Theres a little brown bird on that low, leafy bough
Do you see? Do you see?
He is calling his mate, for I heard him just now
Say, Phbe and Phbe.
I do wonder what secret he holds in his breast
Some good news it may be
For the shy little mate sitting there on her nest
His Phbe sweet Phbe.
He is brimful of joy, and he sings all the day;
But it seems strange to me
That this glad merrymaker finds nothing to say
But Phbe just Phbe.
I should think she might weary of such a dull song,
But not she, oh, not she;
It is music to her through the whole summer long,
Good Phbe fair Phbe.
By and by they will find some wee birds in that nest,
He and she he and she;
And theyll cram them with tidbits, the choicest and best,
And so proud will he be
That hell call her name twice where he calls it once, now;
You will see, you will see,
If youll watch him some day when he sits on the bough
With Phbe his Phbe.
The gypsies are coming! The gypsies are coming! cried little May, and she hurried into the house, and took her station at the window.
How do you know? asked her brother, as he slowly followed her to the window and looked out.
Because I can see their long, cloth-covered wagons full of little stolen children.
But how do you know they are stolen children? he said.
Because I have heard that gypsies do steal children whenever they get a chance; and I hope they will not pitch their tents near our house, for I am afraid of them.
Why, little sister, we have had tent builders all around our house for months, and I have never heard you say a word about it before.
Tent builders all around our house! answered his siste in great surprise. Where are they, pray?
Come, and I will show you, he replied.
By this time the gypsy wagon had passed well out of sight, and so the little girl was not afraid to venture out.
Her brother led the way to a large apple tree that stood in one corner of the garden.
Look up at those boughs, he said, and tell me what you see.
I dont see anything but a lot of worms nests, she replied.
Those are not worms nests, he answered.
Worms do not build nests like that. Those are silken tents, and they are just as full as they can be of the little workers that put them there.
Then I want to see them, said she.
The boy took up a long pole having a brush at the end of it; this he dipped into a pail of strong lime water, and thrust it into one of the nests.
Behold! down tumbled a large family of caterpillars, each one of them nearly two inches in length.
The heads of these creatures were black; their bodies were tinged with yellow, marked with finely-crinkled black lines, and there was a whitish line running the whole length of their backs.
On each ring of the body there was a black spot, and in the middle of each spot there was a dot of blue; then, too, every ring of the body sent out thin tufts of soft, short hairs.
You see these little busybodies wear gay colors, said the boy.
Little May looked at the squirming caterpillars for a few moments, and then said, How is it that so many of them happen to be living together on one apple tree?
I will tell you, he replied.
One day, a mother moth laid about four hundred eggs around the end of a twig or branch; these
eggs were crowded close together and formed a solid ring. They were very pretty, too, for they looked like little pearls.
Then, to keep them warm and dry, she covered them with a thick, dry varnish; and no matter how hard the rain came down, her eggs could not get wet.
As soon as the leaves of the apple tree began to unfold, the wee babies came out of their shells, as hungry as they could be.
Then they joined together and built a tent. And do you notice that all their tents are built in the forks of the branches? That makes them more secure.
Now when they are not eating, they hide themselves under this weblike tent. Are they not wise little builders?
They crawl about all over the tree; but, young as they are, they never lose their way, for they spin a silken thread as they go along, and this thread guides them back to the tent.
As they grow older and larger, they find their tent too small; and then they build it out, so that all can have plenty of room.
These infants seem to know how to take care of their health, too; for they have only two meals a day, and not even the smallest baby among them thinks of such a thing as eating between meals.
And what is more, they will not venture out when it rains; they would rather go hungry than get their bodies wet.
But about the first week in June, this happy family will begin to separate one from another.
Then they will wander about in a lonesome sort of way till they finally reach some sheltered place, and then each one will weave for itself a cocoon.
This will be a sort of silken web, and it would be a very frail affair indeed, only that such cocoons are held together by a thin paste; but when this paste becomes dried, it looks like yellow dust.
They will stay in these cocoons a little more than two weeks, and then they will come out full-grown moths.
But how can they get out of a cocoon that is woven of silk? asked the little girl
Oh, they moisten one end of it so as to make it soft, and then they can easily press through the opening.
And now would you like to see the mother, herself? he inquired.
She followed him to his room, and he showed her a small cabinet having a glass door. In this cabinet were two moths, pinned one above the other; but the female moth was much larger than the male.
They were clothed in a color of reddish brown; and each of the fore wings was crossed by two dull, whitish lines that did not run straight across the wings, but were a trifle slanting.
The upper portion of their bodies was tufted with short, soft hairs. Some of these hairs were brown, some were yellow; but the mother moth had a few that were tinged with red.
May looked at the insects very closely; but her brother noticed that she seemed to be disappointed.
Never mind, said he; these are only the moths of the tent caterpillar; and now you shall come with me and I will show you some real gypsy moths; and when I tell you all about them, you will agree with me that they are rightly named.