« AnteriorContinuar »
buzzes. It was her children come to say, “Happy New Year to you, mamma; get up and see your family.” So up she flew, and out at the door, and there were her six children, all healthy, hearty, and hungry.
would like to hear the names of the six young Wasps. . Well, the eldest was Miss Waspina. She was very elegant and graceful, and very conceited; she fancied nobody ever had such a small waist, or such a bright yellow gown, or such large eyes.
I am afraid Waspina would never turn out such a good mother as Mrs. Wasp had done.
Then came the eldest son, Master Stinger. He was just his father over again—the least offence made him draw out his sting, as formerly quarrelsome soldiers used to draw their swords if you so much as stared at them. Stinger was sure to be in mischief ere long.
The third was Beetle-head. He was as rash as Stinger was passionate. Beetle-head never looked before him, and drove right into all kinds of scrapes. But he was a well-meaning, good-natured little animal, and seldom or never used his sting.
The fourth was Buz-fuz, who at an early age, unhappily, acquired a taste for intoxicating liquors.
Then came Spy-fly, who was large and strong, and determined to know everything and everybody. She was never still and never silent, and rushed up to every insect that passed, and insisted on making its acquaintance.
The last and youngest was Snippa, her mother's
darling, a good, steady, industrious little creature, always busy, and always happy.
So here was Mamma Wasp surrounded by this active, thriving family. She fancied all her troubles were over, and that she would have nothing to do but enjoy herself, and teach her children how to build their houses as she had done hers.
But, alas! poor Widow Wasp found out very soon that her easiest time had been in her little ones' infancy. Certainly it was hard work,” said she, “ getting the materials for that house and all those cells; but, after all, I had only their bodies to care for ;-now they are grown up, I am afraid they will turn out wicked and unfortunate.”
Indeed they were disobedient children. Waspina cared for nothing but flying to a little pool at the bottom of their bank, where she could see, as in a looking-glass, her beautiful small waist, and shining wings, and gold and buff dress.
In vain her mother offered to teach her to build.
“I shall make my husband build our house,” said she. " It would quite spoil my shape to exert myself that way; and I cannot really blunt my delicate nippers on those tough rose leaves. far too handsome to drudge. I will go up to the manor-house and taste their peaches. I am told they keep the best of company there; I shall easily find a husband to suit me.”
“Yes, as idle and as dainty as yourself," retorted Widow Wasp; "a pretty house you will build between
“ Poor old mother !” said Waspina to her brother Stinger; "what can you expect from her education ? only used to hard labour, she knows nothing of the elegancies of life;"-and off she flew to the manorhouse.
She had a long way to go, over very bleak, unsheltered fields, and the wind blew hard against her; so she was very tired by the time she reached the window-sill of the dining-room. In fact she had been obliged to work much more to breast that strong wind than if she had been busy culling rose leaves with her mother in the shady hollow under their bank. But obstinate people never know how they increase their own difficulties. The diningroom window was closed; but Waspina, being unaccustomed to look through plate-glass, could not understand why, every time she flew towards the tempting dessert spread on the table inside, she always knocked herself so violently against some invisible obstacle. Bruised and exhausted she at length gave over trying, and settled down to rest, in no very good humour, in a corner of the great sash. While she stayed there, two young Wasps passed her, humming very loudly in conversation with each other. They looked at her in her corner, and one said to the other, “That is a poor, feeble, little wretch ! how she has crumpled her wings ! she is not fit to touch with the end of one's antennæ."
You may suppose the shock this gave to Waspina's vanity. She had always believed herself to be very handsome, and this was the opinion passed on her by strangers! She gave an angry buzz, and darted at the offender with her sting out. But he was fresh, and she was tired, and he soared high up into the air before she could reach him ; so Waspina was balked of her revenge. By this time it was growing late, and the dining-room window was opened for coolness, and Waspina finding no obstacle now to her entrance, and being well-nigh famished, as she had tasted nothing since the morning, dashed hastily into the room and plunged herself up to her waist in a juicy ripe peach ; and there she remained, intoxicated with delight, while the dishes were placed upon the table : but her further adventures must be told in a future chapter, for we have too long neglected the rest of the family.
SPY-FLY had seen Waspina set off on her excursion, and she was burning with curiosity to know all about her adventures ; so she set off to meet her in the evening, full of questions—so full, indeed, that she beset everybody she saw on the road. And first she met a Ladybird, in her spotted red and black satin cloak, who was sitting thinking on the edge of a bluebell, enjoying a fine swing as the wind blew the flower from side to side.
Oh, your honour,” said Spy-fly,—for she was struck with admiration at the black and red spotted satin cloak, and therefore took pains to be respectful to its wearer,—“Oh, your honour, have you seen
-“ my sister coming back from the manor-house ? and did she get any peaches?”
The Ladybird did not condescend to answer; she only shut her eyes, and folded her cloak about her, and lay back in her pretty blue swing.
Then Spy-fly flew on till she met a Stag-beetle, who was sunning himself on a big stone.
Oh, Mr. Beetle," asked Spy-fly, “ did you see my sister ?” but before she could go on, the Stag-beetle lifted up his great horns and made a snap at her ; and Spy-fly was so frightened that she darted off across the fields, and never stopped till she had reached her own home. And when her mother heard her story, she said it served her right, for being so forward and so inquisitive.
Meanwhile Stinger had gone out hunting for himself. Widow Wasp had given him much good advice about choosing a sensible wife, who would build his house with him ; but Stinger got very angry with her for presuming to interfere, and he was almost ready to shoot his sting at her.
Now, this was not a very promising temper to start with, and the very first thing Mr. Stinger did was to alight on a large drop of spilt honey, where three Wasps and six or seven Flies were already sucking their fill.
He shoved them aside rudely; and the Wasps, being satisfied, took wing very good temperedly, while the little Flies, cowed by his loud voice and haughty manner, did not dare to stay on the drop, but hovered about, hoping that his lordship would leave a little behind him for their hungry snouts. But just as Stinger was revelling in this rich repast, down popped a large Dragon-fly from a stream near, and began sucking too ; and as his long legs, and long wings, and long body took up a great deal of space, he kicked Stinger out of the way quite carelessly. Out flew the Wasp's sting ; but the Dragon-fly gave frim a nip with his sharp mouth, and sent him away buzzing with pain ; and being much disfigured