Selections from:
  (Only slightly edited.)

 

ECLECTIC SCHOOL READINGS

SHORT STORIES

OF

OUR SHY NEIGHBORS

 

BY

MRS. M. A. B. KELLY

Author of “A Volume of Poems,” “Leaves from Nature’s Storybook,” etc.

 


 

 

NEW YORK - CINCINNATI - CHICAGO
AMERICAN BOOK COMPANY

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 1896 by
AMERICAN BOOK COMPANY

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PREFACE

   It has been my aim in arranging the lessons for this volume to select chiefly such subjects, in the study of zoölogy, as treat of the most familiar objects to be met with in everyday life.
   I have endeavored, also, to give so clear a description of the form, color, and habits of each type under consideration, that neither teachers nor pupils can be left at all in doubt as to the identity of a specimen when they have it in hand.
   No one but a teacher can fully realize the joy and the satisfaction of a child who brings to her a moth, a caterpillar, or some other form of insect life, and proudly places it in the rank to which it belongs.
   This assured success leads on to farther and farther investigation, and awakens an enthusiasm and a desire to become still better acquainted with the wonder world of nature.
   A few short blackboard exercises every day will soon enable the child to master all the necessary technical names and terms involved in the study of these lower forms of life; and it is far better to learn the right names of things at the outset.
   As far as it is practicable, each subject should be carried on in the way of an object lesson; and with a little

 

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encouragement on the part of the teacher, every pupil in the classroom will gladly take part in adding to the zoölogical treasures of the school cabinet.
   Inasmuch as insect life is supported almost entirely by the products of vegetation (there being only a very few insects that prey upon one another), I have thought it best to give that subject a liberal space in this volume.
   It is now an accepted truth that there are at least ten insects to every plant, and that a large majority of them are harmful to vegetation.
   This being the case, it seems highly important that a careful study be made both of the habits and of the habitats of these swift destroyers of plant life.
   For valuable suggestions, as well as for aid in points of reference to the highest authorities, I am greatly indebted to many leading investigators in this line of work. Prominent among them are: Dr. L. O. Howard, United States Entomologist; Dr. J. A. Lintner, New York State Entomologist; Dr. A. S. Packard, Brown University, Rhode Island; Dr. Charles E. Beecher, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.; and Dr. D. S. Kellicott, Ohio State University.
   Finally, that this volume may prove to be a helpful guide both to the teacher and to the pupil in their study of the more common types of animal life, is the sincere desire of

THE AUTHOR.

 

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CONTENTS


                                                         
                                                    PAGE 
The Isabella Moth .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   7   (part 1)
The Birth of a Young Lord  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  15   (part 2)
Phœbe’s Family .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  22   (part 3)
Phœbe’s Mate   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  29   (part 4)
Tent Builders  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  30
Real Gypsies   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  36   (part 5)
A Little Captive  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  40
Mr. Rana’s Dinner .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  41
A Plain Story  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  50   (part 6)
The Mourning Cloak   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  51   (part 7)
A Gifted Family   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  56
A Vain Little Moth   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  61   (part 8)
The Patched Coat  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  64
A Crusty Fellow   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  67
Was it a Shadow?  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  72   (part 9)
Almost a Bird  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  76
“If”  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  79   (part 10)
With Auger and Saw  Part I .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  84
With Auger and Saw  Part II.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  88   (part 11)
Four Pink Babies  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  92
The Slug Fly and the Grasshopper .  .  .  .  .  .  .  98   (part 12)
The Truth of It   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 103
“Rain Frogs”.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 108   (part 13)
Moving Day  Part I.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 114
Moving Day  Part II  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 118   (part 14)  

 

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                                                    PAGE
Growler’s Prize   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 122
The Real Culprit  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 129   (part 15)
History of a Bug  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 131
History of a Beetle  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 135
Dr. Leech   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 139   (part 16)
A Divided Household  Part I.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 143
A Divided Household  Part II  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 149   (part 17)
Born in a Ditch   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 155
“I Told You So”   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 158   (part 18)
Always at Home .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 164
A Skillful Spinner   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 168   (part 19)
A Devoted Mother  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 175
Lines to a Spider .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 179   (part 20)
Do You Believe It?   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 180
Winter Friends .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 182
   The Chickadee  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 182
   The Nuthatch   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 185
   The Red-headed Woodpecker  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 187
   The Golden-crested Wren .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 190   (part 21)
   The Brown Creeper .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 191
   The Downy Woodpecker .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 192
Snow Tracks .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 196
   The Ruffed Grouse .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 196
   The Wood Mouse .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 198
   The Chipmunk   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 200
   The Red Squirrel  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 202   (part 22)
   Reynard, the Fox, and Ranger, the Dog  .  .  .  . 203
   The Weasel  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 205
   The Northern Hare .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 207
   The Muskrat .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 209
   The Gray Squirrel .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 211   

 

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SHORT STORIES OF OUR SHY NEIGHBORS


THE ISABELLA MOTH

   One day, late in autumn, Ruth and her teacher were walking in the fields.
   All at once Ruth cried out, “Oh, see what a queer furry worm! It looks like a wee bit of a clothes brush moving about.”

 

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   Her teacher smiled.
   “It is not a worm,” she said. “It is sometimes called a ‘wooly bear,’ but it is more generally known as a ‘caterpillar.’”
   “Where did it come from?” asked Ruth.
   “It was hatched from an egg laid by a mother moth; and some day it will be a moth itself.
   “We must call it the larva of the moth now; for that is its right name. When we speak of more than one, we call them larvæ.
   “The word ‘larva’ means ‘a mask.’ People sometimes wear a mask to hide their faces. Just so under this furry mask is hidden the form of an insect with four wings.”
   “I wish I could see its wings,” said Ruth.
   “Let us take it home with us, and put it into a glass-covered box; then we can watch for the coming wings,” replied her teacher.
   But when she tried to pick it up, it rolled itself into a little ball and slid from her hands.
   Then she slipped a piece of cloth under it and wrapped it up so that it could not get away.
   “Now look at this caterpillar closely,” said the teacher, “and you will find that its body is marked with twelve furry rings; this fur is made up of stiff, short hairs.

 

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   “The first four rings and the last two are quite black; but the six rings that cover the space between these are of a chestnut brown,—a color that some people call a ‘tan red.’
   “Because of these stiff, spiny hairs and of the way in which it rolls itself up, it is often called the ‘hedgehog caterpillar’; but when it lies out straight, it is more than an inch long, as you can see.”
   When they reached home they put their furry friend into a large box filled with clover leaves, dandelion, and plantain.
   This was just what it liked, and it began eating at once; it had sharp jaws and it ate very fast.
   Ruth and her teacher watched it from day to day; but after a few weeks it crept over its wellspread table without offering to taste its food.
   At last it crawled slowly away toward one side of the box, rolled itself up like a ball, and fell into a sort of sleep.
   If it was asleep, it took a very long nap; for it was now late in the fall, and it did not wake up again till the next spring.
   And oh, what a hungry creature it was then! Why, it ate and ate every soft, green leaf that came in its way.
   One day, Ruth placed a large, ripe, sour apple among the leaves. It began at once to gnaw the

 

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smooth skin of the fruit; and it did not leave off until it had eaten a space around the apple as large as the width of its own body. Then it turned again to feast on the leaves, as before.
   But it soon grew tired of its food and acted as if it had not slept enough; so it wove a little blanket around itself and again went to sleep. This warm covering that it made was oval in shape, and of a dark-brown color.
   And what is strangest of all, it was made of the hairs of its own body, fastened together by a silken thread which it spun out of a sticky gum that came out of itself.
   That was indeed a home-made cradle, strong and warm and safe.
   The teacher explained to Ruth that the caterpillar had spun for itself a cocoon, as its cradle is called, and that it was now a pupa, a word which means “baby.”
   “What a sleepyhead this baby moth is,” said Ruth; “one would suppose that it might need

 

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something more to eat. Now if there were two or more of them, what would you call them?”
   “I would speak of them as the pupæ,” answered the teacher.
   “Larvæ and pupæ,” said Ruth to herself; “those are not very hard words to remember.”
   “If you could peep inside of its cocoon,” said the teacher, “you would find that it has cast off its caterpillar skin, and that it is now a very black infant, indeed. In fact, it changed its dress a good many times before it spun its cocoon; and every new dress was a warm, furry robe like the one in which you first saw it.”
    So the baby slept and slept for nearly a month; and than a strange thing happened. For one bright morning in June it awoke, and freeing itself from its prison cradle, it came forth a moth; and behold, its baby days were over!
    It was not very strong at first, for its wings were weak, and were pressed close to its body; but in less than half an hour there was a great change.
   The wings grew broader, while their color began to deepen; and all four of them were of a yellow-buff tinge, dotted here and there with black.

 

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   The front pair were marked with two or three brownish lines; but the hind pair were faintly tinged with red.
   The body of the insect was of a deeper yellow than the wings, and was prettily marked with three rows of black spots, there being six spots in each row.
   Ruth looked at it carefully. “It has six tiny, brown legs,” she said. “And see its little short feelers! They are as yellow as the wings.”
   “Those feelers are the antennæ of the insect,” replied the teacher, “and when we speak of one of them, we call it the antenna.
   “You will not find that a hard word to speak, after you have said it once or twice; and it is always better to call things by their right names.
   “You will see that these antennæ are round, and almost smooth; but the antennæ of most moths are feathered. They look like little plumes.
   “Yet you can generally tell a butterfly from a moth by the antennæ; for those of a butterfly are threadlike, with a knob at the end. But both moths and butterflies belong to the same great family1 of insects.”
       1 Lep-i-dop´te-ra, scale wing.

 

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   “But where are the eyes?” asked Ruth.
    “This insect has so many eyes that it would take you a long time to count them,” said her teacher.
   “There is an eye spot on each side of the head; and in each eye spot there are at least three thousand small eyes. These are called compound eyes, and besides these, there are two single eyes on top of the head.”
   “No wonder then that it is so hard to catch moths and butterflies,” said Ruth; “they see everything!”
   “Look closely at the wings,” said the teacher. “You will never have a better chance than now; for they are growing stronger every minute, and the insect will soon fly away.”
   “Oh, how pretty they are! They look as if they were covered with a mealy powder,” said the little girl.
   “They are covered with little scales that lap over one another like the scales of a fish,” answered the

 

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teacher, “and they are made fast to the skin of of the insect by short, tiny stems; you will see that the whole body is covered with soft, downy scales, the same as the wings.
   “This pretty little moth has lost its caterpillar jaws, and in their place there is a slender tongue; for now it will live on the juicy sweets of the flowers.”
   As she spoke, the insect rose and floated lightly away on its pretty buff-yellow wings.
    “Ah, we have lost our queen,” said the teacher; “she has gone to find her mate. I know she is a queen because her wings are of a deeper yellow than those of her mate.
   “And now I will tell you why I call her a queen. She was named in honor of Princess Isabella, daughter of King Philip II. of Spain.
   “This princess made a vow that she would not change her linen for three years. She no doubt had some reason for it.
    “At any rate, she kept her promise, and at the end of that time, her linen must have become fully as yellow as the wings of our little Isabella moth. So I think she is very well named; don’t you?”
   “She is indeed,” replied Ruth; “and how strange that all this time we have had a noble queen hidden under the furry mask of a caterpillar!”

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