or plebeian.

Mary and I brought Argiope in from her home in the cypress-tree and
put her in a fine, roomy, light and airy cage, where she could live
quietly and unmolested by enemies, and where we could see to it that
she should not lack for food. There are many of the small creatures
with which we get acquainted that do not object at all to being
brought into our well-lighted, well-ventilated, warm vivarium--that
means live-room. Creatures of sedentary habits, and all the web-making
spiders are of course that, ought not to object at all and usually do
not seem to. For they get two things that they cannot be sure of
outside: protection and plenty of food. Argiope seemed perfectly
content and settled right down to spinning a glistening new web, a
marvel of symmetry and skillful construction, in her roomy cage, and
in a day or two was seated quietly but watchfully on the broad-banded
hub in the center, with her toes on her telegraph lines, ready for
good news. It was, of course, our duty to see that she was not

The message she wanted was from some struggling fly fastened anywhere
in the broad expanse of web. So we tossed in a fly. It buzzed about a
moment, then blundered into the web which it shook violently in its
struggle to escape. Argiope rushed at once out upon the web.

"How can she run about on the sticky web without getting caught, too?"
interrupts Mary.

I think a moment, then with some dignity reply: "Pretty soon, please,

Argiope, I repeat, rushed at once out upon the web, seized the fly in
her jaws and ran back to the hub with it, where she appeared to wet
it all over, squeeze it into a ball and then proceed to feed upon it,
holding and manipulating it skillfully all the time in her jaws.
Evidently Argiope was very hungry, for as you will see, this is not
her usual way of taking care of her prey.

"Now, Mary, what was it you asked?"

"Oh, just how the spider can run around so fast on the web without
sticking to it and getting caught or tearing it all to pieces."

"Ah,--ah, yes. Well, Mary, I don't know! that is, exactly; or, well
not even very close to exactly. But she does it, you see."

"Yes, I see," said Mary, demurely, and--can it be that Mary is
slightly winking one eye? I do hope not.

"Of course you know, Mary, that the web is made of two kinds of silk
or rather two kinds of lines? Oh, you didn't know?" Mary has shaken
her head.

"Well it is," I continue, with my usual manner of teacher-who-knows
somewhat restored again. "The foundation lines, the radii and a first
set of circles are all made of lines without any sticky stuff on them.
As you see"--and I touch my pencil confidently to a radius, with the
manner of a parlor magician. "Then the spider, on this foundation,
spins in another long spiral, the present circles of the web, which is
liberally supplied with tiny, shining droplets of viscid silk that
never dries, but stays moist and very sticky all the time. This is the
true catching part of the web."

"We surely must watch her spin a web sometime," breaks in eager Mary.

"We certainly must," say I, and continue. "Now perhaps when Argiope
runs out on the web from her watching-place at the hub, she only puts
her long delicate feet on the unsticky radii. Or perhaps her feet are
made in some peculiar way so that they do not stick to the circles. As
a matter of fact, a spider's foot is remarkably fashioned, with
curious toothed claws, and hosts of odd hairs, some knobbed, some
curved and hook-like, and some forming dense little brushes. But after
all, Mary, the truth is, I don't know really how it is that spiders
can run about over their webs without getting stuck to them."

After my long discursus about web-making and spider's feet, it seemed
time to give Argiope another fly. Indeed her bright little black eyes
seemed to Mary to be shining with eagerness for more fly, although she
still had the remains of the first one in her jaws--gracious,
Argiope's jaws, please, not Mary's!

So we tossed in another fly. We hope you won't think this cruel. But
flies are what Argiope eats, and if she was out in the garden, she
would be catching them, and, what is worse, they would not be the
disgusting and dangerous house-flies and bluebottles that we feed her,
but all sorts of innocent and beautiful little picture-winged
flower-flies and pomace-flies and what not. House-flies and
stable-flies and bluebottles are truly dangerous because they help
spread human diseases, especially typhoid fever. So if we are to live
safely they should be killed. Or, better, prevented from hatching and
growing at all.

So we tossed in another fly. Argiope immediately dropped the nearly
finished first fly into the web, ran out to the new one and pounced on
it, seizing it with her fore legs. Then she doubled her abdomen
quickly underneath her and there issued from the spinnerets at its tip
a jet, a flat jet of silk, which was caught up by the hind feet and
wrapped around the fly as it was rolled over and over by the front
feet. She tumbled it about, all the time wrapping it with the issuing
band of silk, until it was completely enswathed. Then she left it
fastened in the web, went back to the hub, and resumed her feeding on
the first fly. But soon she finished this entirely, dropped the wreck
out of the web and went out and got the second fly, bringing it back
to the hub to eat.

"But why," asked Mary, "does Argiope wrap the fly up so carefully in
silk? Why not just kill it by biting, and then leave it in the web
until she wants it?"

"Perhaps," I answer, "she wants to make it helpless before she comes
to close quarters with it. You notice she holds it away from her body
with her fore feet and pulls the silk band out far with her hind feet
so that her body does not touch the fly at all while she wraps it.
Perhaps she is not sure that it isn't a bee or some other stinging
insect. It buzzes loud enough to make me think it a bee."

So Mary and I decided to try some experiments with our Argiope to find
out, if possible, first, if she could tell a bee from a fly, and
second, if so, whether she treated it differently, and third, why she
wraps her prey up so carefully before coming to too close quarters
with it. We feel quite proud of these experiments because we seemed to
be doing something really scientific; and we know that Experimental
Zoology, that is, studying animals by experimenting with them, is
quite the most scientific thing going nowadays among professional
naturalists. So here are our notes exactly as we wrote them during our
experimenting. This is, of course, the correct manner for publishing
real scientific observations, because it gives the critical reader a
chance to detect flaws in our technique!


"Nov. 18, 4:45 P.M.; released a fly in the cage. The spider pounced
upon it, seized it with fore and third pair of legs, threw out a band
of silk and enswathed it, tumbling it over and over with her hind feet
about thirteen times, hence enswathed it in thirteen wrappings of
silk. The fly was then disconnected from the web, the spider making
but little attempt to mend the gap. It was carried to the hub and
eaten. While the feast was going on, a honey-bee [with sting
extracted; we didn't want to run any risks with Argiope!] was
liberated in the cage. As soon as it touched the web, the spider was
upon it, throwing out a band of silk in a sheet a quarter of an inch
broad. ['Drawing out' would be more accurate, for the spinnerets
cannot spurt out silk; silk is drawn out and given its band character
by lightning-like movements of the comb-toothed hind feet.] With her
hind legs Argiope turned the bee over and over twenty-five or
twenty-six times, thus enswathing it with twenty-five or twenty-six
wrappings of the silken sheet.

"No sooner was the bee enswathed than a second bee was liberated in
the cage and caught in the web. This was treated by the spider like
bee No. 1.

"Nov. 20, 8:15 A.M.; Argiope perfectly still in center of hub,
feeding on bee No. 2. The only thing that reveals the feeding is a
slight moving of the bee's body as the juices are sucked up. Remains
of bee No. 1 dropped to the bottom of the cage.

"Fed all day, 8:15 A.M. to 5 P.M., on bee No. 2.

"At 2:30 P.M., a box-elder bug, which is very ill-smelling, was thrown
into the web. Argiope did nothing for three minutes, then went out on
the web to it and wrapped, making five complete turns; then went away.
Probably not hungry, as she has had two bees and a fly in three days.

"Nov. 21, 8:15 A.M.; box-elder bug finished during last night. Old web
replaced by a new one with twenty-nine radii, eleven complete spirals
and several partial spirals. The hub is formed of fine irregular
webbing about an inch and a half in diameter, without the viscid
droplets that cover the spirals. An open space of about a half-inch
intervenes between the hub and the beginning of the spirals.

"4:30 P.M.; liberated a fly in the cage. Argiope pounced upon it and
began to eat immediately, not taking time or trouble to enswath it.

"While the fly was being devoured, we liberated a strong-smelling
box-elder bug in the cage. It flew into the web. Argiope, by a quick
movement, turned on the hub toward the bug and stood in halting
position for eight seconds, then approached the bug slowly, hesitated
for a second or two, then wrapped it about with five wrappings, halted
again, and finally finished with five more wrappings. The bug was then
attached to the web where it had first touched, the spider passing
back to the center and resuming her meal.

"When the fly was finished, Argiope walked over to the bug, grasped it
in her mandibles, walked up to the hub, turned herself about so that
her head was downward, manipulated the bug with her fore and third
pair of feet until it seemed to be in right position for her with
reference to the hub of the web, and began to feed.

"5 P.M.; bee liberated in cage _with sting not extracted_. Argiope
leaped instantaneously to the spot where it was caught, enswathed it
with great rapidity thirty-seven times, then bit at it, and enswathed
it five times more, making forty-two complete wrappings in all, then
left it fastened in the web and resumed feeding upon the bug. All the
time she was wrapping it, Argiope kept her body well clear of the
bee's body, the spinnerets being fully one-half an inch from the bee,
making the broad band of issuing silk very noticeable. In biting it,
which she seemed to do with marked caution, she of course had to bite
through the silken covering.

"A few minutes later a second bee, with sting, was liberated in the
cage, caught in the web and rapidly pounced on by the spider. As
before, she turned it over and over with great rapidity, using
apparently all of her legs. She enswathed it fifty times, bit it, and
then wrapped it with five more silken sheets, making fifty-five
wrappings in all. Leaving it hung to the web, she went back to the

"Before Argiope had reached the bug, bee No. 3 was caught in the web
at the exact spot where bee No. 2 was hung up. In its efforts to
disentangle its feet, it shook the whole web violently. In spite of
the violent vibration of the web, Argiope pursued her course to the
bug at the hub of the web, adjusted herself with head downward, and
resumed feeding.

"Query: Did Argiope think the web-shaking due to futile struggles of
the well-wrapped bee No. 2, and hence needing no attention?

"Vibration of the web continued. After several seconds had elapsed,
Argiope seemed suddenly to realize that her efforts were called for
out on the web, for she pounced down as rapidly as before and rolled
and tumbled _both bees together_, enswathing both in the same sheet of
silk, never stopping until she had given them fifty-five wrappings.
After biting twice, she wrapped them with five more turns, bit again,
and wrapped again with seven more turns, making sixty-seven in all.
Argiope then returned to her bug.

"Query: Does Argiope distinguish bees from flies?

"Further query: Does Argiope distinguish bees _with stings_ from bees
with _stings extracted_?

"Nov. 22, 9:45 A.M.; Argiope feeding at hub on bees Nos. 2 and 3
introduced into cage yesterday afternoon. With her right second leg
she holds taut a line connected with bee No. 1.

"10:25 A.M.; packet dropped to the bottom of the cage, the juices of
only one of the bees having been sucked out. The web is constructed
at an angle so that anything dropped from the center falls free of it.

"5 P.M.; began feeding again on bee No. 1.

"Nov. 23, 9:30 A.M.; another bee released in cage, caught in web and
enswathed approximately thirty turns by Argiope.

"Nov. 25, 8:30 A.M.; the web has been destroyed during the night.

"Nov. 26, Argiope has made an entirely new web.

"Nov. 30, 2 P.M.; gave Argiope a bee with sting. It was wrapped
forty-seven times, but not so expeditiously as has been her wont.
Later another bee was liberated in the cage, caught and wrapped about
forty-five times.

"Dec. 2, 11 A.M.; the body of a live bee was bathed in fluid from the
freshly crushed body of a box-elder bug [very malodorous], and the bee
liberated in Argiope's cage, and soon caught in the web. The bee was
not very lively and did not shake the web violently, but Argiope
rushed to it without hesitation, wrapped it with twenty-five turns of
silk and returned to the hub of the web.

"Dec. 3; Argiope stayed all day in the upper part of the web, on
foundation lines, with head downward.

"Dec. 5; yesterday Argiope moved down to her normal place on the hub.
To-day she is on the hub, but in reversed position [head up], and with
legs bent and limp, not straight out and stiffened as usual.

"Dec. 6; Argiope hung all day from foundation lines of upper part of
web, in reversed position [head up], with legs limp and bent.

"Dec. 7; Argiope hanging by first and second right legs, from upper
part of web; barely alive.

"Dec. 8; Argiope dead."

[Illustration: THE ORANGE-DWELLERS.]


An entire colony of those strange little people, the Orange-dwellers,
were killed in our town yesterday morning. And not a newspaper
reporter found it out! Just one of the Orange-dwellers escaped, and as
Mary and I were the means of saving his life, and are taking care of
him as well as we can (Mary has him now on a small piece of
orange-rind in a pill box), he has told us the story of his life and
something about the other orange-dwelling people. Some of the
Orange-dwellers live in Mexico; some live in Florida, and some in
California; in fact they are to be found wherever oranges grow. Of
course, you have guessed already that the Orange-dwellers are not
human beings; they are not really people; they are insects.

The name of the Orange-dweller we had saved, and with whom we became
very well acquainted, is so long and strange that I shall tell you
merely his nickname, which is Citrinus. The oranges on which Citrinus
and a great many of his brothers and sisters and cousins lived grew in
Mexico, and when these oranges were ripe, they were gathered and
packed into boxes and sent to our town. Imagine if you can the fearful
strangeness of it! To have one's world plucked from its place in
space, wrapped up in tissue-paper, and packed into a great box with a
lot of other worlds; then sent off through space to some other place
where enormous giants were waiting impatiently for breakfast! When
Citrinus's world reached our town, one of these giants, who is my
brother, took it up, and saying, "See, what a specked orange,"
straightway began unwittingly to kill all of the Orange-dwellers on it
by vigorously rubbing and scraping it. For Citrinus and his
companions were the specks! That is all an Orange-dweller seems to be
when carelessly looked at; simply a little circular, scale-like,
blackish or reddish-brown speck on the shining surface of the orange,
his world. You can find the Orange-dwellers almost any morning at

When my brother began to scrape off the specks, I hastily interfered,
but only in time to save one of the little people, Citrinus, whom, as
I have said, Mary has since faithfully cared for. He will soon die,
however, for he has lived already nearly three months, and that is a
ripe age for an Orange-dweller. But he has had time enough to tell me
a great deal about his life, and as it is such a curious story, and is
undoubtedly true, I venture to repeat it here to you. As a matter of
fact I must confess--still Mary says that _of course_ Citrinus can
talk, because he talks with other Orange-dwellers later in the story,
and so of course can talk to us now.

Citrinus has lived for almost his whole life on the orange on which we
found him. His mother lived on one of the fragrant leaves of the tree
on which the orange grew. She was, as Citrinus is now, simply a
reddish-brown circular speck on the bright-green orange-leaf; and
because she couldn't walk, she had to get all her food in a peculiar
way. She had a long (that is, long for such a tiny creature), slender,
pointed hollow beak or sucking-tube, which she thrust right into the
tender orange-leaf, and through which she sucked up the rich sap or
juice which kept flowing into the leaf from the twig it hung on. She
had thus a constant supply of food always ready and convenient;
whenever she was hungry she simply sucked orange-sap into her mouth
until she was satisfied. This is the way all the Orange-dwellers get
their food, the very youngest of the family being able to take care of
itself from the day of its birth. They never taste any other kind of
food but the juice from the leaf or twig or golden orange on which
they live.

Citrinus is one of a large number of brothers and sisters, more than
fifty indeed, who were hatched from tiny reddish eggs which the mother
laid under her own body. Before laying the eggs, Citrinus's mother had
built a thin shell or roof of wax over her back, and after the eggs
were laid she soon died and her body shriveled up, leaving the eggs
safely housed under the waxen roof. When the baby Orange-dwellers were
hatched, each had six legs and a delicate little sucking-beak
projecting from his small plump body. Citrinus and his brothers and
sisters scrambled out from under the wax shell and started out each
for himself to explore the world. First, however, each thrust his beak
into the leaf and took a good drink of sap. Then they were ready to
begin their journeying. But a terrible thing happened!

Just as Citrinus was pulling his beak out of the soft leaf, he saw a
great six-legged beast, in shape like a turtle, with shining
red-and-black back and fearful snapping jaws. On each side of its
head, which it moved slowly from side to side, it had an immense eye,
which looked like a hemispherical window, with hundreds of panes of
glass in it. The beast's legs were large and powerful, and on each
foot there were two claws, each of them as long as the whole body of
Citrinus. Truly this was an appalling sight, and all of the little
Orange-dwellers ran as fast as they could, which, unfortunately,
wasn't very fast. The beast leisurely caught up in its great jaws one
after another of Citrinus's brothers and sisters, and crushed and tore
their tender bodies to pieces and ate them!

Now this beast, which seemed so large to Citrinus, was what is to us a
very small and pretty insect, one of the lady-bird beetles. These
beetles care for no other food than plump Orange-dwellers and other
equally toothsome small insects; and instead of being sorry for its
victims, we are glad it eats them! This seems very cruel indeed, but
there are so many, many millions of the Orange-dwellers all sucking
the juice of orange-trees that although they are so small, and each
one drinks so little sap, yet altogether they do a great amount of
damage to the orange-trees, often killing all the trees in a large
orchard. So the lady-birds are a great help to the orange-growers.

Little Citrinus escaped from the Beetle by crawling into a small, dark
hole in the surface of the leaf; but he was badly frightened. This was
his first experience with the terrible dangers of the world, with the
struggle for life, which is going on so bitterly among the people of
his kind, the insects. For although there would seem to be enough
plants and trees to serve as food for all of them, many insects find
it easier or prefer to eat other insects than to live on plant food.
Now because the insects which live on plant food do injury to our
fruit-trees and vegetables and grain crops by their eating, we call
them injurious insects; while we call the insect-eating kinds
beneficial insects, because they destroy the injurious insects.

But little Citrinus didn't look at the matter at all in this light. He
thought the lady-bird beetle a very cruel and wicked being, and
resolved to warn every Orange-dweller he met in his travels to beware
of the cruel, turtle-shaped beast with the shining black-and-red back.
As he wandered on from leaf to leaf along the tender twigs in the top
of the tree, he met many other Orange-dwellers, whom he would have
told all about the Beetle, but he found that all of them had had
experiences as sad as his; in fact he soon learned that of all the
Orange-dwellers who are born, only a very, very few escape the Beetles
and other devouring beasts who pursue them. And he was highly
indignant when one shrewd Orange-dweller told him that it really was a
good thing for the race of Orange-dwellers that so many of them were
killed. For, the shrewd Orange-dweller said, if all of us who are born
should live and have families, and not die until old age came on,
there would soon be so many of us that we should eat all the
orange-trees in the world, and then we should all starve to death. And
this is quite true.

Finally Citrinus came to a remarkable being, a very beautiful being
indeed. It had two long, slender, waving feelers on its head, four
large ball-shaped eyes, and, strangest of all, two delicate gauzy
wings. This beautiful creature greeted Citrinus kindly and asked him
where he was going. Citrinus, who was at first a little afraid of the
strange creature, was reassured by its kind greeting, and answered
simply, "I don't know. My brothers and sisters were all eaten by the
Beetle; my father and mother I have never seen; and no one has told me
where to go."

The stranger smiled a little sadly and said, "That is the common story
among us Orange-dwellers. Our fathers and mothers always die before we
are born. It is a great pity. Yes, before my little Orange-dweller
children are born--"

"What," cried Citrinus, "are you an Orange-dweller; you, who are so
different from me?"

"Indeed I am," replied the gauzy-winged creature. "I am an old
Orange-dweller. Oh, I know it seems strange to you," he continued,
noticing the look of astonishment on Citrinus's face, "but some day
you will look just like me. You will have wings, and be able to fly;
and will have long feelers on your head to hear and to smell with, and
big eyes to see all around you with. You will have some strange
experiences, though, before you become like me."

"But as I had started to say, we fathers, and the mothers too for that
matter, always die before you youngsters are hatched out of your eggs.
Now I shall probably die to-morrow or next day, because I have lived
three days already, and that is a long time to live without eating."

Little Citrinus could hardly believe his senses. It was so wonderful.
"But why don't you eat," urged Citrinus, who felt very badly to think
of any one's going without food for three days. He always took a drink
of sap every few minutes.

"Why, how absurd," replied the winged Orange-dweller, "don't you see I
have nothing to eat with? No sucking-beak, no mouth at all. When I get
my wings and my four eyes, I lose my mouth, and can't eat or drink any

This was incredible; but when Citrinus looked at the head of his
companion, he saw it was perfectly true. He had no mouth. Citrinus
gently waved his little sucking-beak, to be sure he still had it.
Suddenly he began to cry; a sad thought had come to him. "And did my
mother starve to death too?" he sobbed.

"Not at all, little one," rather impatiently exclaimed the other.
Little Citrinus seemed to know so very little, indeed. "Your mother
was not at all like me. When she was full-grown she had no wings, no
legs, and no eyes, but she had a very long beak, and could suck up a
great deal of orange-sap. If you will listen and not interrupt, I will
tell you how we Orange-dwellers grow. When we are hatched from our
eggs we are all alike, brothers and sisters. We each have a plump
little body, six legs, two eyes, and a sucking-beak to get food with.
We walk about for a few days, and finally stop on some nice green leaf
or juicy orange, and stick our beaks far in and go to sleep, or do
something very like it. We never walk about any more. Indeed, if you
are a girl Orange-dweller you never leave this spot, but live all the
rest of your life and die here. However, I am getting too far along in
my story. While we are asleep we shed all of our skin, fold it up into
a little ball or cushion and put it on our backs, together with some
wax which comes out of small holes in our bodies. While shedding our
skin we make a great change in our bodies. We lose our legs! So we
simply remain where we went to sleep, with our beaks stuck into the
leaf, sucking the sap. After a few days we go to sleep again, and
again we shed our skins and fold them on our backs. But at this time
something even more wonderful than before happens to our bodies. That
is, to the bodies of the boy Orange-dwellers. For this time we lose
our sucking-beaks, but we regain our six legs, and in addition we get
a second pair of eyes, we find on our heads a pair of long, slender,
hairy feelers, and, most pleasing of all, we have been provided with a
pair of wings. Our wings are not yet full-grown or ready to fly with,
so we still remain quietly in our resting-place for a few days longer,
when we shed our skin once more, and then fly away, looking just as I
do now. Our sisters, though, when they shed their skins the second
time, make no change in their bodies, except to grow larger. They
remain with their sucking-beaks thrust into the leaf. They keep
increasing the size of the wax scale or shell over their backs, until
they are entirely covered by it. Now they look just as your mother
did. From above, all one can see is the flat circular wax scale with
two spots on it, where the folded-up cast skins are. Underneath the
scale lies the Orange-dweller, with its sucking-beak stuck into the
sap, but with no legs or wings or long, hairy feelers. After a while
she lays a lot of eggs under her body, and then dies. And soon the new
family is born. Now this is the way we grow, and all of the wonderful
things which have happened to me will happen to you,--if the Beetle
does not get you."

With that the winged Orange-dweller flew away, and little Citrinus was
left alone, wondering over the strange story. After taking a drink of
sap from the leaf on which he was standing, he wandered aimlessly
about until he came to a large yellow ball hanging from the branch,
which gave out a delightful odor. Scrambling down the slender stem by
which it was suspended, he walked out on to the shining surface of the
orange; for, of course, that is what the yellow ball was. He tried a
drink of sap from the ball and found it delicious. He decided to stay
on the ball, the more readily as he was getting rather tired with his
long traveling, and a sort of sleepy feeling was coming over him. So
thrusting his beak far into the ball, he went to sleep. How long he
slept he doesn't know, but when he awoke he could hardly believe his
senses. He had no legs; and on his back there was a thin shell of wax
and a little packet. He realized, too, that he was bigger than he was
before he went to sleep. Then the strange story told him by the winged
Orange-dweller came back to him, and he knew that the stranger had
told the truth. The first great change had happened. He was delighted,
for he thought it would be very pleasant to have wings and fly about
wherever he wished, to see the world.

Suddenly a great shock came: his World trembled, then shook violently,
and, with a quick wrench, started to move swiftly through space. Then
came a stop, a series of shocks and curious whirlings, and then a
filmy-white cloud settled down over it all, shutting out the sunlight
and the blue sky. Finally there came a few more shocks and wrenches,
and then total darkness and silence. Citrinus had held on to his world
all through this, because his beak was still thrust into the fragrant
surface, and now he felt thankful that he had come alive through these
series of world catastrophes and convulsions and still had all the
food he could possibly use.

After a few days, when Citrinus's world all nicely wrapped in
tissue-paper and packed in a box with ninety-nine other similar worlds
had traveled a thousand miles, the sunlight came again, and soon after
came that greatest danger of all--that danger from which I saved him
by staying my brother's hand in its ruthless rubbing off of the specks
on his breakfast orange! Now Citrinus and Mary and I are all waiting
impatiently for the day when he shall get his beautiful wings and his
two pairs of eyes.



When Mary and I came to examine our ant-lion dragon the day after our
adventures among the Morrowbie Jukes pits, we found him dead in the
bottle of sand. Perhaps his haughty spirit of dragon could not stand
such ignominious bottling up, or perhaps there wasn't enough air.
Anyway, His Fierceness was dead. His cruel curved jaws would seize and
pierce no more foraging ants. His thirsty throat would never again be
laved by the fresh blood of victims. _Vale_ dragon!

But there are more dragons than one in our world. Not only more
ant-lion dragons, but more other kinds of dragons. And this is one of
the great advantages that Mary and I enjoy in our looking about in
the fields and woods for interesting things. If we were looking for
the dragons of fairy stories, we could only expect to find one
kind--if, indeed, we could expect to find any kind at all in these
days when so few fairies are left. If we _could_ find it, however, it
would be a monstrous beast in a forest cavern, with scaled body and
clawed feet and great ugly head that breathed fire and smoke from its
gaping mouth. That would be an interesting sort of dragon to see, we
confess, more interesting than the great one, a hundred yards long,
that we saw in a Chinese procession in Oakland, with two excited
Chinamen jumping about in front of its head and jabbing at its eyes
with spears. And more interesting than the one that roars and spits at
Siegfried on the stage while the big orchestra goes off into wild
clamors of O-see-the-dragon music. But we do not expect ever to find a
real fairy-story dragon any more, and so we content ourselves with
trying to find as many different kinds of real dragons as we can in
our world of little folk on the campus. These dragons are rather
small, but they are unusually fierce and voracious, to make up for
their lack of size. And so they serve very well to interest us.

To make up for the death of the ant-lion dragon of the sand-pits, I
promised to take Mary to see the Dragon of Lagunita. Or rather the
dragons, for there are many in Lagunita, and indeed many in several
other places on the campus. Have I explained that Lagunita is a pretty
Spanish word for "little lake," and that our Lagunita is just what its
name means, and besides is as pretty as its name? There is only one
trouble about it. And that is, that every year, in the long, rainless,
sun-filled summer, it dries up to nothing but a shallow, parched
hollow in the ground, and all the dragons have to move. But this
moving is a remarkable performance. For while during the spring the
Lagunita dragons live rather inactively in their lairs under the
water, when summer comes they all transform themselves into great
flying dragons of the air, and swoop and swirl about in a manner very
terrifying to see.

The morning we were to make our journey to Lagunita, I came to Mary's
house with a rake over my shoulder.

"But what are you going to do with the rake?" said Mary.

"One doesn't go to seek a dragon without weapons," I replied with
dignity. "And a rake is a much more formidable weapon in the hands of
a man who knows how to rake than a gun in the hands of a man who
doesn't know how to shoot." I am something of an amateur gardener, but
not at all the holder of a record at clay pigeons nor king of a
_Schützen-verein_. So I carried my rake.

"Then what weapon shall I carry?" asks Mary.

I ponder seriously.

"A tin lunch-pail," I finally reply.

"With luncheon in?" asks Mary.

"Empty," I say.

So we start.

I have already said that Lagunita is a pretty little lake. It lies
just under the first of the foothills that rise ridge after ridge into
the forested mountains that separate us from the ocean. Indeed, it is
on the first low step up from the valley floor, and from its enclosing
bank or shore one gets a good view of the level, reaching valley
thickly set with live-oak trees and houses and fields. Around the
little lake have grown up pines, willows and other beautiful trees,
and at one side a tiny stream comes in during the wet season. There is
no regular outlet, but the water which usually begins to come in about
November keeps filling the shallow bowl of the lake higher and higher
until by spring it is nearly bank full and may even overflow. Then as
the long dry summer season sets in, the level of the water grows
lower and lower until in August or September there is only left a
small muddy puddle crammed with surprised and despairing little fishes
and salamanders and water-beetles and the like, who are not at all
accustomed to such behavior on the part of a lake. And then a few days
later they are all gasping their last breaths there together on the
scum-covered, waterless bottom.

But when Lagunita is really a lake, it is a very pretty one, and Mary
and I love to go there and sit on the bank under the willows near the
horse paddocks and watch the college boys rowing about in their
graceful, narrow, long-oared shells. These swift-darting boats look
like great water-skaters, only white instead of black. You know the
long-legged, active water-skaters or water-striders that skim about
over the surface of ponds or quiet backwater pools in streams in
summer time?

So Mary and I went to Lagunita with our rake and tin lunch-pail to
hunt for dragons. No shining armor; no great two-handed sword; no cap
of invisibility. Just a rake and a tin lunch-pail.

"Where, Mary, do you think is the likeliest place for the dragon?" I

Mary answers promptly, "There at the foot of the steep stony bank
where the big willow-tree hangs over."

We go there. I grasp my rake firmly with both hands. I reach far out
over the shallow water. Then I beat the rake suddenly down through the
water to the bottom, and with a quick strong pull I drag it out,
raking out with it a great mass of oozy mud and matted leaves. I drag
this well up on shore, and both Mary and I flop down on our knees and
begin pawing about in it. Suddenly Mary calls out, "I've got one," and
holds up in her fingers an extraordinary, kicking, twisting creature
with six legs, a big head, and a thick, ugly body on which seem to be
the beginnings of several fins or wings. It has, this creature, two
great staring eyes, and stout, sharp-pointed spines stick out from
various parts of the body.

"Put him in the lunch-pail," I shout. I had already filled it
half-full of water from the lake.

Then I found one; then Mary another, and then I still another. It was
truly great sport, this dragon-hunting.

We put them all into the lunch-pail where they lay sullenly on the
bottom, glaring at each other, but not offering to fight, as we rather
hoped they would.

Then, what to do? These dragons in their regular lairs at the bottom
of Lagunita might do a lot of most interesting things, but dredged up
in this summary way and deposited in a strange tin pail in the glaring
light of day, they seemed wholly indisposed to carry on any
performances of dragon for our benefit. So we decided to take them
home, and try to fix up for them a still smaller lakelet than
Lagunita; one, say, in a tub! Then, perhaps, they would feel more at
home and ease, and might do something for us.

So we took them home. And we fixed a tub with sand in the bottom,
water over that, and over the top of the tub a screen of netting that
would let air and sunlight in, but not dragons out. Then we collected
some miscellaneous small water-beasties and a few water-plants, and
put them in, and so really had a very comfortable and home-like place
for the dragons. They seemed to take to it all right; we called our
new lakelet Monday Pond, because of some relation between the tub and
washday, I suppose, and we had very good fun with our dragons for
several weeks. Think of the advantage of having your dragon right at
home! If it is a bad day, or we are lazy, or there may be visitors who
stay too long so there is only a little time for ourselves, how
convenient it is to have a dragon--or indeed a whole brood of
dragons--right in your study. Much better, of course, than to have to
sail to a distant island and tramp through leagues of forest or thorny
bushes or over burning desert or among spouting volcanoes to find your
dragon, as most princes in fairy stories have to do.

I can't, of course, venture to tell you of all the interesting things
that Mary and I saw our dragons do. Two or three will have to do. Or
my publisher will cry, "Cut it short; cut it short, I say." And that
will hurt me, for he is really a most forbearing publisher, and quite
in the way of a friend. The three things shall be, one, eating, and
what with; two, getting a new skin, and why; and third, changing from
an under-water, crawling, squirmy, ugly dragon into an aerial,
whizzing, flashing, dashing, beautiful-winged dragon, and when. Of
course one of the most important things about any dragon is what and
how he eats; and the other most important thing about Mary's and my
special kind of dragon is his remarkable change. This was to us much
more remarkable than having three heads or even getting a new head
every time an old one is cut off, which seems to be rather a usual
habit of fairy-book dragons.

The dragons lay rather quietly on the sand at the bottom of Monday
Pond most of the time. Sometimes one would be up a little way on the
shore, that is, the side of the tub, or clinging to one of the
plant-stems. When poked with a pencil,--and we were fearless about
poking them, if the pencil were a long one,--they would half-walk,
half-swim away. But mostly they lay pretty well concealed, waiting for
something to happen. What would happen occasionally was this: a young
May-fly or a water-beetle would come swimming or walking along; if it
passed an inch away from the dragon, all right; but if its path
brought it closer, an extraordinary "catcher," rather like a pair of
long nippers or tongs, would shoot out like a flash from the head of
the dragon and seize on the unfortunate beastie. Then the "catcher"
would fold up in such a way as to bring the victim against the
dragon's mouth, which is provided with powerful, sharp-toothed jaws.
These jaws then had their turn. And that was the end of the May-fly.

Mary was rather shocked when she saw the dragon first use its
"catcher." She wanted to rescue the poor May-fly. But after all she
has got pretty well used to seeing tragedies in insect life. They seem
to be necessary and normal. Many insects depend upon other animals for
food, just as we do. Only fortunately we don't have to catch and kill
our own steer or pig or lamb or chicken. We turn the bloody business
over to men who like--well, at least, who do it for us. But in the
world of lower animals each one is usually his own butcher.

Mary soon wanted to see the dragon's "catcher," and so we dredged one
out of Monday Pond, and put him on the study-table. As he faced us
with his big eyes glaring from his broad heavy head, he looked very
fierce. But curiously enough, he didn't seem to have any jaws; nor
even a mouth. The whole front of his face was smooth and covered over
by a sort of mask, so that his terrible jaws and catching nippers were
invisible. However, we soon understood this. The mask was the
folded-up "catcher" so disposed that it served, when not in use,
actually to hide its own iniquity as well as that of the yawning mouth
behind. Only when some small insect, all unsuspecting this smooth
masked face, comes close, do the long tongs unfold, shoot out, and
reveal the waiting jaws and thirsty throat. A veritable dragon indeed;
sly and cruel and ever hungry for living prey.

One day when we were looking into Monday Pond, Mary saw a curious
object that looked more like a hollow dragon than anything else. It
had all the shape and size of one of the dragons; the legs and eyes
and masked face, the pads on the back that looked like half-fledged
wings. But there was a transparency and emptiness about it that was
uncanny and ghost-like. Then, too, when we looked more closely there
was a great rent down the back. And that made the mystery plain. The
real dragon, the flesh and blood and breathing live dragon, had come
out of that long tear, leaving his skin behind! It was his complete
skin, too, back and sides and belly, out to the tips of his feelers
and down to his toes and claws.

"But why should he shed his skin? Hasn't he any skin now?" asked Mary.

"Of course he must have a skin. How could he keep his blood in, and
what would his muscles be fastened to, for he is a boneless dragon,
and his skeleton is his outside shell, with his muscles fastened to
it? So how could he live at all without a skin? He must have a new

And, of course, that was exactly it. He had cast his old skin, as a
snake does, and had got a brand-new one. Why shouldn't a dragon change
his skin if a snake can?

But Mary is persistent about her "whys," and I was quite ready for her
next question, which came after a moment of musing.

"Why should he shed his old skin and get a new one? Is the new one
different; a different color or shape or something?"

"No; not a different color or different shape especially, but a
different size. The dragon is growing up. He is like a boy who keeps
on wearing age-nine clothes until they are too short in the sleeves,
too tight in the back, and too high-water in the legs. Then one day
he sheds his age-nine suit and gets an age-eleven one. See?"

"What a funny professor you are! Is that the way you lecture to your

"Gracious, no, Mary! This is the way: As the immature dragon grows
older, his constant assimilation of food tends to create a natural
increase in size. But the comparative inelasticity of his chitinized
cuticula prevents the actual expansion, to any considerable degree, of
his body mass. Thus all the cells of the body become turgid, and
altogether a great pressure is exerted outwards against the enclosing
cuticular wall. This wall then suddenly splits along the longimesial
line of the dorsum, and through this rent the dragon extricates itself
in soft and defenceless condition, but of markedly larger size. The
new cuticula, which is pale, elastic and thin at first, soon becomes
thicker, strongly chitinized and dark. The old cuticle, or exuvia,
which has been moulted, is curiously complete, and is a hollow or
shell-like replica of the external appearance of the dragon even to
the finest details. How is that, Mary?"

"Very instruct--instructing"--with an effort--"indeed," replies Mary,
with grave face. "But I guess I understand the change from age-nine to
age-eleven clothes better."

And then we saw the third wonderful happening in our dragon's life
that I said we should tell about. We saw one of the dragons getting
wings! That is, changing from an ugly, blackish, squat, crawling
creature into a glorious long-bodied, rainbow-tinted, flying dragon.
Another dragon had crawled up above the water on a plant-stem and was
also "moulting its chitinized cuticula." But it was coming out from
the old skin in very different shape and color. I had forgotten, when
I told Mary that they only changed in size after casting the skin,
about the last moulting. Each dragon casts its skin several times in
its life, but the last time it does it, it makes the wonderful change
I've already spoken about, from crawling to flying dragon. And it was
one of these last skin-castings that was going on now under our very

I can't describe all that happened. You must see it for yourself some
time. How, out of the great rent in the old skin along the back, the
soft damp body of the dragon squeezes slowly out, with its constant
revelation of delicate changing color and its graceful new shape; how
out of the odd shapeless pads on the back come four, long, narrow,
shining, transparent wings, with complex framework of fine little
veins, or ribs, and thin flexible glassy membrane stretched over them;
how the new head looks with its enormous, sparkling, iridescent eyes
making nearly two-thirds of it and so cleverly fitted on the body that
it can turn nearly entirely around on the neck. And then how the body
fills out and takes shape, and the wings get larger and larger, and
everything more and more beautifully colored! All this you will have
to see for yourself some time when you have a Monday Pond in your own
study, with a brood of dragons in.

"It _is_ wonderful, isn't it, Mary? How would you like to see twenty,
thirty, forty, oh, a hundred dragons doing this all at once. We can if
we want to. All we have to do is to go over to Lagunita some morning
early, very early, just a little after sunrise--for that is their
favorite time--and we shall see scores of dragons crawling up out of
the water on stones, plants, sticks, anything convenient, and
sloughing off their dirty, dark, old skins and coming out in their
beautiful iridescent green and violet and purple new skins, with their
long slender body and great flashing wings. They sit quietly on the
stones and plant-stems until the warm rising sun dries them and their
new skins get firm and all nicely fitted, and then they begin their
new life,--wheeling and dashing over the lake and among the hills and
bushes and above the grasses and grain along the banks. Like eagles
and hawks they are seeking their prey. Watch that little gnat buzzing
there in the air. A flying dragon swoops by and there is no gnat there
any longer. It has been caught in the curious basket-like trap which
the dragon makes with its spiny legs all held together, and it is
being crushed and chewed by the great jaws. Still a dragon, you see,
for all of its new beauty!"

Mary muses. "Not all beautiful things in the world are good, are
they?" she murmurs.

"Mary, you are a philosopher," I say.

       *       *       *       *       *

As I read this over I realize quite as keenly, I hope, as you do, my
reader, how little there is in this story. And yet finding out this
little was real pleasure to Mary and me. Now we must perforce
estimate the pleasures and pains, the likes and dislikes, of other
people by our own. And however untrue this estimate may be for any one
other person, it must be fairly true for any considerable number of
persons. Therefore--and this is the reason for putting down our simple
experiences with the insects for other people to read and perhaps to
be stirred by to see and do similar things--therefore, I say, other
people, some other people, also must be able to get pleasure from what
we do.

Now if there is any way and any means of getting clean pleasure into
the crowded days of our living, then that way and means should be
suggested and opened to as many as possible. Mary and I, you see, have
the real proselyting spirit; we are missionaries of the religion of
the unroofed temples. And we want all to be saved! So we give
testimony willingly of our own experiences, and of the saving grace of
our belief. We have no names for our idols, nor any formulation of
our creed. But in various voice and word we do gladly confess over and
over again the reality of the happiness that comes to us from our
hours with the lowly world that we are coming to know better and
better. And any one of these happy hours may contain no more than the
little that has been told in this story of the "Dragon of Lagunita,"
and yet be really and truly a happy hour.

[Illustration: A SUMMER INVASION]


"Are you comfortable, Mary?" I ask, "and shall I begin?"

"Yes; in just a minute," Mary replies; "I want to sit so that I can
see both ways, Lagunita that way and the brown field with the
tarantula holes that way," and she sweeps half the horizon with a
chubby hand.

We are half-sitting, half-lying, in the shade at the base of a
live-oak on a little knoll back of the campus, whence we can look down
on the red-tiled roofs and warm buffy walls of the Quadrangle, and on
beyond to the Arboretum with its great eucalyptuses sticking out above
the other trees. We can catch glimpses of the bay, too, and of the
white houses of the caretakers of the oyster-beds perched on piles
above the water like ancient Swiss lake-dwellers.

Strolling about over the brown field of the tarantula holes and
carrying bundles of sticks, and stooping down now and then to strike
at the ground with one of the sticks, are several young men,
Sophomores by their hats, and one of them with a red jacket on:

    "Gowfin' a' the day,
    Daein' nae wark ava';
    Rinnin' aboot wi' a peck o' sticks
    Efter a wee bit ba'!"

Mary recites this in a pretty singsong.

"Why, Mary, where did you learn that?" I ask in surprise.

"From the Scotch lady that I take of."

"Take of! What is it you take of her? I hope not measles or smallpox,

"Why no, of course not. Music. That's what all young ladies take."

"Oh, I see! It _is_ catching, isn't it? I have seen some bad cases,
especially in small towns. Every young lady, even just girls"--I
glance sidewise at Mary--"down with it. But is that what those boys
over there are doing? I hope they won't interfere with the tarantulas.
They probably don't know what lively times there are at nights in that
field. Scores of big black tarantulas racing about, hunting, and
hundreds of beetles and things racing about, trying to keep from being
eaten. Well, I'd better begin, because we have to get back by luncheon
time. I have a most profound lecture to give on Orthogenesis and
Heterogenesis to that unfortunate Evolution class at two o'clock."

"I'm all ready," said Mary, looking up at me with confidence. _She_
appreciates the kind of lectures I give outdoors, even if the
lunch-gorged students don't appreciate my efforts _ex cathedra_.

"Well this summer invasion that I promised to tell you about happened
when I was a boy in a little town in Kansas. It was in Centennial
year; the one-hundredth anniversary of the freedom of the United
States, and the summer of the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia.

"I was going down town one day in July to buy some meat for dinner. I
was going because my mother had sent me. Naturally this promised to be
a very uninteresting excursion. But you never can tell.

"When I had got fairly down to Commercial Street, I saw that all the
people were greatly excited. Some were talking loudly, but most were
staring up toward the sun, shading their eyes with their hands. Then I
heard old Mr. Beasley say: 'That's surely them all right; doggon,
they'll eat us up.'

"My heart jumped. Who could be coming from the sun to eat us up? I
burst into excited questions. 'Who are coming, Mr. Beasley? I can't
see anybody.'

"'Hoppers is coming boy; see that sort o' shiny thin cloud up there
jest off the edge o' the sun? Well, them's hoppers.'

"'But how'll they eat us up, Mr. Beasley? No grasshopper can eat me

"'They'll eat us up with their doggoned terbaccy-spittin' mouths;
thet's how. And they'll eat _you_ up by eatin' everything you want to
eat; thet's how, too. Havin' nothin' to eat is jest about the same as
bein' et, accordin' to the way I looks at things.'

"It is evident that Mr. Beasley was a philosopher and a pessimist;
that is, a man who sees the disagreeable sides of things, who doesn't
see the silvery lining to the dark clouds. In fact, in this particular
case Mr. Beasley was seeing a very dark lining to that silvery cloud
'jest off the edge o' the sun.'

"I stared at the thin shining cloud for a long time, wondering if it
were really true that it was grasshoppers. People said the silvery
shimmer was made by the reflection of the sunlight from the gauzy
wings of the hosts of flying insects. It occurred to me that if the
hoppers were just off the edge of the sun, they would all be burned
up, or at least have their wings so scorched that they would fall to
the ground. However, as the sun is 90,000,000 miles away from the
earth, it would take a very long time for the scorched grasshoppers to
fall all the way. I guessed that we might have a rain of dead and
crippled hoppers about Christmas-time. Anyway there were no
grasshoppers now, dead or alive, in the street. And I decided, rather
disappointedly, that we probably shouldn't get to see any of the live
hoppers at all. Then I asked Mr. Beasley where they came from.

"'Rocky Mountains,' he answered, shortly.

"This seemed a bit steep, for the nearest of the Rocky Mountains are
nearly a thousand miles west of Kansas. And to think of grasshoppers
flying a thousand miles! A bit too much, that was. Still I thought I
ought to go home and tell the folks. But mother interrupted me in my
picturesque tale with a dry request for the meat. Oh, yes. Oh--well, I
had forgotten. So the first disagreeable result for me from the
grasshopper invasion of Kansas in the summer of 1876 was a painful
domestic incident.

"But Mr. Beasley was right. The grasshoppers had come. Next morning
all the boys were out, each with a folded newspaper for flapper and a
cigar-box with lid tacked on and a small hole just large enough to
push a hopper through cut in one end. The rumor was we were to be paid
five cents for every hundred hoppers, dead or alive, that we brought
in. As a matter of fact nobody paid us, but we worked hard for nearly
half a day; that is as long as it was fun and novelty. By noon the
grasshoppers were an old story to us. And besides there were too many
of them. Hundreds, thousands, millions,--oh, billions and trillions I
suppose. And all eating, eating, eating!

"First all the softer fresher green things. The vegetables in the
little backyard gardens; the sweet corn and green peas and tomato-and
potato-vines. Then the flowers and the grasses of the front yards.
Then the leaves of the dooryard trees. Then the fresh green twigs of
the trees! Then the bark on the younger branches!!

"And you could hear them eat! Nipping and crunching, tearing and
chewing. It got to be terrible, and everybody so downcast and gloomy.
And the most awful stories of what was going on out in the great
corn-fields and meadows and pastures. Ruin, ruin, ruin was what the
hoppers were mumbling as they chewed.

"And then the reports from the other states in the great Mississippi
Valley corn-belt came in by telegraph and letter. Over thousands and
thousands of square miles of the great granary of the land were
spread the hordes of hoppers. Farmers and stockmen were being ruined.
Then the storekeepers and bankers that sell things and lend money to
the farmers. Then the lawyers and doctors that depend on the farmers'
troubles to earn a living. Then the millers and stock-brokers and
capitalists of the great cities that make their fortunes out of
handling and buying and selling the grain the farmers send in long
trains to the centers of population. Everybody, the whole country, was
aghast and appalled at the havoc of the hopper.

"What to do? How long will they keep up this devastation? Have they
come to settle and stay in Kansas and Nebraska and Iowa? What will the
country do in the future for corn and wheat and pigs and fat cattle?

"Well, it would be too long a story to tell of how all the
entomologists went to work studying the grasshoppers and their ways:
their outsides and insides, their hopping and their flying, their
egg-laying and the growth and development of the little hoppers; how
the birds, and what kinds, stuffed on them, and the robber-flies and
the tachina flies and the red mites and the tiny braconids and
chalcids attacked them and laid eggs on them, and their grubs burrowed
into them; and everything else about them. But all the time the
hoppers kept right on eating; at least they did where there was
anything left to eat. Stories were told of their following roots of
plants and trees down into the ground to eat them; of how they
stripped great trees of bark and branches; of how they massed on the
warm rails of railroads at nights and stopped trains; of how
enterprising towns by offering rewards to farmers collected and killed
with kerosene great winrows and mounds composed of innumerable bushels
and tons of grasshoppers.

"Some people of active mind and fertile imagination suggested that if
the grasshoppers were going to eat up all our usual food, we should
learn to eat _them_! And they got chemists to figure out how much
proteids and carbohydrates and hydrocarbons and ash, etc., there was
in every little hopper's body. And there was a remarkable dinner given
in St. Louis by a famous entomologist to some prominent men of that
city, in which grasshoppers were served in several different ways:
hopper _sauté_, hopper _au gratin_, hopper _escalloppé_, hopper
_soufflé_, and so on. The decision of the guests--those who lasted
through the dinner--was that 'the dry and chippy character of the
tibiæ was a serious objection to grasshoppers as food for man.'

"But you want to know the end of it Mary, don't you? Well, it was a
very simple end. Simply, indeed, that the hoppers went back! Yes,
actually, when autumn came they all--that is, all that hadn't been
eaten by birds and toads and lizards, or collected by farmers and
burned, or hadn't got walked on by horses and people, or hadn't got
studied to death by entomologists--flew up into the air and sailed
back to the Rocky Mountains. Or at least they started that way. I
never heard if any of them really got all the thousand of miles back.
But whereas in the summer they had all been flying southeast, in the
fall they all began flying northwest.

"But some of them had laid eggs in the ground in little
cornucopia-like packets before dying or flying away. And much alarm
was caused by predictions that millions of new hoppers would come out
of the ground in the coming spring and eat all the crops while young,
even if the old ones or more like them didn't come again in the summer
and eat the mature crops. But these predictions were only partly
fulfilled. Not many hatched out in the spring, and those that did
seemed to be more anxious to get back to the Rocky Mountains where
their brethren were than to eat the Kansas crops. Indeed as soon as
the young hoppers got their wings--and that takes several weeks after
they come from the egg--they began flying northwest.

"So this remarkable and terrible invasion was over. And all the poor
farmers, and the bankrupt or about to be bankrupt storekeepers and
bankers and the idle lawyers and doctors and the terrified capitalists
and the hard-studying entomologists drew a long breath of relief

"But have the hoppers come back any time since 1876?" asks Mary.

"No, that was the last invasion. There had been earlier ones, though,
one or two of them just as bad as the Centennial-year one. Indeed
Kansas was called the Grasshopper State on account of these terrible
summer invasions. There was a bad one in 1866 and another in 1874. The
invasions of 1874 and 1876 cost the farmers of the Mississippi Valley
at least fifty millions of dollars in crops eaten up."

"But what made them come to Kansas? Why didn't they stay in the Rocky
Mountains? It's much more beautiful and interesting there than in
Kansas, isn't it?"

"Much, Mary. But it probably wasn't a matter of scenery with these
tourist hoppers. Much more likely a matter of food. In those days
there were no farmers with irrigated fields on the great plateaus
along the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and Wyoming.
Nothing much but sage-brush and not overmuch of that grew there. And
probably there simply wasn't enough food for all the hoppers. So in
seasons when there were too many hoppers or too little food--and if
there was one, there was also the other--they flew up into the air,
spread their broad wings and sailed away on the winds from the
northwest for a thousand miles to Nebraska and Kansas and Texas. And
that made an invasion."

"But, then, why didn't they stay there, where there were corn-fields
and wheatfields and vegetables?" persisted Mary.

"Mary, I can only tell you what the hard-studying entomologists
decided about this, and published along with all the other things they
found out, or thought they did, in several big volumes devoted to the
grasshoppers. They found out that the hoppers tried to go back because
they couldn't stay! That is, odd as it may seem, either the climate or
the low altitude or something else uncomfortable about Kansas and
Missouri disagrees with the Rocky-Mountain hoppers and they can't live
there permanently. They can't raise a family there successfully; at
least it doesn't last for more than one generation. They have to live
on the high plateaus of the northern Rockies, but they can get on very
well for a single summer away from home. Then they must get back if
they can. And so it was that the hoppers that came to Kansas solved
the weighty problem and relieved the great anxiety of the farmers and
the whole country in general as to what was to become of the great
grain-fields of the Middle West, by going back home again.

"And will they ever evade Kansas again?"

"That, Mary, is not a question for a stick-to-what-is-known scientific
person like me to answer. But as ever since farms and grain-fields and
vegetable gardens have been established on the Rocky Mountain plateaus
by the farmers who keep moving west, the hoppers haven't come back to
Kansas, and as this is probably because they have enough food at home
in these Colorado and Wyoming fields, I should be very much surprised
if they ever come back to Kansas again."

"Yes, but weren't you surprised that first time you saw them in the
Sentinel year?"

"Mary, you are a quibbler. Well, then, I'll say that I don't think
they'll ever make another foreign invasion. There!"

It is time for us to stroll home for luncheon. As we get up from under
the live-oak, a stumpy-bodied little grasshopper whirs away in front
of us.

"To think that such a little thing could make a summer evasion one
thousand miles away from here," said Mary.

"Much littler things have done much bigger things," I reply, with my
serious manner of lecturer-after-luncheon.



We were sitting in the warm sun on the very tip-top of Bungalow Hill.
This is a gentle crest that rises three hundred and fifty feet above
the campus level, and gives one a wonderful view far up and down the
beautiful valley and across the blue bay to the lifting mountains of
the Coast Range. Square-shouldered old Mt. Diablo standing as giant
warder just inside the Golden Gate, the ocean entrance to California,
looms massive and threatening directly to our east, while to its south
stretches the long brown range with its series of peaks, Mission, Mt.
Hamilton, Isabella, and so on, way down to the twin Pachecos that
guard the pass over into the desert. In the north rises Mt. Tamalpais,
the wonderful fog mountain that looks down on the busy life at its
feet of San Francisco, and its clustering child cities growing up
rapidly these days, while the mother is lying ill of her wounds by
earthquake and conflagration. To the south stretch the long orchard
leagues of the Santa Clara Valley, with the little white spots of
towns peeping out from the massed trees so jealous of every foot of
fertile ground. And to the west--ah, that is the view that Mary and I
lie hours long to look at and drink in and feel,--"our view," we call

We think we see things there that other people cannot. We see these
things especially well when we half-close our eyes, and describe what
we see in a sort of low, drowsy, monotone murmur. Then the fringe of
towering spiry redwoods along the crest of the mountain range that
lies between us and the great ocean and lifts its forested flanks full
two thousand feet above us, becomes a long row of giants' spears
sticking up above the battlements of a mighty castle. And the
shadow-filled somber slashes and tunnel-like holes of the dropping
cañons are the great entrances and doors to this castle. At our feet
the broad shallow cañada that stretches all along the foot of the
mountains and was made ages ago by some tremendous earthquake seems,
seen through our half-closed eyes, to be full of water and to be
really a broad moat shutting off all access to the castle.

The giants themselves we have never yet seen. But some day when the
light is just right, and they are stirring themselves to look out at
the world, we probably shall. Perhaps if we had been up here that day
not long ago when the last earthquake came, we should have seen the
giants looking out to see who was knocking at their gates. For it will
take an earthquake's knocking ever to be felt in the heart of that
mountain castle where the giants keep themselves.

The air was so clear this day that it seemed as if we could see each
individual great redwood, each red-trunked, glossy-leaved madroño,
each thicket of crooked manzanita and purpling Ceanothus, on the whole
mountain side. Straight across through the clear blue-tinged
atmosphere above the cañada to the shoulders and cañons, the forests
and clear spaces and chaparral of the mountain flanks, we look. And it
rests our eyes that are so tired of reading. It is good to be
a-stretch on sunbathed Bungalow Hill this afternoon in October. The
rains will be coming in a few weeks and then we can't be out so much.
Or at any rate we can't lie close to the warm, brown, dry earth as we
can now. But the rains will bring the fresh, green grasses and the
flowers. If they come early enough the manzanitas will have on their
little trembling pink-white lily-of-the-valley bells by Christmas-day,
and the wild currants will be all green-and-rose color, with little
leaves and a myriad fragrant blossoms.

But Mary has found something. She had turned over a little flattish
stone and under it was--life! Living things disturbed in their work,
their play, their laying up of riches, their care of their children;
little animate creatures revealed in all the intimacies of their
housekeeping and daily life.

But they didn't lose their presence of mind, these active, knowing
little ants, when the Catastrophe came. There was work to be done at
once and wisely. First, the saving of the children; and so in the
moment that passed between Mary's overturning of the stone and our
immediate shifting into comfortable position on our stomachs, head in
hands, for watching, half of the racing workers had each a little
white parcel in its jaws and was speeding with it along the galleries
toward the underground chambers.

"Ants' eggs," said Mary.

"No," said I. "That's a popular delusion. These little white things
are not ants' eggs, but ants' babies. They are the already hatched and
partly grown young ants, the larvæ and pupæ, which are so well looked
after by the nurse ants. For these young ants are quite helpless, like
young bees in the brood-cells in a honey-bee hive. And they have to be
fed chewed food, and as they have no legs and so can't walk, they have
to be carried from the cool dark nurseries up into the warmer lighter
chambers for air and heat every day almost, and then carried back down
again. See how gently the nurse ant holds this baby in its jaws; jaws
that are sharp and strong and that can bite fiercely and hold on
grimly in battle."

And I hand Mary my little pocket-lens through which she tries to look
with both eyes at once. She could, of course, if she would keep her
blessed eyes far enough away, but as she persists in holding the
glass at the tip of her nose as she has seen me do, and as she cannot
shut one eye and keep the other open, as I can, and have done now so
many years that I have wrinkles all round the shut-up eye, why, she
makes bad work of it. So she hands back the lens with a polite "thank
you," and sticks to her own keen unaided eyes. And sees more than I

For in the next breath she cries, with a little note of triumph in her
voice: "But some of the ant babies _are_ walking. See there! And you
said they have no legs. I can see them; little stumpy blackish legs
sticking out from their soft white body! And some of the ants are
carrying these babies with legs; I can see them!"

I squirm around nearer Mary. True enough there are some little white
chubby creatures walking slowly around in the narrow runways. But I
_know_ they cannot be ant larvæ. For ant larvæ have no legs and
simply can't walk. What are they? I get out the little pocket-lens.
And the mystery is solved. They are the "ant-cattle," the curious
little mealy-bugs that many kinds of ants bring into their nests and
take care of for the sake of getting from them a constant supply of
"honey-dew." This "honey-dew" which the mealy-bugs make and give off
from their bodies is a sweetish syrupy fluid of which almost all ants,
even those most fiercely carnivorous, are very fond. And as the
mealy-bugs and plant-lice that make the honey-dew are quite
defenceless, soft-bodied, mostly wingless and rather sedentary
insects, the bright-witted ants establish colonies, or "herds," of
them in their nests, or visit and protect colonies of them living on
plants near the ant-nest. Some kinds of ants even build earthen
"sheds," or tents, over groups of honey-dew insects on plant-stems.
The mealy-bugs are white because they cover their soft little bodies
with delicate threads or flakes of glistening white wax which they
make in their bodies and pour out through tiny openings in the skin.

We watch the busy, excited ants until they have carried all their
babies and cattle down into the underground nursery chambers, out of
harm's way. Then we put the stone carefully back in place, and roll
back again to where we can watch the wonderful mountains in the west.
The redwood-fringed crest stands so sharply out against the sky-line
that we really can distinguish every tree that lifts its head above
the crest, although they are several miles away from us. These great
trees, which are the giants' jagged spears, are one hundred and fifty
feet high, some of them, and as big around at the base as one of the
massive columns in the Cologne Cathedral.

Finally I say, rather lazily, "Mary, shall I tell you about the
special way the clever little brown ant of the Illinois corn-fields
takes care of its cattle?"

"Yes, please, if it isn't too long," says Mary.

Mary and I are on perfectly frank terms. We are polite, but also
inclined to be honest. And Mary is not going to be an unresisting
victim of a garrulous old professor. But Mary need not be afraid that
I sha'n't know when I am boring her. We have wireless communication,
Mary and I. That's one, probably the principal, reason why we are such
good companions. No true companionship can possibly persist without
wireless and wordless communication.

"All right," I answer, "here goes, Mary. Say when!"

"I forget how many millions of bushels of corn were raised in the
state of Illinois last year, but they were very many. And that means
thousands and thousands of acres of corn-fields. Now in all these
corn-fields there live certain tiny soft-bodied insects called
corn-root aphids. Their food is the sap of the growing corn-plants
which they suck from the roots. Although each corn-root aphid is only
about one-twentieth of an inch long and one-twenty-fifth of an inch
wide and has a sucking-beak simply microscopic in size, yet there are
so many millions of these little insects all with their microscopic
little beaks stuck into the corn-roots and all the time drinking,
drinking the sap which is the life-blood of the corn-plants that they
do a great deal of injury to the corn-fields of Illinois and cause a
great loss in money to the farmers.

"So the wise men have studied the ways and life of these little aphids
to see if some way can be devised to keep them in check. The aphids
live only two or three weeks, but each one before it dies gives birth
to about twelve young aphids. Now this is a very rapid rate of
increase. If all the young which are born live their allotted two or
three weeks and produce in their turn twelve new aphids, we should
have about ten trillion descendants in a year from a single mother
aphid. Ten trillion corn-root aphids, tiny as they are, would make a
strip or belt ten feet wide and two hundred and thirty miles long!

"Some other kinds of aphids multiply themselves even more rapidly. An
English naturalist has figured out that a single-stem mother of the
common aphis, or 'greenfly' of the rose, would give origin, at its
regular rate of multiplication and provided each individual born lived
out its natural life, which is only a few days at best, to over
thirty-three quintrillions of rose aphids in a single season, equal in
weight to more than a billion and a half of men. Of course such a
thing never happens, because so many of the young aphids get eaten by
lady-bird beetles and flower-fly larvæ and other enemies before they
come to be old enough to produce young.

"However, besides this rapid increase of the corn-root aphids, there
is something else that helps them to be so formidable a pest. And this
is that they find very good and zealous friends in the millions of
little brown ants that also live in the Illinois corn-fields. These
swift, strong, brave little ants make their runways and nests all
through the corn-fields, and are very devoted helpers of the
soft-bodied helpless aphids. For the aphids pay for this help by
acting as 'cattle' for the ants.

"This is what Professor Forbes, a very careful and a very honest
naturalist, found out about the ants and the aphids. The eggs of the
aphids, hosts of shining black, round, little seed-like eggs, are laid
late in the autumn. These eggs are gathered by the ants and heaped up
in piles in the galleries of their nests, or sometimes in special
chambers made by widening the runways here and there. All through the
winter these eggs are cared for by the ants, being carried down into
the deeper and warmer chambers in the coldest weather, and brought up
nearer the surface when it is warm. When the sunny days of spring
begin to come, the eggs are even brought up above ground and scattered
about in the sunshine, then carried down again at night. The little
ants may be seen sometimes turning the eggs over and over and
carefully licking them as if to clean them of dust-particles.

"In the late spring the aphid eggs hatch, and the young must have sap
to drink right away. Their little beaks are thirsty for the
plant-juices that are their only food. But there are no tender
corn-roots ready for them in the fields because the corn has not yet
been planted. What, then, shall the hungering baby aphids and their
foster-mothers, the little brown ants, do?

"This is what happens. Although it is too early yet for the corn to be
growing, there are various kinds of weeds that begin to sprout with
the coming on of spring, and two of these, especially, the smart-weed
and the pigeon-grass, abundant and wide-spread in all the Mississippi
Valley, are sure to be growing in the fields. While the aphids much
prefer corn-roots to live on, they will get along very well on the
roots of smart-weed or pigeon-grass. So the clever little brown ants
put the almost helpless baby aphids on the tender roots of these
weeds, and there their tiny beaks begin to be satisfied. Don't you
call that clever, Mary?"

"Clever! Gracious!" says Mary. "Do you know Professor Forbes? Is he
really--does he always tell the--"

I interrupt. I am sensitive about such questions. I answer rather
sharply. "Yes, I _do_ know him; and yes, he always tells the truth.
Don't interrupt any more, please, for there is still more of the
story." Mary is silent.

"Well, the aphids stay on the smart-weed roots until the corn is
planted, which is in about ten days, and the kernels begin to
germinate and to send down the tender juice-filled roots. And then the
little brown ants take the aphids, now getting larger and stronger, of
course, but still too helpless or stupid to do much for themselves
except to suck sap, and carry them from the smart-weed roots to the
corn-roots--What's that, Mary?"

But Mary had said nothing; just drawn in her breath with a little
sound. Still I think it best to remind her that I _do_ know Professor
Forbes and that he really _does_ always tell the truth. In fact, I
quote to Mary this honest professor's exact words about this transfer
of the aphids from the weed-roots to the corn-roots. This is what he
writes in his intensely interesting account of the whole life of these
little insects: "In many cases in the field, we have found the young
root aphis on sprouting weeds (especially pigeon-grass) which have
been sought out by the ants before the leaves had shown above the
ground; and, similarly, when the field is planted to corn, these
ardent explorers will frequently discover the sprouting kernel in the
earth, and mine along the starting stem and place the plant aphids
upon it."

"And the little brown ants do all this so as to get honey-dew from the
aphids?" asks Mary.

"Exactly," I reply. "The ants take such good care of the aphids not
because they pity their helplessness or just want to be good, but
because they know, by some instinct or reason, that these are the
insects that, when they grow up, make honey-dew, which is the kind of
food that ants seem to like better than any other. Indeed not only the
little brown ants alone take care of the corn-root aphids to get
honey-dew, but at least six other kinds of ants that live in the
Illinois corn-fields do it. But the little brown ants are the most
abundant and seem to give the aphids the best care."

"It is exactly like keeping cows, isn't it," says Mary. "But they
don't have to milk them."

"Well," I reply, "I don't know what you would call it, but some other
ants that take care of some other kinds of honey-dew insects seem to
have to carry on a sort of milking performance to make them pour out
their sweet liquid. The ants have to pat or rub them with their hairy
little feelers; sort of tickle them to get them to squeeze out a
little drop of honey-dew. The truth is, Mary, if I should tell you the
really amazing things that ants do, you simply wouldn't believe me at
all. But the next time we go out, I'll take you to see for yourself an
ant community right on the campus that does some remarkable things.
I'd much rather have you see the things yourself than tell you about

"I'd rather, too," says Mary, which isn't exactly the nicest thing
she could say, but I know what she means. It's that seeing is better
than being told by anybody.

And then the up-and-down "ding, dang, dong, ding," of the clock-bells
begins its little song in four verses that means the end of an hour.
And then come the six slow deep calls of the biggest bell that tell
what hour it is. It is the hour for us to go home.



"But why didn't he go back if he liked France so much better; and if
he had plenty of money?" asked Mary.

"Ah, well, even having plenty of money doesn't always make it possible
to do just what we prefer," I say. "The truth is,--if it is the truth,
and not just malicious gossip,--it was exactly because he had plenty
of money that he couldn't go back. He is supposed to have got that
money in some wrong way. Anyway, he didn't seem to care to go back to
_la belle France_, but preferred to live solitarily here, and to plant
lines of trees and lay out little lakes and build rockwork towers and
make terraces and driveways and paths, all in very formal lines, as in
the parks at Versailles and St. Cloud, which were the playgrounds of
French kings and the pride of all France."

Mary and I were seated on a curious little cement-and-stone imitation
tower-ruin that stuck up out of Frenchman's Pond, which is near the
campus, and is a good place for seeing things and getting away from
the classroom bells. A long row of scraggly Lombardy poplars stretches
away from the pond along an old terraced roadway with a cave opening
on it. Around two sides of the little lake is a rockwork wall, and
across one end, where the pond narrows, is a picturesque stone bridge
of single span. Everything is neglected, and altogether Frenchman's
Pond and its surroundings are a good imitation of something old and
foreign in this glaringly new and extremely Californian bit of the
world. It is a favorite place for us to come when I want to tell Mary
stories of the castles on the Rhine. We get a proper atmosphere.

It was so sunny and warm this morning that we had given up chatting
and were simply sitting or sprawling as comfortably as we could on the
irregular top of our _Aussichtsthurm_. A few flying dragons, some in
bronze-red mail, some in greenish blue, were wheeling about over the
pond, and a meadow-lark kept up a most cheerful singing in the pasture
nearby. It was really just the sort of day and place and feeling that
Mary and I like best. We knew we ought, as persevering Nature
students, to get down and poke around in the weeds and ooze of the
edges of the pond so as to see things. But we didn't want to do it,
and so we didn't. That is one perfectly beautiful thing about the way
Mary and I study Nature. We don't when we don't want to.

But if we didn't climb down to the live things this day at Frenchman's
Pond, they came up to us. One of the flying dragons actually swooped
so close to our heads that we could hear its shining brittle wings
crackle, and only a few minutes after, a curious delicate little
creature with four gauzy wings, a pair of projecting eyes with a fixed
stare, and three long hair-like tails on its body, lit on Mary's hand
and walked slowly and rather totteringly up her bare wrist and fore
arm. Then without any fluttering or struggling, it slowly fell over on
one side and lay quite still. It was dead!

This rather took our breath away. We are only too well accustomed,
unfortunately, to seeing death come to our little companions; they do
not live long, at best, and then so many of them get killed and eaten.
But they usually make some protest when Death approaches. They do not
surrender their brief joy of living in such utterly unresisting way as
this little creature did. But when I had got my spectacles properly
adjusted, I saw what it was that had died so quietly and suddenly.
The little gauzy-winged creature was a May-fly, or ephemera, and life
with the May-flies is such a truly ephemeral thing, and death comes
regularly so soon and so swiftly, and without any apparent illness or
injury intervening between health and dissolution, that we naturalists
have ceased to wonder at it. Although this is not because we
understand it at all. Far from it. Indeed the death of any creature,
except from obvious accident or wasting illness, is one of the
mysteries of life. Which sounds rather Irish, but is just what I mean.

But Mary was looking thoughtfully at this dead little May-fly in her
hand. It was so soft and delicate of body, had such frail and filmy
wings, that it seemed that it must have been very ill-fitted to cope
with the hard conditions of insect living, to escape the numerous
insect-feeding creatures and to find food and shelter for itself, to
be successful, in a word, in the "struggle for existence"! And in a
way, this is quite true. But, in another way, it is not true. For the
May-flies, in their flying stage, make up for their frailness and
feebleness, their inability to feed--they have really no mouth-parts
and do not eat at all in their few hours or days of flying life--by
existing in enormous numbers, and millions may be killed, or may die
from very feebleness, and yet there are enough left to lay the eggs
necessary for a new generation, and that is success in life for them.
Nothing else is necessary; their whole aim and achievement in life
seems to be to lay eggs and start a new generation of May-flies.

I settled back into a still more comfortable position and said: "Did I
ever tell you, Mary, of the May-flies' dance of death I saw in Lucerne
once, not far from the old bridge across the Reuss with its famous
pictures of our own dance of death? Well, then, we'll just about have
time before the tower-clock calls us home. Do you want to hear
about it?"

"Yes, please," said Mary.

"Well, I had been studying in a great university in an old German town
all the spring and early summer and had come to Switzerland for my
vacation. You know there are splendid mountains there--"

"The Alps," interrupted Mary. "The highest is Mt. Blanc, 15,730 feet
above the sea."

How Mary does know her geography!

"And beautiful lakes," I continue. "And the roads are good for
tramping, and the hotels cheap. Anyway, the ones the students go to. I
had come to Lucerne from Zurich--"

"Noted for its silks and university where women can go," Mary broke in

Bless me, what's the use of going to Europe anyway, if you learn
everything about everywhere in the grades?

"And had gone straight to the _Mühlenbrücke_," I go on,--"that's the
old bridge all covered with a roof that crosses the Reuss only a few
rods from where it flows out of the lake; the lake of Lucerne, you

"Of course," said Mary.

"For it is on the ceiling of that bridge," I persist, "that these
curious old Dance of Death pictures are painted, and I had heard a
great deal about them. They show how everybody is dancing through life
to his grave. Not very pleasant pictures, Mary."

"Very unpleasant, I should think," says Mary, positively. "I hope you
didn't look at them long."

"No, because, for one reason, it was getting too dark to see them. The
sun had set behind the Gutsch--that's a pretty hill just west of
Lucerne--and the electric lights were already flashing along the
lake-shore promenade. You know what a wonderfully beautiful lake
Lucerne is, of course, Mary?"

"Yes; it is unsurpassed in Switzerland, perhaps in Europe, for
magnificence of scenery," replies Mary, in level voice.

I resolve to cut geographic information out of any further stories I
tell Mary. Do they commit Baedeker to memory nowadays in the schools?

"Exactly," I manage to reply without betraying too much astonishment
at this revelation of the American educational method.

"Well, along the shore of this unsurpassed lake at the town of Lucerne
there is a broad promenade with trees and benches and electric lights.
Behind it are the big hotels all in a curving row, and after dinner
all the people come out and stroll about while the band plays. It is a
fine sight."

Mary seemed to be getting a little less than interested. She squirmed
into a new position on the rough rockwork and then, looking out over
the little pond with its hawking dragons whizzing back and forth, she
asked: "What about the May-flies, please?"

I really believe she knew all about the hotels and promenade and the
band. What wonderful schools!

"I was coming--I have just come to them," I reply with dignity.

I am a professor and have a certain stock supply of dignity to draw on
when necessary. It isn't often necessary with Mary.

"Well, as I came from the covered _Mühlenbrücke_ and out on to the
lake-shore promenade, I saw a little crowd of people gathered under
and about a brilliant arclight hanging in an open place in front of
the great Schweizerhof Hotel. The light seemed to me curiously hazy,
and even before I got near the crowd I had made a guess at what was
going on. My guess that it was a May-fly dance of death was quite
right. Perhaps it would really be better to call it a 'dance of life,'
for it really was sort of a great wedding dance. But it was a dance of
death, too, for the dancers were falling dead or dying out of the
dizzying whirly circles by thousands. How many hundreds or thousands
or millions of May-flies there were in the dense circling cloud about
the light, I have no idea. But the air for twenty feet every way from
the light was full of them, and the ground for a circle of thirty or
forty feet underneath was not merely covered with the delicate dead
creatures, but was covered for from one to two inches deep!

"The crowd of promenaders looked on in gaping wonder. Not one seemed
to know what kind of creature this was, nor of course anything about
what was really going on; that this was all of the few hours of
feverish life which these May-flies enjoyed in their winged state, and
that they gave it all up to the business of mating and egg-laying;
where they came from, how they had lived before, why they should be
here to-night and no other in the whole year, all these things which
it seems to me the onlookers ought to have wanted to know, nobody
seemed to know, nor anybody seemed particularly to care to.

"But there are places in the world where the people do want to know
these things, and a great many more, about the May-flies. One such
place is the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River. One day I was
sailing down this river among the Thousand Islands, and the
acquaintanceship of a small and unusually delicate kind of May-fly was
forced on me by the hundreds of them that persisted in alighting on my
clothes, my hat, and my hair. They kept walking unsteadily about over
my face and hands and the open pages of the book I was trying to read.
And they kept dying, dying, all around. One would light on the outer
edge of the page, and before it had walked across to the beginning of
a sentence, it would die and its body would slide gently down into the
back of the book and--be a bookmarker!"

"That's not a very nice way to talk about the poor little dead
May-flies," said Mary, rather seriously.

"It isn't, Mary, I know," said I. "But we've got to relieve the gloom
of this tale someway, don't you think? There is too much wholesale
death in it to suit my publisher! And so I am trying to introduce a
little jocularity into it, don't you see, Mary?"

"People are not supposed to be very funny at funerals," said Mary,
severely. "Where did the little Thousand Islands May-flies come from,
and why do the people there want to know about them?"

"Because there are so many May-flies that they are a great pest. Not
by eating crops--for there aren't any, I suppose, and the May-flies
don't eat anything anyway--nor by carrying malaria, but just by living
and dying all over; everywhere in one's summer cottage, down on the
river-bank where you are watching the sunset, under the trees when you
are lying in your hammock and trying to read, in your rowboat when you
are paddling about to visit your neighbors on other islands. To be
walked on and died on by hundreds and hundreds of little flies, and
all the time, grows to be very uncomfortable. So the May-flies or
river-flies or lake-flies as they are variously called are cordially
hated by all the Thousand-Islanders and the St. Lawrence-Riverers. And
the people want to know about where they come from, and how they live,
and all about them, indeed, so as to try to find some way to be rid of

"And do you know where they come from, and how they live, and all
about them," asks Mary, with a slightly roguish manner, I fear.

"Well, I know something. In the first place, after the dance of death,
the few that don't die fly out over the lake or river or pond and drop
a lot of little eggs into it. Then they die happy--if May-flies can be
happy. Mind you, I don't say they can. We are the only animals that we
know can be happy. And we mostly aren't. From the eggs hatch young
May-flies without wings or long thread-like tails, but just little,
flat, under-water creatures with gills along the sides so they can
breathe without coming up to the surface. Some kinds burrow into the
mud at the bottom, some kinds make little tubes or cases in which to
live, while others stay mostly on the under side of stones. They eat
little water-plants or broken-up stuff they find in the water,
although some eat other little live animals, even other young
May-flies. And many of them get eaten themselves. They are favorite
food of the under-water dragons. You remember, don't you, Mary, how
our dragons of Lagunita would snap up the young May-flies in Monday

"Well, these young May-flies--the ones that don't get eaten by
dragons, stone-flies, water-tigers, and other May-flies--grow larger
slowly, and wing-pads begin to grow on their backs. In a year, maybe,
or two years for some kinds, they are ready for their great change.
And this comes very suddenly. Some late afternoon or early evening
thousands of young May-flies of the same kind, living in the same lake
or river, swim up to the surface of the water, and, after resting
there a few moments, suddenly split their skin along the back of the
head and perhaps a little way farther along the back, and like a flash
squirm out of this old skin, spread out their gauzy wings and fly
away. They do this so quickly that your eye can hardly follow the

"And then they all fly to the light and begin their dance of death,"
breaks in Mary.

"No, wait; they are not yet quite ready for that. First, they do a
very unusual thing; something that no other kinds of insects have ever
been seen to do. This is it: They fly away to a plant or bush or tree
at the water's edge, and there they cling for a little while and then
cast their skin again."

"The new skin they have just got, with the wings and everything?" asks

"Exactly; the new skin. It comes off of the wings, off of the long
tails and the short feelers, and all the rest of the body. No other
kind of insect but the May-fly casts its skin once its wings are
outspread. But now the May-fly is ready for its dizzy dance. And as it
has only a few hours to do it in, it usually starts as soon as there
are any lights to dance about. Think of it, to come up from under the
water, get your wings and be a real May-fly, not just a crawling thing
on the bottom of a pond, and have only one evening to live in!
Probably to dance the whole evening through is about the best thing to
do under such circumstances."

"Don't any of the poor May-flies live for more than one evening?" asks
Mary. "It does seem a shame to put in so long a time, one year, two
years for some, getting ready to fly and then have only one evening or
night for flying."

"Well, yes, some do, Mary. That is, there are many different kinds of
May-flies; some large ones, some small ones, some kinds with four
wings, some kinds with only two, and the length of the flying time is
not the same for all these kinds. Some live a day, some two, some
perhaps even three or four. But there are several kinds whose flying
life is just a few hours; they are born, that is, as flying
creatures, after sundown and they die before the next sunrise. The
first kind of May-fly whose life was ever carefully studied--this was
nearly two hundred and fifty years ago, by a famous naturalist of
Holland--lives only five hours after it comes from the water. But
remember what a fine long time they have being young! If we could be
young--but there, that's foolish. Mary, the chimes in the tower-clock
are sounding. Listen!"

And we sit perfectly still and hear the beautiful Haydn changes on the
four bells, and then count twelve clear strokes of the big clock-bell
that come all the way from the Quadrangle to us, softened and mellowed
by the distance. We must go home to luncheon. And after luncheon I
must go and lecture--Ugh! How sad!--sad for the students and sad for
me. But that's the way we do it, and until we find the real way, we
must all continue to suffer together.

"Come, Mary, we're off. How would you like to be a May-fly?"

"And have only one day to live when I'm all grown up?"

"You might be saved some troubles, Mary."

[Illustration: IN FUZZY'S GLASS HOUSE]


Fuzzy was distinguished from most of her brothers and sisters, when we
first became acquainted with her, by the fine head of hair which she
had. It has been several weeks now since we first saw her, and there
are bald places already--so strenuous has been her life. To be sure
that we should be able to recognize her even after she became worn and
bald, like the others, we dabbed a spot of white paint on her back
between the shoulders, and although old age and its attendant ills,
including the loss of much of her hair, have come on rapidly, the
white spot is still there, and we know Fuzzy whenever we see her.

We were watching what was going on in Fuzzy's glass house at the very
time that Fuzzy first came out of her six-sided little private
nursery room. In this she had spent all of her three weeks of getting
hatched from an egg--we had seen her own very egg laid by the queen
mother!--then of living as a helpless baby bee without wings or feet
or eyes or feelers, and having to be fed bee-jelly and bee-bread by
the nurses, and then as a slowly maturing young bee with legs and
wings and eyes and feelers all forming and growing. Part of this time
she had been shut up in her room by having the door sealed with wax,
and she had had no food at all. But she had been fed enough at first
to last her through the days when she had no food.

It was the twentieth or twenty-first day since she had been born, that
is, had hatched from the little, long, white, seed-like egg that the
queen bee had laid in this six-sided waxen room or cell. And Fuzzy was
all ready to come out into the world. So she tried her strong new
trowel-like jaws on the thin waxen door of her room, and found no
trouble at all in biting a hole through it large enough to let her
wriggle out. Which she did right under our very eyes.

Indeed we had planned Fuzzy's glass house and had had it built in the
way you see it in Sekko's picture just so we could see plainly and
certainly what goes on in the house of a bee family. Everybody has
watched bees outside gather pollen and drink nectar and hang in great
swarms, and do the various other things they do in their outdoor life.
But not everybody has seen what goes on indoors. Many people have seen
the inside of a hive every now and then. But it is always when the
bees are greatly excited and often when the people are too. And so
besides seeing that the honey and pollen are in such and such combs
and cells and the young bees in others, some of them in open and some
in closed cells, and perhaps a few other things, one doesn't learn
much by peering into a hive through a mass of smoke-dazed bees while
dodging a few extra-lively and energetic ones!

Mary and I had watched bees outside and we had looked into lots of
hives and, of course, had learned a little about indoor bee ways. But
ever since we got Fuzzy's glass-sided house built and a community of
pretty amber-bodied gentle Italians living in it, we have never got
over being sorry for ourselves in the old days and sorry for other
people all the time. For it is so easy and sure, so vastly
entertaining and utterly fascinating to sit quietly and comfortably in
chairs (one of us on each side) for hours together and see all the
many things that go on in the bee's house. The bees are not disturbed
in the slightest by our having the black cloth jacket off of the hive
and by the light shining in through the great window-like sides of
the house, nor by Mary's bright eyes and my round spectacles staring
ever so hard at them.

We have seen the queen lay her eggs, the little bees hatch out, the
nurse bees feed them, the foragers come in and dance their whirling
dervish dance and unload their baskets of pollen and sacs of honey,
the wax-makers hang in heavy festoons and make wax, the carrying bees
carry the wax to the comb-builders, and the comb-builders build comb
of it, the house-cleaners and the ventilators clean house and
ventilate, and the guards stopping intruders at the door. We have
heard the piping of the new queens in their big thimble-like cells,
and seen them come out, and the terrible excitement and sometimes
awful tragedy that follows; we have seen the wild ecstasy that comes
before swarming out, and the swarming itself begin in the house; we
have looked in at night and found some of the bees resting, but others
working, and always some on guard; we have seen the lazy drones loaf
all the morning and then swing out on their midday flight and come
back and fall to drinking honey again; we have seen a great battle
when our gentle Italians fought like demons and repulsed a fierce
attack of foraging black Germans, and again a nomad band of
yellow-jackets; and we have seen the provident workers kill the drones
and even drag young worker bees from their cells when the first cold
weather comes on. We have seen, in truth, a very great deal of all the
wonderful life that these wise and versatile little creatures live in
their nearly perfect cooperative community. But above all we have
followed with special interest and affectionate pride the education
and experiences of Fuzzy, our most particular friend in all the
thousands of our gentle Italian family.

Fuzzy must have been very glad to get out finally from her tight,
dark, little cell and into the airy, light hive, with all of her
sisters and brothers moving around so lively and busily. And she must
have been especially delighted when she went to the open door of the
house for a peek out--for she wasn't allowed really to go outdoors for
exactly eight days--and saw the beautiful arcades of the outer
Quadrangle underneath her and the red-tiled roof on a level with her,
and then the great eucalyptus trees and the beautiful live-oaks in the
field beyond, and far off on the horizon the crest of the distant
mountains, with the giant redwoods standing up against the sky-line.
You have a glimpse in Sekko's picture of all this that Fuzzy saw that
day. That is, if she could see so much. I am afraid she couldn't.

"But what are those other bees doing to her," cried Mary in some
alarm, as two or three workers crowded around Fuzzy just as she came
from her cell. "Are they trying to bite her?"

"Not the least in the world," I hasten to answer reassuringly. "Just
look sharp and you will see." And Mary did look sharp and did see. And
she clapped her hands with glee. "Why, they are licking her with their
long tongues; cleaning her, just as a cat does her little kittens,"
sang Mary. Which was exactly so. For a bee just out from its nursery
cell is a very mussed-up looking, and, I expect, rather dirty little
creature. And it needs cleaning.

It was soon after Fuzzy had got cleaned and had her hair brushed and
had begun to wander around in an aimless way in the glass-sided house
that we got hold of her and dabbed the spot of white paint on her
back. We did it this way. She had walked up to just under the roof of
the house near where you see (in Sekko's picture) one of the
cork-stoppers sticking up like a little chimney-pot. These corks stop
up two round holes in the roof which we had made for the express
purpose of putting things,--other insects, say,--into the hive to see
what the bees would do with them, and also to take out a bee when we
wanted to experiment with it. When Fuzzy got up just under one of the
holes, we took the cork-stopper out gently and thus let her come
walking slowly up and out on top of the roof. Then we caught and held
her very gently with a pair of flat-bladed tweezers, and put the white
paint on. Then we dropped her back through the hole and put the cork
in its hole.

We watched Fuzzy for a long time after she came out of her cell that
day, and although she walked about a great deal, she only once
ventured near the real door or entrance-slit of the hive through which
the foraging bees were constantly coming and going. And next day we
watched many hours and looked often between regular watching times,
always finding Fuzzy in the house. And so for eight days. And then
she made her first excursion outside.

It was interesting to watch her on this eighth day. She would fly a
little way out, then turn around and come in. Then she would fly out
farther, turn around, hover a little in front of the window, and
finally come in again. A lot of other young bees were doing the same
thing. They seemed to be getting acquainted with things around the
door of the house so they would know how to find it when they came
back from a long trip. On the ninth day Fuzzy brought in her first
loads of pollen, two great masses of dull rose-red pollen held
securely in the pollen-baskets on her hind legs. And after that she
brought many other loads of pollen and later sacs of honey.

But you must not imagine that Fuzzy was idle during all those eight
days before she went outside of the glass house. Not a bit of it. No
bees are idle. But yes, the drones. Big, blunt-bodied, hairy,
blundersome creatures that move slowly about over the combs. Not over
the nursery combs where there is work to be done, feeding and caring
for the young bees. Dear me, no. But over the pantry combs. They keep
close to the honey-pots and bread-jars. But even they have their work.
Each day from spring into late summer they all, or nearly all, fly out
about eleven o'clock and circle and traverse the air for long
distances in search of queens. Then in the early afternoon they come
back and fall to sipping honey again.

However, to return to Fuzzy and her work in those first eight days
spent all inside the house. One day Mary saw Fuzzy stretching her head
down into one open cell after another in the brood-comb. At the bottom
of each of these cells was a little white grub; a very young bee, of
course, only one or two or three or four days out from the egg.
Several days before (it takes only three days for a bee's egg to
hatch) we had seen the beautiful long slender-bodied queen moving
slowly about over these cells, with her little circle of attendants
all moving with her with their heads always facing toward her. She
would thrust her long hind body down into one of these empty cells and
stand there quietly for two or three minutes. Then draw her body out
and go on to another. And in the cell she had just left we could see
plainly a tiny seed-like white speck stuck to the bottom of the cell.
It was an egg of course. That is nearly all the queen does; she simply
goes about all through the spring and summer laying eggs, one at a
time, in the nursery or brood-cells. There is one other thing she
does, or really several things, at the time of the appearance or the
birth of a new queen. But that will come later.

We do seem to have trouble keeping to Fuzzy and her life, don't we?
Well, when Mary saw Fuzzy sticking her head down into the cells with
the bee-grubs in, she knew at once what Fuzzy was doing. For it was
plain that the young bees had to have something to eat and it was
plain, too, that they couldn't get it for themselves, for they have no
legs, and can't even crawl out of their cells. Fuzzy was feeding them.
She would drink a lot of honey from a honey-cell, and eat a lot of
pollen from a pollen-filled cell, and then make in her mouth or front
stomach (for bees have two stomachs, one in front of the other), or in
certain glands in her head (it doesn't seem to be exactly known
which), a very rich sort of food called bee-jelly. Then she sticks the
tip of her long tongue into the mouth of the helpless, soft-bodied
little white bee-grub and pours the food into it. After the bee-grub
is two or three days old, the nurse bees--and that is what Fuzzy
could be called now--feed the babies some honey and pollen in addition
to this made-up bee-jelly, unless the baby is to be a queen bee, and
then it gets only the rich bee-jelly all the time.

Mary thought Fuzzy should have a neat cap and white apron on and drew
a clever little picture of Fuzzy as a nurse. But we are being very
careful in this book not to fool anybody, and if we should print the
picture Mary drew, some people would be stupid enough to think that we
meant them to believe that the nurse bees wear uniforms! We say right
now that they don't, and that you can't tell them from the other bees
except that most of them are the younger or newly issued bees and
hence haven't lost any of their hair, and so look "fuzzier" than the
other bees in the hive. For just as with Fuzzy, so with the other
younger bees; they stay in the hive for a week or more and act as

When they once are allowed to go out, and begin bringing in pollen and
honey, however, then the new bees are ready to do any of the many
other things that have to be done inside the hive. One day Mary saw
Fuzzy standing quite still on the floor of the house, with her head
pointed away from the door and held rather low, while her body was
tilted up at an angle. She just stood there immovable and apparently
doing nothing at all. Suddenly Mary called out: "Why, what has
happened to Fuzzy? Her wings are gone!" I hurried to look. And it did
seem, for a minute, as if Mary were right. Which would have been a
most surprising and also a most terrible thing. But my eyes seemed to
see a sort of blur or haze just over Fuzzy's back, and I bade Mary
look close at this blur with her sharp eyes. And Mary solved the

"She is fanning her wings so fast that you can't see them," cried
Mary. "And here is another bee about two inches in front of Fuzzy
doing the same thing; and another," called out Mary, who was greatly
excited. And it rather did seem as if these bees had gone crazy, or
were having a very strange game, or something. Until I made Mary
remember what would happen to us if not just three or four or five or
six of us, but many thousand--indeed in Fuzzy's house there are more
than ten thousand--were shut up in one house with but a single small
opening to let fresh air in and bad air out. For bees breathe just as
we do, that is, take fresh air into their bodies and give out
poisonous air. And then Mary understood. Fuzzy and the other bees
fanning their wings so fast and steadily were ventilating the house!
They were making air-currents that would carry the poisonous air,
laden with carbonic-acid gas, out of the door, and then fresh air
would come in to replace it.

And another time Fuzzy kept Mary guessing a little while about what
she was doing. We had looked all through the crowds of nurses and
wax-makers and comb-builders and house-cleaners without finding Fuzzy.
And we decided she was out on a foraging trip, when Mary caught sight
of our white-spotted chum loafing about in the little glass-covered
runway that leads from the outer opening into the house proper, a sort
of little glass-roofed entry we have arranged so that we can see the
foragers as they alight and come in, and the various other things that
go on by the door. Fuzzy seemed to be loafing, but both Mary and I
have seen so much of the feverish activity and the constant work of
bees in the hive, and out of it for that matter, that we never expect
to find a worker honey-bee really loafing. They literally work
themselves to death, dying sometimes at the very door of the hive,
with the heavy baskets of pollen on their thighs, the gathering and
carrying of which has been the killing of them. Only the bees that
over-winter in the hive must have some spare moments on their hands.
And here in California even these are few, for a certain amount of
foraging goes on practically all the year round.

But Fuzzy did seem to be loafing there in the entry. Until Mary's
sharp eyes discovered her important business. She was one of the
warders at the gate, a guard or sentinel told off, with one or two
others, to test each arrival at the entrance. As a forager would
alight and start to walk in through the entry, Fuzzy would trot up to
it and feel it with her sensitive antennæ. If the newcomer were a
member of the community, all right; it was passed in. But if not,--if
it were one of the vicious black Germans from the other observation
hive that stands close by, opening out of the same window
indeed,--there would be an instant alarm and a quick attack. Two or
three Italians would pounce on the intruder, who would either hurry
away or, if bold enough to fight, would get stung to death and pitched
unceremoniously out of the entry. Or if it were a stray yellow-jacket
attracted by the alluring odor of honey from the hive, one of the same
things would happen. One day not a single German came, but an army, a
guerrilla band intent on pillage and murder. And then there was a
grand battle--but we must wait a minute for that.

There were also other enemies of Fuzzy's glass house besides German
bees and yellow wasps. There is a delicate little moth, bee-moth it is
called, that slips into the hive at night all noiselessly and without
betraying its presence to any of the bees if it can help it. And it
lays, very quickly indeed, a lot of tiny round eggs in a crack
somewhere. It doesn't seem to try to get out. At any rate it rarely
does get out. For it almost always gets found out and stung to death
and pulled and torn into small pieces by the enraged bees, who seem
to go almost frantic whenever they discover one of these
innocent-seeming little gray-and-brown moths in the house. And well
they may, for death and destruction of the community follow in the
train of the bee-moth. From the eggs hatch little sixteen-footed grubs
that keep well hidden in the cracks, only venturing out to feed on the
wax of the comb nearest them. As they grow they need more and more
wax, but they protect themselves while getting it by spinning a silken
web which prevents the bees from getting at them. Wherever they go
they spin silken lines and little webs until, if several bee-moths
have managed to lay their eggs in the hive and several hundred of
their voracious wax-eating grubs are spinning tough silken lines and
webs through all the corridors and rooms of the bees' house, the
household duties get so difficult to carry on that the bee community
begins to dwindle; the unfed young die in their cells, the indoor
workers starve, and the breakdown of the whole hive occurs. Such a
thing happened in this very glass house of Fuzzy's a year before we
got acquainted with Fuzzy herself. And we had to get a new family of
bees to come and live in the house after we had cleaned out and washed
and sterilized all the cracks and corners so that no live eggs of the
terrible bee-moth remained.

Some days we found Fuzzy at work with several companions on more
prosaic and commonplace things about the house; chores they might be
called. She had to help clean house occasionally. For the bees are
extremely cleanly housekeepers, with a keen eye for all fallen bits of
wax, or bodies of dead bees, or any kind of dirt that might come from
the housekeeping of so large a family. Every day the hive is
thoroughly cleaned. If there comes a day when it is not, that is a bad
sign. There is something wrong with the bee community. They haven't
enough food, or they are getting sick, or something else irregular and
distressing is happening.

Also the house has to be "calked" occasionally to keep out draughts
and more particularly creeping enemies of the hive, like bee-moths and
bee-lice. The cracks are pasted over with propolis, which is made from
resin or gum brought in from certain trees. If something gets into the
hive that can't be carried out, then the bees cover it up with
propolis. If they find a bee-moth grub in a crack where they can't get
to it to sting it to death, they wall it up, a living prisoner, with
propolis. Once our bees kept coming in with a curious new kind of
propolis; a greenish oily-looking stuff that stuck to their legs and
got on their faces and bodies and wouldn't clean off. We discovered
that they were trying to unpaint a near-by house as fast as it was
being freshly painted!

Fuzzy took her turn at all these odd jobs, and though she was
beginning to show here and there a few places where her luxuriant hair
was rubbed off a little, she was still as lively and willing and
industrious as ever. Every day we liked her more and more and wished,
how many times, that we could talk with her and tell her how much we
liked her, and have her tell us how she enjoyed life in the glass
house. But we could only watch her and keep acquainted with all her
manifold duties and hope that nothing would happen to her on her long
foraging trips for pollen and nectar and propolis. Whenever Mary and I
came to the glass house and couldn't find Fuzzy, we were in a sort of
fever of excitement and apprehension until she came in with her great
loads of white or yellow or red pollen and went to shaking and dancing
and whirling about in the extraordinary way that she and her mates
have while hunting for a suitable pantry cell in which to unload her
pollen-baskets. Sometimes she would walk and dance and whirl over
almost all of the pollen-cells in the house before she would finally
decide on one. Then she would stand over it and pry with the strong
sharp spines on her middle legs at the solidly packed pollen loads on
her hind legs, trying to loosen them so they would fall into the cell.
Sometimes she simply couldn't get the pollen loads loose, and then a
companion would help her. And after they were loosened and had fallen
into the cell, she or a companion would ram her head down into the
cell and pack and tamp the soft sticky pollen loads down into one even
mass. And then how industriously she would clean herself, drawing her
antennæ through the neat little antennæ combs on her front legs, and
licking herself with her long flexible tongue, or getting licked by
her mates all over.

Perhaps as she was washing herself after a hard foraging trip, the
stately and graceful queen of the house would come walking slowly by,
looking for empty cells in which to lay eggs. Then Fuzzy would turn
around, head toward the queen, and form part of the little circle of
honor that always kept forming and re-forming around the queen mother.
For the honey-bee queen is the mother of all the great family, and her
relation to the community is really the mother relation rather than
that of a reigning queen. She does not order the bees; indeed, the
worker bees seem to order her. They determine what cells she may have
to lay eggs in and when she shall be superseded by a new queen. And
when they decide for a new queen, they immediately set to work in a
very interesting way to make one.

This is the way, as Mary and I saw it through the glass sides of
Fuzzy's house. First, a little group of workers went to work tearing
down, apparently, some comb already made; that is, they began on the
lower edge of a brood-comb, in the cells of which the old queen had
just laid eggs, to tear out the partitions between two or three of the
cells. What became of the eggs we couldn't tell, for they are very
small, and the bees were so crowded together that we could see only
the general results of their activity. Soon it was evident that they
were building as well as tearing down, and a new cell, much larger
than the usual kind and quite different in shape, began to take form.
It was like a thimble, only longer and slenderer, and it had the wide
end closed and the narrower tapering end open. They worked excitedly
and rapidly, and the new cell steadily grew in length. Never was it
left alone for a minute. Always there were bees coming and going and
always some clustered about. It was a constant center of interest and

Mary and I knew of course that this was a queen cell, and that at its
base there was one of the eggs laid by the old queen in a worker cell.
This egg hatched, we knew, in a few days, although we could not see
the little grub, but nurse bees were about constantly besides the
cell-builders, and all the bees that came to the wonderful new cell
seemed to realize that a very important, if at present rather grubby
and wholly helpless, personage was in it. The cell finally got to be
more than an inch long, and at the end of five days it was capped. A
lot of milky bee-jelly had been stored in it before capping. After
this nothing happened for seven days.

Mary was in the room where the glass bee-houses are, and I was in an
adjoining room, with the door between the two open. As I sat peering
through my big microscope, I seemed to hear a curious unusual sound
from the bee-room, a sort of piping rather high-pitched but muffled.
Perhaps it was Mary trying a new song. She has a good assortment of
noises. But now came another sound; lower-pitched but louder than the
other; a trumpet-call, only of course not as loud as the soldiers'
trumpets or the ones on the stage when the King is about to come in.
Then the shrill piping again; and again the trumpet answer. And
finally a third and new sound, but this last unmistakably a Mary
sound. And with it came the dear girl herself, with her hair standing
on--well, no, I cannot truthfully say standing on end, but trying to.
And her eyes shooting sparks and her mouth open and her hands up.

"The bees," she gasped, "the bees are doing it!"

There was no doubt of what "it" meant. It was this sounding of pipes
and trumpets; these battle calls.

I leaped to my feet; that is, if an elderly professor, who has certain
twinges in his joints occasionally, can really leap. Anyway I knocked
over my chair--and precious near my microscope--in getting up, and
started for the bees. And that shows the high degree of my excitement.
But never before in all the years I had played with bees had I heard
the trumpet challenges of queen bees to the death duel. Inside the
cell was the new queen shut up in darkness, but ready and eager to
come out, and piping her challenge. And outside, brave and fearless,
if old and worn, was the mother queen trumpeting back her defiance. It
was the spirit of the Amazons.

And _what_ excitement in the hive! Simply frantic were the thousands
of workers. We watched them racing about wildly; up, down, across,
back; but mostly clustering in the bottom near the queen cell. And
working industriously at the cell itself, a group of builders,
strengthening and thickening the cell's walls especially at the closed
lower end. They seemed to be, yes, they were, preventing the new queen
inside from coming out. She was probably gnawing away with her
trowel-like jaws at the soft wax from the inside, while they were
putting on more wax and keeping her a prisoner.

This went on for two or three days. The piping and trumpeting kept up
intermittently, and the thickening of the cell constantly. Until the
time came!

And now I am going to disappoint you dreadfully. But much less than
Mary and I were disappointed. We were not there when the time came!

The bees were excited, I have said. Mary and I were excited, I have
said. The bees put in _all_ their time being excited and watching the
queen cell. We put in _most_ of ours. But we had to eat and we had to
sleep. The bees didn't seem to. And so we missed the coming out. What
a pity! How unfair to us! And to you.

As there is by immemorial honey-bee tradition but one queen in a
community at one time, when new queens issue from the great cells,
something has to happen. This may be one of three things: either the
old and new queens battle to death, and it is believed that in such
battles only does a queen bee ever use her sting, or the workers
interfere and kill either the old or new queen by "balling" her
(gathering in a tight suffocating mass about her), or either the old
(usually old) or new queen leaves the hive with a swarm, and a new
community is founded. In Fuzzy's community this last thing happened
when the new queen came out.

Mary and I were on hand very early the morning of the third day after
the piping and trumpeting had begun. As we jerked the black cloth
jacket off the hive to see how things were, we were astonished at the
new excitement that was apparent in the hive; the bees seemed to be in
a perfect frenzy and had suspended all other operations except racing
about in apparent utter dementia. We could find neither the old queen
nor the new queen in the seething mass, nor could we even see whether
the queen cell was open or still sealed up.

Another curious thing was that the taking off of the black cloth
jacket seemed to affect the bees very strongly. They had suddenly
become very sensitive to light, and while, when the jacket was on,
they all seemed to be making towards the bottom and especially towards
the exit corner, which was the lower corner next to the window, as
soon as we lifted off the jacket they seemed all to rush up to the top
where the light was strongest. So nearly simultaneous and uniform were
the turning and rushing up that the whole mass of bees seemed to flow
like some thick mottled liquid.

It was evident that all this was the excitement and frenzy of
swarming. And it was also evident that the bees, in their great
excitement, were finding their way to the outlet by the light that
came in through it. And when we removed the cloth jacket we confused
them because the light now came into the hive from both sides and was
especially strong at the top, which was nearest the greatest expanse
of the outer window. So we finally let the jacket stay on, and after a
considerable time of violent exertion, the bees began to issue
pell-mell from the door of the house. The first comers waited for the
others, and there was pretty soon formed a great mass of excited bees
around the doorway, and clustered on the stone window-sill just
outside. Then suddenly the whole mass took wing and flew away
together. And pretty soon all was quiet in the hive.

Mary and I had been nearly as excited as the bees, and we were glad to
sit and rest a little and get breath again. Soon it was luncheon time
and we went off to Mary's house without looking into the hive. We had
had just about all the bee observing we needed for one forenoon. But
almost the first thing that Mary did at the table was to straighten up
suddenly and cry out, "I wonder if Fuzzy swarmed!" And thereafter that
was all we thought of, and we made a very hasty meal of it. And the
moment we got up we hurried back to Fuzzy's home and jerked off the
black jacket.

How quiet everything was inside. And how lessened the number of bees.
Fully one-third of the community must have gone out. We set to work
looking carefully at all the remaining bees. It was only a minute or
two before Mary clapped her hands and cried, "She's here!" "She" was
Fuzzy, of course. And we were both very glad that Fuzzy had not
deserted the glass house--and us.

Some one came in and said that a "lot of your bees are out here
hanging on to a bush." But we had seen "swarms" before, and were much
more interested in finding out what the bees do inside after a swarm
has gone off than in watching the swarm outside. We knew that "scouts"
would fly away soon from the great hanging bunch or swarm to look for
a suitable new home; a hollow tree, a deserted hive, a box in hedge
corner, any place protected and dark, and when they had found one,
they would come back, and soon the whole swarm would fly off to the
new house. Once one of our swarms started down a chimney of a
neighbor's house, and immensely surprised the good people by coming
out, with a great buzzing, into the fireplace! And another swarm, not
finding a suitable indoors place, simply began to build new combs
hanging down from the branch of a cypress-tree in the Arboretum, and
really made an outdoor home there, carrying on all the work of a
bee-community for months. But usually a bee-swarm gets found by some
bee-keeper and put into an empty hive. And that is what happened to
our deserters.

After Mary had found Fuzzy, who seemed to have lost considerable hair
and to have got pretty well rubbed in the grand melée, she continued
to peer carefully through the glass side of the hive. And I looked
carefully too. Of course we wanted to find out about the queens. Was
there any queen left in our hive? We knew there must be a queen with
the swarm; bees don't go off without a queen. So if the old and new
queen had fought and one had been killed, or if the workers had
"balled" the new queen when she came out, there could be no queen left
in the hive. Of course this would not be very serious. For there were
many eggs and also many just-hatched bee-grubs in the brood-combs, and
the workers could easily make a new queen. But this wasn't necessary,
for we soon found a graceful, slender-bodied bee, but so fresh and
brightly colored and clean that we knew her to be the new queen and
not the old.

Things were perfectly normal and quiet. Some foragers were coming and
going; house-cleaners were busily at work on the floor of the house,
and nurses were moving about over the brood-cells. Not a trace of the
wild frenzy of the forenoon. What a puzzling thing it is to see all
the signs of tremendous mental excitement in other animals and yet not
to be able to understand in the least their real condition! They may
seem to do things for reasons and impulses that lead us to do things,
but we can't be at all sure that their mental or nervous processes,
their impulses and stimuli, are those which control us. We can't
possibly put ourselves in their places. For we are made differently.
And therefore it is plainly foolish to try to interpret the behavior
of the lower animals on a basis of our understanding of our own
behavior. Insects may see colors we cannot see; may hear sounds we
cannot hear; smell odors too delicate for us to smell. In fact, from
our observations and experiments, we are sure they do all these
things. The world to them, then, is different from the world to us.
And their behavior is based on their appreciation by their senses in
their own way of this different world.

What determines which queen shall leave the hive with the swarm? What
determines which five thousand out of fifteen thousand worker bees,
all apparently similarly stimulated and excited, shall swarm out, and
which ten thousand shall stay in? These are questions too hard for us
to answer. We may take refuge in Maeterlinck's poetical conception of
the "spirit of the hive." Let us say that the "spirit of the hive"
decides these things. As well as what workers shall forage and what
ones clean house; what bees shall ventilate and what make wax and
build comb. Which is simply to say that we don't know what decides
all these things.

The reduction in numbers of the inmates of Fuzzy's house made it much
easier to follow closely the behavior of any one bee, or any special
group of bees doing some one thing. And both Mary and I had long
wanted to see as clearly as possible just what goes on when the bees
are making wax and building comb. We had often examined, on the bodies
of dead bees, the four pairs of five-sided wax-plates on the under
side of the hind body. We knew that the wax comes out of skin-glands
under these plates as a liquid, and oozes through the pores of the
plates, spreading out and hardening in thin sheets on the outside of
the plates. To produce the wax certain workers eat a large amount of
honey, and then mass together in a curtain or festoon hanging down
from the ceiling of the hive or frame. Here they increase the
temperature of their bodies by some strong internal exertion; and
after several hours or sometimes two or three days, the fine
glistening wax-sheets appear on the wax-plates. These sheets get
larger and larger until they project beyond the edges of the body,
when they either fall off or are plucked off by other workers.

It was only two or three days after the excitement of the swarming out
that Mary and I saw one of these curtains or hanging festoons of bees
making wax, and you may be sure we tried to watch it closely. The bees
hung to each other by their legs and kept quite still. The curtain
hung down fully six inches from the ceiling of the house, and the
first or upper row of bees had therefore to sustain the hanging weight
of all those below. And there were certainly several hundred bees in
the curtain. The wax-scales began to appear on the second day. And
many of them fell off and down to the floor of the house. Some of the
scales were plucked off by other workers and carried in their mouths
to where a new comb had been started before the swarming, and either
used by themselves to help in the comb-building or given to
comb-builders already at work. Some of the scales were plucked off by
the wax-making workers themselves, who then left the curtain and
carried the wax-scales to the seat of the comb-building operations.
Various other workers picked up from the floor the fallen scales and
carried them to the comb-builders. These building bees would chew up
pieces of wax in their mouths, mixing it with saliva, and then would
press and mould it with their little trowel-like jaws against the
comb, so as to build up steadily the familiar six-sided cells.

Each layer of comb is composed of a double tier or layer of these
cells, a common partition or base serving as bottom of each tier. The
cells to be used for brood are of two sizes, smaller ones for workers
to be reared in, and larger ones for the drones. Sometimes the queen
lays drone eggs in worker cells and then the cells have to be built up
higher when the drone-grub gets too large for its cell. Sometimes,
too, the worker bees lay eggs--this happens often in a hive bereft by
some accident of its queen--but these eggs can only hatch into drones.
Occasionally the workers make a mistake and build a queen cell around
a drone egg. This happened once in our hive when there were no
queen-laid eggs in the brood-cells, and some workers had laid eggs.
The workers tried to make a new queen out of one of these eggs, but of
course only a worthless drone came out of the queen cell. In building
comb and cells for storing honey, new wax is almost exclusively used,
but for brood-comb old wax and wax mixed with pollen may be used. Any
comb or part of a comb not needed may be torn down and the wax used to
build new comb or to cap cells with.

I have said that the nearest neighbors of Fuzzy's family are a lot of
black German bees, housed in a larger house than Fuzzy's, but one also
with glass sides so that we can see what goes on inside. The door of
the house opens through the same large window as that of Fuzzy's
house, but the foragers coming back from their long trips rarely make
a mistake in the doors, the Germans coming to their door and the
Italians to theirs. The German community is much the larger, there
being probably thirty or forty thousand workers in it, although of
course only one queen, and only a few hundred drones. Sometimes the
foragers, both Germans and Italians, make the mistake of coming to the
wrong window of the room in which their houses are. There are five
large windows all alike in the west wall of this room, and often we
find our bees bumping against the other windows, especially the ones
just next to the right one. They can't, of course, see in through
these windows because the room is much darker than outside, and so all
that the home-coming bees can see as they approach the building is a
row of similar windows separated from each other by similar spaces of
buffy stone. And keen as our bees are in finding their way straight to
their hives from distant flower-fields, this repetition of similar
windows seems to confuse some of them.

But what I started to tell about is something that happened between
the neighboring bee-houses quite different from the troubles of the
bees finding their way home. It was something that gave Mary and me
the principal excitement that we had in all our many days of watching

Mary and I do not want to say that the German bees knew that a third
of Fuzzy's community had swarmed out and gone away. Though how they
could help knowing it really seems more a puzzle, for there was
excitement and buzzing and window-sill covered and air full of bees
enough to have told everybody within a rod of what was going on in the
Italian house. But it was true that Fuzzy's community had never been
troubled at all seriously by the belligerent Germans, until after it
had been much reduced in strength by the loss of one-third of its
members. And then this trouble did come, and came soon. So it looks as
if the Germans realized the weakness of their neighbors. But perhaps

Just as our other exciting time beginning with the piping of the new
queen and lasting until the subsequent swarming was a discovery of
Mary's, so with this new time of high excitement; high excitement I
may say both on our part and the bees'. Mary was in the room where the
bees are, although not at the moment watching them, when she heard a
sound of violent buzzing and humming. It grew quickly louder and
shriller, and in a moment both communities were in an uproar.

It was a battle, a great battle. On the one hand, a struggle by brutal
invaders intent on sacking the home and pillaging the stores of a
community given to ways of peace and just now reduced in numbers by a
migration or exodus from home of a large group of restless spirits; on
the other hand, a struggle for home and property and the lives of
hundreds of babies by this weak and presumably timid and unwarlike
people. A great band of Germans were at the door of Fuzzy's house
trying to get in! They buzzed and pushed and ran their stings in and
out of their bodies, and crowded the entryway full. But the Italian
workers and guards had roused their community, and pouring out from
the hive into the narrow entry was a stream of angry and brave amber
bees, ready to fight to the death for their home.

It was really a terrific struggle. The Italians, few in numbers as a
community, were yet enough to oppose on fairly equal terms the band of
Germans, for by no means all the Germans had come from their house.
And the Italians had the great advantage of being defenders. They had
only to keep out the black column trying to force its way in through
the narrow door and entry. And they were no laggards in battle. They
fought with perfect courage and great energy. Often a small group of
Italians would force its way out of the door and into the very midst
of the Germans outside on the window-sill. These brave bees were all
killed, overwhelmed by the superior numbers of the enemy. But not
until they had left many dying Germans on the stone window-ledge were
their own paralyzed and dying bodies hustled out of the way.

In many cases the combat took on the character of duels between single
pairs of combatants. A German and an Italian would clasp each other
with jaws and legs, and thus interlocked and whirling over and over
with violent beating of their wings would stab at each other until one
or both were mortally wounded. All the time the frenzied ball would be
rolling nearer and nearer the outer edge of the treacherous sloping
window-ledge, until finally over it would go, whirling in the air
through the thirty feet of fall to the ground below. Here the struggle
would go on, if the fighters were not too stunned by the fall, until
one or both bees were dead or paralyzed.

It is really too painful to tell of this fight. And it was painful to
watch. But the end came soon. And it was a glorious victory for Fuzzy
and her companions. The German robbers flew back, what were left of
them, to their own hive. Mary and I tried all through the fight to
watch Fuzzy. But we saw her only once; she was in the entry then and
nearly in the front row of fighters. We were glad to see her so
brave, but fearful for her fate. After the fight we looked anxiously
through the hive for our little white-spotted friend. We didn't see
her, and were ready to mourn her for lost, when Mary happened to look
out on the window-ledge where a few Italians were pushing the
remaining paralyzed or dead Germans off. There was Fuzzy dragging,
with much effort, a dead, black bee along the rough stone.

We were very happy, then, and wanted more than ever to be able to talk
to our brave little champion and rejoice with her over the splendid
victory. But we could only do as Fuzzy seemed to be doing. That is,
take up again the work that lay at our hands. My work was to go into
the lecture-room and talk to a class about the absence of intelligence
and mind and spirit in the lower animals and the dependence of their
behavior upon physics and chemistry and mechanics! Mary's work was to
go out into the poppy-field and talk with the little grass people whom
she never sees or hears, but knows are there.



It was one evening not long after our afternoon on Bungalow Hill,
where Mary had found the mealy-bugs in the runways of an ant's nest
under a stone, and I had told her about the clever little brown ants
and their aphid cattle in the Illinois corn-fields. Ever since that
afternoon Mary had been asking questions about ants, and so this
evening I was translating bits to her from a new German book about
ants. It told about the cruel forays of the hordes of the great
fighting and robbing Ecitons of the Amazons; of the extraordinary
mutually helpful relations between the Aztec ants and the Imbauba tree
of South America, which result in the ants getting a comfortable home
and special food from the tree, while the tree gets protection
through the Aztecs from the leaf-stealing Ecodomas. It told of the
ants that live in the hollow leaves of the Dischidia plants in the
Philippine Islands, and the way the plants get even by sending slender
aerial rootlets into the leaves to feed on the dead bodies of the ants
that die in the nests. It told of the ants in this country that build
sheds of wood-pulp over colonies of honey-dew insects or ant-cattle on
the stems of plants; of the fungus-garden ants of South America and
Mexico and Texas that bite off little pieces of green leaves and make
beds of them in special chambers in their underground nests, so that
certain moulds grow on these leaf-beds and provide a special kind of
food for the ant-gardeners. It told of the ants that make slaves of
other ants, and get to depend so much on these slaves that they can't
even care for their own children, and it told about the honey-ants of
the Garden of the Gods that make some of the workers in each
nest--but that's what this story is going to tell about, so we had
better wait.

But it was all a veritable fairy-story book, as any good book about
the ways and life of ants must be. And Mary listened eagerly. She
liked it. When going-home time came she had, however, one insistent
question to ask. "What can I _see_?" she demanded. "What can I see
right away; to-morrow?"

"Mary you can--see--to-morrow,"--and I think rapidly,--"you can
see--to-morrow,"--still thinking,--"ah, yes--yes you _can_; you can
see them to-morrow."

"But _what_ can I see to-morrow?"

"Why the animated honey-jars; didn't I say what? No? Well, to-morrow
we can go to see them; in the Arboretum at the foot of the big
Monterey pine. I think I remember the exact place."

"But I thought the honey-ants were only in Mexico and New Mexico and
Colorado," says Mary. "Didn't the book say that?"

"Yes, that kind; but we have a kind of our own here in California. The
sort that McCook found in the Garden of the Gods and studied all that
summer twenty-five years ago is found only there and in the Southwest,
but there are two or three other kinds of honey-ants known, and one of
them that has never been told about in the books at all is right here
on the campus. There are several of the nests here, or were a few
years ago, and we'll go to-morrow and try to find one. It will be
fine, won't it?"

"Fine," said Mary. "Good-night."

And so the next morning we went. The Arboretum is a place where once
were planted almost all the kinds of trees that grow wild in
California, besides many other kinds from Australia and Japan and New
Zealand and Peru and Chili and several of the other Pacific Ocean
countries. But the big, swift-growing eucalyptuses and Monterey pines
have crowded out many of the other more tender and less-pushing kinds.
However, it is still a wonderful place of trees. Many birds live
there; swift troops of the beautiful plumed California quails;
crimson-throated Anna humming-birds, crestless California jays,
fidgeting finches and juncos, spunky sparrows and wrens, chattering
chickadees and titmice, fierce little fly-catchers and kinglets. There
are winding paths and little-used roads in it, and altogether it is a
fine place to go when one has only a short hour for walking and seeing

And so Mary and I came with a garden-trowel and a glass fruit-jar to
the foot of the big Monterey pine near the _toyon_. A _toyon_, if you
are an Easterner and need telling, is the tree that bears the red
berries for Christmas for us Pacific-Coasters. It is our holly, as the
Ceanothus is our lilac, and the poison-oak is our autumn-red sumac.

At the foot of the Monterey pine we began our search for the
honey-ants. We didn't, of course, expect to find them walking about
with their swollen bodies full of amber honey, for the honey-bearers
are supposed not to walk around, but to stay inside the nest, in a
special chamber made for them. We looked rather for the
honey-gatherers, the worker foragers.

Pretty soon Mary found a swift little black ant. But, no, it was an
_Aphænogaster_ that--

"A feeno-gasser?" asks Mary. "What is that?"

"That has the curious, flat-bodied dwarf crickets living with it in
its nests," I continue. "_Myrmecophila_, the ant-lover, they call this
little cricket which has lost its wings and its voice and is
altogether an insignificant and meek little guest unbidden but
tolerated at the ant's table. And here, here is a big black-and-brown
carpenter-ant going home with a seed in its mouth."

"Where is its home? Does it build a house out of wood? Let's follow
it," Mary bursts in.

"No, we are after honey-ants, remember. We mustn't let ourselves get
distracted by all these others. The carpenter-ants do make themselves
a home of wood, but they do it by gnawing out galleries and chambers
in a dead tree trunk or stump or in a neglected timber. That isn't
exactly building, but it is at least a kind of carpentering, a sort

"Is this one?" interrupts Mary, poking violently at an angry
red-headed little slave-maker ant that seemed anxious to get off to
its home where its slaves, which are other ants captured when still
young and unacquainted with their rightful family, do all the work of
food-getting and cleaning and taking care of the babies.

And then I recognized a _Prenolepis_, that is,--and I _do_ beg
pardon,--one of our campus honey-ants. Of course I suppose they are
elsewhere in California and perhaps north in Oregon and east in Nevada
and Arizona, but I have only seen them here, and hence always think of
them as belonging exclusively with us campus-dwellers. It was a little
brown ant with black hind body and paler under side. It isn't
particularly impressive, for it is only about one-eighth of an inch
long, and its colors and appearance are much like those of many other
ants, but there is something about it sufficiently distinctive to let
one recognize it at sight.

The thing to do now, of course, was to find its nest. There are
various ways of finding the nest of any particular ant you may happen
to discover running about loose over the country, but not one of them
am I going to tell you. They are good things to work out for yourself.
Mary and I know how, and so we had little trouble and didn't
have to spend much time in finding the home of our wandering
_Prenolepis_,--there it is again,--campus honey-ant I mean. And that
is a fair name for it, for McCook who found the famous honey-ants of
the Garden of the Gods in Colorado named his kind _Myrmecocystus
melliger hortusdeorum_, which is straight Latin and Greek for the
"honey-pot ant of the Garden of the Gods." But _what_ a name for a
little ant one-eighth of an inch long to carry!

It would take too many words and I am afraid would be too trivial a
story for even this very happy-go-lucky little book to tell how Mary
and I dug and dug in the ground near the foot of the tree, and how
carefully we worked with our garden-trowel and mostly with our
fingers! And how we traced out runway after runway and opened chamber
after chamber of the honey-ant's nest until we found the honey-pantry
with its strange jars of sweetness all hanging from the roof. The
picture that Mary carefully sketched in, and that Sekko Shimada
painted for us with his dainty Japanese brushes and little saucers of
costly Japanese ink, shows very well part of the nest, that part that
had one of the honey-rooms in. You won't see the base of the Monterey
pine-tree in the picture, nor any of the other trees that were all
around, because Mary didn't put them into her sketch, and we forgot to
tell Sekko where the nest was. But the galleries and honey-chamber and
the ants themselves are all right in Sekko's picture.

In some of the galleries we had found ants with considerably swollen
hind bodies, which evidently had the stomach or crop well filled with
some nearly transparent, pale yellowish-brown liquid. But it was not
until we discovered the honey-pantry that we saw the extraordinary
fully laden real live honey-jars, which were, of course, nothing but
some of the worker ants hanging by their feet from the roof of the
chamber, with their hind bodies enormously swollen by the great
quantity of honey held in the crop. In opening the chamber we
dislodged two or three of the honey-jars that fell to the floor and
could hardly turn over or walk at all, so helpless were they. And one
of them broke and the honey came out in a big drop, and I tasted it on
the tip of my little finger, and it was sweet. So it was surely honey.
And you should have seen how eagerly two or three other workers in the
chamber, without swollen bodies, lapped up this sweet drop that came
out of the body of the poor, broken honey-jar!

As we had broken into the home of the honey-ants and had pretty nearly
wrecked it, it seemed only fair that we should try to help our
honey-ants begin another home under as kindly conditions as possible.
So we put as many of them as we could find, foraging workers,
honey-holders, and the queen whom we found in a special queen room,
into our glass fruit-jar with some soil, and brought them all home and
put them into a formicary. Which is simply an artificial ants' nest,
or house already arranged for ants to live in. It has a place to hold
food and has dark rooms and sunny rooms, cool rooms and warm ones, all
nicely fixed with runways connecting them, and food is put in as often
as necessary and always in one place, which the ants learn to know
very soon, indeed. This makes housekeeping easy and pleasant for the
ants, and lets us see a great deal of how it is carried on, because
there are glass sides and top to the house, so that by lifting little
pieces of black cardboard or cloth we can look in and watch the ants
at work.

The honey-ants' colony seemed to live very contentedly in our
formicary, for they went ahead with all their usual business of laying
eggs and rearing babies and feeding them, and finding honey and
getting the honey-jars loaded with it and hung by their feet from the
ceiling of their room, and all the other things that go on regularly
in a honey-ant's house.

The principal thing we wanted to do, however, was to learn how the
honey-jars got filled and also how they got emptied again! And this
was not at all hard to find out, although we never found out certainly
where the worker foragers got their honey in the Arboretum. McCook
found that his foragers in the Garden of the Gods gathered a sweet
honey-dew liquid that oozed out in little drops from certain live
oak-galls near the nest. But our ants seemed to be getting their honey
from somewhere up in the pine-tree, for there was a constant stream of
them going up and down the trunk. Besides, many of those coming down
had swollen bodies partially filled with honey, while none of those
going up did. Now the only honey supply in the pine-tree that we know
is the honey-dew given off liberally by a brown roundish scale insect
that lives on the pine-needles. So we _think_ our honey-ants gathered
their honey material from these honey-dew scale insects. But we have
seen them collect honey stuff from various aphids and also from the
growing twigs of live-oak trees. They seem to be willing to take it
wherever they can find it.

Of course we had to provide a supply of honey for our indoor colony,
and this supply was eagerly and constantly visited by the foraging
workers. They would lap it up and then go into the nest and feed the
live honey-pots! That is, a well-fed forager would go into the
honey-pantry and force the honey out from its own crop through its
mouth into the mouth of one of the live honey-jars. Undoubtedly the
honey-bee honey we furnished them was considerably changed while in
the body of the foraging worker.

But all the time the nurses and workers inside the nest needed honey
for food. And this they got by going to the honey-pantry, and by some
gentle means inducing the live honey-pots to give up some of their
store. Mouth to mouth the feeder and the filled honey-ant would stand
or cling for some minutes. And there was no doubt of what was going
on. The honey-pot was this time forcing honey out of its own
over-filled crop and into the mouth of the nurse.

Thus all the time there went on a constant emptying and replenishing
of the strange honey-pots. What an extraordinary kind of life! Nothing
to do but to drink and disgorge honey; to cling motionless to the
ceiling of a little room, or lie helpless, or feebly dragging about on
the floor and be pumped into and pumped out of! To have one's body
swollen to several times its natural size by an overloaded stomach,
and to be likely to burst from a fall or deep scratch!

But there is simply no telling beforehand what remarkable condition of
things you may find in an ant's nest. There is an ardent naturalist
student of ants in the great museum of natural history in New York,
who keeps publishing short accounts of the new things he is all the
time discovering about the habits and life of ants. And if I didn't
know him to be not only a perfectly truthful man but a trained and
rigorously careful observer and scientific scholar, I should simply
put his stories aside as preposterous. But on the contrary, as I do
know them to be true, I am more and more coming to be able to believe
anything anybody says or guesses about ants! Which is, of course, not
a good attitude for a professor!

Dr. Wheeler, this New York student of ants, is putting a great deal of
what he knows about ants into a large book which, when published, will
make a whole shelfful of green, red, blue, and yellow fairy books
hide their faded colors in shame. For tellers of fairy tales cannot
even think of things as extraordinary and strange as the things that
ants actually do!

But what a prosaic lecture this story of the animated honey-jars has
come to be. Mary is long ago asleep, curled up in a big leather
arm-chair in my study, and I sit here in the falling dusk, straining
my bespectacled eyes to write what will, I am afraid, only put other
little girls to sleep. Which is not at all my idea in writing this
book. It is, indeed, just the opposite. It is to make anybody who
reads it open his eyes. But, "_Schluss_," as my old Leipzig professor
used to say at the end of his long dreary lecture. So _Schluss_ it is!

[Illustration: HOUSES OF OAK]


There are eight different kinds of oak-trees growing on or near the
campus where Mary and I live. And each kind of oak-tree has several
kinds of houses peculiar and special to it. Which makes altogether a
great many styles and sizes of houses of oak for Mary and me to get
acquainted with. For we have made up our minds to know them all, and
something about the creatures that live in them. This is a large
undertaking, we are finding, but an intensely interesting and
delightful one. Some of it is quite scientific, too, which makes us
proud and serious. We are keeping notes, as we did about Argiope and
the way it handled flies and bees, and some day we shall print these
notes in the proceedings of a learned society, and make a real
sensation in the scientific world. Anyway we think we shall. Just now,
however, we shall only tell the very simplest things about these
houses of oak and their inhabitants, for we suppose you wouldn't be
interested in the harder things; perhaps, indeed, not even understand
them all.

Although, as I have already said, there are eight different kinds of
oak-trees growing in our valley and mountains, two of these kinds, the
live-oaks and the white oaks, are by far the most common and numerous.
As one stands upon the mountain tops or foothills and looks down and
over the broad valley, all still and drowsy under the warm afternoon
sun, it seems as if you were looking at a single great orchard with
the trees in it in close-set regular lines and plots in some places,
and irregularly scattered and farther apart in other places. Where
they are regular and close together, they really are orchard trees;
where they are irregular and widely spaced and larger, they are the
beautiful live-oaks and white oaks that grow in all the grain-fields
and meadows and pastures of our valley. The live-oaks have small
leaves, dark green and close together, and the head of the tree is
dense and like a great ball; the white oaks have larger, less thickly
set leaves of lighter green, and the branches are more irregular and
straying and they often send down delicate pendent lines that swing
and dance in the wind like long tassels. The live-oaks have leaves on
all the year through; the white oaks lose theirs in November.

In both of these kinds of trees the oak houses can be found, but
especially in the white oaks. And there are, as I have said, many
kinds of the houses. Mary and I have found little round ones, big
bean-shaped ones, little star-shaped ones, slender cornucopia-like
ones, green, whitish, red-striped, pink-spotted, smooth, hairy,
rough-coated, spiny ones, and still other kinds. Some of the houses
are on the leaves, some on the leaf-stems, some on the little twigs,
and some on the branches. Some of the houses stay in the trees all
through the year, but most of them drop off in the autumn, especially
in the white-oak trees, just as the leaves do.

We go out and hunt for the houses in the trees and among the fallen
leaves on the ground under the trees. They are sometimes, especially
the little ones, hard to find, for their colors and shapes often seem
to fit in with their surroundings, so as to make them very hard to
see. But others, like the big ball-shaped white ones shown in Sekko
Shimada's picture, are, on the contrary, very conspicuous. If the
houses are on the ground, or even if they are still on the tree and we
think they are all through being made--and there are various ways of
knowing about this, but the most important is the time of year--Mary
and I bring them home with us and put them in little bags of fine
cloth netting, tarlatan usually, the houses that are alike and from
one place being put together in a single bag. Then we tie a string
around the mouth of the bag and wait for the dwellers in the houses to
come out.

For one has to be careful about trying to see the oak-house dwellers
before they are ready to come out. It is much better to await their
own sweet pleasure in this matter, than to go digging or prying in,
for the houses have no doors or windows until just at the time the
dwellers come out! In fact they make the doors as they come out. You
will see, after we tell you a little more, that this arrangement is a
very good one. Even as it is, various unwelcome intruders find their
way into the house much to the annoyance and even to the fatal
disaster of the inmates.

So we wait until the dwellers are ready to come out. Or if
occasionally we really think we ought to see how things are going on
inside, we chop a house or two open and see what we can see. What this
is, usually, is a house's insides very unusual and curious, for the
rooms occupy so little space and the walls so much. Sometimes there is
only one room and that right in the middle, all the rest of the house
being just a dense or sometimes loose and spongy wall all around it.
In the single room, or in each of the several rooms, we find a
curled-up little shining white grub without legs, and of course
without wings, and with a head that doesn't seem much like a head, for
it has no eyes nor feelers, and most of the time is drawn back into
the body of the grub so that it is hardly visible at all. But there is
a mouth on this silly sort of head, and the grub eats. What it eats is
part of its own house!

The houses, or galls, as the entomologists call them, are of course
not actually made by the insects that live in them; they are made by
the oak-tree on which they are. But they are only made at the demand,
so to speak, of the insects. That is, the oak-galls are formed only
where a gall-insect has pricked a live leaf or stem or twig with her
sharp, sting-like little egg-layer, and has left an egg in the
plant-tissue. Nor does the gall begin to form even yet. It begins only
after the young gall-insect is hatched from the egg, or at least
begins to develop inside the egg. Then the gall grows rapidly. The
tree sends an extra supply of sap to this spot, and the plant-cells
multiply, and the house begins to form around the little white grub.
Now this house or gall not only encloses and protects the insect, but
it provides it with food in the form of plant-sap and a special mass
or layer of soft nutritious plant-tissue lying right around the grub.
So the gall-insect not only lives in the house, but eats it!

After it is full-grown, the grub stops eating. Then the house, or
gall, stops growing and becomes harder and changes from greenish to
some other color, and, in most cases, pretty soon drops off the tree
to the ground. The gall-insect is still alive inside, of course, but
is perfectly quiet and is simply waiting. It is at this time in the
life of the houses and their dwellers that Mary and I collect them and
bring them home and put them into little tarlatan bags. This is
autumn, the time that the trees in the East turn yellow and red, but
in California do not. They just stay green, but get quiet or turn
brown or simply drop off their leaves and stand bare.

All through the autumn and winter the gall-insects do nothing inside
their houses. Indeed we can take them out and keep them in little
vials, and most of them get on very well. They require no food; they
simply want to be let alone. But in early spring--and spring in
California comes very early; indeed, it comes in winter!--they wake
up and in a short time change into stout-bodied little real
insect-looking insects with six legs, four wings, a round head with
feelers and eyes and whatever else an insect's head ought to have.
Especially sharp jaws. For each gall-dweller has now to get out of its
house. And as there are no doors, it has to make them. Which it does
with its sharp jaws, gnawing a tunnel from the center of the house
right out through the thick hard wall to the outside.

When it gets out it flies around in lively manner for a few days,
finally settling on a sprouting oak-leaf or bud or green stem or twig,
and laying a few eggs, or several, or many, according to the habits of
its special kind, and then it dies. And when the tiny white grubs
hatch from these eggs, new houses begin to be made around them by the
oak-trees, and a new generation of gall-insects is fairly started.

But not all the dwellers in the houses of oak have such a smooth and
easy life as I have described. There will often come out of one of the
galls that Mary and I have in a tarlatan bag, not one kind of insect,
but several kinds, and only one of these kinds is the regular proper
house-owner. The others are interlopers. Some of them may be only
uninvited but not especially harmful guests, just other kinds of
gall-insects that seem to have given up the habit--if they ever had
it--of starting houses of their own, and have adopted the cuckoo-like
way of laying their eggs in the just-starting houses of other
gall-insects. The grubs, or young of these messmate gall-insects, live
in, and feed on, the same house, with the rightful dwellers, but as
the oak-tree has plenty of sap and the gall-house is usually large
enough for all, there is generally no harm done by these cuckoo

But some of the intruding insects that come from our galls are not so
harmless. They are the ones called parasites. They live in the houses
not for the sake of the protection or the food furnished by the house,
but in order to eat the actual dwellers in the house. Often and often
not a single real gall-insect would come out in the spring from many
of our collected houses, but only a little swarm, or sometimes just
two or three or even one, of these insect-devouring parasites that has
eaten up the rightful owners of the houses.

There are other enemies, too, of the oak-house dwellers. Birds like to
peck into the soft, growing galls to get at the tidbits inside. And
predaceous beetles and other strong-jawed insects with a fondness for
helpless, soft-bodied, juicy grubs would like to gnaw into the houses.
So the houses have to protect the dwellers inside, and they do this in
various ways. Some are extra thick-walled or have an extra-hard outer
shell. Some are covered with spines or hairs. Some have a viscous
gluey excretion, some have a very bad odor, some are so colored and
patterned that they are very hard to distinguish from the foliage or
from the fallen leaves around them, and, finally, some secrete a
sweetish honey-dew which attracts ants, and these fierce visitors, who
are content with the honey-dew, probably drive away many visiting
parasites and predaceous insects.

But it would be tiresome to go on and tell you all the things we are
finding out about the houses of oak and the insects that live in them.
Of how we have got them to lay their eggs right before our eyes on
little fresh branches that we bring into the house. Of how the houses
begin to form under the bark or leaf surface as mere little swellings
and then break through and get larger and larger and take on their
characteristic form and color. Of how we have to study the
gall-dwellers with a microscope, for the largest that we have found
yet--the ones that make the big galls shown in Sekko's picture--are
only one-fifth of an inch long, while others are not more than
one-twenty-fifth of an inch long. Of how some kinds have to lay their
eggs always on the same kind of oak-tree, while others prick different
kinds of oaks.

Nor can we tell of the questions and problems that we are trying to
answer. As why it is that two galls made by two different kinds of
gall-insects, but in the same parts, as leaves, of the same oak-tree,
should be so different, or why the galls in different kinds of trees,
though made by the same kind of insect, should be alike, as they
usually are. And why with some kinds of the house-dwellers the
children grow up to be different from the mother, but their own
children grow up like the grandmother, and different from themselves.
Or how they know not to lay too many eggs in one place, the ones
making little galls often laying several to many eggs in one leaf,
but the ones making large galls being careful to lay only one egg in a
leaf. And a lot of other things that they do that need explaining.

Perhaps we shall find out the reason for some of these things. But
naturalists have known the houses of oak-insects for two hundred years
now, and if they haven't found the answers to some of these questions
yet, perhaps no one ever can. But that isn't a good way to look at
Nature. And so Mary and I don't. We think we may make a great
discovery any day. We are like prospectors in the gold mountains. We
never give up; we always keep prying and peering. The worst of it is,
I suppose you think, that we always keep talking too. Well, this is
the last sentence of this dose of talking; or next to last. For this
is the


of this rambling, talky, little book.

       *       *       *       *       *


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    New, Up-to-Date Edition, 985 pp. Over 375 Illustrations

    "We know copies of the work to which their young owners turn
    instantly for information upon every theme about which they have
    questions to ask. More than this, we know that some of these
    copies are read daily, as well as consulted; that their owners
    turn the leaves as they might those of a fairy book, reading
    intently articles of which they had not thought before seeing
    them, and treating the book simply as one capable of furnishing
    the rarest entertainment in exhaustless quantities."--_N. Y.
    Evening Post._


    604 pp. 270 Illustrations

    "Few poems, plays, novels, pictures, statues, or fictitious
    characters that children--or most of their parents--of our day
    are likely to inquire about will be missed here. Mr. Champlin's
    judgment seems unusually sound."--_The Nation._



    Revised Edition, 784 pp. 900 Illustrations

    "Should form a part of every juvenile library, whether public or
    private."--_The Independent._



    725 pp. Over 800 Illustrations

    "Here, in compact and attractive form, is valuable and reliable
    information on every phase of natural history, on every item of
    interest to the student. Invaluable to the teacher and school,
    and should be on every teacher's desk for ready reference, and
    the children should be taught to go to this volume for
    information useful and interesting."--_Journal of Education._


    NEW YORK (ii, '06) CHICAGO

       *       *       *       *       *


    Illustrated from photographs, with map, words and music of
    Mexican national songs, and index, large

    12mo, 400 pp., $1.75 net, by mail $1.90

    A story of Mexican travel for children. Roy and Ray Stevens,
    twins "going on twelve," with their parents, spend a summer in
    Mexico. The book tells from the children's standpoint what they
    see and do, and what they learn about Mexico. They visit eight
    Mexican cities, going as far south as Oaxaca. They meet
    President Diaz, learn Mexican habits and customs, particularly
    those of the mass of the population, take part in the Fourth of
    July celebration of the American colony in the City of Mexico,
    visit the ruins of Mitla, learn some very interesting Mexican
    history, and spend much time comparing things Mexican with
    things American.

    Many minor responsibilities of travel are in the children's
    hands, and they learn much of traveling customs and etiquette.
    The spirit of travel permeates the book.

    "Will be welcome to many readers of mature years as well as to
    the juveniles for whom it is primarily written.... Embodies very
    much that is of interest respecting Mexican history, manners and
    customs as well as descriptions of scenery. It deserves the
    widest circulation in this country, and no public library can
    afford to be without it."--_Boston Transcript._

    "Most pleasing style.... The book is an accurate travel guide in
    its main points, and should be particularly helpful to teachers
    and school children.... Experiences of interest even to
    adults."--_Chicago Evening Post._

    "Very bright and accurate.... All the novel sights of this
    tropical land come before the vision of these children like a
    moving-picture show. They visit eight cities, and what they
    don't see is not worth telling about.... Pictures are good and
    really illustrate."--_Mexican Herald_ (City of Mexico).


    Compiled by EDWARD V. LUCAS. Over 200 poems from eighty authors.
    Revised Edition, $2.00 net

    _Popular Edition_

    "We know of no other anthology for children so complete and well
    arranged."--_The Critic._

    "It contains much that is charming, much that is admirably in
    tune with the spirit of childhood."--_New York Tribune._

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