THE CRICKET'S FRIENDS.
_BY THE CRICKET, TEAPOT, AND SAUCEPAN_
BY COUSIN VIRGINIA.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by
NICHOLS AND NOYES,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of
Press of J.J. Little & Co.,
Astor Place, New York.
with all fresh young hearts and loving
souls akin to her's, this
little book is dedicated,
BY COUSIN VIRGINIA.
My little friends, who read the first volume
of the "Kettle Club" last
Christmas, will remember an allusion
to the introduction
of new members
this year. Their history will here be presented.
THE TRAVELLED SPIDER 14
THE AMBITIOUS WASP 41
THE DISAPPOINTED CATERPILLAR 73
THE FOUR SILVER PEACHES 82
GOING MAYING 101
GRANDPAPA MOUSE AND HIS FAMILY 116
THE ENCHANTED BABY-HOUSE 152
THE STORY OF AN UMBRELLA 179
THE GODMOTHER'S GIFTS 194
THE CRICKET'S FRIENDS.
The Club were all curiosity
for some time to see the new members who
were to be introduced into the select circle.
"I am afraid of spiders," remarked the Teapot, with a lady-like shiver.
"If a caterpillar
touched me, I should run a mile," exclaimed the
"None of them can reach me," laughed the Kettle with a gurgle
At last the Cricket marched the strangers in one night, and gave them
places about the hearth.
"Allow me," said he, flourishing his right feeler in the air, "to
introduce to you, friends, some very distinguished
additions to our
number,--the travelled Spider, the disappointed Caterpillar, and the
"How do you all do?" inquired the Kettle very politely, for the Saucepan
and Teapot seemed rather stiff in their manners.
"Very well, thank you," growled the Spider.
"Quite so," croaked the Caterpillar.
"In excellent spirits," echoed the Wasp, folding his gauzy wings in a
"If it is agreeable
to the rest, I propose your all joining the Club,"
continued the Cricket briskly.
"Certainly," assented the Kettle; "the more the merrier, you know."
"I think we should be extremely
careful about admitting strangers to our
circle, unless they bring letters of introduction," said the Teapot
As for the Saucepan, she contented
herself with looking sideways at the
Caterpillar, and coughing contemptuously. This was not very pleasant; so
the Cricket trotted up to the two rebellious
members, and gave them a
pretty sharp lecture upon the laws of courtesy
and good breeding, which
to make them ashamed
of themselves. The visitors now
became angry, and began to talk together of leaving without delay,
which naturally distressed the good-hearted president, who was so much
affected by a desire to do something pleasant, that he swung himself
wildly upon the hook, and thereby
sprinkled those below with a stream
"Mercy!" shrieked the Wasp, dancing on one foot in an agony.
"Oh, my back!" groaned the Caterpillar, rolling himself about in a ball.
"What ails you, Kettle?" cried the poor Cricket, running
about with his
eye almost put out from receiving a whole drop in it. "Do keep your hot
water to yourself."
The Spider alone was unhurt; so he merely shook himself, and sat
chuckling at the discomfiture of the others.
After doing all this mischief, the Kettle subsided, with many meek
"We can give you references enough, if that is all you want," said the
Wasp snappishly; "but we had better leave, I think, comrades, before we
have another hot bath. My hind leg is completely disabled."
"Do not go," urged the Cricket. "We should enjoy your society so much, I
am sure, when we become better acquainted."
The three visitors looked at each other in silence for a time; then the
"I have just returned home, and, as it is so near, I do not mind running
in to spend the evening; so I will join the Club."
"I will also," said the Caterpillar in a dismal
tone of voice, "only I
am not very good company for any one now."
"Dear me," said the Wasp, airily, "I shall not promise to remain any
longer than I am amused."
The Teapot and Saucepan became more amiable
in their behavior
evening advanced, and the Cricket hastened to assure the new-comers that
references, other than their evident
respectability of appearance, were
entirely unnecessary. They insisted upon producing testimony, however.
The Caterpillar took from his throat, about which it was twisted like a
cravat, a bit of green rose-leaf, and handed it to the Cricket, who read
"I can certify that my esteemed friend, the Caterpillar, will prove
to any circle.
The Wasp then passed a lump of wax to the chairman, with these words
pecked upon it:--
our neighbor Wasp to the society of all
intelligent people, as a most refined
"A. TITMOUSE, Esq."
The Spider alone of the three gave no letter, but said coolly,--
"I have seen plenty of the world, yet I have never troubled myself with
"You will not find ceremonies of the kind necessary here," remarked the
Cricket, with a severe
glance at the Teapot. "Perhaps you will tell us
something of your adventures, however.
"I do not mind doing so at all," returned the Spider, gathering
long legs into a more comfortable position.
THE TRAVELLED SPIDER.
I was born in the cellar
of this very house, and, for a delightful,
spidery residence, I know of no place to equal the dark, dust-stained
window ledge where I first drew breath. After a long period of absence,
I find my early home has lost none of its charms. This is the case with
men as well as spiders, I am told. The American thinks there is no river
in the world so grand as the great Mississippi; the Frenchman none so
beautiful as the Seine; the Englishman none so famous as the Thames; the
German as the Rhine; and the Egyptian as the sacred
is represented by each.
"So, too, with me the cellar
window has rare attractions: there one can
spin a dainty
web to snare the silly flies and gnats, when they come
dancing along, for supper. Never believe the life of a spider
easy one, though: that is an altogether
false idea. We work hard enough,
although we wear such good armor, and have such sharp, strong claws; for
we live by our wits, and a dull, stupidspider
has but a poor chance of
it. First, one has to be on the watch for stray morsels of food, to be
ready for a pounce; then one's net may become torn in some way so as to
require mending; or a wandering spider
comes prowling along to try and
conquer a home without the trouble of making it: so between all these
cares there is little leisure
time to spare. The class to which I belong
does not have the constant
labor that falls to the share of some of our
cousins, who spin their webs from trees, or festoon them about verandas
and other exposed localities, where the wind often blows them about so
roughly, that they are obliged to suspend
bits of wood and stone to the
corners to maintain
an equilibrium. I have some other relatives, to
think of whom alone is enough to warm any spider's heart with pride.
"Foremost of these ranks the scorpion of warmer climates, where it
creeps into sheltered crannies under every stone or sandy bank, even
inhabiting boots and gloves. When disturbed, out it pounces, with an
angry snap of the claws and a savage
whisk of the tail, ready for some
mischief, you may be sure.
"Ah, I wish I was a scorpion, instead of a mere ordinary spider! But
then every one cannot be great, after all.
"Well, even the scorpion is foolish sometimes, as I will presently
you. It lives in burrows, which it digs in the ground, the entrance
being formed to the exact size of the insect. By the shape of the hole
people discover the residence, and, when they wish to destroy the
inmate, they pour some water down, to see if the scorpion is at home.
The scorpion detests water; and it no sooner feels the stream
through the opening, than out it rushes, to see what is the matter. To
drive a spade into the hole and kill the scorpion is then an easy task.
"There is still another mode of destroying these princes of our race. A
circle of smouldering ashes is made around the burrow, and the scorpion,
for some minutes about the space inclosed, and seeing
means of escape from the ring of fire, invariably
bends its tail up over
the back, and inserting the point between two segments of the body,
stings itself to death.
"I have another powerful relative, to be found in South America. This is
a large hairy spider, two inches long in body, and seven inches with
expanded legs. Only fancy such a size! I should be a mere pigmy in
comparison. This spider
is so powerful that it can kill small birds, by
entangling them in a strong web. Think of that!" cried the Spider,
hugging himself with satisfaction.
"You need not turn up your broken nose, Madame Teapot: we are all
murderers; still we do any amount
of good, after all, in destroying
insects that would otherwise
cause much trouble."
"I don't believe a word of what you say," interrupted the Saucepan. "A
spider kill a bird, indeed! Nobody ever heard of such a thing."
"My dear," interposed the Teapot scornfully, feeling very much angered
at the allusion
to her nose made by the ill-bred stranger, "great
travellers always tell fine stories."
"While you stay at home, and, seeing
nothing, doubt what we say,"
retorted the Spider half angrily.
"Oh, dear me!" exclaimed the Cricket impatiently, "shall we never have
peace? I was so much interested in your recital, friend, that an
interruption seems very annoying
"I am glad to find you a Cricket of such large views," replied the
Spider politely; "so I will proceed, if it affords you any pleasure. My
mother had much more experience of the outside world than any of her
neighbors, and, when I was still young, she talked with my father one
night about my future prospects in life. I remember that we children
were in the nursery--a silken
tube, very soft and warm for our tender
bodies--when I overheard her remarks.
"'I cannot consent that my eldest
son should settle down here at home,
when there is so much to be seen that will improve his mind,' she said.
"'That is foolish,' returned my father wisely. 'He will only fall into
all manner of mischief, and he cannot make himself any thing but a house
spider after all.'
"I never slept a wink afterward, that night; and soon after I gained the
consent of my parents to start on my travels.
"I had an easier time than most insects would enjoy, in leaving the
shelter of their homes. When I was in danger I could generally trust
that my long legs would carry me out of harm's way; and, if I was not
able to escape, I just hid under a stone, or rolled myself up into a
snug ball among the loose soil.
"I cannot begin to tell you all the curious adventures I had, or the
strange things I heard; for I have been away such a long while, I have
forgotten more than half. Still I remember a few particulars of
"I was trotting about one day through a field of dry stubble, when I saw
a pleasant river winding along in the sunlight, and sought the bank. The
first object I noticed was a Kingfisher, seated motionless
overhanging branch, and peering eagerly
down into the water in search
of food. A very handsome bird is the Kingfisher, I assure you, with his
blue coat of shining feathers, and scarlet
shirt front; but so still is
he when watching for prey, you would not notice him, sometimes, among
"'How are you to-day, sir?' I cried, while still at a distance. 'Are the
fish lively, may I inquire?'
"'Keep quiet, will you?' said the Kingfisher, turning his head
impatiently towards me.
"'There, I have lost a splendid chance through your speaking,' he added
angrily, as a fish darted past.
"'I am very sorry to have disturbed you,' I replied, crawling out upon a
twig, the better to observe his proceedings.
"'I have carried every thing home to my family, and I am now as empty as
a drum,' said the Kingfisher in an aggrieved tone, and then he resumed
"Suddenly down he dropped into the water, with a rush that fairly took
away, and, after splashing about furiously
for a few seconds,
returned to land, having a small fish in his beak.
"'Ha, ha!' laughed the Kingfisher, 'I've got you at last. Yes, and there
is plenty of room left for some of your plump brothers and sisters
"So saying, he tossed the poor fish up in the air; then, opening
his beak, caught and swallowed it with great apparent
relish. I was very
much amused by all this; so I said, as he settled upon the perch once
"'Well, well, we spiders are considered terrible butchers by most
people, but we are rather more dainty
than to gulp down our meals in
that fashion. I hope you may not suffer from an indigestion, Mr.
"'Do not worry over that,' returned he, cocking his bright eye at me.
Then he flew away, and I scrambled after him as fast as I could, for I
was curious to see how Madame Kingfisher and the babies fared.
"I followed the flight
of the bird until he disappeared on the ground
somewhere, and I arrived just in time to see him pop into a hole on the
water side of the bank. I crept into the tunnel, which was originally
made by a tiny animal, the water-shrew, and which had been enlarged by
the Kingfisher to suit the size of the nest. This nest, my dear friends,
I found to be composed
of dried fish-bones,--mostly those of
minnows,--and arranged in a nearly flat form, save a slight hollow
pressed by the bird's shape while laying eggs."
"Oh, oh!" spurted the incredulous
Saucepan, "that is a worse fib than
of the bird spider."