The Green Inch Worm, by Jeannette Marks
Cricket and Others
Greenie, Toadie Todson's Green Inch-Worm, was measuring his way
carefully around a birch tree. Since Toadie Todson's death, he spent a
large part of every day looking at trees and measuring distances, so
that Stingy could spin his webs in the best manner possible.
All the rainbow qualities of web were spun on white birch trees. Greenie
was humming over mournfully to himself the song which Mr. Tree Toad
Todson had composed in memory of his cousin Toadie Todson—A Lament.
Greenie sang the words over and over again and seemed, as his voice grew
more and more mournful, to be happier and still happier. That is often
the way with melancholy people. Greenie felt he had good reason to be
unhappy. Not so long ago his first cousin, Longinus Rotundus
Caterpillar, or by his more familiar name Glummie, had been killed. Then
his master, Toadie Todson, with whom he at least had a lazy time, was
killed in a sand slide. And now he spent all his days at work for
Stingy, who was a very exacting master. If he so much as stopped to
nibble a little from a tender green birch leaf, Stingy would fly at him
and bid him go to work at once.
But one day Greenie discovered something about him which he intended to
use to good advantage. Stingy was in love. Every day at certain hours
Stingy went quietly off, and one day Greenie followed him. There down in
the meadow under a big apple tree he found Stingy together with five
other spiders. They were arranged in a row before Silken Web, more often
called Silkie, whom they were courting, and Silkie was waiting, ready to
accept the spider who did best. Out danced the first spider. The shining
hairs all over his body glistened in the sun, now he seemed silver, now
jet black, now crimson as he whirled, jumping lightly into the air.
Silkie looked for a second and then turned her head away. It was plain
she would have none of him. Off dejectedly crawled the first spider.
Greenie watched, fascinated by this bright colored little spectacle
under the blossoming apple tree. Then his eyes grew dark and angry. He
had to work when he was hungry. He had not had a single holiday for over
a month, he had been spoken to crossly, his Family Tree had been scoffed
at, he—well, he had had enough of this!
The last fine cobweb Stingy spun it was Greenie's business to fold and
put away carefully in the centre of a buttercup. He would get it and be
back before it was time for Stingy to dance. He measured his way quickly
over to the buttercup, his little back fairly popped into the air every
other half second as he went furiously humping himself along. He found
the cobweb covered with the gold dust of the buttercup, and taking it up
hastily he hurried back. He knew just the spot where Stingy would dance
before Silkie, beside a tall piece of Timothy Grass.
The fifth spider was finishing his dance as Greenie reached the bottom
of the Timothy Grass stalk. Out came Stingy with a fierce and
self-confident air which plainly said, "All the other five have failed,
now I am about to succeed." He looked at Silkie, then began to dance.
First he whirled round madly, and so swift and light was he that he
seemed to have wings. His broad back and thin, tufted legs shone with
dusky, golden colors. After whirling around he hopped several times
lightly into the air.
In the meantime Greenie climbed the stalk and was waiting. Stingy was
just about to do a sideways-hop, when over him fell inches and inches of
his own gold dusted cobweb. Down he tumbled, his legs all tangled up in
the web. Fiercely he fought to get out, while off scuttled the other
spiders leaving him to his Fate. For a minute, the little green hairs on
Greenie's back stuck up straight with merriment. Then complacently he
measured his way home to his own Family Tree. Mrs. Cricky as she passed
him heard him muttering: "It's a long worm that has no turning, a
very long worm that has no turning!"
"Well," said Mrs. Cricky, "that may be true, but it is none of a
cricket's business; it is just as well not to take part in other
people's quarrels. Your Father says the Cricket Rule is the best
precept for living he has ever known, and your Father, children, is a
very wise cricket. I dare say Greenie has had a hard time, but then,
lazy worms often do. Now let us sing a little song about these flowers
we've been hopping about in; it's pleasanter. Chirp, don't sing too
loud, Chirk, not too fast, and Chee, don't mumble your words:"
"Everywhere you go
You see them dancing,
In the sunlight.
"Nodding heads are shining
Like the dew-drops,