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Full text of "A sister's stories"

This day is published, in one volume, 12mo price 8s. 

THE SECOND EDITION, CONSIDERABLY ENLARGED, 

A NARRATIVE 

OF A THREE YEARS' RESIDENCE IN 

ITALY, 

1819-1822. 

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE PRESENT STATE OF 
RELIGION IN THAT COUNTRY. 



DUBLIN: 
PRINTED FOR W. F. WAKEMAN, 9, D^OLIER-STREET. 

SOLD BY BALDWIN AND CRADOCK, LONDON, OLIVER AM) 
BOYD, EDINBURGH ; W. COLLINS, GLASGOW ; AND MAY BE 
HAD OF ALL BOOKSELLERS. 



OPINIONS OF THE PRESS. 

" We have been much pleased with this little volume. It often 
happens that much useful information might be obtained fron the 
publication of voyages and travels, when the works nevertheless 
are in some respects of a character which forbids us to place them 
in our libraries or on our tables ; and especially is it a fault in 
many, even of the better class of wanderers, that they seem not in 
their wanderings to recognize the presence and the over-ruling 
power and providence of God. We have, however, now before us 
a volume of a different kind, not only calculated to give a very 
pleasing representation of many interesting scenes in the countries 
visited, but to engage the attention by affecting narratives of 
domestic affliction, related with the pathos of Christian simplicity, 
and brought home to the heart in a way very conducive to the 
promotion of practical piety. 

" We close this instructive and interesting volume with senti- 
ments of very cordial respect for the writer, and a sincere wish 
that all travellers from this country were fortified and directed by 
similar principles. That this publication should not meet with 
the suffrages in its favour of -all who read it, may certainly be 
expected: the flippant and foolish spirit which scoffs at religion 
every where else, is not very likely to be propitiated by its un- 
looked-for appearance in a book of travels ; and a still larger class 
of readers, who would not quarrel with an occasional allusion to Di- 
vine Providence, with not very frequent expressions of gratitude to 
God for his various blessings, cannot at all endure that reflections 
of this kind should be often introduced : such things are sufficient 
in their view to cast a very sombre shade over even an Italian 
landscape. We leave these persons, as leave them we must, to 
their own predilections; and we have to request that they will 
likewise deal with equal fairness by us. They would probably 
applaud this volume very highly, were it of a less serious charac- 
ter. We recommend it most especially, because of the pious 



and devout spirit which it every where manifests. They will read 
it in despite of its religion : we are particularly delighted with it 
on account of its religion. The work is very engaging as a book 
of travels : to us, however, its principal recommendation is, that 
it is written by a Christian." London Christian Observer. March. 
1828. 

" A very interesting and instructive volume, especially to those 
who f meditate leaving their native land for the sake of educating 
their children abroad. They will here see the disadvantages and 
difficulties to which they will expose them ; the danger to their 
health is not, perhaps, the least evil to be dreaded : and if they 
will learn from the experience of one who is affectionately inter- 
ested in the welfare of her countrymen, they will not think the 



" The narrative contains an interesting account of the illness 
and death of Sir W. S. and of his eldest daughter, from which we 
should rejoice to extract largely, would our limits allow. It 
exhibits also many instances of the folly, superstition, and idolatry, 
prevailing at Rome, Naples, &c. which will well repay the serious 
perusal of every British Protestant, at the present juncture." 
London Christian Guardian, April, 1828. 

" We shall therefore for the present content ourselves with 
calling the attention of our readers to this small and unpretending 
volume, as containing a considerable quantity of information on 
Italy, conveyed in an agreeable manner, where there is much to 
edify, much to affect, and nothing to offend. Our fair traveller, 
indeed, claims a fellow-feeling from us, for she is what we presume 
to call ourselves a Christian Examiner. Whatever she sees she 
looks on with the eye of one who wishes to make her observations 
and recollections subservient to the cause of religion, and as aware 
that religion is the great main-spring that sets in motion the ma- 
chinery of social and individual happiness, she has passed through 
Italy, not as a connoisseur or a virtuoso, not as an agriculturist 
or a geologist, but as a Christian philanthropist." 

" There is one death recorded in this volume which affected us 
more than is perhaps usual or seemly with more experienced 
reviewers ; and when introduced to Anny, the author's niece 
the grateful, the joyous, the beautiful Anny so young and yet 
so benevolent so inquisitive, and yet so spiritual ; to see her 
wither off at fourteen, and fall like a primrose before the mower's 
scythe, called forth from us unbidden tears." Dublin Christian 
Examiner, April, 1828. 

" We w i sn we na d room for further extracts from the work of 
this pious and amiable lady, where she laments over the bigotry 
that will not allow an inclosure to be made, or a tree planted in 
the garden where the Protestants are buried at Rome, and where 
even some of the better class carry their ideas of exclusive salva- 
tion, so far as to decline the enjoyment of English society, because 
they could not bear to love and know the people in this world, 
whom they believed they had no chance of meeting in the next." 
Dublin Christian Examiner, June, 1828. 




A 

SISTER'S STORIES. 




DEATH'S HEAD HAWK MOTH. Sphinx atropos. 



BY THE AUTHOR OF 

'THREE YEARS' RESIDENCE IN ITALY; 
" PROTESTANT RECTOR," &c. &c. 



" O Lord, how manifold are thy works ! In wisdom hast thoa made them 
all ; the earth is full of thy riches. Psalm civ. 24. 



KIRKBY LONSDALE: 

PUBLISHED BY ARTHUR FOSTER; 

AND L. B. SEELEY AND SONS, FLEET STREET, 

LONDON. 

1833. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

Brother Robert's Return from School .... page 1 

CHAPTER II. 

The Frog Tree Frog Damon and Musidora, two pets Edible 
Frogs -Bull- Frog The ToadThe Death Watch . 9 

CHAPTER III. 

Visit to Duncan's Vale The Ants The Brown Ant . 22 

CHAPTER IV. 

The Black Ant Ant Lion 43 

CHAPTER V. 

The White Ant Green Ant Red Ant Velvet Ant- 
Fallow Ants 61 

CHAPTER VI. 

Insects in general Cicada Glow Worm House Cricket- 
Mole Cricket Field Cricket Mantis .... 87 

CHAPTER VII. 

The Caterpillar An Allegory Butterflies Papilio Priamus 
Papilio Machaon, the Swallow-tailed Butterfly Pa- 
pilio lo, the Peacock Butterfly Marsh Frittillary Xet- 
tle Tortoise-shell Butterfly Showers of blood Papilio 
Paphia Papilio Phleas Moths Sphinxes Sphinx 
Ligustri, the Hawk-Moth Sphinx Atropos, the Death's- 
head Moth Sphinx Occellata Phalaena Pavonia Minor, 
the Emperor Moth Phalaena Mori, the Silk-worm 
Phalsena Caja, the Great Tiger Moth Phalaena Gros- 

sulariata, the Currant-Bush Moth The Ichneumon 

Fly 105 



VI 



CHAPTER VIII. 

The Spiders Garden Spider Wandering Spider Jumping 
Spider Water Spider Gossamer Spider Tarantula 
Bird-catching Spider 141 

CHAPTER IX. 

Insects in general The Locust 160 

CHAPTER X. 

The Wasp Social Wasps Solitary, or Mason Wasp 
Ephemera May Fly Libellula, or Dragon Fly . .174 

CHAPTER XL 

The Bee The Honey- Bird The Humble- Bee Carpenter- 
BeeUpholsterer Mason- Bee 186 



SISTERS STORIES. 



CHAPTER I. 



" MAMMA," said Emma, one morning that she had 
been particularly inattentive to her lessons, "will 
dear brother Robert ever come back to us? 1 ' 

"I hope we shall have him with us very soon, 
Emma; perhaps next April." 

" O dear, dear mamma, I must kiss you twenty 
times for telling me such good news. When will 
April come?" 

"Don't you know, Emma? what month is this?"" 

"Let me think: O! this is January, and then 
comes February, and then comes March, and then 
April. Oh mamma, mamma, what a pleasant month 
April will be ! We shall have the young lambs, 
and darling brother Robert ! Do let me run and 
tell Georgiana, and William, and Rosa, and Annie." 



2 SISTER'S STORIES, 

"Remember however, that you have not done 
with your lessons; while say ing them this morning, 
your thoughts were I don't know where certainly 
not where I would have had them." 

"Dear mamma, I could not help thinking how 
much Robert would like to see the snowdrops in 
his garden, and the nice order in which William 
and I have kept it for him. May I run now and 
tell them ? afterwards I will look over all my lessons 
again, and try to say them better." 

" Ten minutes then I give you." 

The little girl lingered not a minute longer ; the 
given time was sufficient to spread the good news, to 
join in the acclamations of joy which it caused, and 
to return to her lessons; to which she now applied 
herself with renewed diligence, and soon got them 
over to her mamma's satisfaction. 

Many a time the months, the weeks, and the days 
were reckoned before the verdure of April covered 
the ground, and the happy day was announced 
when brother Robert was to return from England. 
He had been two years at school, and during that 
long period had not once seen his pleasant home, 
nor received the caresses of his little brother and 
sisters; who were assembled with papa and mamma 
outside their own gate in expectation of his arrival, 
and many a long look was directed as far as their 
sight could reach along the high road which ascend- 
ed and descended over a hilly tract of country. 

"Will he ever come, mamma?" said Emma anxi- 
ously. 



CHAPTER I. O 

" How glad I should be, Emma, to curb that im- 
patient disposition of yours !" 

"But, dear mamma, he was to have been here at 
noon does not that mean twelve o'clock ? Now, 
papa, please tell me the hour."" 

"Half-past one." 

"Is that all? I thought it must be four o'clock 
at least. There is still no carriage to be seen at 
the top of any of the hills." 

" It may be at the bottom though of one not very 
far off." 

No sooner had mamma said the word, than William 
cried out, " I see it, I see it, there it is mamma, 
papa, there is the coach." 

And the young party began to caper and dance, 
and run backwards and forwards like little mad 
creatures. Their ecstacy however abated as the 
supposed coach advanced and proved to be cart- 
loads of turf. Half an hour more passed away in 
impatient expectation, when the desired object ac- 
tually did appear in view. The whole group could 
see the carriage as its wheels rolled over the top of 
the hill, and watched its descent until another accli- 
vity hid it from their eyes. Again, however, it 
appeared, and the children could not be kept within 
bounds. They all sprang forward, exclaiming, 
" Robert, brother Robert is come," until the car- 
riage stopped, and all the little arms clasped round 
him in glad embraces. 

The joys of the evening can hardly be described. 



4 SISTER'S STORIES. 

There was so much admiration of Robert, so much 
to tell him, and so much to hear, that when the 
hour for repose arrived, nobody could be persuaded 
of its lateness. These children, however, had been 
taught to do as they were bid, and retired the mo- 
ment they perceived their mamma's signal. 

Georgian a being some years older than her bro- 
thers and sisters, they were generally committed to 
her care, when not under that of papa and mamma; 
and though not always as attentive to her, as could 
be wished, yet they never felt that their pleasures 
could be complete, when she was not present. She 
planned the flower beds and gravel walks in each of 
their gardens, taught them the best manner of 
building houses, assisted in all their labours, and 
was hound or hare in the chase ; and when, wearied 
and breathless with these out-of-door sports, they 
sought rest and shelter in the bower, she was ex- 
haustless in her stock of pretty stories that never- 
failing source of amusement to all children. But 
Georgiana's stories were not of fairies, or genii, or 
enchanted castles, and such things as never did nor 
could exist. She never filled her own mind with 
such 'lying wonders,' and therefore could not relate 
them to others. Those she did relate, however, 
though perfectly true, were no less astonishing; 
being the histories of little animals which reared 
for themselves lofty and strong edifices, dividing 
them into various apartments, and winding galleries, 
supported upon ingeniously constructed pillars ; and 



CHAPTER I. 5 

forming themselves into communities where the 
most perfect rules and orders are established; with- 
out any other guide or director than that natural 
instinct with which the Almighty Creator has en- 
dowed the most diminutive insect ; thereby marking 
out for us a right line of conduct; which Georgi- 
ana never failed to point out to her little brothers 
and sisters, as often as she saw them tempted to 
crush under their feet a crawling insect. On such 
occasions she would repeat those beautifully appo- 
site lines from Shakespeare: 

" The poor beetle, that we tread upon, 
In corp'ral sufferance feels a pang as great, 
As when a giant dies." 

"Go, poor defenceless animal," she would say; "I 
will not deprive thee of that life which no power of 
mine could restore. Thy existence was given thee 
by the same Almighty Power which breathed into 
my form a living soul. The harmless insect mo- 
lests us not, as it crawls along to screen itself under 
some particle of earth. And oh ! must it not feel 
exquisite torture when its little body and limbs are 
crushed together by its thoughtless and cruel des- 
troyer ! 

( I would not enter on my list of friends, 

(Though grac'd with polish'd manners and fine sense, 

Yet wanting sensibility) the man 

Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.'" 

A favourite amusement of these children, was an 



6 SISTER'S STORIES. 

excursion to some distant fields in their papa's 
domain, where a murmuring brook rippled over its 
rocky bed among the hills, whose green pasture 
was enlivened by a flock of sheep with their young 
lambs. This sunny spot was skirted by a wood; 
beyond which were rocks and mountains, against 
whose sides the sea dashed its proud waves. Beyond 
the fields lay a valley, through which the brook 
wound its silvery course; it was thickly covered 
with beech, fir and sycamore; near the entrance 
was a neat cottage embosomed among the trees. 
William Duncan was its proprietor, from whom the 
valley received its name. A few mornings after 
Robert's return, he walked with his papa to this 
beautifully romantic spot, and had the pleasure of 
seeing the first white lamb of the season. 

" Let me carry it home, dear papa, to Georgiana, 
it is such a beautiful creature." 

Permission being given, Robert took the lamb 
tenderly in his arms, and held it across his bosom 
to shelter it from the morning breeze. It bleated 
however, feeling the absence of its mother's fleecy 
resting place. Arrived at home, he placed it in a 
covered wicker basket, which he presented to his 
sister, who was seated in the arbour, surrounded by 
the little ones; whose delight on lifting the lid and 
beholding the beauteous deposit, could be expressed 
only in rapturous bursts of admiration. But the 
continued bleating of the little lamb damped their 
joy. 



CHAPTEE I. 7 

" Let us restore it to its poor mother," said the 
good-natured Emma. 

" O how pleasant it would be," exclaimed the 
others, "to go to the sheep hills this sunny day 
after our lessons are over! Will you come, Georgi- 
ana?" 

" Most willingly," was her obliging answer, " if 
papa and mamma have no objection." 

The petition was made by the assembled little 
party and readily granted. And to render their 
enjoyment more complete, the jaunting car was 
ordered at noon, that they might not arrive fatigued 
with the walk, and unable to frisk among the young 
lambs, which was their joyful anticipation: but 
even the pleasures of childhood are often clouded. 
At the appointed hour, the horse and car stood 
harnessed at the door, when suddenly the blacken- 
ing sky veiled the bright sun, and loud claps of 
thunder proclaimed the coming storm. Impatient 
fretfulness would now have succeeded to rapturous 
glee, had not Georgiana thought upon an expedient 
to reconcile them to their disappointment. 

"Our pleasant drive, and amusement in the 
fields, we must forego for this day," she said; "but 
still we may make ourselves very happy at home." 

" Very happy indeed," replied Robert, " shut up 
in these dull walls ! I might as well be immured in 
the school room at B ." 

" The poor little lamb cannot be taken to its 
mamma," said Emma, whimpering. 



8 SISTER'S STORIES. 

" Let us think no more of our disappointment," 
said their kind sister; "but all come with me I 
think I can amuse you with a nice story." 

" Oh how very pleasant that will be !" cried out 
all the children. "A story is a delightful thing; 
and you have so many that are pretty, we can never 
tire of listening to them." 

And all adjourned to the apartment, which was 
sometimes the school-room and sometimes the play- 
room. Before Georgiana began her story, she 
assigned to each individual some employment, that 
there should be no idle hands, which she could not 
bear to witness ; and that all might remain quietly 
listening. 



CHAPTER II. 



? 



" I AM not going to tell the story of a king and a 
queen," began Georgiana, "for truly many I have 
not seen, and of the few I have seen I know but 
little. Once indeed I knew a little boy whom every 
one called the King of the frogs ; but why they 
called him so, I never could learn ; that slippery 
race not being under his dominion, neither could I 
discover that he was particularly fond of frogs, nor 
ever attempted to make pets of them." 

"Pets of frogs! How truly ridiculous!" inter- 
rupted Robert; "who in the world ever thought of 
petting a nasty frog?" 

" Ridiculous as it may seem to you," his sister 
replied, " such things have been. I have read of 
a gentleman (Dr. Townson) who kept some frogs in 
a window, until they became quite tame. They were 
not however the common kind of frogs which you 
have seen leaping in marshy places in this country ; 
but which you, Robert, may remember to have seen 
among the trees in Italy. It is a small green ani- 



10 SISTER'S STORIES. 

mal, elegantly formed, its body is smooth, and has 
a violet-coloured streak on each side. It is called 
the TREE-FROG; because in summer it remains on 
the upper branches of trees, and watches for insects 
among the foliage; and when it perceives any, it 
slyly steals forward and springs upon them. It 
frequently leaps a foot high when it wants to seize 
its prey. These little creatures sometimes hide 
under the leaves of the trees, and sometimes hang 
suspended from the branches. In autumn, they 
forsake the woods, and take up their abode in the 
waters; but soon afterwards they become torpid, 
and remain under banks or in the mud all the 
winter. When warm weather comes, they awake; 
and having, like other frogs, left their spawn or 
young brood upon the water, they return to the 
trees, among the leaves of which their shrill croak- 
ing is often heard at a considerable distance. In 
the evening, and at the approach of rain, they are 
more noisy than usual, and for this reason make 
good barometers; for which purpose they have 
been sometimes kept and fed properly in glasses in 
a room. 

"What curious little animals!" exclaimed 
Robert; "sometimes perched like birds on the 
tops of the trees ; at others, floating like little fish 
through the waters !" 

" Can any one tell me," said Georgiana, "what 
those creatures are called which can live either in 
the water or on dry land ?" 



CHAPTER II. 11 

"Amphibious, to be sure," answered Robert, 
with a toss of his head ; " every body knows that." 

" I at least know it very well,"" said his sister 
Emma, conceitedly. 

"But I did not know it," said William; "nor 
I," said Rosa. 

"Do tell us more;" said Robert impatiently; 
" we want to hear of the gentleman and his pet 
frogs." 

" He had two of the pretty green creatures I 
have already described,"" continued Georgiana ; " a 
male and female. The first he called Damon; the 
last, Musidora. He was very fond of them ; and 
kept a bowl of water for them in a window, which 
they went into in the evening; except when the 
weather was cold and damp, in which case they 
would remain out of it for two days at a time. In 
hot weather, they always descended to the floor, 
where they soon grew thin and lank ; but if they 
saw water spilt, they would press their bodies to it 
until absorbed through their skins, which restored 
their plumpness. In half an hour, a tree-frog has 
been known to absorb nearly half its weight of 
water. Dr. Townson provided a store of flies to feed 
his little pet Musidora through the winter. When 
laid dead before her, she would not attempt to 
touch them; but the moment he moved them with 
his breath, she made a spring like a cat at a mouse, 
and, seizing, ate them immediately. When flies 
were scarce, he used to substitute bits of the flesh 



12 SISTER S STORIES. 

of a tortoise, which, when moved in the same way, 
she caught in her mouth, but no sooner tasted than 
she spit them out, not being her natural food. As 
soon as she began to know and love her master, 
she would eat either living or dead flies from his 
fingers. He relates, that he has seen his little tree 
frog attack humble bees, and after some contest, 
seemingly devour them; but their stings and hairy 
coats not being much relished, she soon threw them 
back. When the Doctor wished to regale himself 
with fruit, he brought forward his pets to protect 
him from flies." 

"What dear little useful animals!" exclaimed. 
Annie; "I wish I had such a pair." 

"And I too," reiterated all the children, in a 
burst of rapture, except Robert, who thought him- 
self too manly to wish for pet frogs; he felt curious 
however, to hear if any one else ever thought of 
such a thing. 

His sister told him of another gentleman who 
had a similar taste; a surgeon in Germany, who 
had a tree-frcg nearly eight years, and kept it in a 
glass vessel covered with a net. During the sum- 
mer he fed it with flies, but in winter he could not 
perceive that it ate any thing, though always well 
provided with moistened grass and insects. It used 
to grow very thin ; but when summer returned, and 
with it an abundance of flies, it recovered its looks. 
During the eighth winter it pined away till it died. 

"O. f how very sorry the gentleman must have 




TREE-FKOG. Ifyk vulgaris. 



CHAPTER II. 13 

been!" cried Emma; "and surely such pets must 
be very useful, as well as pleasant." 

" Useful indeed !" said Robert, contemptuously. 

"Yes, Robert, useful: don't you remember that 
Georgiana told us they make excellent barometers ?" 

" It is no uncommon thing, I believe," continued 
Georgiana, "to tame toads as well as frogs; I have 
heard of the former being made so familiar as to sit 
on the hand, while carried through a room to catch 
the flies which had settled on the walls. They will 
leap even at a little moving shadow." 

a Are tree-frogs found only in Italy?" inter- 
rupted Robert. 

" They are also natives of France, Germany, and 
several other places in Europe," his sister answered; 
"though not any where in Britain; but they are 
found in America. 

" I wish we had such beautiful little creatures in 
this country," said Rosa. 

"Although we have them not," answered Geor- 
giana, "we should recollect with gratitude, that 
neither have we any venomous reptile. When the 
grass is dry of a hot summer's day, we are very 
fond of scampering in it, and find no carpet so soft 
and pleasant, and no shade so cool and delightful 
as that which the spreading foliage of the trees af- 
fords; but we durst not enjoy ourselves in this way, 
if we did not know the moment that a snake, a 
viper, or a serpent should glide through the grass 
to inflict its poisonous dart." 



14 SISTER'S STORIES. 

"I read an account of a tremendous battle be- 
tween a tree-frog and a snake, on the top of a 
mangrove tree. The latter had twisted his tail round 
a branch of the tree : he was about the size of a large 
poker; the frog, of a man's shut hand. He kept 
fast hold of a twig with his hind feet; the two 
branches forming a straight line between them. 
The snake had got hold of the frog's head and 
shoulders within his horrid jaws; and great were 
the poor fellow's exertions to extricate himself! 
The contention was so strong, that at times both 
parties remained stationary to take breath; but 
again the struggle was renewed, until at length the 
frog was dragged from his hold, and by degrees was 
swallowed by his more powerful enemy." 

" Oh the horrible beast !" cried Emma, Rosa, and 
William. 

" If I had been there with a good stick in my 
hand" said Robert 

"You would not have ventured to touch him, 
I'll engage,' 1 interrupted Emma; "not knowing but 
he might make a spring upon yourself." 

Robert looked rather indignant at his sister for 
entertaining such doubts of his courage; however 
he said no more on the subject, but asked Georgiana 
what kind of frogs they were which he saw skinned 
in baskets in the Roman market to be sold, and 
looking so white like bits of chicken? She told 
them they were edible Frogs ; that is, such as may 
be eaten; and quite a different species from those 



CHAPTER II. 15 

of which they had been speaking : and she added, 
"they were much larger than our common frog, 
though that also is found on the Continent, and its 
hind-legs used for food ; fore-legs and livers make 
soup. But the frogs in Italy which are most relish- 
ed are brought from the country, and sold to great 
dealers who have conservatories for them. These 
are large holes four or five feet deep in the ground, 
covered with a board or straw. The frogs jtre very 
voracious, and will swallow whole young birds, or 
mice, and also snails and worms. At four years 
old they are at full growth; and if allowed, would 
live to sixteen or seventeen years of age. Their 
colour is olive green, with black patches on the 
back They are said to deposit their spawn in 
June. The croaking of these creatures is most 
discordant and deafening to the ear; at least, if it 
were the same I heard at Genoa, I may say so. I 
was seated at an open door where I enjoyed all the 
fragrance and bloom of a spacious garden in the 
latter end of May. But instead of my ears being 
regaled with the melody of birds, they were assailed 
with a loud incessant croaking; and when I asked 
from whence it proceeded, I was told it was the 
croaking of frogs : I have since thought they were 
probably kept there to be fattened and eaten." 

Robert asked his sister if she could give them 
any account of the BULL-FROG? 

And she said, that it received its name from its 
croaking being compared to the hoarse lowing of 
a bull, so loud that on a calm night it is heard at 



16 SISTER'S STORIES. 

the distance of a mile and a half. She also told them, 
that the colour of these animals is dark olive, spot- 
ted with black, and that they measure a foot and a 
half in length, and are chiefly found in the interior 
parts of America. 

" They must be odious creatures,"* said Emma, 
"with their horrid bellowings, and their great size. 
How they must frighten a traveller in the night 
who had never heard of them P 

" Instances are recorded," answered her sister, "of 
the alarm given by these frogs: I have read of a 
person whose name was Kami; he was out riding, 
and felt assured that the noise he heard was the 
enraged roaring of a ferocious bull in the neigh- 
bouring thickets; not knowing which way to escape, 
he asked direction of a party of Swedes, who 
removed his terror by letting him know that the 
animal which occasioned it was only a, frog" 

This so much excited the merriment of Georgia- 
na's little auditors, that her narrative was interrupted 
until composure and attention were re-established. 
Robert then asked her if the bull-frog was found 
any where else ? 

She answered that they were found in Virginia, 
where they are very numerous : and further said, 
that the natives imagine they purify the water; and 
feel for them a kind of deference, believing them to 
be the genii of the fountains. There is scarcely a 
spring or rill in which a pair of them are not found, 
They sit in the water, grass, or rushes with their 



CHAPTER II. 17 

heads up, croaking at intervals the night through. 
When frightened, this animal will leap to the 
distance of three yards ; and has been known to 
escape the pursuit of an American Indian, whose 
running was compared to the swiftest course of a 
horse. They lie torpid, buried in the mud, during 
the winter, but revive in spring and resume their 
bellowing. 

"Are bull-frogs ever eaten?"" enquired Emma. 

" They are, 11 Georgiana answered; "and have as 
much meat on them as a young fowl. They prey 
upon ducks, goslings, and chickens, which have 
the temerity to approach their ponds. 11 

" Well, 11 said Emma, " I am sure no one would 
ever think of petting these noisy things. 11 

"I think not indeed, 11 replied Georgiana. "It 
has been said, that frogs were worshipped by the 
Egyptians, many of whose little idols were reptiles. 1 ' 

"O what foolish people, 11 exclaimed Emma, "to 
think that a little senseless, ugly frog could have 
divine power!" 1 

" Yes, 11 rejoined her sister; "and if it be so, how 
justly were they punished by the plague of the 
frogs, when that which they venerated, became such 
a nuisance as to swarm through their land, and come 
into their houses, and bed-chambers and beds, and 
into their ovens, and kneading-troughs : the rivers, 
and streams, and ponds were full of them, and 
poured them out upon the land; so that its wretched 
inhabitants could neither eat, drink, nor sleep for 
c2 



18 SISTER'S STORIES. 

these loathsome reptiles. The whole face of the 
earth seems to have been alive with them, so as to 
make the smell abominable when the frogs died 
and were gathered together upon heaps.* 

" TOADS were, as well as I can recollect, among 
the number of the Egyptian divinities. I think, 
Emma, that I already mentioned the facility with 
which they have been tamed."" 

"Oh!" cried out the little girl, "who could 
think of taming an ugly toad?" 

"Dear Emma," answered Georgiana, "we ought 
to conquer those feelings of disgust towards crea- 
tures formed by the Almighty. The ugliness of 
the poor toad has obtained for it the very unjust 
character of being poisonous; and therefore it is 
too frequently persecuted to death. When irritated, 
it emits from its body a froth which is perfectly 
innoxious, being merely a watery liquid. The form 
and colour of the skin are certainly not pleasing, 
but the beauty of its eyes is noted. It is easily 
tamed. We are told of a toad which became so 
domesticated, that for above thirty-six years, he 
frequented the steps of a gentleman's hall door in 
Devonshire. He was regularly fed; and when a 
candle was brought out in the evening, he always 
came out of his hole, and looked up as if he expected 
to be carried into the house to be fed with insects, 
which was often done. It was considered so extraor- 
dinary, that an animal universally avoided and 

* Exodus viii. 2 to 14. 



CHAPTER II. 19 

disliked should be taken so much notice of, that it 
excited the curiosity of every one who came to the 
house; and even those who were accustomed to 
turn away with abhorrence from a loathsome toad, 
often requested that this one might be fed before 
them. It was fond of maggots ; and used to follow 
them round the table until sufficiently near to take 
them on the tip of its tongue, on which was a 
glutinous substance. Before it threw out its 
tongue, which it did to a considerable length, it 
would fix its eyes, and remain motionless for a little 
time, as if preparing for the dart, which was mo- 
mentary, as was also the swallowing of the insect. 
The life of this poor toad, after the expiration of 
more than thirty-six years, was shortened by a tame 
raven, who found it one day at the mouth of its hole 
and wounded it to death. 11 

"Oh how sorry I am for the poor dear toad! 11 
said little Rosa in a half crying- voice. " I wish I 
had such a one to carry about in my hand, and 
give it all the troublesome flies to feed on. I would 
take good care that no raven should get it. Are 
there any more pets that you could tell us of, 
Georgiana?"* 

"Yes, a great many. But do not suppose that it 
is merely for the purpose of amusement that these 
little animals have been tamed. There are men 
who make a study of their history; to be enabled 
to make new discoveries respecting them, and to 
tame them by their continual observations and 



20 SISTER'S STORIES. 

attentions towards them. These men are called 
Naturalists. 

"Do you remember my once telling you of a 
little insect that makes a noise like the ticking of a 
watch ?" 

" O yes, and that the nursery-maid called it the 
DEATH-WATCH. I have often heard it since, and 
should have wondered greatly, if I had not heard of 
it beforehand. Can you describe to me, Georgiana, 
what kind of creature it is, that I may know it, if I 
should ever happen to see one ?" 

"There are two species of insect called the Death- 
Watch. One is the Termes pulsatoritim. It very 
much resembles a creature which is seen on dirty 
people; and beats like a watch, only in the heat of 
summer, and it does so without intermission for a 
considerable length of time. It has no wings: but 
the other insect has: it also is called the Death- 
Watch, or Ptinus fatidicus. It is a little hairy 
creature about a quarter of an inch long, and so 
nearly the colour of old dry wood that it is not 
easily distinguished, The noise it makes, which is 
very like the ticking of a watch, is not from its voice, 
but by beating on any thing hard with a little kind 
of shield on the forepart of its head. It makes 
distinct and regular strokes, seven, nine, or eleven 
at a time, like beating with your nail on the table. 
It is supposed to be their way of calling each other. 
Mr. Stackhouse kept one for a fortnight in a box, 
and watched carefully its manner of beating. He 




DEATH WATCH. 
A Anobium pertinax. B A.striatum. C A. ttsselatum. 



These insects make the same clicking noise, though they are not the same 
as are mentioned in the text. Latreille says, this sort of ticking is produced 
by the whole genus Anobium* 



CHAPTER II. 21 

says that it raised itself on its hinder legs, and -with 
the body a little inclined, beat its head with great 
force and agility against the place on which it 
stood. You will be amused to hear that this little 
animal has been tamed so as to be made to beat 
occasionally; by taking it out of its box and beating 
with the nail or point of a pen on the table, it 
immediately answered the beats, and continued to 
do so as often as required. Dr. Derham kept two 
of these insects, a male and female, in a box for 
some weeks; he used to make them beat as often 
as he wished by imitating their noise. At last one 
poor little fellow died; and the other, determined 
not to remain after its companion, gnawed its way 
out and escaped. 11 

" O what dear droll little pets the death-watches 
must be!" said Emma. "Can you tell us more, 
Georgian a ?"" 

"Not at present," answered her sister; "mam- 
ma's bell rings; I think she wants me: and while I 
am with her, you can amuse yourselves with battle- 
door and shuttle-cock." 



CHAPTER III. 



"Tnis day surely, we may go to Duncan's Vale," 
said Robert to Georgiana and Emma, when the 
bright sun and cloudless sky proclaimed a renewal 
of fair weather after several showery days. " The 
heat of the sun," he continued, " will soon dry up 
the grass and the ground, and then we may have 
delightful play ; so do let us make haste with our 
lessons." 

The little girls were of the same opinion, and so 
were papa and mamma, who were so indulgent as 
to remit some of the usual tasks; and once more 
the horse and car stood ready harnessed at the door. 
No disappointment this day awaited the young 
party, who with much mirth and glee were soon 
seated in it, accompanied by the lamb adorned 
round its neck with a blue ribbon, lying in its basket, 
and the little brown spotted dog called Dido, which 
was still Georgiana's favourite, and though now 
getting old, so frisky, from the good care she took 
of it, that no amusement could be complete without 



CHAPTEE III. 23 

its company. So away they drove merrily, all as 
noisy and as happy as children generally are who 
are dismissed with full liberty to enjoy themselves 
harmlessly. Robert and William up and down on 
the seat every moment, hallooing, and Dido bark- 
ing, and the little girls laughing: the poor lamb 
seemed the only uncomfortable being in the party; 
joined to hunger, the unusual noise frightened it, 
and it began to bleat piteously ; but it too was soon 
comforted, for they arrived at the field, where its 
mother was browzing on the grass, green and fresh 
from the late showers. She was soon discovered 
among the other sheep, who had each their lambs 
at their side, from her solitary and disconsolate air. 
Her lamb being placed near her by the little girls, 
she ran at the sound of its cry, and soon comforted 
it in the way that mothers use to do their babies. 

Our little party now left them to their enjoyment, 
while they pursued each other in their nimble move- 
ments round and round the beautiful field. Hound 
and hare was their play ; and their motions were 
little less fleet than the animals they imitated. At 
length they threw themselves breathless on the 
mossy bank, and began to devise some new sport. 
"Let us rest ourselves first, 11 said Robert, "and 
then we may walk to Duncan 1 s cottage; old Molly 
will have some pleasant story to tell us." 

"No," answered Georgiana, "we must not go 
there ; we obtained no permission to ramble beyond 
these precincts." 



SISTERS STORIES. 



"What do you call ' these precincts, 1 Mrs. Spoil- 
sport ?" said Robert. " We have the whole day to 
play, and we may go where we please."" 

" Papa and mamma desired us not to go into any 
of the cottages, as you very well know, Robert," 
returned Georgiana. " Be content where you are, 
and let us amuse each other by relating stories.' 1 '' 

"I know of no story to tell," said Robert; "besides 
how can I be content here ? I am all stung with 
ants this moss is full of them look, look at Em- 
ma^s frock and Rosa^s, come away from this we 
shall be stung to death." 

The children smarting with the stings of the 
ants, were glad to remove to a spot which was free 
from them, which they happily found under the 
foliage of a spreading oak. 

" I cannot see an ant here," said Emma. " We 
may now listen to any story you have to tell us, 
Georgiana; so do pray begin." 

"I hate ants," said Robert, "and all crawling 
insects, and would kill them if I could." 

" I am sorry, "answered Georgiana, " to hear you 
express so cruel a sentiment. Those numerous 
tribe of insects which you behold with disgust, if 
you could see them through a microscope, would 
excite your admiration; their elegant forms and 
dress sometimes sparkling with little gems, and 
fringed with a texture more soft and shining than 
the richest silk. When they spread their light 
wings to take their airy flight, the finest gauze or 




1 Formica herculanea. 2 Black Ant (Worker.) 3 Small Garden Ant. 



CHAPTER III. 25 

lace in comparison would appear coarser than can- 
vass; and the cases or covers, under which these 
little wings lie concealed and defended, shine like 
the most glossy varnish studded like radiant dia- 
monds; some of them are ornamented with fluting 
or pinked wings with holes in the most elegant 
patterns." 

Robert said, "these must be flies and beetles, 
some of which I know are very beautiful ; but what 
beauty can there be in these hateful little stinging 
ants ?" 

" The history of the ANTS, and all their wonder- 
ful operations, would take some hours to describe," 
answered Georgiana. 

"Do tell us all about them," said Emma. 

"All I know," returned Georgiana, "I have 
chiefly collected from a pleasant book called ' Nature 
Displayed, 1 that my papa read to me. Ants are 
gregarious." 

"What is gregarious?" inquired Emma. 

"Gregarious are all the living tribes that go to- 
gether in flocks or herds. Like the human species, 
the ants seem to order all their affairs according to 
some regular plan. The Scriptures direct our at- 
tention to them as setting us an example of industry. 
4 Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways 
and be wise : which having no guide, overseer, or 
ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and 
gathereth her food in the harvest.'" 



26 SISTER'S STORIES. 

"Where do you find that in the Bible ?" said 
Robert. 

"In the sixth chapter of Proverbs, sixth verse," 
answered his sister; "and again in the thirtieth 
chapter the Wisest of men, who was Solomon, 
says; 'the ants are a people not strong, yet they 
prepare their meat in the summer. 1 Their wisdom, 
ingenuity, skill, and perseverance appear in digging 
under ground, building their houses, and forming 
the little cells or granaries in which they store up 
their provision of corn. 11 

"Do listen to her, Emma, 11 cried Robert, "talk- 
ing of ants with their little spades digging down in 
the ground !" 

"Yes, 11 said Emma laughing, "and the little ant 
masons building their houses I 11 

" Wonderful as it may appear to you, 11 answered 
Georgiana, "it is nevertheless most true; they do 
not however use spades, as their claws answer that 
purpose. 11 

" They must be very tedious, indeed, with their 
claws as slender almost as a hair, 11 said Robert, "mak- 
ing any thing like a hole in the ground. 11 

"They do not, 11 said Georgiana, "spend so much 
time about it as you may suppose. Many hands 
make light labour, is an old adage. The numerous 
labourers all assisting, and carrying on the work in 
union, smooths every difficulty; and when their 
habitation and cells are prepared, then they carry 
in their provisions. I have often watched them in 



CHAPTER III. 27 

Italy when they were employed in this manner, 
their backs laden with a burden larger than the 
little body which dragged it along; and when one 
of them was ready to be crushed under the weight, 
I have seen its good natured companion run to put 
its own shoulder to the burden. Often they stop, 
and cut the bit of straw or grain, or whatever the 
load may be, in two, and then each ant takes up his 
share, and proceeds on the regular track, from which 
they do not deviate, so that a road is formed by 
their little feet moving on in the order of a regiment 
of soldiers. Before they lay up their corn in their 
subterraneous cells, they bite off the top to prevent 
germination."" 

"What is germination?" said Emma. 

"Budding," said Georgiana. "The sagacious 
little ant must be taught by the God of nature to 
know that if that little bud of the grain of corn 
were not nipt, it would grow, and no longer be 
food so nourishing for its use." 

"You talk of them," said Emma, "as if they 
were little men." 

"I compared them to soldiers," 1 answered her 
sister, "in their regular order of marching; I might 
also do so in their manner of fighting. I was wit- 
ness to one of their battles at Sorento, in Italy, 
where a considerable space of ground was thickly 
covered with them, all engaged in a furious combat, 
tearing each other limb from limb, so that the field 
of battle was literally spread over with legs, arms, 
heads, and half bodies of ants." 



28 SISTER'S STORIES. 

"O how droll!" cried Robert: "do tell us, Geor- 
giana, what kind of weapon they made use of." 

"Their own venomous little jaws," answered his 
sister: "they inflict a very deep bite, into which, I 
have heard, they have the power of instilling a 
poisonous juice. Some species of ants have the 
power of inflicting a sting like a bee." 

"That I know to my cost," cried Robert; rub- 
bing his hands; "look at these little white lumps, 
the smarting of which is not yet quite over. 1 ' 1 

"Do tell us more about the ants, dear Georgiana," 
said Emma; " I never knew before that they were 
such amusing little things." 

" In building their houses," continued Georgiana, 
"the different species of ants have different plans, 
and use different materials; the small kind con- 
struct them of clay in regular apartments, and suc- 
cessive stories ; when one set of li ttle workmen are 
busy at an upper story, another set are excavating 
below, and throwing up the materials to their fel- 
lows. The ceilings are supported by little pillars 
and walls. In some places they make broad arches 
and long passages to their range of apartments. 
They sagaciously carry on their labours only when 
the earth is softened by rain or dew, when there is 
moisture sufficient to admit of the clay adhering." 

"Like mortar," interrupted Robert. 

"Exactly so," said Georgiana. "I have read of 
a Mr. Huber who used curiously to watch their 
operations; when he observed that they discontinu- 



CHAPTER III. 29 

^d their works, on account of the dryness of the 
atmosphere, he used to damp the ground by shaking 
a wet brush over it, which immediately collected the 
ants to renew their employment." 

"I suppose," said Robert, "it was something of 
this kind which brought them out in such swarms 
on the bank there, after the rain; and they spite- 
fully stung us, because we disturbed them, or per- 
haps demolished some of their grand operations." 

"Very probably," said Georgiana: "our sitting 
upon them must certainly be a great inconvenience, 
and quite sufficient to rouse their revengeful feel- 
ings." 

" I wish we had a microscope," said Emma, " I 
should like so much to peep into their houses." 

"They carefully shut them up at night," con- 
tinued Georgiana, "to prevent any other insects 
from intruding upon them. A few ants always re- 
main outside as sentinels to give the alarm if they 
see any approaching danger." 

"But how can they do so?" said Emma, "can 
they speak a language of their own?" 

" They certainly have some means of communi- 
cating their ideas to each other, as has been ascer- 
tained by different experiments," answered Geor- 
giana. "Dr. Franklin tells of one he made, by 
putting an earthen pot with some treacle in it where 
were a number of ants; they quickly found it out 
,and devoured almost the whole of the contents, 
which he perceiving, shook them out, and tied the 

D2 



30 



SISTER S STORIES. 



pot with a string to a nail which he fastened to the 
ceiling of the closet where they were, and left it 
hanging by the string. One ant happened to re- 
main in the pot, where it continued to feast itself, 
until, quite satisfied, it wanted to get away, and ran 
about the bottom of the pot for some time like a 
mad thing; at last it climbed up the side and found 
the string, which served it as a ladder to the ceiling; 
then it ran on to the wall, and from thence to its 
companions, to whom it soon gave information of 
the depository of sweets: for they all began to file 
off in order, mounted the wall, and proceeded along 
the ceiling until they reached the cord, by means 
of which they descended into the pot, where they 
ate as much as they wished for, and then gave place 
to another swarm ; and this they continued to do, 
ascending and descending, until they had licked 
away every particle of treacle." 

"You told us some time ago," said Robert, "that 
ants feed on corn." 

"I also told you," said Georgiana, "that there 
are different species of ants. Their food is of various 
kinds, many of them are carnivorous." 

"What is carnivorous ? v asked Emma. 

" All animals who feed on flesh," answered Geor- 
giana. 

" If that be so," said Emma, " I am carnivorous 
myself; for I like to eat beef and mutton and turkey 
and goose, and every kind of meat I get." 

"And I also," said William, who had hitherto 



CHAPTER III. 31 

given no heed to his sister's entertaining account of 
the ants, but continued running backwards and for- 
wards with the two younger girls. 

"Tell us more," said Emma. 

"Their sense of smelling is wonderfully acute," 
continued Georgiana, "and useful in directing them 
to their food, and also in following the track of their 
companions."" 

"They must have noses like dogs,' 1 said Robert. 

" I have heard," proceeded Georgiana, " that if 
a person were to draw a finger across the line of 
their march, the ants stop, as if they had lost the 
scent, and wander from the straight course until 
they find it again, and then all fall into it in the 
same regular order. Some cruel person made an 
experiment by cutting off the smelling organs of 
several labouring ants, and replacing them near 
their nests, observed that they wandered in all 
directions as if in a delirium. Continuing to watch 
their movements, he perceived some of their com- 
panions coming towards them, and with much 
compassion licking the wounded part, to which they 
seemed to apply an anointing liquor from their 
mouths."" 

"Those were their doctors, I suppose," said 
Robert. 

"Doctors indeed!" said Emma, "how ridiculous!" 

"In some countries, particularly South America, 
the ants are quite a nuisance, from their prodigious 
numbers and ferocious habits; even men cannot 



32 SISTER'S STORIES. 

approach them without danger; they have been 
known to devour cows in their stalls. An army of 
them has been seen a quarter of a mile long; and 
nothing can stop their course but a train of gun- 
powder set fire to. The ant-hills which they 
inhabit are some of them twelve feet high, at a 
distance resembling the rude huts of savages." 

" Are all their habitations of the kind you have 
already described?" enquired Robert. 

"Not all," answered Georgiana; "they are as 
various as the ants themselves. Some build their 
houses of bits of leaves of trees, bark, and straw. 
Others work themselves into the crevices of ruinous 
buildings; or establish themselves under a stone." 
" Yes," said Robert, " those are the kind with 
which I am best acquainted ; I have often lifted a 
stone and found swarms of ants under it." 

" Trees and wood," continued Georgiana, " serve 
as a comfortable dwelling for one species of ants; 
they scoop in them commodious little cells, divided 
into partitions so thin that the whole will crumble 
into powder when pressed between one's fingers." 

" I shall take care that it shall not be between 
mine; they would soon be well stung for their 
pains," said Robert. " Many a time I have seen 
ants running in and out of holes in trees, without 
ever thinking that they were doors of their houses." 
" The brown ants are the best masons. Their 
habitations I have already described, as constructed 
of moistened clay perfectly smooth inside, consisting 



CHAPTER III. 33 

of chambers in parallel stories with long galleries of 
communication; and large central halls, from 
which numerous passages branch off, like streets 
and lanes to a market place. The outside covering 
has several outlets, which are kept open while the 
ants wish to go in and out; but when the sun 
shines strongly they dislike the heat, and closing up 
their doors, enjoy the cool of their subterraneous 
passages which they traverse up and down, remain- 
ing at home until a shower again refreshes the 
ground, which is a signal for them to renew their 
labours : and soon the busy crowd of masons arrive 
in every direction loaden with building materials. 
Observing the most exact order in their opera- 
tions, they hasten their labours forward while the 
clay continues moist ; but no sooner does a drying 
wind pass over it, than all seems to have been 
rendered useless, if they have not completely roofed 
in their dwellings ; and when their walls begin to 
crumble, with one accord they destroy the fabric 
upon which they had bestowed some hours of 
unwearied diligence, and carry off the materials to 
cover an upper story. To watch their interesting 
operations affords endless amusement." 

" It would to me I am sure," said Robert; " I 
only wish I could see them." 

" And I too," said Emma. 

"Remember, however," said Georgiana, "that 
they are not to be seen in perfection but in the 
hotter climates; and we ought to accustom our- 



34 SISTER'S STORIES. 

selves to wish only for such things as are attainable. 
Have you heard enough about ants for the present ?" 

"O no, tell us more," they both answered at 
once. 

" I must first see what is become of William and 
the two little girls," said Georgiana; of whom they 
had lost sight, and calling them on all sides they 
received no answer. After some search, Annie, the 
youngest, was discovered in a thicket she had 
entered in pursuit of a butterfly. 

"Where are William and Rosa?" inquired 
Georgiana. 

" They are gone to Duncan n s cottage," answered 
the little girl; "William said he knew the way, 
and that Robert had said, that old Molly could tell 
them pretty stories, and they were tired of yours, 
and glad to go away; and they would not let me 
go with them, because they said, I was too little to 
climb over the fence; and I began to cry when 
they left me, but when I saw the pretty butterfly 
I tried to catch it that I might bring it to you." 

Georgiana, frightened, and angry with herself for 
being so heedless of the charge committed to her 
care, went in pursuit of the little fugitives, accom- 
panied by Robert, Emma, and Annie. The path 
to the cottage wound through a deep dell, for nearly 
a quarter of a mile, and then struck off in a different 
direction up the wooded bank, at the top of which 
a gate fastened with a padlock put a stop to their 
progress. 



CHAPTER III. 35 

"How is this?" said Robert, "here is a wall 
built and a gate locked there never used to be any 
such impediments; how can William and Rosa 
have got over it ? Wait here, Georgiana, while I go 
and look for some gap, or the end of this wall, 
which they may have crossed lower down. There 
used to be a broken fence here with plenty of gaps, 
but this is quite a new work." 

While Robert was gone to explore, a wood- 
ranger accosted the little party, civilly asking them 
if they wanted to pass through the gate, the key of 
which he held in his hand. Georgiana thanking 
him, said she wished much to have it unlocked, and 
left open until her return, which would be very 
soon as she would merely go to Duncan's cottage, 
which appeared at a short distance among the trees, 
to bring from thence her little brother and sister. 

"How long have they been there, miss?" inquir- 
ed the woodranger as he unlocked the gate. 

"It is not an hour," answerd Georgiana, "since 
I missed them from my side." 

"They cannot then be at that cottage," replied he, 
" for the gate has not been opened since this morning 
early, and there is no other way of getting out." 

"Where can the children have strayed? 1 said 
Georgiana in much alarm. At hearing her say so, 
the two little girls began to weep bitterly ; which 
called forth the compassionate feelings of the kind 
hearted woodranger, who offered to go in quest of 
them if they would wait his return; which offer 



36 SISTER'S STORIES. 

Georgiana thankfully accepting, he set off, accom- 
panied by Robert, who had returned from his fruit- 
less search. They were but just out of sight, when 
the screams of a child in some dreadful alarm, as- 
sailed the ears of Georgiana and her already terrified 
companions; all of whom looked towards the place 
from whence the cries proceeded, and through the 
bars of the gate, they saw a little girl running to- 
wards it, pursued by a furious bull, which tore up 
the ground with its horns. Georgiana, with great 
presence of mind, pushed back her sisters, opened 
the gate, drew in the child, closed and locked it 
against the enraged animal, which made fruitless 
efforts to push through. The whole action was in- 
stantaneous, or it could not have availed, and when 
it was over, with her heart and lips she praised Him 
whose strong arm can alone deliver from every im- 
pending danger. The rescued child, panting and 
breathless, flung herself upon the ground, where 
she lay colourless as the white handkerchief which 
covered her neck, until Georgiana took her in her 
arms and carried her to the little brook which rip- 
pled beneath the bank, and having tasted of the 
clear stream, she seemed revived. She opened her 
eyes, but their wild expression was quite alarming, 
as she again screamed, "O the bull! the bull! save 
me, daddy O! daddy, daddy! 11 

"You are safe, my little girl,"" said Georgiana 
pressing her to her bosom ; "no bull can touch you 
here. Look around, my little dear, the bull is gone. 11 



CHAPTER III. 37 

"But where is my daddy r" screamed the tremta 
ling child. " The bull will come again." 

" He cannot come here,"' said Georgiana; "the 
gate is shut against him.*" 

"He will leap over it," said the little girl. 

" He cannot, only look how high it is, v said Geor- 
giana. At length the poor child became pacified, 
by degrees her terror wore off, and she looked with 
pleasure at Emma and Anne twining wreaths of 
wild flowers. 

"Where do you live? 1 ' inquired Georgiana. 

"Down there," she answered, pointing with her 
finger, "at the bottom of the hill. My mammy 
sent me to call daddy home to dinner, and I did 
not go the way she bid me," she continued in a 
crying voice, "out of the little gate at the foot of 
the garden into the wood; but I went the way she 
bid me not, round the field, thinking to find wild 
violets; and I forgot all that she told me about the 
bull being there until I saw him running towards 
me; and then I called for my daddy to save me, 
but he did not hear me, and I don't know where he 
is; and I am sure my mammy will beat me when I 
go home, for doing what she bid me not." And 
again the little girl renewed her lamentations, 

"You are very much to blame indeed, my poor 

child," said Georgiana. "Your disobeying your 

mother would have been the cause of your death, 

had not a good and merciful God saved you. I 

E 



38 SISTER'S STORIES. 

trust your escape will make an impression on your 
mind never to be forgotten/ 1 

"O! I never, never will, I hope, disobey my 
mammy again, or my daddy either, 4 " sobbed out the 
little girl. 

Georgiana's anxiety respecting the safety of her 
brother and sister increased every minute. The 
sight of the bull so near them, added much to her 
apprehensions for their safety, and she would have 
gone herself in search of them, but that she dared 
not to trust the little ones by themselves, and she 
equally feared bringing them with her. Her anxi- 
ous looks were directed hither and thither, with an 
agonized intensity of feeling, as restless fancy 
brought before her eyes her dear brother and sister 
gored by the frightful bull, and lying perhaps at no 
great distance weltering in their blood; and at the 
dreadful thought, a faintness came over her from 
the fluttering of her heart. But she remembered 
her heavenly Father, who is as a shield and a buck- 
ler to all who put their trust in him ; and she thought 
of her earthly parents as she mentally said, "Ah! 
no, it cannot be, that the children of so many pray- 
ers should come to an untimely end. 1 '' While she 
was alternately agitated, and quieted by the variety 
of her feelings, she did not for a moment withdraw 
her regards from the little girls at her side, whose 
terrors had subsided like all the momentary griefs 
of childhood, and again the harmless chase of the 
butterfly flitting from flower to flower occupied all 



CHAPTER III. 39 

their cares, in which they were joined by the little 
stranger who had glided from under the encircling 
arms of Georgiana for the purpose. 

While Georgiana kept the children in her view, 
she paced backwards and forwards with eyes direct- 
ed upwards to Him who is the hearer of prayer, 
while the tears that gushed from them flowed down 
her cheeks. At length the tall figure of the wood- 
ranger appeared among the distant trees, but she 
could not see that he was accompanied; as he ad- 
vanced, however, she joyfully beheld the little 
truants, whose hand he held at each side, as if fear- 
ful that they would again elude his vigilance. And 
now Georgiana's sorrows were literally changed 
into fits of laughter, in spite of herself, at the ridi- 
culous appearance of William and Rosa, who had 
each towering caps on their heads of green rushes, 
and held whips in their hands made of the same 
material; their faces and hands were besmeared 
with mud, and Rosa^s frock hung literally in tatters 
about her. William's dress, being made of stronger 
manufacture, escaped better. They both held down 
their heads, while the woodranger was beginning to 
speak, but he was prevented from proceeding by 
the child whom Georgiana had saved from the bull. 
The moment she perceived him she sprung round 
him, crying out, "O! daddy, daddy, you are come 
at last : but you did not come in time to save me 
from the bull in the outside field; he would have 
killed me quite dead if the young lady had not 



40 SISTER'S STORIES. 

opened the gate and pulled me in, and shut it close 
against his ugly cross face and horns." 

"What brought you into the field, Nanny?" said 
he, taking the little girl up in his arms; "your mo- 
ther and I have often warned you not to go there, 
where the cattle are constantly grazing; that bull 
has already done much mischief, which was the rea- 
son of the gate being kept locked. O ! how merci- 
ful the Lord has been in the preservation of my 
child; 'it is good to trust in him at all times/" 
Then turning to Georgiana, he added, " I cannot 
but admire, at that Providence, miss, which made 
you the means of saving my child, whilst I was 
directed to the spot where your little brother and 
sister, as I may say, hung over a yawning precipice. 
You know those high rocks hanging over the sea, 
there I spied them out at last, after a wearisome 
search, perched like two little birds; and such 
scrambling as I had to get at them ! Sure enough 
I thought I could never get through the bushes 
and brambles and over the rough rocks, but, thank 
God, we are all here together, safe and well; and 
I hope the little bruises and scratches they have 
got will be of use to them, in keeping them from 
running again into such dangerous places. The 
first thing, they tell me, they did, was to make their 
grand caps and whips, with rushes, which they 
pulled at the ditch side, and there they waded above 
their ancles in water; then they went to gather wild 



CHAPTER III. 41 

flowers, and crowned all, by making little goats of 
themselves by climbing up the rocks." 

After Georgiana had again and again thanked 
the woodranger, she asked William and Rosa what 
they had done with their cap and bonnet? 

"O!" said William, "that is true Rosa what 
did you do with my cap and your bonnet, which I 
gave you to keep safe while I was platting the 
rushes ?" 

" I don't know," answered the little girl, " I left 
them somewhere." 

"And your gloves?" 

" They are lost too," said Rosa. 

" There is no time now to look for them," said 
Georgiana; "we must hasten home as quickly as 
possible, lest papa and mamma should feel uneasy 
at our long absence." 

The woodranger promised he would seek for the 
cap, bonnet and gloves, and carry them to their 
house in the morning; the children took leave of 
him and his little daughter and proceeded home- 
wards with much less glee than they had set out in 
the morning. 

The two little culprits hung down their heads 
when they appeared in the presence of papa and 
mamma, who in a moment perceived that all was 
not right. 

" There has been some naughtiness I see," said 
papa, "you know I always like to hear a true and 
circumstantial account from the lips of the offender," 



42 SISTER'S STORIES. 

"No one was naughty but Rosa and me, papa, v 
said the blushing boy in accents of deep contrition. 
He attempted to proceed, but tears and sobs for 
that time put a stop to his confession. Rosa^s 
efforts to speak were equally ineffectual, so that 
both were of necessity dismissed, until the burst of 
grief was over. In their absence Georgiana related 
all which had happened, and the children were 
punished severely by not being permitted to appear 
before their papa and mamma for the remainder of 
the evening. The next morning, however, they 
were forgiven, on their still evincing shame and 
penitence, and promising that they would try to 
remember always to pray to God to save them from 
sin and running into any kind of danger. 



CHAPTER IV. 



I? THI1 
(CONTINUED.) 



"GEORGIANA," said Emma, one day when the 
children were all seated in the arbour to rest, after 
some hours of toil in the sun had been spent in 
gravelling their garden walks, in weeding, in plant- 
ing and transplanting; "do you remember the 
day, when William and Rosa frightened you so 
much by straying out of sight ; and when the good- 
natured woodranger went to look for them, and 
found them?" 

" I recollect it perfectly," said Georgiana; "my 
memory would be bad indeed if I did not, as it was 
but a week or ten days since." 

"Well then, do you remember just at the time 
you missed them, what you were telling us about?" 

"Let me think; was it not the history of ants? 

"Yes, and I have been often thinking of them, 



44 SISTER'S STORIES. 

and wishing to find you at leisure to tell us more ; 
for even Robert was amused." 

" 'Even Robert! 111 cried out the offended boy, 
"do you think I never like to hear any thing but 
what is foolish. Miss Emma? You so much 
younger than I am, to fancy yourself wiser !" 

"No matter now," said Georgiana, "which is the 
wisest. I have still a great deal to tell you re- 
specting the ants; therefore, listen with attention." 

"You told us that they lay up stores of corn for 
their winter's provision!" 

"They certainly store it up," said Georgiana, 
"although it is generally supposed that they lie 
torpid, in heaps together, during the severe winter 
months. The corn and other materials which they 
had brought to their retreat, seem to serve as 
fences to shelter them from the cold. In April they 
awake from their lethargy, and the ant-hill, which 
before seemed deserted, now swarms with inhabi- 
tants. The first day they spend in running all 
over their hill, which they regard as their citadel, 
examining any injuries it may have sustained, and 
planning probably the labours of the ensuing day. 
Their care and love for their young are very 
remarkable. When the female ants are going to 
lay their eggs, they alight near the nest, where the 
labourers or servants seize upon them, and pull off 
their wings, that they may not have power to fly 
away again. Then they drag them into the nest 
where they are kept like prisoners until after their 



CHAPTER IV. 45 

eggs are laid. Each lady-ant has a number of 
these servants who wait upon her, and obey all her 
commands, treating her with the utmost respect. 
They supply her with every thing she may wish 
for; and if any of them die, they lick the bodies 
for several days, as if they hoped to restore them 
to life." 

" But however," said Emma, " I do not think 
they begin very respectfully or lovingly either, by 
tearing off their poor mistresses 1 wings and making 
prisoners of them.* What sort of things can their 
eggs be?" 

"They are so small that you could hardly see 
them. There are little white balls which have 
been mistaken for the eggs ; but they are the young 
ants in their maggot state, wrapped up in a covering, 
which, like the silk-worm, they have spun for them- 
selves. The egg, when seen through the microscope, 
is polished and shining. It seems to be part of the 
business of the working ants to take care of them. 
In cold weather, they take them in their mouths, 
but so gently as never to do them the least injury ; 
and carry them to the deepest and most sheltered 
part of the habitation. On a fine day they again 

* Some naturalists say that the queens throw off their own 
wings. Huber indeed, made the experiment by covering one with 
a glass bell under which he had put a little earth. She extended her 
wings, crossed and threw them from side to side, and after several 
curious contortions, her four wings fell off at the same moment. 
After this change she reposed, brushed her corselets, and sought a 
hiding-place under some loose earth. 



46 SISTER'S STORIES. 

remove them with the same caution, where the heat 
of the sun may help to bring them forward. Should 
their habitation be destroyed, the first care of these 
wonderful insects is directed to their young brood, 
which they have been seen to carry in different 
directions, as they ran about wildly seeking a place 
of safety. When water is thrown in, they immedi- 
ately dig down to deposit their eggs in a dry place, 
and when moisture is necessary for them they bring 
them to where they may enjoy and suck it in. 
They are always licking them ; and if any of them 
are killed, they carry off the body piecemeal in 
their arms/ 1 

"How do the ants roof their galleries?" Robert 
inquired. 

" Some of them place bits of twigs over them, 
which answer the purpose of rafters ; while one set of 
workmen are employed in this way, others lay 
pieces across these, and cover all over with rushes, 
weeds, and dried grass, so firmly and securely, that 
the heaviest rain cannot penetrate their magazines. 
The ground-work of these buildings is formed of earth 
mixed up with a certain glutinous substance pro- 
duced from their bodies. 

" In Sweden there is a species of ant which the 
natives eat with great pleasure. A young gentle- 
man near Gottenburg was observed by Mr. Consett 
to sit down on an ant-hill and feast himself on these 
insects, first nipping off their heads and wings. 
He described the flavour to be acid like a lemon, 



CHAPTER IV. 47 

but much more agreeable to the taste. A very 
grateful acid is to be obtained from them by distilla- 
tion. 

"Dampier, in speaking of the ants of South 
America, says that the stings or bites of the Black 
Ants are as bad as those of a scorpion. And there 
is a small yellow ant which inhabits the boughs of 
trees; and in a moment, before a person is aware, 
he may be covered with them and receive stings, 
as if a shower of fiery sparks had descended. Their 
winter abode is the nest they form of the size of a 
hogshead on the stems of great trees between the 
spreading boughs. In the dry season, they leave 
their nests and swarm over the woodlands, where 
paths may be seen made by them three or four 
inches broad. They go out unencumbered, but 
return heavily laden, bearing upon their backs pieces 
of green leaves, all of the same size and substance, 
so large as to hide the insect under his burthen. 
They marched on stoutly, and in such numbers 
that the green path appeared to move forwards, 
presenting a curious and pretty sight. These ants 
never appear in the savannas. 

"What is a savanna, Georgian a ?" inquired 
Emma. 

" It is an open meadow free from wood," answered 
her sister. *' The male and female ants have four 
wings.* They appear to be the masters and mistresses 

* Take notice, that all winged insects are the same with the 
wingless ; but in another stage of existence. In this respect, anU 
go through the same changes as caterpillars and butterflies. 



48 SISTER'S STORIES. 

of the others; as they go about idle, and amuse them- 
selves, while the latter are always labouring hard. 
Their hills are generally formed near some large 
tree and a stream of water; that they may obtain 
food from the one, and moisture from the other. 
Paths are seen in different directions leading from 
their dwelling to the tree and the water, where they 
are always busily employed passing and repassing. 
Their chief employment is carrying home provisions 
for the idlers, as well as for themselves. They kill 
and devour small insects. First, they satisfy their 
own appetite, and then carry off the remainder. 
When they meet with an insect too large for them to 
manage singly, a number of them assail and tear it 
to pieces; then each takes up his load, and carries 
it away in triumph to the general repository, where 
there is no distinct property; the whole community 
is at liberty to resort to it to help themselves. But 
they make it a rule never to intrude on each others^ 
dwellings. Were an ant to venture into a nest 
which was not her own, she would immediately be 
turned out and punished. The experiment was 
made by putting an ant of one nest into another, but 
she ran out again in a great hurry pursued by two 
or three others; she was thrown back several times 
until at last the enraged little animals fell upon her 
and tore her to pieces. When pursued and fright- 
ened from their own nest to the entrance of another, 
they will stop, and try every means of escape, or 
suffer themselves to be taken rather than go into 



CHAPTER IV. 49 

any door but their own; though they are always 
ready to help each other in carrying loads, which 
they lay down at the entrance, for the inhabitants 
to carry in." 

" I think it is very cruel to teaze them by making 
such experiments," said Emma. 

Her sister admitted that it was certainly cruel ; 
but that it is the only mode of ascertaining that 
these things are real. And she added, "if you are 
not tired, Emma, I shall tell you of some very in- 
teresting experiments which have been made." 

"I am not tired, but very much amused; there- 
fore do tell me all you have read of these curious 
little creatures;" Emma quickly replied. 

"A gentleman of Cambridge, one day saw an 
ant dragging along what, in comparison with itself, 
might be called a great piece of timber. Others 
also were laboriously employed, each in its own 
way. The timber carrier came to an ascent, up 
which he could not pull it, with all his efforts. 
Three or four others came goodnaturedly to his 
assistance, and pushed it up ; and when on level 
ground, they left it with him, and returned to their 
own work. The poor little fellow began afresh te 
tug his piece of wood, which was thicker at one end 
than the other; unluckily he got it wedged in be- 
tween two bits of stick, in such a manner that he 
could not with all his exertions force it on. At 
last he ran to the thick end, pulled it back, turned 



50 SISTER'S STORIES. 

it on its edge, and then ran again to the other end, 
and pulled it on without difficulty."" 

"Just as a little man would have done! 11 observ- 
ed Emma. 

"The same gentleman, one day sitting in the 
garden of his college, saw an ant busily employed 
in some work which caused him to go back and for- 
ward very often over the same ground. He traced 
him to the entrance of a community, whence he ob- 
served him to take up the dead body of an ant in his 
fangs, and run away with it to some distance, where 
he dropped it, and returned for another, which had 
been carried out during his absence, and left ready 
for him on his return at the door of the nest. 

"A gentleman of the French Academy had a 
box of earth in the window of a room which had 
been long empty ; it had been imbued with water, 
and, from the falling of some plaster, rendered a dry 
barren soil. It was in a southern aspect, sheltered 
from wind and rain, and in the neighbourhood of a 
granary. So many advantages combined could 
not fail to attract some communities of ants, which 
are endued with instinct resembling in many re- 
spects human intellect. The ants had made three 
nests in the box, when the owner of it wished to 
transplant some tulips; but observing their move- 
ments, he became so much interested in them, that 
he threw aside the flowers, resolving to assist rather 
than do them any injury. As he expresses himself, 
'This was all they wanted; their policy and social 



CHAPTER IV. 51 

order being more perfect than that of the wisest 
republics; they have nothing to fear, unless a new 
legislator should attempt to change their form of 
government. I procured them all conveniences. I 
took out of the box every thing troublesome, and 
frequently visited and studied the actions of my 
ants. I went to see them work in a moonlight 
night; and frequently watched their labours during 
the night; they were always passing to and fro 
busily, so that one might think they never sleep.** 
In the day time ants issue from their holes, carry- 
ing the corn from their granaries under ground to 
dry it in the sun. But these ants brought out 
theirs only by moonlight. This gentleman soon 
found out their sagacity in this particular, so differ- 
ent from the usual practice of their species. There 
was a pigeon-house in the vicinity; had they ex- 
posed their corn in the day time, these and other 
birds would soon have demolished it. This they 
had certainly experienced to be the case. The 
gentleman contrived to banish the birds, which had 
been in the habit of hovering over and alighting at 
the nests. The ants being delivered from their 
robbers, took courage, and brought out their corn 
in the sun, first with caution in small quantities, 
watching, and looking every way, that they might 
be ready to carry it off in case of an invasion. 
Finding, however, that they had nothing to appre- 
hend, they grew bolder, and carried all their corn 



52 SISTER'S STORIES* 

out in good order every day, and brought it back 
at night. 

" They gather many particles of dry earth, bring 
them every day out, and place them round, to heat 
in the sun. Every ant brings one particle, lays it 
by the hole, and then fetches another. Thus, in a 
quarter of an hour, many such particles are heaped 
up round the hole upon that earth. They lay their 
corn under ground, and cover it with the same; 
this work is done most days during the sun's heat; 
and though the sun went from the window about 
four o'clock, they did not remove their corn and 
the particles of earth, because the ground was very 
hot, until the heat was over. 

"The ants having brought out the particles of 
earth, then carry out their corn, and place it round 
the earth; but they take care to do so only when 
the weather is clear, and the sun shining bright. 
One day the gentleman of whom I told you, saw 
them bring it out at eleven o'clock, and he was very 
much surprised to see them take all up again upon 
their shoulders and carry it back before one; which 
was very unusual, the sun being hot and the sky 
serene. Soon after, it became clouded and a light 
shower fell, which of course the ants foresaw." 

"The ants are wiser than I am," said Robert; "if 
I saw the sun bright, and the sky clear, it would 
never come into my head that rain would soon come. 
When the sun shines, I just go on as if it were 
always to shine." 



CHAPTER IV. 3 

"We are too apt to be improvident in regard to 
what more materially concerns us; so that in this 
instance also, we may go to the ant for instruction," 
answered Georgiana. 

"The gentleman tells us," she continued, "that 
his ants fetched their corn out of a garret, from 
whence they always chose the best grains. They 
were glad of wheat when they could find any; 
but when they could not, contented themselves 
with rye, oats, millet, and even crumbs of bread: 
any of these they preferred to barley, which they 
only took when they could procure nothing else. 
The gentleman who watched them closely, put a 
small heap of wheat into a corner of the room where 
they were; and to prevent their going to the garret, 
he shut the window and stopt up all the crevices. 
The poor ants were at a great loss, not knowing 
that there was a supply of provisions so near, and 
took long and painful journeys in quest of them; 
and often seemed not to like what they brought 
home; yet none returned empty-handed; if they 
could get nothing else, they came loaded with a bit 
of earth. For a length of time he continued to 
observe whether their sense of smelling, or any 
other means would direct them to the hoard in the 
corner. They continued however to weary them- 
selves by long excursions, the window looking into 
the garden being two stories high. Some traversed 
the garden, and others mounted up the wall to the 
fifth story; which was a laborious journey for a 



SISTER'S STORIES. 



little ant loaded with a large grain of corn; they 
were often four hours in performing it; whence its 
labours are compared to those of man who should 
walk four leagues every day, carrying a heavy load 
upon his shoulders. They travel easily upon flat 
ground; but when they are obliged to climb walls 
with their head downwards and their body upwards, 
carrying a burden as large as themselves, it must 
be hard work for such a little animal. Only those 
who watch their movements can conceive it. Their 
frequent stops in the most convenient places plainly 
indicate weariness. Some seemed puzzled how to 
proceed; and while they delayed, the stronger and 
less weary having left their burdens at home, re- 
turned to their assistance. Some poor little fellows 
fell down with their load when nearly at the nest. 
One in particular was observed to fall, after a very 
laborious march which he had made, carrying with 
wonderful pains a large grain of wheat. He must 
have been vexed, yet with much patience took up his 
grain of corn again in his paws, and repeated the weary 
journey. Three times this misfortune happened; 
sometimes when half way to his house, and again 
when he had advanced farther. Still he kept fast 
his hold, and was not discouraged. At length how- 
ever his strength failed, and he waited until another 
ant came and helped him to carry it. While climb- 
ing, should their grain of corn accidentally fall from 
their paws, if possible they seize it again ; but if 
they cannot find it, they take up another, or some 



CHAPTER IV, 55 

burden, being ashamed to go home empty. This 
experiment was made by the gentleman taking up 
the grain of corn when it dropped from their paws. 
At last he took pity upon them, and threw one of 
the largest ants upon the small heap of wheat. He 
was frightened, I suppose, at being carried off in 
such a strange manner, as he ran away to the nest 
without taking up a grain of the wheat; but how- 
ever he told his companions of it, for they all filed 
off to the same heap, and soon there was not a grain 
left which they had not carried off. The gentleman 
supplied them with more, that he might ascertain 
the quantity which would satisfy them to have in 
their stores. 

"The three ants' nests were like three cities 
governed by the same laws. One amongst them 
was superior to the others; the inhabitants being 
more numerous, larger, stronger and better regu- 
lated; their provisions were in greater plenty and 
of a better kind. In short, this was the principal 
nest, to which the others seemed to be in some de- 
gree subservient The box in which this settle- 
ment was established, was in a dry situation; yet 
occasionally the rain beat in upon it to the great 
inconvenience of its inhabitants. The ants of the 
principal nest warded it off by an ingenious expe- 
dient. They found a small piece of slate, which a 
number of the strongest surrounded and drew 
along in wonderful order over the hole of their 
dwelling, when they foresaw it would rain, and also 



56 SISTER'S STORIES. 

almost every night, removing it in the morning. 
It was most curious to see those little animals 
engaged in such a work. The ground being made 
uneven by their labours, the slate did not lie flat, 
but left a free passage underneath. The ants of 
the other nests did not contrive so well ; they laid 
pieces of old plaster over their holes which defended 
them badly from the rain; and were often busily 
employed after it was over in repairing the damage 
they had received. Ants dislike rain so much, that 
if it surprise them when on their way for provisions, 
they take shelter, and remain until the rain is quite 
over. 

" The same gentleman tells of another experiment 
he made to force some ants to forsake their old 
tenement, which was in bad order, and form another 
in his box. He destroyed it several times, but they 
always repaired it ; until at last he blew it up with 
gunpowder, and carried off all the ants he could 
find to the new nest which he had partly made, and 
furnished them with materials to finish it. Wet 
weather coming on at the time, favoured his plan, 
which was at length completed, in the establishment 
of the new colony." 

"What a delightful thing it would be to have 
pet ants," said Emma, "they would be more amus- 
ing than dogs, cats, birds, or even monkeys. Is 
there any thing more about them in that pleasant 
book ?" 

"Yes, you have not yet heard of various species 



CHAPTER IV. 57 

of ants, amongst which are AMAZON ANTS, and the 
enemy of ants, the Ant lion. 1 ' 

" The first, I suppose,"* said Robert, "must have 
got their names from their warlike propensities." 

" You judge very rightly,"" said his sister. " The 
business of their lives is war and rapine. They at- 
tack the weaker ants, and after a desperate battle, 
plunder them of their eggs and larvae, which they 
carry off to their own nests. The eggs are hatched 
and reared by ants of their own species, which had 
been brought into subjection to the Amazons in the 
same way." 

" Georgiana," said Robert, "this reminds me of 
the slave trade!" 

"I believe, indeed," answered his sister, "there 
is nothing else in nature which can be compared 
to it. In one thing, however, the Amazon ants 
are much more kind than the human species. The 
young ants which they rear up with themselves are 
treated with tenderness and care ; but when fit for 
labour, become the servants of the Amazons, who 
do no work themselves, but live like gentlemen 
with their domestics waiting upon them; these at- 
tend them with the affection of children to their 
parents, retaining no sense of the injury done them 
in their subjugation." 

Robert next asked his sister to give them an ac- 
count of the ant lion (Formica leo) which she did as 
follows : 

" The ANT LION is a very curious insect, to all 



58 SISTER'S STORIES. 

appearance the most helpless and slow of animals. 
But what it wants in activity it makes up by stra- 
tagem. Not having the power of pursuing its prey, 
it forms a comical pit to entrap insects. Its body, 
composed of wings, resembles that of a wood-louse. 
It has six legs, a pair of hooked jaws, and six eyes 
at each side of its head, which render it very quick- 
sighted. It feeds on the juices of ants and other 
insects. In forming its pit, it chooses a dry sandy 
soil under a tree or some old wall, where there is 
generally a plentiful resort of ants. It begins its 
operation by tracing a circular furrow, and placing 
itself within side. It uses the hind part of its body 
as a ploughshare to turn up the sand, and one of its 
fore-legs serves as a shovel to throw it upon its flat 
square head; which when sufficiently loaded, it jerks 
the whole beyond the outward circle which it has 
made, to an astonishing distance. Its movements 
are all backwards; and when it has excavated one 
circle it begins another in the opposite direction, 
and so on until its pit is completed, ending in a 
point. It uses its inner leg in loading its head 
with sand, which it takes care always to remove 
from within the circle, never touching what is out- 
side; for which reason the inside legs only can be 
used; and that both may work in their turn, the 
clever little engineer makes its furrows in opposite 
directions. When pebbles obstruct its labours, it 
places them on its head and tosses them beyond the 
margin of the pit. When any of these are too 




ANT-LION.- Formica leo. 
(Perfect Insect) 




Trap of Larva. 



CHAPTER IV. 59 

heavy for its head, it works its tail under the peb- 
ble, and by moving the rings of its body it hoists 
the load on its back, and walks backwards up the 
sloping side of the pit. Should the burden un- 
happily tumble off, it renews its efforts again and 
again until success attends them. When all is 
finished, it lurks at the bottom of its pit for its 
prey, of the approach of which it is warned by the 
falling in of some grains of sand; then the ingenious 
insect immediately throws up showers of sand with 
its head, which never fail to precipitate the luck- 
less ant into the expanded jaws of its destroyer. 
When it has sucked out the juice of the 
ant, it casts out the empty skin as far as 
possible beyond the brink of the pit. It then 
climbs up to repair any injuries that the edge 
may have sustained, and again buries itself 
to wait for another meal. Through the forceps 
it takes in nourishment; and holds at the tip of 
them any animal it has seized. They serve as 
syringes, to draw into its stomach the juices of the 
bodies which it feeds upon. There is neither mouth, 
trunk, nor other organ, about its head, which could 
answer the purpose of eating. The head seems 
only intended for throwing up sand. If any acci- 
dent deprives it of its jaws or forceps, they grow 
again; being necessary to its existence. 

"It is now in its larva state; when that is over s 
it leaves its pit and buries itself under the surface 
of the sand, and winds itself up in a fine silken. 



60 SISTER'S STORIES. 

web in which it is to pass into a winged state. This 
creature spins its web as the spiders do, and with a 
quantity of the grains of sand cements it together 
by a glutinous substance which it exudes from its 
pores. This is but an outward covering to defend it 
from injuries, and would be much too harsh for its 
soft and delicate body, which is beautifully enve- 
loped within a covering of pure, fine pearl coloured 
silk. When it has lain some time in this case, it 
disengages itself from its outer skin, and becomes 
an oblong nymph or chrysalis, in which a nice ob- 
server may trace the form of the fly into which it 
is to be transformed. This nymph makes about half 
its way out of the shell, and so remains without 
further life or motion, till the perfect fly comes out 
of a slit in the back. In this its last state, it re- 
sembles the dragon fly."" 

"Well, 1 ' said Emma, "this is a curious story in- 
deed. I wish, dear Georgiana, you could go on ; 
but I suppose we must leave off for a little time." 



CHAPTER V. 



F TOU WJflnTll 



GEORGIAXA being seated in her favourite bower, 
deeply occupied in that delightful study to which 
her dear father had lately directed her attention, 
her meditative mind found abundant scope for re- 
flection; and in the full enjoyment of the calm 
evening hour and tranquil scene, her thoughts left 
all terrestrial things behind, and soared to the high 
heaven of God's creation ; when the whole train of 
her ideas was suddenly broken by the entrance of 
Robert, Emma, and William, in breathless haste 
trying who should reach her first. 

"Here we are, dear Georgiana," began Robert, 
"wearied out with running up and down the banks 
of the glen, hunting Dido after the rabbits, and 
watching how she chased them into their holes, and 
sometimes scratched with her paws as if determined 
G 



62 SISTER'S STORIES. 

to pull them out again. We want now to sit with 
you to rest ourselves, if you will tell us something 
more of the dear little ants." 

Georgiana from childhood accustomed to relin- 
quish her own gratification, when called upon to 
oblige or be serviceable to others, now cheerfully 
laid aside "Dick's Christian Philosopher" which she 
had been reading, and opened " Bingley's Animal 
Biography," at the account of the white ants, that 
she might refer to it as often as her memory wanted 
refreshing. 

" You will not, I think, call the species, I shall 
now tell you of, 'dear little ants/ when you hear 
that their depredations is the cause of their being 
dreaded by the human race wherever they establish 
themselves. They are called Termites, Termes 
fatalis, or WHITE ANTS, and are found in the East 
Indies, Africa, and South America. They erect 
their hills on the surface of the ground to such an 
extent and size, as at a little distance to be taken 
for villages of negroes' huts. They are in the form 
of a cone, rising ten, twelve, or twenty feet high." 

"O Georgiana," said William, "what sort of 
ants can these be? surely they must be beasts as 
large as horses or cows !" 

"By no means, William, they are not even as 
large as beavers. The animals which rear for 
themselves such lofty dwellings, are but the fourth 
of an inch long; some of our ants are larger. 
I speak of those only who are the builders; 



CHAPTER V. 63 

there being three different orders among the in- 
habitants of each hill, which are three transmigra- 
tions or changes in the same insect. The first 
is the smallest and most numerous, (the larvce) 
they are called Labourers. In the second state, 
(nymphce) they increase to fifteen times the size, 
and are called Soldiers, having now no other employ- 
ment than to guard and defend the settlement. 
The last state, which is the perfect insect, is digni- 
fied with the title of nobility or gentry, or Kings 
and Queens. The soldiers not only increase in size, 
but acquire a different form. The head grows 
strong, horny, and larger than all the rest of the 
body; and those organs which had been calculated 
merely for gnawing, now become jaws, hard as the 
claws of a crab, and sharp as awls, to cut and pierce 
through every obstacle. The last change is the 
most remarkable of the three; the head and thorax 
or chest become totally different from the same 
parts in the labourers and soldiers, from whom they 
differ as much in character as in appearance; from 
being the most active, industrious, and rapacious of 
little animals, they become idle, harmless, cowardly, 
and helpless. This change happens just before the 
rainy season; and in the buffetting of the storm, 
their mangled remains cover the ground and the 
waters.' 1 

"How foolish they are," said Emma, "for leav- 
ing the shelter of their comfortable hill! How do 
they contrive to get to any distance from it ?" 

"By the new acquisition of four large, brown 



64 SISTER'S STORIES. 

transparent wings, which measure two inches and a 
half from tip to tip, their bodies being three quar- 
ters of an inch long. When they emigrate, or fly 
from the nest, their numbers are very great; but 
the enemies they meet with are even greater. They 
not only become the prey of every species of ant 
and carnivorous reptile, but are eaten by the inha- 
bitants of many parts of Africa, and considered a 
great delicacy. The taste is compared to sugared 
marrow and to sugared cream, and a paste of sweet 
almonds. The day of their flight is that of their 
massacre, from which very few escape; those only 
can who are so fortunate as to be found by some of 
the labouring insects, which are continually running 
about the surface of the ground, and under their 
covered galleries. When a pair are found, they are 
elected king and queen of a new community; and 
to protect them from innumerable enemies, they 
are immediately immured in a small clay chamber 
proportioned to their size, to which the doors are 
sufficiently large for the labourers and soldiers to 
enter, but too small for creatures more than double 
the size of the latter to get out." 

"That makes prisoners of them, instead of kings 
and queens,"' said Emma. 

"The remainder of their lives they must pass in 
confinement, but they are in a place of safety ; sur- 
rounded by willing subjects, who do every thing in 
their power to promote their ease and comfort, and 
who take upon them the task of providing for the 



CHAPTER V. 65 

young brood, as well as defending them. The 
queen's body fills with eggs, and becomes a thousand 
times heavier than the king. In twenty-four hours, 
her attendants, of whom there are always a number 
waiting in the adjacent galleries, carry off her eggs, 
and deposit them in nurseries which are made in a 
straight line, sometimes four or five feet distant. 
There the eggs are hatched, and the young ants 
are watched, and provided for until sufficiently 
grown to become labourers themselves. The nur- 
series are constructed of wooden materials, joined 
together with a glutinous substance, quite different 
from all the other apartments which are made of 
clay. Here they have also a kind of little gardens 
for the cultivation of a species of microscopical 
mushroom,* as food for the young insects."" 

" What kind of mushroom can that be," inquir- 
ed Emma. 

" Too minute, I suppose, to be discerned by the 
naked eye. Here also they form their magazines, 
which are well stored with provisions. 1 ' 

"What are their provisions?' 

"When examined closely with a microscope, they 
were found chiefly to consist of gums and juices of 
plants, which they lay together in different masses 
or heaps. Some of a finer description than others 
looked like sugar over preserved fruits ; some were 
transparent like the tears of gum ; and some resem- 
bled pieces of amber: but without the microscope, 

* Nature Displayed. 
G2 



OO SISTER S STORIES. 

the whole seemed to be nothing better than the 
raspings of wood and plants. 

" These sagacious little animals take the wisest 
precautions to protect their habitations from the 
injuries of the weather, and from the attacks of 
of their enemies. The interior building is fortified 
by an exterior covering or large clay shell, shaped 
like a dome. 

"When the hills are first seen, they are in the 
form of conical turrets about a foot high, the num- 
bers of them increasing until the underworks are 
entirely covered. The turrets in the centre being 
the highest, when the intervals between each are 
filled up, the whole is at last collected into one 
great dome. The chamber of the queen is gener- 
ally on a level with the surface of the ground, and 
as nearly as possible the central apartment, in the 
form of an oval oven or half an egg. In the in- 
fant state of the colony, it is not more than an inch 
in length, but it is enlarged to eight inches or more 
in proportion to the size of the queen, who increases 
in bulk as in age. At first the nurseries are close to 
her chamber; but as she grows larger, they are 
pulled to pieces to make room, and rebuilt on a 
larger scale, and in greater numbers, at a more con- 
venient distance; the queen requiring this from 
laying a greater quantity of eggs, and wanting 
more numerous attendants. Thus are these busy 
animals constantly employed in pulling down, re- 
pairing or rebuilding, and they perform all their 




WHITE ANT. Termes Bellicosus. 



CHAPTER V. 67 

operations with wonderful sagacity, regularity and 
foresight. The numerous apartments compose an 
intricate labyrinth, which extends a foot or more in 
diameter from the royal chamber on every side. 
The nurseries and magazines are separated by small 
empty chambers and galleries which surround them, 
and communicating with each other, are continued 
on all sides to the outward shell, and reach up to 
within two-thirds or three-fourths of its height, 
leaving an open area in the middle under the dome, 
which resembles the nave of an old gothic cathe- 
dral. This area is surrounded by large gothic 
arches, which are sometimes two or three feet high 
next to the front of the area, but diminish rapidly 
as they recede, like the arches of aisles in perspec- 
tive, and are lost among the numberless chambers 
and nurseries behind them. All these are arched 
and naturally contribute to the support of one ano- 
ther. The inferior building, or assemblage of 
nurseries, passages, Sec. has a flattish roof without 
any perforation or opening; by which contrivance, 
should water penetrate the outer dome, it could not 
injure them. The area above the royal chamber 
has also a flattish roof; and being water-proof, is 
so constructed that should water gain admittance, 
it runs off through subterraneous passages which 
are cylindrical or tubelike, some of them thirteen 
inches in diameter. These subterraneous passages 
are thickly lined with the same kind of clay of 
which the hill is composed, and wind in a spiral 



68 SISTER'S STORIES. 

form inside the outer covering to the top of the 
building, intersecting and communicating with each 
other at different heights. From every part of 
these galleries a number of pipes, or smaller galle- 
ries, communicate with the different apartments in 
the building. There are other passages which lead 
downwards in a sloping direction three or four feet 
perpendicular under ground, among the gravel 
where the labouring ants select the finer parts which 
they work up in their mouths, to the consistency 
of mortar. Of this composition their hills are con- 
structed, and it becomes solid like stone. They 
form passages in every direction, to great distances 
under ground, but near the surface, for the purpose 
of foraging. 

" The account given of the police of these insects 
is very remarkable, respecting the different occupa- 
tions of the soldiers and labourers. The nest may 
be termed a city having its civil and military 
establishments. When a breach is made in any 
part of the building with an axe or other instrument, 
a soldier immediately appears and walks about the 
place where the damage is done, seemingly to 
examine into its extent, and to ascertain the nature 
of the enemy. He then returns from whence he 
came, and having given the alarm, troops rush out 
as fast as the breach will permit and now the 
battle becomes furious. It would be difficult to 
describe the rage of these little insects. They 
frequently roll down the sides of the hill, but 



CHAPTER V. 69 

quickly recover themselves, biting all before them, 
and striking against the building with their forceps, 
which makes a vibrating crackling noise heard at 
the distance of several feet. While the attack upon 
their wall continues, nothing can exceed their bustle 
and agitation, numbers still coming forward to 
recruit their forces ; and if they can get hold on 
any part of a man's body, they inflict a painful 
wound; if upon the leg, the blood on the stocking 
extends above an inch in width. They make their 
hooked jaws meet at the first stroke, and never 
quit their hold; but will allow themselves to be 
torn to pieces without any attempt to escape. 

"When no further disturbance is given, they 
retire into the nest, and the labourers take their 
place to repair the damage. Each workman comes 
with his mouth filled with tempered mortar, which 
he sticks upon the breach as fast as he arrives. 
The work goes on with wonderful despatch and 
regularity; and although the numbers are immense, 
they never interrupt each other. People standing 
by and watching this operation, are agreeably 
surprised to see, amidst apparent hurry and con- 
fusion, the wall regularly and gradually arise to 
fill up the chasm. While the labourers continue at 
work, the soldiers, all but a few, remain within. 
One soldier walks about among six-hundred or a 
thousand labourers, as if to order and direct them ; 
but he never attempts to touch the mortar. Another 
takes his stand close to the wall where they are 



TO SISTER'S STORIES. 

repairing the breach; he turns himself leisurely on 
all sides, and at intervals of a minute or two, beats 
with his forceps against the building, making the 
vibrating noise already mentioned, and he is im- 
mediately answered by a loud hiss from within; 
that it is for the labourers is apparent, by their re- 
doubling their exertions as often as the signal is 
repeated. 

"Another attack on the building changes the 
scene of action in a moment. The labourers run 
into their pipes and galleries, while the soldiers 
again rush out to resume the combat. Should they 
find it a false alarm, they return leisurely from 
whence they came, and the labourers again appear 
loaded, and actively and industriously apply them- 
selves to work, with an inspecting soldier every 
here and there dispersed as before. Every renewal 
of an attack produces the same effects; and the 
pleasure of seeing them alternately fighting and 
working may be obtained as often as it is repeated. 
The soldiers and labourers never interfere with each 
other's particular employment, however great the 
emergency, The devotion of the former is most 
extraordinary: they fight to the very last, and often 
drive away the negroes, who are without shoes. 

" The Europeans mount the buildings of these 
ants, to look over the grass, which in that country 
grows upon an average thirteen feet high.'" 

"How do people ever contrive to see the interior 
of these buildings ?" inquired Robert, 



CHAPTER V. 71 

" They have been explored with difficulty, " an- 
swered Georgiana. " In battering down the fabric* 
the apartments surrounding the royal chamber, the 
nurseries, arches, and galleries are so constructed, 
that in attempting to remove one, two or three are 
demolished. Another great obstacle is from the 
desperate courage of the soldiers, who dispute every 
inch of ground with the desperation of those who 
will conquer or die. And all the while, the labour- 
ers are equally indefatigable in barricading the way, 
and stopping up the different passages which lead 
to the various apartments; but particularly to that 
of the king and queen ; all the entrances to which 
they fill up so artfully, that externally it has the 
appearance of a shapeless lump of clay, and could 
not be distinguished, but from its situation with 
respect to the other parts of the building, and by 
the crowds of soldiers and labourers which surround 
it, and who prove their loyalty and fidelity by dying 
under its walls. When the royal chamber is at 
length burst open, it is found to be sufficiently 
capacious to contain many hundreds of attendants, 
besides the king and queen, whose faithful subjects 
do not forsake them even in the last extremity. An 
experiment was made by a person, who carried off 
the royal chamber and placed it in a glass bowl. 
The numerous attendants followed, running in the 
same direction, round the king and queen with the 
greatest solicitude, some of them stopping at the 
head of the queen, as if to give her something. 



72 SISTER'S STORIES. 

They were seen taking away her eggs, and piling 
them up in some part of the chamber, or in the 
bowl under some pieces of clay which happened to 
be in it." 

"You said that these ants are dreaded by the 
natives of those countries where they establish 
themselves, but you have not yet told us of any 
mischief they do," said Robert. "I cannot but like 
them the better for the wounds they inflict in their 
own defence, and it does not appear that they ever 
attack any one unless they are first molested." 

"They do incalculable injury," answered his 
sister, "in carrying on their covered ways, in every 
direction where plunder may be obtained; and in 
destroying every substance which can be penetrated 
by their sharp forceps. They devour the whole 
inside of trees, eat through floors, and the internal 
part of the props of houses, which must consequent- 
ly fall, but by an extraordinary power preventing 
the destruction it would bring upon themselves, 
they are enabled to fill up the hollows with their 
mortar, which hardens like stone, and renders the 
support to the house much more solid and durable 
than the wooden one could have been," 

"This, though, is doing good, not harm, Geor- 
giana," observed Robert. 

" I think so too in this instance, which is no in- 
considerable one either. I recollect another piece 
of service in which they are very active. They 
rapidly remove dead trees, and other substances, 



CHAPTER V. 73 

which by their slow decay would encumber the 
ground for a length of time. By means of these 
diminutive animals, the ruins of deserted towns 
have been so effectually cleared away, that in two 
or three years not a vestige of them remained, and 
the ground has been covered with a thick wood." 

"Can you mention any particular instance in 
which they do harm?" asked Emma. 

"Yes, several have been recorded, of another 
species of white ants. Mr. Forbes, in his Oriental 
Memoirs, says, he could mention many curious 
instances of their depredations ; he relates one which 
happened to himself. In the rainy season, he left 
Anjengo for a few weeks; first locking up the 
apartment which contained his books, drawings, 
and other valuable articles. The walls of the room 
were white-washed; on them were suspended some 
prints and drawings, framed and glazed in the 
English style. The room had not been entered 
during his absence. It was evening when he re- 
turned, and by candle-light every thing appeared 
to remain in the order he had left it. In the morn- 
ing, however, he found it was far otherwise. Great 
works had been carried on in various directions to- 
wards his pictures, the glasses of which looked 
strangely dull, and the frames covered with dust: 
on attempting to wipe it off, he found the glasses 
were fixed to the wall, no longer in their frames, as 
he had left them, but encrusted round by the 
cement of the white ants, which had totally 
a 



74? SISTER'S STORIES. 

lished the frames, back -boards, and the greater pa# 
of the paper, leaving little but their covered ways 
or incrustations which upheld the glasses." 

"How provoking," said Robert, "to have such 
mischief done by so diminutive a creature." 

" The white ant of India is particularly fond or 
burrowing in the mud walls of Indian houses," 
continued his sister. " In the Edinburgh Philoso- 
phical Journal a correspondent writes, that his at- 
tention was one morning directed to a wet spot on 
the coloured wall of his apartment which he knew 
could not have been occasioned by damp. On 
slightly touching it, the plaster gave way, and he 
discovered that there was a hollow behind. On a 
closer investigation he found that the ants had 
established a nest there, and heard their mimic 
alarm-beat. Immediately afterwards, a number of 
them appeared with their mouths filled with wet 
mud, with which they repaired the breach in a few 
minutes. This gentleman frequently after amused 
himself by pulling down the wall which they had 
repaired, that he might observe them rebuild it, 
and hear the alarm-beat, which was always the case 
before they proceeded to work." 

"It would be a good plan," observed Emma, 
"to destroy their building as often as they repaired 
it, to keep them always busy at the same work and 
so prevent farther depredation." 

"From their clay nests, they excavate tunnels 
all round, often to the extent of several hundred 



CHAPTER V. 75 

feet;" resumed Georgiana. "They carry them on 
under the foundation of houses, rise again through 
the floors, and are expeditious in destroying the 
wainscoting, shelves and other fixtures; and if the 
house is not inhabited, they totally demolish it in 
a very short space of time. It is truly astonishing 
how so diminutive an animal can do such extensive 
injury. With the most extraordinary art and skill 
they eat away all the inside of what they attack, 
leaving but a few fibres here and there, so as to 
keep the sides or top and bottom connected; and 
as they carefully avoid piercing through the surface, 
(unless a book or any other tempting material lay 
upon it,) the appearance of solidity remains, when 
the reality is gone. The white ants of Japan have 
been compared to miners at work. Keempfer re- 
lates a curious instance of the rapidity of their 
operations. Upon rising one morning, he observed 
that a gallery about the thickness of his little finger 
had been formed across his table, and that a pas- 
sage had been bored of the same thickness up one 
foot of the table, and, carrying on the gallery, had 
pierced through another foot into the floor, all 
within the space of time which intervened between 
his retiring to rest and his rising. They are also 
extremely expeditious in making their way into 
trunks and boxes, even though made of mahogany ; 
destroying papers, cloth, linen, books, and every 
thing they contain, they construct their galleries 



76 SISTER'S STORIES* 

and frequently take up their abode in them.* You 
are now convinced, Robert, that these little animals 
do mischief." 

" I think we may be very glad that we have no 
such nuisance here, v he replied; "yet still I should 
like much to see them fighting and labouring. I 
could submit to a great deal of their mischief, if I 
might have that pleasure." 

"These, however, are a different species from 
those I first told you of," continued Georgiana. 

" I have been reading a very entertaining book 
this morning, lately published by Mr. Murray 
the first volume of "the natural history of insects." 

"Is there any thing in it about ants?" asked 
Emma. 

"Yes, a great deal which would amuse you ex- 
ceedingly. There is the account given by different 
naturalists. In GouhTs observations it is said, that 
in whatever apartment a queen condescended to be 
present, she commanded obedience and respect; 
and not only that, but universal gladness, which 
made her attendants skip and dance and leap 
around her, standing upon their hind-legs and 
prancing; which frolics they also practise when 
they meet each other after an absence, as a kind of 
congratulation. An instance is given by Huber of 
their attachment and recognition of each other after 
a long absence. He placed an ant-hill under a 
glass hive, allowing a number of ants to escape, 

* London Encyclopaedia. 



CHAPTER V. 77 

which formed a nest for themselves in his garden. 
The hive he removed to his study for the pur- 
pose of watching their operations. After the expi- 
ration of four months he carried it to the garden, 
and left it within fifteen paces of the nest. Imme- 
diately their former companions recognized them, 
caressed them with their antennae, and taking them 
up in their mandibles, brought them to their own 
nest. Others arrived in crowds, and did the same; 
so that in a very few days scarcely was there an 
ant to be seen in the artificial nest, while all were 
peaceably lodged in the natural one." 

" Are their mandibles their little hands ?" asked 
Rosa. 

"No, though they serve the purpose of hands, 
they are the upper jaws. Huber gives a curious 
account of their battles, which sometimes arise from 
disputed property, such as a few square feet of 
dust, the carcase of a worm, a straw, or a single 
grain of wheat ; for which mighty prize, myriads 
will engage in wars so furious as to leave the ground 
covered with their pigmy dead. In one such battle, 
he describes the two armies meeting at a distance 
from their respective habitations, upon a high 
ground. They fought in pairs, holding firmly 
their antagonist by their mandibles ; while some 
were engaged in the attack, others were leading 
away the prisoners, which made several ineffectual 
efforts to escape, seemingly aware that a cruel death 
awaited them when they arrived at the camp. As 

H2 



78 SISTER'S STORIES. 

the battle raged, the ants in groups and chains 
seized each others legs and pincers, rolled on the 
ground and raised themselves, each dragging its 
adversary. Two, holding each others mandibles, 
raised themselves upon their hind-legs and spurted 
out their venom. When their strength was equal, 
the wrestlers remained immoveable, until a third 
interfered to decide the contest. They were as- 
sisted often on both sides, in which way whole 
groups got enchained, until compelled by other 
warriors to let go their hold. They continued to 
fight until the approach of night drove them to 
their respective homes; but before the dawn of 
morning they returned to the field of battle, and 
the carnage recommenced with increased despera- 
tion. Towards mid-day they appeared to gain 
some ground, and crowds of ants were seen running 
to and fro to join the combatants, and escort the 
prisoners. At length a heavy fall of rain put an 
end to this war, and it is to be hoped to the animo- 
sity which subsisted between the two republics."" 

"Why truly, Georgiana," said Robert, "while 
listening to your account of this battle, I could not 
help fancying that you were telling me of contend- 
ing nations." 

" You will be much amused, Robert, if you read 
the book from whence I have taken it,"' answered 
Georgiana. "For the present we can talk no more 
of the ants. I hear the bell which summons us to 
prepare for dinner." 



CHAPTER V. 79 

"I hope we shall soon resume the subject," said 
Emma. "Perhaps this evening." 

"O yes, 11 said they all; "do, Georgiana, tell us 
more after dinner." 

Their kind sister readily complied with their 
wishes, and all being again assembled she continued 
her narrative. 

"You asked me once, Robert," said Georgiana, 
what was the favourite food of the common ants; 
and at the time I did not fully explain to you the 
merciful provision which Providence has allotted 
for them. Have you ever remarked a little green 
insect on rose-trees, beans, and other plants?" 

"I have," Robert answered, "and wherever they 
fix themselves, the plant is much injured in its 
growth. One of my prettiest moss-rose-trees was 
quite spoilt by them." 

" They are called Aphis or Plant lice. No 
wonder they cover a tree with such rapidity, since 
the descendants of only one will in five generations 
amount to five thousand nine hundred and four 
millions. It exudes a kind of honey from its body, 
which the ants relish much; and it has been said, 
that the aphis gives out this juice when invited by 
the ant striking it gently with its antennae or horns, 
in the same way as when caressing its young. What 
confirms the supposition of this food being pur- 
posely provided for the ants is, that the ant and 
the aphis become torpid at the same time. Some 
species of ants bring these insects to their own 
I 



80 



SISTER S STORIES. 



nests, and lodge them near the vegetables on which 
they feed, and guard and defend them with as much 
care as they do their own young. They collect 
the eggs of the aphis, and superintend their hatch- 
ing; continually moistening them with their tongue, 
and bestowing upon them as much attention as on 
the eggs of their own species. If any thing happens 
to disturb or endanger them, they take them up in 
great haste and carry them off to a place of safety. 

"Ants are very fond of animal food, which has 
been found useful to anatomists. When they wish 
to have the skeleton of an animal too small and de- 
licate to admit of its being prepared in the usual 
way, it is placed in a proper position, in a small 
box with holes in the lid, and deposited in a large 
ant-hill. The ants immediately get to it, and eat 
away all the flesh, leaving the very elegant and 
perfect skeleton of a frog, a snake, &c." 

"You say, Georgiana," said Robert, "that there 
are different kinds of ants of what description 
are they?" 

" There are eighteen species of ants," answered 
Georgiana; "in Captain Cook's voyages there are 
Green, Black and Red Ants described, which were 
found in New South Wales. The green are in 
colour like the leaves of the trees where they build 
their nests of different sizes; some as large as a 
man's head, others about the size of his shut hand: 
the structure is curiously ingenious, formed by the 
binding down broad leaves, the points of which are 



CHAPTER V. 81 

glued together as a purse. The viscous matter 
used for this purpose is a juice which the little 
animal exudes from its own body so wonderfully 
does bountiful Providence supply the wants of 
every diminutive animal and insect to which life 
is given. While every other living creature wait 
upon God to give them their meat in due season, 
man alone is ready to distrust and to murmur when 
any of his comforts fail. Does this remind you, 
Emma, of any part of the chapter which you 
repeated to mamma this morning?"" 

" 'Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, 
neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet 
your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not 
much better than they?' How can these idle birds 
be compared to the industrious little ants ?" 

" We are not comparing them, Emma; but the 
ingratitude and want of confidence in the human 
race towards their heavenly Father, who provides 
with much more care and much more love for them 
than for any other being he has formed. Each of the 
living tribes are seen daily performing their allotted 
labour. The birds are far from being idle ; they set 
us a wonderful example of industry in the construc- 
tion of their little nests. Man is also to pursue his 
daily task, while he ought to cast all his cares upon 
God, who careth for him. But let us resume our 
subject. Captain Cook goes on to describe the 
GREEN ANT, as follows: 'Their method of first 
bending down the leaves we had no opportunity to 



82 SISTER S STORIES. 

observe; but we saw thousands uniting all their 
strength to hold them in this position, while other 
busy multitudes were employed within, in applying 
this gluten, that was to prevent their returning back. 
To satisfy ourselves that the leaves were bent and 
held down by these diminutive artificers, we dis- 
turbed them in their work; and as soon as they 
were driven from their station, the leaves on which 
they were employed, sprang up with a force much 
greater than we could have thought them able to 
conquer by any combination of their strength. But 
though we gratified our curiosity at their expence, 
the injury did not go unrevenged; for thousands 
immediately threw themselves upon us, and gave 
us intolerable pain with their stings, especially those 
which took possession of our necks and hair, from 
whence they were not easily driven. Their sting 
was scarcely less painful than that of a bee; but 
unless repeated, the pain did not last longer than a 
minute.' 

"The BLACK ANTS are also extraordinary in 
their operations and manner of life. Their habi- 
tations are the branches of trees hollowed by their 
own ingenuity. They work out the pith even to 
the extremity of the slenderest twig; the tree still 
flourishing as if unpeopled. Several branches were 
gathered, and found teeming with life. Legions of 
animals swarmed from every broken bough, and 
inflicted stings incessant and violent on the dis- 
turber of their territories. 



CHAPTER V. 83 

"The RED ANTS were found nested in the root 
of a plant, which grows like misletoe on the bark of 
a tree. The root is the size of a large turnip : the 
ants perforate it in innumerable intersected passages 
which are full of them, yet the vegetation of the 
plant did not seem injured. They are smaller than 
the red ants of England, and do not inflict so 
pungent a sting. When the root was cut, the ants 
swarmed out of it so as to cover the hands, &c. and 
produced a titillation not to be endured. 

" The MUTILL A or VELVET ANT is an inhabi- 
tant of North America. Its head and body are 
like crimson velvet ; and it is covered with a shell 
so hard, that though trampled upon by men and 
cattle, it receives no fracture. It carries a long 
sting in its tail, which causes severe pain and in- 
flammation for an hour. The barefooted negroes 
often suffer from their stings. Their dwelling 
place is usually found under moss, where they love 
to conceal themselves. Some of them have wings 
wkich shine like pearls, and they move with rapi- 
dity." 

" What beautiful little animals these must be," 
said Emma; "how very unlike all the other ants 
you have described." 

"It is said," continued Georgiana, "that ants 
chiefly communicate by signs and touch. One strikes 
its head against the corselet of the other which is 
the signal of danger. The alarm instantly spreads 
through the colony ; sentinels are stationed outside 



84 SISTER'S STORIES. 

their habitations during the night as well as the 
day ; and on the approach of danger they suddenly 
descend into the midst of the tribe, and give notice; 
being apprised of the danger, the greater number 
rush forward to repel it with every symptom of rage; 
while such as have the care of the eggs and larvae 
entrusted to them, fly with their charge to places of 
more security. The fathers and mothers of the 
community do the same, 

"All the remarks which have been made in re- 
gard to these diminutive insects beautifully illustrate 
the benignity of that Power, which wisely orders 
and provides what is necessary for the existence of 
the smaller as well as the larger bodies, to which life 
is given. 

" It is supposed that ants are directed in their 
course by the scent; but they have various other 
means of finding their way ; such as memory of local 
circumstances, besides sight and touch. When they 
find any thing unpleasant in their nest, and wish 
to remove, the labourers disperse themselves abroad 
in different directions to find out a suitable abode; 
and the one who is so fortunate as to make the dis- 
covery immediately returns to the community, to 
whom he makes known by certain signs the place 
he has chosen." 

"How can they make it known?" inquired 
Robert. 

"In a very extraordinary manner," answered 
his sister;" the guide carries another ant in her 



CHAPTER V. 85 

mouth, to the situation she has fixed on ; which 
being approved of, they both walk back and each 
taking up an ant in her mouth, carries it to the 
new settlement. These also return for others, and 
their numbers increase rapidly, until the whole 
society are transported to their new abode." 

"O how very curious !" exclaimed Robert, "what 
concord there must be among them P 

"Yes," answered his sister; "and as I have already 
told you, there is also much and deadly animosity, 
which instigates them to furious battles, such as 
have been described. Unlike the occasional strug- 
gles which take place between individuals of the 
animal species, the warfare of the ants is that of 
contending nations. Whole armies are engaged in 
these conflicts, and practise no deceit or stratagem ; 
the whole operations are open and direct, and on a 
scale of magnitude which is truly astonishing. The 
labourers and females are the combatants. Some 
of them have stings, others inflict the wound with 
their jaws, rendering the bite envenomed by a drop 
of acrid fluid which is secreted for the purpose. 
Their fury and desperation in the fight are incon- 
ceivable. When an ant has fastened upon its 
enemy, it will suffer itself to be torn limb from limb 
before it lets go its hold; and they have been fre- 
quently seen carrying about the mangled remains 
of their opponents, as trophies of their victory. 
The principal fields of these engagements are the 



86 SISTER'S STORIES. 

forests inhabited by the FALLOW ANTS. They 
are the same which emigrate in the curious man- 
ner I have just described," 



CHAPTER VI. 



GEORGIANA told her brothers and sisters, that 
though to amuse them, she had been giving them the 
history of the operations of ants, &c. it was not the 
plan which had been pursued with her when her 
papa taught her Entomology. Emma asked the 
meaning of that hard word; and her sister told her 
that it was that branch of Natural History which 
treats of Insects; and that the word Insect was 
derived from a Latin word, insecare "to cut;" the 
bodies of these little animals being composed of 
many parts and moving rings. 

"My papa first explained these things to me," 
said Georgiana, "and made me acquainted with all 
the technical terms before he let me proceed to 
that which I commenced with you; but as the 
study interests you so much, had we not better go 



88 SISTER'S STORIES. 

back to the history of the first formation of these 
little animals?" 

" O yes, yes," cried out Robert, Emma and Wil- 
liam; "do teach us, Georgiana, all that papa 
taught you about insects." 

"I think I have already told you that they 
undergo repeated transformations or changes. The 
first is an Egg; the second a Larva; the third a 
Pupa; and the last an Imago." 

"The meaning of the word larva is mask 
from the disguise of the insect, when in that state : 
for instance, how very unlike a butterfly is a cater- 
pillar, which is the larva; grubs or maggots are 
the larvae of flies and beetles. Some insects wear 
these masks but for a few days ; some for months, 
others for years, during which time they cast their 
skins often, and voraciously devour the tender 
plants and strip the trees of their leaves. 

"When the larva state is at an end, the insect 
ceases to eat; and choosing some quiet, safe spot, 
it lies wrapt like a little child in its swaddling clothes, 
and from this resemblance is called pupa, which is 
a Latin word for baby; those of the beetle were 
formerly called nymphce, and those of the butterfly 
chrysalides and aurelice. They lie dormant, and 
do not move, except when touched, and then but 
slightly. Some of these fix themselves to walls, 
and some lie hidden under ground; some, as the 
silk-worm, cover themselves in bags called cocoons. 
Having remained for a short period in this pupa 



CHAPTER VI. 89 

state, the insect bursts from its envelope a beautiful 
butterfly, beetle, &c. according to its species, no 
longer grovelling on the ground, but spreading its 
light wings to sip the morning dew, or inhale the 
sweets of the rose. In this state of its highest en- 
joyment it is called imago, or perfect image of its 
kind. Some naturalists say that these are not real 
transformations, but the different stages of growth 
in the insect, which contains within itself at the 
same moment, the larva, the pupa, and imago, 
throwing off successively its different coverings. 

" The horns or feelers, with which the head of the 
insect is furnished are called antennce; it breathes 
through pores, or the most minute holes in the sides 
of its body, called spiracles: it has a very hard 
skin, but no bones. The smallest insect is furnished 
with a heart, stomach, lungs, nerves, veins through- 
which its juices circulate; and it wants not beside 
any external member needful for its existence. The 
same Hand formed the mite and the largest quad- 
ruped; and the same Wisdom provides all that is 
requisite for the wants of the myriads and myriads 
of living creatures with which this peopled world 
teems : 

" In thousand species of the insect kind, 

Lost to the naked eye, so wondrous small, 

Were millions join'd, one grain of sand would cover all ; 

Vet each, within its little bulk, contains 

A heart which drives the torrent through its veins ; 

Muscles to move its limbs aright ; a brain 

And nerves dispos'd for pleasure and for pain; 

Eyes to distinguish ; sense whereby to know 

What 's good or bad, is or is not its foe." BAKEB. 



90 SISTER'S STORIES. 

"You have told us a great deal about ants, 
Georgiana," said Robert, "but are there not many 
more insects whose history would amuse us?" 

"Certainly there are; but as you must soon 
again leave us, had we not better limit ourselves to 
the history of those which you most particularly 
wish to hear? therefore do choose among the tribe 
of insects.'" 

The children were assembled in their usual 
favourite place of meeting the trelliage bower 
entwined with roses, woodbine, and myrtle. The 
sun shone brightly on the fragrant flowers, affording 
full enjoyment to numerous butterflies which chased 
each other and sported amongst them. 

"Do tell us something about butterflies," said 
Emma, "for surely they are the most beautiful of 
insects." 

"Robert is to choose, Emma, you know." 

" Then do let me hear what those insects are 
which we heard chirping so incessantly, wherever 
we went, in Italy," said Robert. 

"Most willingly, dear Robert, 11 answered Geor- 
gian a. 

"In Italy, we heard the unceasing noise of the 
CICALA or CICAD.E, during the entire summer. 
They are found in different parts both of the Old 
and New Continent. They seem to make every 
leaf on the trees an habitation, on them they chiefly 
subsist : but they find food on other vegetable sub- 
stances likewise. They extract the juices from the 



CHAPTEE VI. 91 

bark of the trees by means of a hard, horny pro- 
boscis or tube, in which there is a slender sucking 
pipe. 

" The proboscis is in form not unlike a gimlet ; 
and besides piercing the bark of the trees, it serves to 
bore holes in the small and tender branches in which 
they deposit their eggs, six or seven hundred in 
number. They often do much injury to the trees. 
They are exceedingly active, running and leaping 
merrily upon the trees. The chrysalis of these 
insects are not torpid as in many others. 

"The males make a chirping noise, while the 
females remain silent. Those of the hottest climates 
make the loudest noise. The shrill and piercing 
note of one of the Javanese species has been com- 
pared to the sound of a trumpet.* 

"Among the ancients, they were emblems of 
eternal youth ; deemed to be creatures beloved by 
gods and men. They were subjects for many 
poetical fictions, and were said to subsist merely on 
dew. The Athenians wore golden cicadae to orna- 
ment their hair, and to denote their national anti- 
quity: like these creatures, they pretended to be 
the first-born of the earth.'*' 



* The cicada spumaria receives its name from the larva being 
found on plants within a froth called cuckoo spittle. Its shrill 
notes do not proceed from its mouth ; but are produced by means 
of a curiously constructed set of valves and membranes behind the 
legs. Another name for this little animal is Froghopper. 



92 SISTER'S STORIES. 

" The felicity they were supposed to enjoy is thus 
celebrated by Anacreon: 

Happy creature! what below 
Can more happy live than thou ? 
Seated on thy leafy throne, 
(Summer weaves the verdant crown,) 
Sipping o'er the verdant lawn 
The fragrant nectar of the dawn ; 
Little tales thou lov'st to sing, 
Tales of mirth an insect king. 
Thine the treasures of the field, 
All thy own the seasons yield ; 
Nature paints for thee the year, 
Songster to the shepherds dear ; 
Innocent of placid fame, 
What of man can boast the same ? 
Thine the lavish'd voice of praise, 
Harbinger of fruitful days ; 
Darling of the tuneful Nine, 
Phoebus is thy sire divine ; 
Phoebus to thy notes has giv'n 
Music from the spheres of heaven ; 
Happy most, as first of earth, 
All thy hours are peace and mirth ; 
Cares nor pains to thee belong, 
Thou alone art ever young ; 
Thine, the pure immortal reign, 
Blood nor flesh thy life sustain ; 
Rich in spirits, health thy feast, 
Thou'rt a demi-god at least. 

These lines elegantly describe the enjoyments of 
insects. But short is their day-dream of bliss : as 
Thomson so expressively delineates, 



-To sunny waters some 



By fatal instinct fly ; where on the pool 

They, sportive, wheel ; or, sailing down the stream, 



CHAPTER VI. 93 

Are snatched immediate by the quick-eyed trout, 
Or darting salmon. Thro' the greenwood glade 
Some love to stray ; there lodged, amused, and 
In the fresh leaf, luxurious. Others make 
The meads their choice, and visit ev'ry flow'r 
And ev'ry latent herb. Some to the house, 
The fold, and dairy, hungry, bend their flight ; 
Sip round the pail, or taste the curdling cheese. 

" There is a pretty little poem by Mrs. Robinson, 
on the same subject, which I think you would like 
to get by heart : 

' Poor insect! what a little day 

Of sunny bliss is thine ! 
And yet thou spread'st thy light wings gay, 

And bid'st them, spreading, shine. 

Thou humm'st thy short and busy tune, 

Unmindful of the blast; 
And careless, while 'tis burning noon, 

How quick that noon be past. 

A show'r would lay thy beauty low ; 

A dew of twilight be 
The torrent of thy overthrow, 

The storm of destiny! 

Then spread thy little shining wing, 

Hum on thy busy lay ; 
For man like thee, has but his spring ; 

Like thine, it fades away !' " 

Emma was so pleased with these lines, that she 
requested her sister to repeat them over again. She 
promised to commit them to memory, and thanked 
Georgiana for lending her the pretty book where 
she found them inserted, called " Time's Telescope." 



94 SISTER'S STORIES. 

Emma was so fond of poetry, that her kind sister 
gratified her still farther by repeating the following 
lines on the glow-worm, from a favourite author : 

When evening closes nature's eye, 
The glow-worm lights her little spark, 

To captivate her favourite fly, 
And tempt the rover through the dark. 

Conducted by a sweeter star 

Than all that deck the fields above, 
He fondly hastens from afar, 

To sooth her solitude with love. 

MONTGOMERY. 

" The GLOW-WORM, called 'the little planet of the 
rural scene,' spangles the ground during the month 
of August, and glitters chiefly under the hedges and 
in the openings of rugged elm roots and foundations 
of buildings. They have wings, but make little use 
of them; seldom rising higher than the stunted 
furze-bush or barley-ear. 

Bright stranger, welcome to my field, 
Here feed in safety, here thy radiance yield, 

To me, O nightly be thy splendour given! 
O could a wish of mine the skies command, 
How would I gem thy leaf with lib'ral hand, 

With ev'ry sweetest dew of heaven. 

Say, dost thou kindly light the fairy train 
Amid the gambols on the stilly plain, 

Hanging thy lamp upon the moistened blade ? 
What lamp so fit, so pure as thine 
Amid the gentle elfin band to shine, 

And chase the horrors of the midnight shade ! 

Oh! may no feathered foe disturb thy bow'r, 
And with barbarian beak thy life devour! 
Oh! may no ruthless torrent sky, 




GLOW-WORMS. Lampyris Noctiluca. 

A. Female, upper side. B. Female, under side. 
C. Male, wings closed. D. Male, wings expanded. 



HenA .a 

. .fi abw v 



CHAPTER VI. 95 

Overwhelming, force thee from thy dewy seat ; 
Nor tempest tear thee from thy green retreat, 
And bid thee 'mid the humming myriads die. 

Queen of the insect world, what leaves delight ? 

Of such these willing hands a bower shall form,. 
To guard thee from the rushing rains of night, 

And hide thee from the wild wing of the storm : 
Sweet child of stillness, 'mid the awful calm 

Of pausing nature thou art pleased to dwell, 
In happy silence to enjoy thy balm, 

And shed through life a lustre round thy celL 

How diiFrent man, the imp of noise and strife, 
Who courts the storm that tears and darkens life! 

Blest when the passions wild the soul invade! 
How nobler far to bid those whirlwinds cease ; 
To taste, like thee, the luxury of peace, 

And shine in solitude and shade! 

DR. WOLCOTT. 

"I wish very much,"" said Robert, "to know the 
natural history of CRICKETS, as I heard last night 
a very absurd accusation against them, in one of the 
cottages where they were chirping very loud in the 
back part of the fire-place. An old woman sitting 
in the chimney corner said, they were very lucky if 
they were let alone; but as sure as any of them 
were hurt, they would come out of their holes at 
night, and eat all the woollen stockings they could 
find." 

" These are called the House-Crickets," answered 
Georgiana; "being particularly fond of heat, they 
are often found on the warm hearths of the cottages, 
and make, in the hob and bake-stone of the fire-. . 



96 SISTER'S STORIES. 

place, their hiding-holes. Though sometimes heard 
in the day-time, the evening appears to be more 
peculiarly their hour of recreation ; then it is, that 
they chirp the loudest, and spring and skip the 
merriest. 

f Around in sympathetic mirth, 

Its tricks the kitten tries ; 
The cricket chirrups in the hearth, 

The crackling faggot flies.' 

These lines are the more appropriate from its being 
a practice with cats to catch crickets, and play with 
them as they do with mice, before they eat them. 

"Being so fond of warmth they must of course 
be thirsty, and are often found drowned in pans of 
milk, broth, water, &c. and this is the reason, 
rather than the one which the old woman assigned, 
why they gnawed holes in her wet woollen stockings, 
as she hung them over night to dry at the fire. 
They eat up voraciously whatever they can find 
in the kitchen, such as crumbs of bread, scummings 
of pots, and even yeast and salt. They sometimes 
leave their haunts suddenly, and are then seen in the 
dusk of the evening flying out of the windows and 
doors. There are different sorts of insects which 
only use their wings to change their residence, and 
settle new colonies. They move in the air like 
woodpeckers, opening and shutting their wings at 
every stroke, thus continually rising and sinking. 

" Crickets sometimes increase to such a degree as 
to become quite a nuisance, dashing against people's 




HOUSE CRICKET. Gryllus domestic. 



CHAPTER VI. 97 

faces and flying into the candles. They may be 
destroyed by gunpowder discharged into their cre- 
vices, and by phials half filled with beer, or any 
other liquid. When running about a dark room, if 
a candle be suddenly brought in, they give two or 
three shrill notes, probably to warn their companions 
to fly to their hiding-places. 

"The natives of some parts of Africa like the 
noise of the crickets, fancying that it lulls them to 
repose: and purchase them from people who feed 
them in an iron oven, and make a trade of selling 
them. Their chirrup does not proceed from their 
mouths, but is produced by means of a muscle and 
tendon under their wings, which folds down as a 
fan. Even after the insect is dead, the noise may 
be made by moving the tendon. 

TO THE CRICKET. 

" { Little inmate, full of mirth, 
Chirping on my kitchen hearth, 
Wheresoe'er be thine abode, 
Always harbinger of good ; 
Pay me for thy warm retreat 
With a song more soft and sweet ; 
In return thou shalt receive, 
Such a strain as I can give. 

Thus thy praise shall be expressed, 
Inoffensive, welcome guest ! 
While the rat is on the scout, 
And the mouse with curious snout, 
With what vermin else infest 
Every dish, and spoil the best; 
Frisking thus before the fire, 
Thou hast all thine heart's desire. 
K 



98 SISTER'S STORIES. 

Though in voice and shape they be 
Form'd as if akin to thee, 
Thou surpasses!, happier far, 
Happiest grasshoppers that are; 
Theirs is but a summer's song, 
Thine endures the winter long, 
Unimpair'd, and shrill, and clear, 
Melody throughout the year. 

Neither night, ncr dawn of day, 
Puts a period to thy play : 
Sing then and extend thy span 
Far beyond the date of man. 
W retched man, whose years are spent 
In repining discontent, 
Lives not, aged though he be, 
Haifa span, compared with thee.' " 

"What are the other kind of crickets which you 
spoke of, Georgiana?" inquired Emma. 

"There are two more species," answered her 
sister; "the MOLE-CRICKET and the FIELD- 
CRICKET. The first is called so from its resem- 
blance to a mole. Its fore-feet are broad and strong 
like a mole^s, and made use of for the same purpose 
as theirs, which is burrowing in the ground; it is 
more expert than a mole in penetrating the earth, 
and forming caverns, and winding passages to the 
nest. This little cell, made of clammy earth, nicely 
smoothed and rounded, is formed purposely for the 
female to deposit her eggs, which are white, in 
number nearly 150, about the size of carroway 
comfits. The female watches at the entrance of the 
nest, and whenever a black beetle attempts to carry 




MOLE CRICKET. Gryllotalpa vulgaris. 




FIELD CRICKET. Acrida viridissima. 



CHAPTER VI. 



99 



them off, she catches him behind and bites him in 
two. These insects take many precautions for the 
preservation of their young; surrounding the nest 
with fortifications, avenues, and entrenchments; 
and outside of all, there is a ditch closing it round, 
which few other insects can pass."" 

"Do these crickets make a noise like the house- 
crickets?"" asked Emma. 

"They make a dull, low, jarring note, but not 
like our domestic crickets. In winter, they pene- 
trate deeply into the ground to defend themselves 
from the effects of the frost. In summer, they rise 
again nearer to the surface, that they may have the 
benefit of air and sunshine; but in case the frost 
should return, they again sink the nest to its 
former depth." 

"They appear to have the same kind of foresight 
as the ants in discerning the weather," said Robert. 

" Yes, indeed," answered Georgiana, "the ants 
do nearly the same with their nests." 

"Do these little animals injure any thing," asked 
Emma. 

"I have not heard of any harm that they do," 
replied her sister, "excepting when they make their 
way into hot-beds; then they make great havock 
by hacking and gnawing the roots of plants with 
their fore-feet." 

"How can they gnaw with their feet?" inquired 
Emma. 



100 SISTER'S STORIES. 

" At the ends of them there are teeth like a 
saw," answered Georgiana. 

" What do they feed on ?" was the next question ; 
to which Georgiana answered, that she had heard 
of a Mr. Gould who had kept a mole-cricket alive 
during several months, and that he had fed it on 
the larvae and chrysalis of ants. The children 
were all amused at hearing of a pet mole-cricket, 
and after they had talked and laughed and wished 
for such pets, and that they knew how to treat 
them, (for without such knowledge they could not 
preserve them alive;) they exhausted that subject, 
and applied to their kind sister for another. 

"Now go on, Georgiana, if you please; tell us 
about the Field- Cricket." 

"The Field-Crickets," continued Georgiana, "also 
make for themselves subterraneous apartments, but 
not with the same implements which the mole- 
cricket uses. They do not dig with their feet, but 
with strong jaws armed with teeth like a lobster's 
claws. They perforate and round their curious 
cells with surprising regularity: they issue from 
them about sun-set. From the middle of May to 
the middle of June they sit and chirp the night 
through, at the entrance of their little habitation, 
and in that still hour are heard at a great distance. 
They are also heard in the day-time; and in hot 
weather, being most vigorous, they make the hills 
to echo. They are seldom however seen, being 
shy and cautious; they quickly perceive the ap- 



CHAPTER VI. 



103 



proach of a human footstep, and immediately cease 
their song, and take refuge in their recesses or 
caverns, where they He concealed until all suspicion 
of danger is over." 

"How are they ever to be seen in that case?" 
inquired William. 

"An attempt was made to dig them out with a 
spade, but that was not a successful way of getting 
at them ; the poor little creature was either squeezed 
to death with the breaking up of the ground, or the 
winding of its cell could not be traced. A better 
plan was then adopted; a pliant stalk of grass 
gently penetrates through the passage and brings 
out the inhabitant without hurting it. Being driven 
from its hole, it seems to lose all its activity; and 
though furnished with long legs behind, and thighs 
adapted for leaping, and also provided with a 
curious apparatus of wings, it exerts neither the one 
nor the other means to effect its escape; but as if 
astounded with the sense of its danger, it crawls life- 
lessly along, so as to be easily caught, and when 
taken in the hand never attempts to defend itself 
with its sharp-toothed jaws. There was a Mr. 
White who studied the manners and habits of these 
insects; he tried to establish a colony of them in 
his garden by piercing holes for them in a sloping 
bank. They staid some time and fed and sang, 
but by degrees wandered away, and were heard 
every morning at a greater distance, until they 



102 



SISTER S STORIES. 



arrived again at the place from whence they were 
taken; on this occasion they seem to have used 
their wings. He says that one of these crickets 
confined in a paper cage, kept in the sun, and well 
supplied with plants moistened with water, will feed 
and thrive, and become so merry and so loud, that 
it will be irksome to sit in the room with it; but if 
the plants be not kept constantly wetted, it will die. 

"They live on plants, then," said Robert. 

" They eat indiscriminately," his sister answered, 
" of the herbs growing round the entrance of their 
habitation; from which, during the day-time, they 
never seem to move farther than two or three inches." 

"If we could procure such crickets, we could easily 
keep them in the sun, and give them plenty of wet 
plants ; and how pleasant to have such dear little 
noisy singing pets!" said Emma. 

"Are you quite sure, Emma, that you would 
always remember to supply them with food; and 
that you would never be occupied with other things 
so as to make you neglect to moisten the plants, 
which in the hot sun would dry up very quickly?" 

Emma durst not answer confidently that she 
would, because she recollected just then that her 
mamma had once allowed her to have a canary bird, 
on condition that no one but herself should have 
the trouble of attending to it, and how often the 
poor bird had been forgotten, and that at last it 
was eaten by a cat through her neglect. She looked 
ashamed, as these sad remembrances passed before 




MANTIS. Mantis reUgiosa. 



CHAPTER VI. 103 

her, and she began to stammer out some promises, 
that she would now know how to take care of pets 
if she had them. Georgiana, however, told her, 
that though she might amuse herself sometimes by 
training birds, &c. which had been brought from 
their native climates, and could not live in this if 
set at liberty ; yet that it would be a very cruel and 
selfish gratification to shut up in a prison-house any 
creature which roved here free in its native element. 

" I have read an account of a curious insect call- 
ed the MANTIS," said Robert, "can you tell us any 
thing about it?" 

"Yes," answered Georgiana, "I have also read 
the history of this extraordinary insect, of which 
there are many superstitious legends, originating in 
the peculiar manner in which it holds the forelegs. 
The people imagine that it is in the act of prayer. 
It is called the Orator and Soothsayer; and it is 
supposed that if a bewildered traveller applies to it, 
it will point out the right way with its paw. The 
Hottentots pay it a kind of adoration, and consider 
themselves blessed if it alight on them. Its head 
is in continual motion, always nodding. This in- 
sect is very undeserving of the veneration it meets 
with ; it evinces a savage disposition in devouring its 
own species in preference to any other food. When 
two of them are within sight of each other, they 
prepare for an attack by throwing up their heads 
and brandishing their forelegs ; and quick as light- 



104 SISTER'S STORIES. 

ning rush upon one another, cutting and slashing 
with their foreclaws until one or the other is torn to 
pieces, after which the conqueror always devours 
the conquered. 



CHAPTER VII. 



TiHJl 



ALL the children now became so eager to hear 
Georgiana's stories of insects, that they would neither 
wait for a wet day, nor for weariness after out-of- 
door play ; but preferring this amusement to every 
other, they prevailed upon her to fix upon some 
stated period of every day to continue her enter- 
taining narrative ; and they proved the pleasure it 
afforded them, by their punctuality in being assem- 
bled in the place and at the hour when she was to 
meet them. 

"What think you," began Georgiana, "of a little 
animal which forms for itself its own pretty little 
sepulchre, where it lies entombed for months, per- 
haps for years, then again awaking from that dormant 
or lethargic state, it bursts its light bondage, and 
springing 'in the viewless air 1 soars like Ja bird 
adorned with brilliant plumage?" 



106 SISTER'S STORIES. 

' Their wings (all glorious to behold) 
Bedropt with azure, jet, and gold, 
Wide they display : the spangled dew 
Reflects their eyes and various hue.' " 

GAY. 

" O can there be such animals ?" said Emma. 

"Every species of CATERPILLAR," answered 
Georgiana, "undergoes this most extraordinary 
change, which may well be termed a second birth. It 
lays aside its grovelling nature, and puts on its beau- 
tiful attire, for which reason it has obtained the ap- 
pellation of nymph, which signifies a young bride. 

' Behold ! ye pilgrims of this earth, behold ! 
See all but man with unearned pleasure gay ; 
See her bright robes the butterfly unfold. 
Broke from her wintry tomb in prime of May ! 
What youthful bride can equal her array ? 
Who can with her for easy pleasure vie ? 
From mead to mead with gentle wing to stray, 
From flower to flower on balmy gales to fly, 
Is all she has to do beneath the radiant sky.' " 

THOMSON. 

"Let us not merely amuse ourselves, dear chil- 
dren," continued their sister, "in considering this 
extraordinary metamorphosis; but reflect whether 
we may not derive some profitable instruction from 
a subject which is full of it. Let us meditate upon 
the industry, the wisdom, the foresight, and per- 
severance of this little creature in preparing for the 
new state into which it must pass ; and when its 
covering is made, it wraps itself up, as in a wind- 




CATERPILLARS. 
1 Privet Hawk Moth. 2 Brimstone Motb. 3 Gamma Moth, 



CHAPTER VI. 107 

ing sheet, and peaceably sinks to repose. Does it 
remind you of any thing, Robert?" 

"Unless it be the resurrection of the dead, I do 
not know of any thing like it," replied he.* 

"There cannot be a more strikingly beautiful 
emblem of that wonderful change, when the mortal 
clothing shall be laid aside, and the glorified spirit 
shall rise from the dark and cheerless tomb, disen- 
gaged from the garments of heaviness, to appear in 
the bright unsullied robe of Christ's righteousness. 
I have read an allegory," continued Georgiana, 
"which will explain this better to you than any 
thing I can say. I have not got the book, but 
shall relate the allegory from memory, in my own 
language, which you will perhaps understand better. 
Before I begin, I must tell you that in many parts 
of Ireland the peasantry conceive it to be a happy 
omen, if they see a butterfly hovering near a corpse, 
supposing it the disembodied spirit. 

"A young caterpillar fed and reposed alternately 
on a tender leaf, in company with another cater- 
pillar, which was older and more experienced. 
As it lay basking in the summer-sun, it looked 
upwards, and gazed upon a glistening dew-drop, 

* The ancients were so struck with the transformations of the 
butterfly, and its resurrection to a new state of existence, that 
they considered it an emblem of the soul ; the same Greek word 
signifies soul and butterfly. This insect is introduced in allego- 
rical sculptures as an emblem of immortality. The Library of 
Entertaining Knowledge. Vol. 3. 



108 SISTER'S STORIES. 

suspended from a bright green leaf. Though far 
out of its reach, it longed to sip the sweets, and 
became dissatisfied with those by which it was 
surrounded. It up-reared its green form, and 
writhed and stretched in vain ; the more unattain- 
able the objects of its desire, the more vigorous were 
its efforts to possess them. For some time its 
wiser neighbour watched in silence its fruitless at- 
tempts, but at length addressed it in the following 
terms: 

'" Forbear, my child, to seek after forbidden plea- 
sures. Aspire not to a situation in which nature 
has not placed thee; and which, if it had, thou 
wouldst not have found preferable to that which is 
thine. On this leaf thou wert born, and inhaled 
the first moisture which strengthened thy growth; 
and though no longer wetted by the dews of hea- 
ven, which we have exhausted, again shall the 
evening shower descend and sprinkle its surface."* 

"'And shall I, think you, wait for it, exposed to 
the parching sun-beams, when I see yonder shade 
and moisture?' said the silly little worm, still 
stretching upwards. 

"'Be advised, I pray thee, my brother; attempt 
not that dangerous pass. The utmost thou canst 
gain is but a dew-drop; and wilt thou, for the 
glistening prize, risk the loss of a new and glorious 
existence? for shouldst thou fall, thy death will be 
inevitable. 1 

"'Of what loss, and what existence speakest thou ? 



CHAPTER Vil. 109 

Should I fall, what can I do more than grovel on 
the ground, as I do on this dry and withered leaf?' 

*"O beware how thou despisest the nourishment 
which the bountiful hand of nature has provided; 
thankfully and patiently fulfil thy destiny, and thou 
shalt exchange thy present state to one of inde- 
scribable beauty and enjoyment. Listen whilst I 
relate what but yesterday came to my knowledge, 
respecting this marvellous metamorphosis, by which 
our old covering shall be cast aside, and, arrayed in 
new and shining garments, we shall waft our way 
with gauzy wings from flower to flower.' 

" c A fine story this for those who can believe it; 
but I am not quite so credulous; I shall therefore 
wait for no such event, though if I could be per- 
suaded that it would ever take place, I should 
certainly not expose my delicate form to any danger.' 
And again the unbelieving worm made another vain 
effort to raise itself to the leaf which was beyond 
its reach. 

" ' Stop a few moments, thou rash, inconsiderate 
worm, and hear me relate the singular circumstance 
to which I have alluded. Like thee, once I gave 
way to murmurings and discontent, when my gloomy 
train of ideas was interrupted by the appearance of 
a creature of matchless beauty. For some time it 
hovered over me in the air, its wings and plumage 
sparkling in the sun-beams ; and at last lit upon an 
adjoining leaf. Perceiving the admiration with which 
I viewed its elegant and glorious attire, it addressed 
L 



110 SISTER'S STORIES. 

me in the following words, never to be forgotten : 
"I see the surprise and pleasure which animate 
you in contemplating my figure, but how much must 
those feelings increase, when you know that such as 
I am, you will become for such as you are I once 
was. Our origin and nature are the same." "Ah! 
most assuredly it cannot be possible," I replied, 
"that you, soaring high in the air, decked in a tex- 
ture of clothing so elegant, in appearance so majes- 
tic, a forehead so adorned, should once have been 
an odious worm such as I am, formed to writhe in 
the dust, or be crushed under foot. Ah no," said I 
again, deeply sighing; "it is indeed impossible that 
such a mean and abject thing as I am, should ever 
become so glorious a bird." " Be not incredulous," 
resumed the beautiful bird, "it is but a very short 
time since I awoke from a sleep like that of death, 
in which I know not how long I lay entranced, 
when bursting from beneath the covering which in 
my caterpillar state I had woven, I found myself 
altogether a different creature new powers, new 
perceptions, new feelings were given to me. I had 
done with the low propensities of earth, and was 
capable of enjoying those which used to be beyond 
my reach and beyond my conception. I have wings 
which waft me through the air; and I taste of plea- 
sures such as I could not describe to you ; nor could 
you understand them, until you undergo the same 
transformation. I fly from flower to flower, and re- 
gale myself with odoriferous nectar. New beauties, 



CHAPTER VII. Ill 

new wonders open upon me wheresoever I direct my 
course. If dangers approach, I can elude them. My 
understanding is enlarged. I can see things far off, 
and can attain all I desire. My pleasures are as vari- 
able as they are delightful; they are such as never 
cloy, nor can they ever be exhausted; and they will all 
be yours if you believe what I tell you, and patiently 
wait for your change." So saying, the aerial 
creature flapped its light wings and vanished from 
my sight ; and whilst I lay motionless, reflecting 
on what seemed like some glorious vision, again it 
appeared with several others like itself, gracefully 
sporting and flitting in the air. The sun shone 
brightly on the golden lustre of their smooth bodies; 
and the most beauteous gems which sparkle in the 
glistening spray of the cataract are not so lovely as 
those which adorned their many-coloured wings. 
The first benevolent being which addressed me 
appeared to have brought the others to confirm my 
wavering mind ; for having shewed themselves, they 
soared aloft to their native element, leaving me in 
a stupor of admiration, from which I recovered with 
a fixed resolution to follow the steps of my friendly 
adviser ; not to risk the loss of those exalted plea- 
sures for such as I am capable of enjoying in my 
present reptile condition. 1 

"'Your tale is very fine and very wonderful no 
doubt, for those who will believe it; but do not 
think that I am of that foolish number who 
despise present enjoyments which are set before 



1J2 



SISTER S STORIES. 



me, for the sake of future prospects which at 
best are uncertain. I see the delicious dew-drop, 
and I will not resist what it is in my nature to pant 
after. I shall not attempt to dissuade you from 
lingering out your appointed span in vain and empty 
speculations; the dull monotony of your life suits 
your inclination as much as it is contrary to mine. 
But why do I linger here; thus loitering away the 
precious moments while pleasures invite? The 
golden opportunity is mine; instinct points out the 
way, and I hasten to obey its call. Fare-thee-well, 
my friend, I leave thee to wait for thy gay-coloured 
wings. Whilst the remnant of thy days pass away 
in the hope of acquiring them, mine will glide on in 
uninterrupted enjoyment.'' 

" He waited for no farther remonstrance, but with 
a fatal determination grasped at the object of his 
wishes, and fell to rise no more. His body, motion- 
less and bruised, lay extended on the parched earth : 
unaccustomed to a bed less smooth than the polish- 
ed leaf on which he used to find sweet repose, the 
rough particles penetrated his delicate skin, and in- 
creased the anguish of his expiring moments. 

"The caterpillar which would have saved him, 
beheld his fall with pity, and became strengthened 
in his resolution to avoid such rash enterprises as 
ended in the total ruin of his poor incredulous 
neighbour. 

"He patiently waited the appointed time, fixed 
himself in a safe place, and lay encased in his little 



CHAPTER VII. 113 

tomb until the next season, when he exchanged its 
confines for the boundless range of the air, and the 
ever- varying delights of a thousand meads and fields, 
and ten thousand thousand spring and summer 
flowers." 

Georgiana having concluded her allegory, asked 
her young auditors if they could make any appli- 
cation ? 

"I think, I can," said Emma: "the foolish little 
caterpillar, is like a person, who prefers the plea- 
sures of this world, because they are within his 
reach, to the joys of heaven; which are prepared 
for those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and 
are washed from their sins in his most precious 
blood." 

"Very true," said Georgiana, "and in his grasp- 
ing after those pleasures, which even in their 
attainment are unsatisfying and unreal, did you 
observe that he fell to rise no more?" 

"Yes," answered Robert; "as a man who had 
heard of the Lord Jesus Christ, but whose heart 
was steeled against him, and dying as he had lived, 
hard and impenitent, he must sink into the bottom- 
less pit among condemned spirits. Now, Georgiana, 
will you be so good as to tell us the history of some 
of the different species of caterpillars?" 

"That I shall with great pleasure," answered 
hii sister, and continued as follows: 

" They are so very numerous, that we cannot go 

L2 



SISTER'S STORIES. 

over them all, and therefore I shall select for you 
a few species of the butterfly kind. There are 
seven different Orders of Insects, which have been 
arranged by Linnaeus, the celebrated Swedish Natu- 
ralist, by expressive names ; ah 1 of which you will find 
in Pinnocfs Catechism of Entomology, which you 
must get, and with very little attention you will soon 
be able to distinguish them. You will be amused, 
Robert, at Linnaeus' names for the butterfly tribes, 
because it will remind you of your classics. He 
divides them into sections; the first he calls Equites, 
and subdivides them into Greeks and Trojans; the 
Greeks are distinguished by their gay colours, and 
the Trojans by a red spot on their breast. The finest 
among the Greeks is a native of South America, 
and is called Papilio Menelaus. His wings extend 
six inches across, and are of the most brilliant silver 
blue. Among the Trojans the most remarkable is 
named from King Priam, Papilio Priamus. He is the 
most beautiful of the butterfly tribe, about the size 
of the Menelaus; his upper wings of a velvet black, 
adorned with a rich grass-green broad band, glossy 
as satin; the lower wings are of the same green, 
with black and orange coloured spots." 

" Such a beautiful creature may well be called 
a bird," observed Robert, " where is it found F" 

"In the island of Amboyna: look for it in your 
map, Emma." 

The little girl did as she was desired, and pointed 
it out among the Spice Islands in the Indian Ocean. 




FLY. Papilio Priamus. 




SHALLOW-TAILED BUTTERFLY. PapillO Mackdon. 




PEACOCK BUTTERFLV. Papilio Ib. 



CHAPTER VII. 115 

"It is a very rare insect," continued Georgiana. 
"There is a caterpillar found chiefly on fennel, 
generally known by the name of the Swallow-tailed 
Butterfly, but its classic name is Papilio Machaon, 
a Grecian hero. Its colour is bright yellow with 
black spots, the wings are edged with a deep black 
border, adorned with a double row of crescent-shaped 
spots, the upper blue, the lower yellow. The 
caterpillar is a bright green, with bands of a deep 
glossy purple, enriched with yellow spots. The 
second section of Linnaeus is Heliconii, from Mount 
Helicon. Its wings are white, ornamented with 
velvet black spots; on each of the lower ones are 
two carmine-coloured circles, with a white circle and 
black border. It is called Papilio Apollo, and is 
found in Europe; the third, Danai, from the 
daughters of Danaus; the fourth, Nymphales; and 
the fifth, Plebeii." 

"The last," said Robert, "must be the com- 
mon kind from their name." 

"You are right," answered Georgiana; "and there 
is nothing in them (comparing them with others) 
worth notice. We have a native butterfly among the 
Nymphales which can scarcely be exceeded in ele- 
gance ; it is called the Papilio /o, or Peacock Butter- 
fly. Its colour is a beautiful orange-brown, with 
black bars interspersed by spaces of yellow, and, I 
have heard, dotted with white. Another very beau- 
tiful butterfly of this species, is the Atalanta, or Ad- 
mirable Butterfly: its wings are deep black, spotted 



116 



SISTER S STORIES. 



towards the tips with white, and adorned across the 
upper wings with rich carmine-coloured bars. It is 
also a native of Europe, and makes its appearance in 
August, as do the most splendid of this species. 
Emma, have you committed the little poem to 
memory which I gave you the last time we were 
speaking on this subject? 11 Emma said she had, 
and began to repeat: 

" The shades of night were scarcely fled, 

The air was mild, the winds were still ; 
And slow the slanting sun-beams spread 

O'er wood and lawn, o'er heath and hill. 

From fleecy clouds of pearly hue, 

Had dropt a short but balmy shower, 
That hung like gems of morning dew 

On every leaf and every flower. 

And from the blackbird's mellow throat 

Was pour'd so long and loud a swell, 
As echoed with responsive note 

From mountain side and shadowy dell. 

When, bursting forth to life and light, 

The offspring of enraptured May, 
The butterfly, on pinions bright, 

Launched in full splendour on the day. 

Unconscious of a mother's care, 

No infant wretchedness she knew ; 
But, as she felt the vernal air, 

At once to full perfection grew. 

Her slender form, ethereal, light, 

Her velvet-textured wings unfold, 
With all the rainbow's colours bright 

And dropt with spots of burnished gold. 



CHAPTER VII. 117 

Trembling awhile, with joy she stood, 

And felt the sun's enliv'ning ray, 
Drank from the skies the vital flood, 

And wondered at her plumage gay. 

And balanced oft her 'broidered wings, 

Through fields of air prepared to sail, 
Then on her vent'rous journey springs, 

And floats along the rising gale." 

"Are there any other butterflies than those you 
have mentioned ?" interrupted Emma. 

" Yes, several," answered Georgiana ; " I have 
not yet said any thing of the common white butter- 
fly which you may see flitting from flower to flower, 
sipping the morning dew. In the month of May 
they deposit their cluster of eggs on the under side 
of the cabbage leaf, which serves as food for the 
young brood of caterpillars, which come forth in a 
few days afterwards. At the latter end of June, 
they are fully grown and seek out for themselves a 
place of shelter, where each one fastens its tail by a 
web, and carries a strong thread of the same round 
its body near the head: thus secured, it hangs a 
few hours, when the chrysalis becomes perfectly 
formed, and the caterpillar's skin is laid aside. In 
fourteen days it becomes furnished with wings, 
escapes from its prison-house and lays its eggs, 
which being hatched, the young caterpillars arrive 
at full growth in September, when covering them- 
selves in their crysalid state they remain dormant 
during the winter; and are found under the copings 
of garden walls, and other such places, where they 



118 SISTER'S STORIES. 

are skreened from the rain and wind of that incle- 
ment season. In May, as I have already told you, 
they break forth from their bondage. Of this species 
of butterfly, you may always know the male from the 
female by a few dark spots upon his wings." 

"How wonderful, 11 observed Robert, "that they 
know where to find a secure place of shelter; and 
that they think of seeking it before the weather 
becomes severe. 11 

"Wonderful indeed! and can only be attributed 
to Him whose care is extended over all his works. 
' Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire 
of every living thing. 1 (Psalm cxlv. ]6.) And whilst 
we trace his hand in providing all things needful, 
even for the worm that writhes in the dust, let us 
remember, in the days of our youth, that we are 
much more the objects of his providential care and 
love, having created us after his own image, and 
endowed us with a rational and immortal soul cap- 
able of the higher enjoyments which are to be found 
at his right hand for evermore. By the fall of 
Adam it is too true that we have lost that image, 
and that capability, but both are restored to all true 
believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is their 
righteousness. 11 

"Now do tell us more of the butterflies, 11 said 
Emma. 

"I intend doing so, Emma; but as I relate 
to you the beauty and order in which God clothes 
the butterflies and provides for their wants, I wish 




MARSH FRITTILLARY BrTTERFLY. PapiltO Artemis. 



CHAPTER VII. 119 

to lead your thoughts to the contemplation of him 
in his works. 

" There is a small butterfly which measures 
about an inch and half across its expanded wings. 
Its colour is dark orange or light brown, set off with 
yellow and black in a minute pattern. The under- 
part of the wings is of a lighter colour, and from 
their moist or oily appearance, it has been called 
Greasy or Dishclout Frittillary, but its right name 
is the MARSH FRITTILLARY. In its caterpillar 
state it spins a fine web, under which covering it 
sleeps with its companions, protected from the cold 
of winter. The tissue which forms this retreat is 
so close in its texture, that it cannot be opened 
without some difficulty, and is not to be penetrated 
by rain, wind, or cold. When a rent is made in 
the little canopy, the whole family are found re- 
posing on soft down, surrounded with several folds 
of their web, which at once forms their quilts, cur- 
tains, and tents. Being nearly torpid, they require no 
food, until the genial warmth of spring allures them 
to the gardens and fields; but they do not stray 
far from their home, or place of their birth; their 
attachment to which is remarkable. They may be 
observed in numbers hovering low in a spot of 
marshy ground, where they are easily caught ; at a 
very little distance off, not one is to be seen. When 
the caterpillars are at their full growth, about the 
last week in April, they undergo their change into 
chrysalids, first suspending themselves by the tail; 



120 SISTER'S STORIES. 

their manner of doing which, displays an extraor- 
dinary power of instinct. They begin by drawing 
together two or three small blades of grass across, 
towards the top, which they fasten by means of 
their silken thread; under this little canopy they 
singly suspend themselves, and remain hidden from 
birds, and defended from the weather for fourteen 
days, which is the period of their lethargy. They 
feed on the scabious, or devilVbit, (scabiosa suc- 
cisa.) They also feed on the opening leaves of the 
marsh grasses as they come up," 

"From which, I suppose, they get the name of 
the Marsh Frittillary," observed Robert. 

"Very probably," replied Georgiana. "If you 
wish to watch their operations, you have nothing 
more to do, than to cut a turf from the place where 
they are found, and they will feed on it wherever 
you choose to fix it, as contentedly as if still at 
home. 

"The next butterfly, of which I am going to 
tell you, is called the NETTLE TORTOISE-SHELL 
BUTTERFLY. About the beginning of May they 
lay their eggs on the stalks of nettles, to which 
they are fastened by a glutinous substance; the 
light-coloured green caterpillars soon afterwards 
appear on the nettle tops inclosed in a web which 
covers the top of the plant. They cast their first 
skin very soon, and as if tired of their worn-out 
garments, they leave them hanging to the web, and 
seek a fresh retreat where they form a new colony ; 




TORTOISE-SHBLL BUTTERFLY. Pttptlio 



CHAPTER VII. 121 

still they remain together covered over with a web. 
Again they change their skin and place of habita- 
tion ; they also change their colour from lively green 
to black ; and as they now increase in size, they no 
longer form one society, but separate into compa- 
nies. In their sixth and last skin, they separate 
altogether, and sometimes cover the tops and stalks 
of the nettles, so as to appear like a black cloth 
over them. They devour these plants, leaving 
nothing but the fibres of the stalks. At the 
beginning of June, they are at their full growth ; 
then fastening their tails by a web under the nettle 
leaves, they change into green chrysalids, which in 
a day or two assume a bright gold or greenish 
brown colour. They remain so for about twenty 
days, then come forth one of the most beautiful 
of the British butterflies. Its upper wings are red, 
marked with alternate bands of black and pale 
orange; below these, there are three black spots, 
the inner one square; near the extremity of the 
upper parts, there is a white stripe. The lower wings 
also are red, marked with a large black spot. The 
four wings are edged with black and dotted over with 
blue spots.* They sport among the flowers; and 

* " The organ, which inflicts the pain, or sting, when we incau- 
tiously handle the nettle, is well known to be connected with a 
little vessel containing an acrid fluid, which being compressed 
rushes up the tube of the organ, and is thus conveyed into the 
wound ; and it is rather singular, that the larvae of the Admirable 
Butterfly, which feeds upon the large hedge nettle, has the spines 
which arise from its body branched, and each collateral hair arises 
from a little bulb, similar to that of the plaut on which it is 
chiefly found." Journal of a Naturalist, 
If 



122 SISTER'S STORIES. 

live their little day from April until the beginning of 
May, when they lay their eggs on the nettles and 
die. You will find this account of them in Bingley, 
who relates an extraordinary circumstance attend- 
ing their transformation; they, in common with 
others of the same family, (Papilio Atalanta) dis- 
charge drops of a reddish fluid, which has had the 
appearance of a shower of blood, where the num- 
bers were very great, and been recorded by writers, 
(who were of course ignorant of the cause which 
produced it,) as the forerunner of some extraordinary 
event." 

Robert and Emma said they would watch among 
the nettles for the butterfly such as their sister de- 
scribed, and for the red drops on the ground; which, 
however, she told them she never had heard of 
being seen in this country; but in the suburbs of 
the town of Aix, it had, as related by M. de Reau- 
mur. In the beginning of July, 1608, the inhabi- 
tants were thrown into great consternation from 
having discovered that which appeared to them a 
shower of blood, which had fallen not only in the 
suburbs, but extending some miles round. They 
consulted a philosopher, M. de Peiresc, on this ex- 
traordinary occurrence. Among his studies of 
natural history he had not neglected that of insects, 
and having a short time before picked up a large 
and beautiful chrysalis, which he had carefully 
enclosed in a box, and watched its transformation 
into the butterfly state, he remarked that it had 




1. SILVER-STRIPED BCTTTRFLY. Papilio 
2. SMALL GOLDEN BLACK-SPOTTED BUTTERFLY. Papilio phldC 



CHAPTEE VII. 123 

left a drop of blood-coloured liquor on the bottom 
of the box, which stain remained about as large as 
a French sol. The walls of a church-yard near the 
place, and several small villages in the neighbour- 
hood were spotted in a perfectly similar manner, as 
were the stones in the fields and near the highways; 
which made him unhesitatingly pronounce, that the 
prodigious number of butterflies, which at the same 
time were seen skimming through the air, had pro- 
duced the blood-coloured shower, which had not 
fallen on the tops of houses, or any where above the 
flight of the butterflies. It is worthy of observation, 
that all the showers of blood which have been recor- 
ded to have happened, fell in the warm seasons of 
the year when the butterflies are most numerous. 

"The Papilio paphia is a very elegant insect; its 
colour, fine orange chesnut, with numerous black 
spots and bars; it is usually found in the neigh- 
bourhood of woods. The Papilio semele, called the 
black-eyed marble butterfly, and the Papilio phlceas 
which is a small golden black-spotted butterfly, are 
seen in August. 

"I have told you now," continued Georgiana, 
"nearly all that I have read relating to butterflies, 
and shall if you wish, give you an account of the 
MOTH-TRIBE." 

"Do pray, dear Georgiana," was the request of 
each of her delighted auditors, and she most wil- 
lingly proceeded : 

"Of this species, there is one called THE SPHINX, 



124 SISTER'S STORIES. 

from the singular attitudes of their larvae, being 
said to resemble that of the Egyptian sphinx. There 
are three kinds of moths belonging to this genus. 
The first is the Sphinx Ligustri, or HAWK-MOTH. 
It measures nearly four inches and a half from the 
tip of one wing to the other; its upper part is a 
variegated brown, and the under wings and body 
are of a fine rose colour. The caterpillar, before it 
changes into a winged animal, is of a bright green, 
and generally found feeding on the privet, the lilac 
or poplar. The name has been given from its 
applying the hinder part of the body to a branch of 
a tree, holding itself erect like the fabulous sphinx. 
It spins its chrysalis under ground; and in- 
terweaves with the thread, bits of earth and 
grains of corn. They fly heavily early in the 
morning and after sun-set in the evening. The 
Sphinx Atropos is by far the largest and most 
interesting insect of this genus. The inhabitants 
of Bretagne, at a time when moths of this descrip- 
tion were observed in immense numbers, suffered 
dreadfully from an epidemic disease, which they 
attributed to them. The singular appearance of 
these insects, having on the top of the thorax an 
exact representation of a skull, and their plaintive 
cry when taken up, communicated to the people's 
minds a superstitious terror. The upper wings are 
of a fine grey colour, the under ones bright orange 
crossed with black bands. From the ghastly figure 
on its back and mournful sound, it is called the 




HAWK MOTH.- Sphinx Liyustri. 




LITTLE-EYED SPHINX. SphillX OCCellatd. 




EMPEROR MOTH. Phdland pavonid Minor. 



CHAPTER VII. 125 

DEATH'S-HEAD MOTH, and by the vulgar is consi- 
dered the harbinger of ill. In its caterpillar state it 
is particularly beautiful, and measures nearly five 
inches in length: it is generally found on the 
potato or jessamine. The third insect of this 
genus is found on the willow, a green caterpillar. 
It produces a beautifully variegated moth, called 
the Sphinx Occellata. 

"The most splendid and largest of the moth tribe 
is the Phalcena Atlas; from tip to tip of the 
wings, it measures eight inches and a hah . Its 
ground colour is a rich deep orange, having on its 
wings a large transparent spot bordered with black. 
It is found in the East and West Indies. The 
finest of the European species is called the 
Phalcena Pavonia, or PEACOCK-MOTH; it is a 
native of Germany, Italy, and France. It is 
beautifully variegated in different shades of grey, 
black and brown ; and has on the middle of each 
wing a spot shaped like an eye, the centre black, 
shaded with blue, surrounded with red brown, and 
again by a black circle. An elegant border of pale 
brown edges the wings round. The antennae are 
finely fringed. The caterpillar of this moth is apple 
green, and each segment of its body is ornamented 
with a row of upright projections of bright blue. 
It feeds on the apple and pear trees. This moth 
is not found in England; but one very like it is, 
called the EMPEROR MOTH, or Phalcena Pavoniq 
Minor? 



126 SISTER'S STORIES. 

"I am very curious to hear," said Robert, "how 
the caterpillars form their chrysalis, which are in 
general as hard as a shell." 

"I have been told," answered Georgiana, "that 
some caterpillars spin then* thread, mixing it with 
a glutinous substance, in which they involve their 
bodies, and roll themselves in the sand; the finest 
particles of which adhere, and form an incrustation, 
which may be compared to a little stone sarcopha- 
gus. Others work up the smallest particles of the 
willow, or whatever plant they inhabit, with their 
glue into a paste, which they form into a case or 
shell, to fit the body exactly. In this state, we 
have compared these insects to human bodies en- 
tombed; the analogy will be still more striking if 
we open one of the aurelias, which inside appears to 
contain nothing but a mass of corruption, yet here 
are the elements of a better existence. When the 
time of its enlargement arrives, the creature receives 
new life and vigour sufficient to force its way out of 
its prison : first the head becomes disengaged, then 
the horns protrude, the legs and wings extend 
themselves ; and the butterfly decked in colours of 
the most glowing and brilliant dye, takes its flight, 
its whole nature and aspect totally different from 
the terrestrial animal which crawled heavily on the 
ground, often disgusting to the sight. Its enjoy- 
ments, as well as its appearance, are changed. It 
no longer confines itself to the stem or the leaf of a 



CHAPTER VII. 127 

plant to supply its food, but ranges from flower to 
flower regaling itself on ambrosial sweets. 

" Go, child of pleasure, range the fields, 
Taste all the joys that spring can give ; 

Partake what bounteous summer yields, 
And live, while yet 'tis thine to live. 

Go, sip the rose's fragrant dew, 

The lily's honeyed cup explore ; 
From flower to flower the search renew, 

And rifle all the woodbine's store. 

And let me trace thy vagrant flight, 

Thy moments, too, of short repose ; 
And mark thee, when, with fresh delight, 

Thy golden pinions ope and close. 

But hark ! while thus I musing stand, 

Pours on the gale an airy note, 
And, breathing from a viewless band, 

Soft silvery tones around me float. 

They cease but still a voice I hear, 

A whispered voice of hope and joy 
1 Thy hour of rest approaches near, 

Prepare thee, mortal ! thou must die. 

Yet, start not ! on thy closing eyes 

Another day shall still unfold ; 
A sun of milder radiance rise, 

A happier age of joys untold. 

Shall the poor worm that shocks thy sight, 

The humblest form in nature's train, 
Thus rise in new-born lustre bright, 

And yet the emblem teach in vain ? 



128 SISTER'S STORIES. 

Ah ! where were once her golden eyes, 

Her glitt'ring wings of purple pride ? 
Concealed beneath a rude disguise ! 

A shapeless mass to earth allied. 

Like thee, the hapless reptile lived, 
Like thee, she toiled ; like thee, she spun ; 

Like thine, her closing hour arrived, 
Her labours ceased, her web was done. 

And shalt thou, numbered with the dead, 

No happier state of being know ? 
And shall no future morrow shed 

On thee a beam of brighter glow ? 

Is this the bound of Power divine, 

To animate an insect frame ? 
Or shall not He who moulded thine, 

Wake, at his will, the vital flame? 

Go, mortal! in thy reptile state, 

Enough to know to thee is given ; 
Go, and the joyful truth relate, 

Frail child of earth, high heir of heaven." 

"Thank you, dear Georgiana," said Emma, "for 
repeating to us such a beautiful little poem. Have 
you finished now about the butterflies and moths? 1 ' 

"Are you tired of them? 1 inquired her sister. 

"Not at all," answered Emma; "I should like 
to hear more." 

" Then I shall tell you of another very interest- 
ing and useful insect belonging to the moth tribe, 
though it has not much beauty to boast of. It is 
called Phalcena Mori, or SILKWORM. It is of a 
whitish hue; and lives after its exclusion from the 




ILK WOBM MOTH. Phalana wort. 



CHAPTER VII. ]29 

pupa but to lay its eggs. In its larva or cater- 
pillar state, its colour is light grey, and its length 
about three inches. It feeds on the leaf of the 
mulberry tree, on which it is found in its native 
state in China, and other eastern countries. In 
those warm climates, the silkworms are left at liberty 
on the trees; where they are hatched, and form 
their cocoons; but in the cooler atmosphere of 
Europe, where they have been transported, they 
must be kept in rooms with a southern aspect, and 
fed every day with fresh leaves. I shall give you 
the whole process of feeding and treating them 
from Bingley's Animal Biography, and which was 
found to succeed at the Baths of Lucca, where I 
had a number of silkworms to my endless amuse- 
ment and pleasure." 

"I remember them, Georgiana," said Robert, 
"and their little yellowish eggs, about as large as 
the head of a pin." 

"Do you remember the little black worms, the 
length of a small ant, that used to come out of 
those eggs?" 

"I think I do; but tell us all about them: I 
was so young then, that you know I did not mind 
them much, and you would never let me touch 
them." 

"The worms," continued Georgiana, "remain 
black for about eight or ten days, and increase in 
size until they are about the fourth of an inch long. 
They are laid on wicker shelves, covered first with 



130 SISTER'S STORIES. 

paper, and over this their bed is made of the ten- 
derest mulberry leaves, on which they feed as well 
as repose. At eight days old, they fall into a kind 
of lethargy, which lasts three days, during which 
time they cast their skin, and then recover and 
again feed and increase in size for five days more; 
this they do twice, during the next ten days; then 
being at full growth, above an inch long, they eat 
voraciously for five days, after which they refuse 
food; become transparent, with a tinge of yellow, 
and leave silky traces wherever they crawl, by which 
it is known that they are ready to spin their cocoon; 
and little bushes of broom or heath are stuck up- 
right for them between the shelves. The little 
animals climb up the branches, begin the founda- 
tion of their cell, and are five days in completing it. 
When the cocoon is finished, they remain dormant 
within it about a fortnight or three weeks, then 
they change into moths, and laying aside their 
aurelia skin, in tattered remnants like a little bundle 
of dirty linen within the cocoon, they prepare for 
their escape by gnawing out a passage. 

"The worm does not long enjoy its liberty: its 
efforts in effecting which appears to have exhausted 
its strength; soon afterwards it lays its eggs and 
dies. When the silk is made use of, the poor 
moths are not allowed to pierce the cocoon, because 
that spoils it. As soon as the cocoons are formed, 
they are taken off the branches, and divided into 
classes. Some are white and others yellow. The 



CHAPTER VII. 131 

best are firm, strong, and of a pure unspotted 
colour, the grain fine, and round at both ends. 
The brightest yellow yields most silk ; but the paler 
are preferred, because they take different colours 
better. The worms within are destroyed by the 
cocoons being put into long shallow baskets, 
covered up, and baked for an hour in a heat equal 
to that of an oven to bake bread. I should have 
told you that rooms are purposely prepared for the 
silkworms. Several ranges of wicker shelves, not 
too deep, are placed in the centre, one above 
another, about a foot and a half apart. 

"After being baked, the cocoons are properly dis- 
posed on osier shelves, distributed into stories two 
or three feet distant from each other. The whole 
thread, if measured, will be found about three 
hundred yards long; and so fine, that eight or ten 
threads are generally rolled off into one. For this 
purpose the cocoons are put into small basins of 
water, over a low fire. The ends of the thread are 
found by brushing them over gently with a whisk 
made on purpose; in winding them off, the threads 
are passed through holes in an horizontal bar of 
iron placed at the edge of the basin, to prevent 
their being entangled." 

"You have not yet described to us what the 
cocoon is," said Emma. 

" It is a cone or ball of silk," answered Georgiana, 
"spun from two longish bags, that lie above the 
intestines, filled with a gummy fluid of a deep yellow 



132 SISTER'S STORIES. 

colour. The apparatus for spinning the silky 
thread of which these bags are composed, in some 
measure resembles a wire-drawer's machine, in 
which gold or silver threads are drawn to any 
degree of fineness; and through this the animal 
draws its thread. 

"In a state of nature, the silkworm before it 
spins its web, seeks out some convenient place to 
erect its cell without obstruction. When it has 
found a leaf or chink fitted to*ts purpose, it begins 
to writhe its head in every direction, and fastens its 
thread on all sides the walls of its retreat. These, 
being continued, by degrees "form the little oval ball 
in which it undergoes its transformation. The out- 
side of the cocoon is composed of a coarse material 
like cotton, of which the beautiful blankets at Lucca 
are made; it is called floss; under that covering., 
the thread is more even and distinct, but not rolled 
regularly round, and winds off first from one side, 
then from the other. The interior of the apartment, 
next the body of the aurelia, is lined with a sub- 
stance like paper, but of a much stronger consis- 
tence. This little animal, to which we are indebted 
for all our beautiful silks, was unknown beyond its 
native climate, (China,) until the reign of the 
Emperor Justinian, though silk had been brought 
into Persia long before that period, For several 
centuries the Persians supplied the Roman empire 
with the silks of China, but at length two monks 
who had been sent out as missionaries, having 



CHAPTER VII. 133 

visited that country, discovered the properties of the 
silk-worm. And having, on their return to Constan- 
tinople, explained to the emperor the origin of silk, 
and mode of preparing it, he encouraged them by 
liberal promises to return and bring back with them 
a sufficient number of these extraordinary insects; 
which they accomplished by conveying their eggs 
in a hollow cane, and hatching them by the heat 
of a dunghill. They were reared in vast numbers 
in Greece, and afte wards in Sicily and Italy; which 
has brought about a -great change in the nature of 
the commercial^ intercourse between Europe and 
India. Are you tired yet of butterflies and 
moths ?" Georgiana inquired. The young party 
having answered that they were not, but would glad- 
ly hear any thing further on the subject which she 
should be so obliging as to communicate; she con- 
tinued their history, and described next a little moth 
called PtialcBna Vestianella or Tinea Sarcitella y 
which in its larva or caterpillar state is very de- 
structive to woollen cloths and furs. 

" How very unlike the useful silk-worm P said 
Emma. 

"Very unlike indeed," answered Georgiana; 
" these little mischievous insects not only eat the 
cloth, but form of it cases or houses to live in. After 
having wrapt itself round in a silken garment of its 
own spinning, it cuts the filaments of the wool or 
fur close by the thread, with its teeth, and applying 
the bits one by one to the outside of its case, with 

N 



134 



SISTER S STORIES. 



extraordinary ingenuity works them in by means of 
its silken thread. When its covering is finished, 
it fastens it to the spot with several strings and glue, 
and never quits it except on some very urgent oc- 
casion, and when it wants to feed, it puts its head 
out of either end as suits its convenience; its house 
being sufficiently wide in the centre to enable it to 
turn round. When it wishes to emigrate, it draws out 
its slender fastenings and puts out its head and six 
forelegs, which enables it to move forward, and 
keeping its hind legs still inside, it drags its case 
along. As the body increases, however, this case 
must be enlarged, and again the little ingenious 
creature goes to work to render its habitation com- 
modious; it begins by making a small addition at 
one end; then, turning itself within its case, it adds 
a little more to the other. Its operations in this 
way may be easily traced by transferring it to dif- 
ferent coloured cloths, the new additions will be seen 
in little rings of the different colours." 

"But as its body increases in bulk as well as 
length, does it not require widening in the centre?" 
inquired Robert. 

"Certainly," answered Georgiana, "and for that 
purpose it makes a slit lengthways with its scissor- 
like teeth from the centre to one of the extremities, 
and inserts nicely a little woollen stripe, which it 
lines with its own soft silk, like the rest of the in- 
terior of its dwelling; having finished this, it makes 
another incision and insertion at the same end ; then 




TIGER MOTH. PhalcEUa Cfljd. 



CHAPTER VII. 135 

turning itself round, performs the same operation 
at the other end. In this abode it remains until 
the time of its change, when it issues forth a little 
grey nocturnal moth. Its instinct directs it to deposit 
its eggs in the cloth, where being hatched, the insect 
finds food and clothing. To prevent woollen cloth 
and fur from being injured by these little destruc- 
tive insects, oil of turpentine, in some open vessel, 
should be placed in the wardrobe; a brush dipped 
lightly in oil of turpentine, and then brushing the 
cloth or fur with it, is also an effectual preservative, 
as the smell kills them immediately. The smoke 
of tobacco does the same. Had we known this 
remedy, (which is said to be effectual,) when we 
were in Italy, we might have saved much injury to 
every article of clothing we possessed in which there 
was any mixture of wool. My papa never could 
make out a secure place to deposit his coats, &c. 
During the summer months when we were obliged 
to leave Rome and lay aside our warm clothing, 
at our return we used literally to find them eaten 
to rags by these little mischievous insects. 

U I think you must have heard nearly enough of 
moths, I shall just mention one or two more, and 
have done with them; the Phalcena Caja, or GREAT 
TIGER-MOTH ; the upper wings a fine pale cream 
colour, with dark brown bars and spots, the lower 
wings red, with black spots; the body red with 
black bars. The caterpillar is brown and hairy, a 
native of England, and feeds on various plants. 



136 



SISTER S STORIES. 



u There is a very beautiful moth, nearly the shape 
of a butterfly, which in its caterpillar state feeds 
on the currant-bushes, and is therefore called the 
CURRANT-BUSH MOTH, or Phalcena Gross ulariata; 
its body is yellow, with black spots, its wings dotted 
with black ; the upper wings are adorned by a pair 
of yellow bands. 

" Behold the insect race, ordained to keep 
The lazy sabbath of a half year's sleep : 
Entombed, beneath the filmy web they lie, 
And wait the influence of a kinder sky. 
When vernal sunbeams pierce their dark retreat, 
The heaving tomb distends with vital heat ; 
The full-formed brood, impatient of their cell, 
Start from their trance, and burst their silken shell ; 
Trembling, awhile they stand, and scarcely dare 
To launch at once upon the untried air : 
At length assured, they catch the favouring gale, 
And leave their sordid spoils, and high in ether sail. 
So when Rinaldo struck the conscious rind, 
He found a nymph in every trunk confined ; 
The forest labours with convulsive throes, 
The bursting trees the lovely births disclose, 
And a gay troop of damsels round him stood, 
Where late was rugged bark and lifeless wood. 
Lo ! the bright train their radiant wings unfold, 
With silver fringed, and freckled o'er with gold : 
On the gay bosom of some fragrant flower, 
They idly fluttering live their little hour ; 
Their life all pleasure, and their task all play, 
All spring their age, and sunshine all their day." 

BARBAULD. 

" It will be very pleasant to know the name and 
nature of the different butterflies and moths, 11 said 
Emma, "which we may easily trace from your 
description, Georgiana. I should very much like 




CURRANT-BUSH MOTH. Pkttltena grossulattata. 




SILVER-BLUE BUTTERFLY. Papilio Menelaus. 



CHAPTER VII. 137 

to make a collection of all the different species of 
each." 

"You will find it very interesting, Emma, 11 
answered her sister. " I heard a friend of ours say 
yesterday, that he means soon to make a long voy- 
age, and will probably visit many parts of the great 
American Continent: I ventured to ask him if he 
would make a collection for us of the different native 
butterflies, particularly the magnificent Papilio 
Menelaus; which in the most obliging manner 
he promised to do." 

" I am very glad you thought of it, Georgiana. 
How anxious I shall be for his return. In which 
countries are the most beautiful butterflies found?" 

"Those of China, and America in particular; 
and on the river of the Amazons they are remarkable 
for size, richness and splendid colouring. They are 
very beautiful in France and India; but in their 
importation, much of >their beauty must be di- 
minished by the falling off of what to the naked 
eye appears to be dust, but when seen through the 
microscope, appears to be clusters of little elegant 
feathers, having a quill at one end, while at the 
other it is rounded and fringed like the feathers of 
a bird; they are arranged in the same beautiful 
order, the termination of one covering the begin- 
ning of another and when altogether wiped away, 
the wing remains a fine transparent film where the 
sockets of each quill may be discovered."* 
* Some say that these are not feathers, but very minute scales. 



138 SISTER'S STORIES. 

"How very curious! 11 said Robert, "even the 
little feather of the butterfly displays the operation 
of the Almighty, which no human artist could 
imitate." 

"Your observation gives me great pleasure, 
Robert, because it shews that your thoughts are 
directed to Him who is the Creator and Governor 
of all things. 11 

"One thing still puzzles me, Georgiana, 11 answered 
Robert. "Each caterpillar preys upon some plant 
which is its natural food; how happens it then that 
all those plants are not destroyed by the numerous 
tribe of insects which feed on them P 11 * 

"Because here also the wisdom of God has 
found out a remedy ; those numerous tribes supply 
the birds with food, the young brood just come out 
require that tender food in April when the cater- 
pillars are to be found in greatest plenty. When they 
disappear in autumn, the birds are strong enough 
to digest the grains of corn and other food fit for 
them, with which the earth is bountifully strewed. 
Thus, according to the promise, Gen. i. 29, 30. 
does the Lord supply food for every living creature 
that he has made. 

* Caterpillars in general lurk among the lowest herbage in the 
night-time ; early in the morning they begin to ascend and mount 
by degrees, until about noon they are found on the tops of their 
respective plants ; from whence they gradually descend again as 
the sun declines, so that the close of evening finds them again 
concealed under the lowest leaf. Other caterpillars feed at night 
and ascend at that time, and descend when morning dawns. 




ICHNEUMON FLIES. 



CHAPTER VII. ]39 

" There is a curious circumstance attending the 
caterpillar, which is, that a species of fly called the 
ICHNEUMON FLY pierces its body with its sting, 
and deposits its eggs there; these eggs produce 
maggots, which feed upon the living caterpillar 
until they destroy it. The fly is so called from a 
water-rat the Ichneumon which is said to creep 
down the throat of the Crocodile when asleep, 
devour his entrails, and put an end to his exist- 
ence in the most agonizing manner. 

" The female ichneumon fly is furnished with an 
implement resembling a wimble, with which she 
injects her eggs into the bodies of other insects, as 
well as caterpillars. When she selects her victim 
and pierces its skin with her tube, it has no possible 
way of escape; she never quits her hold until she 
has discharged her whole stock of eggs ; and cater- 
pillars have been known to exist with the larvae 
drawing the nutritious juices from its body without 
injury to its vitals, until its transformation into a 
chrysalis. Some curious mistakes have been made 
before the discovery of this part of their natural 
history, and people who have made a collection of 
chrysalides have been disappointed at seeing that 
they produced only flies. These flies have been 
known to pierce the egg of a caterpillar and lodge 
its own within it. 

" There are ichneumon flies in the woods which 
are so daring as to attack the great enemy of flies, 
the spider. It darts upon its adversary as she lies in 



140 SISTER'S STORIES. 

the centre of her web, from which she falls stunned 
by the blow, but spins her thread as she descends. 
The fly takes advantage of the opportunity, throws 
itself upon her body, which it pierces with its sting; 
and having dragged her to the earth and broken 
all her limbs, it rejoices over its captive, and tri- 
umphantly carries her off."" 




LONG-LEGGED HOUSE SPIDER. Pholcus phdlangioides. 



CHAPTER VIII. 



"I HAVE often watched a spider weaving its inge- 
nious little web," said Emma to her sister, "and 
longed to know how it managed to fasten its thread 
with so much ingenuity and dispatch. I could not 
discover any implements that it made use of, but it 
seemed to be furnished with little hooks to its claws." 

u You will be amused, I think indeed," answered 
Georgiana, " with the history of the SPIDERS and 
their webs; and that you may be the better able to 
comprehend their operations, I must explain to you 
a few particulars relating to the weaving of webs of 
linen, which you may see manufactured in most of 
the cottages around. You have seen a loom at 
work, I think?" 

"O yes, very often, and the weaver shewed me 
the difference of the warp and woof; the first is 
fixed on the loom, the last is the thread which pas- 
ses backward and forward in the shuttle." 



142 SISTER'S STORIES. 

" To make a piece of linen, many hands must be 
employed and many implements made use of. In 
the first instance, the thread must be spun by 
women, and afterwards go through a tedious and 
troublesome process before the weaver can do any 
thing with it. When he has it arranged, however, 
on his loom, and is seated at his work, it goes on 
rapidly enough, and we watch him with much plea- 
sure while both his hands and feet are in motion; 
with the latter he raises and lowers the treadles 
which alternately moves the stays up and down. 

" What are the stays ?" inquired Emma. 

" They are two rangers of threads hung on pullies, 
by means of which, half the threads of the warp are 
raised alternately from the other half to let the 
shuttle pass through. The threads are kept from 
being disarranged by an instrument called a reed ; 
but it is not my intention to explain any farther the 
weaving trade, which you can understand much 
better from seeing it going on; so far I have told 
you, that you may know how differently the insects 
carry on their works, the materials for which are 
contained within their own bowels. 

" Spiders have short horny jaws, and two incurv- 
ed, jointed, and very sharp feelers. They have 
eight legs, and six or eight eyes, two in the fore- 
part, two in the back, and the rest in the sides of 
the head. In the front they have two branches, 
indented with strong points ending like the claw of 
a cat; at the point of this claw or nail there is a 



CHAPTEE VIII. 143 

little aperture from whence they eject a strong poi- 
son. At the extremity of each leg, there are three 
crooked and moveable claws, a small one being placed 
at one side, like a spur, which they use in fastening 
themselves to their thread; the others are larger, 
and enable them to slide along, while they grasp at 
any thing which comes in their way ; and by means 
of these pointed claws, they can fasten on substances 
which to us appear perfectly polished, such as mar- 
ble and glass. Besides her eight legs, she has two 
others in the forepart of her body, which may be 
justly called arms, since she only uses them for 
turning and holding her prey. The house spiders 
feed principally on flies, and their webs are formed 
to entrap them." 

"How do they form them?"" asked Emma. 

"By means of a glutinous matter, contained in a 
receptacle near the extremity of their bodies, and 
for drawing it out into threads they have five little 
papillae, the orifices of which they can contract or 
dilate at pleasure. In making its web, when the 
spider has fixed upon a spot, it distils a drop of 
glutinous liquor, which is very tenacious. It creeps 
along the wall, joining its thread as it goes, then it 
darts to the opposite side where it fastens it; the 
thread being formed and fixed at each end, the 
spider runs upon it backwards and forwards doubling 
and strengthening it, as the stability of the work de- 
pends upon the goodness of the foundation. Paral- 
lel threads are now made and crossed with others, 



144 SISTER'S STORIES. 

the clammy substance still binding them together. 
At the bottom of its web, it forms a kind of little 
cavern in which it lies hidden to watch its prey, 
and no sooner does an unfortunate fly become en- 
tangled in the net than it pounces upon it. 

" The treach'rous spider, when her nets are spread, 

Deep ambush'd in her silent den does lie, 
And feels, far off, the trembling of her thread, 

Whose filmy cord should bind the struggling fly : 
Then, if at last she find him fast beset, 

She issues forth, and runs along her loom, 
She joys to touch the captive in her net, 

And drags the little wretch in triumph home." 

DHYDEN. 

" It has been said, that the solitary spiders of 
Europe congregate or assemble in societies of many 
thousands, on the banks of the Amazon ; they take 
possession of a tree, and unite in forming over it a 
complete net; then they take their several stations, 
and each labours for itself and secures its own prey 
without molestation ; but when the net sustains any 
injury, the whole community unite in the labour of 
repairing it for the general good. The house and 
garden spiders of Europe are unknown in Ireland, 
and yet are found in the Loochoo Islands. Spiders 
are known to be capable of hearing, and are said to 
love music. 

"The difference between the spider's web and that 
woven by man is, in the latter case, that the threads 
of the warp and woof are interlaced by machinery, 
the spider's threads of the warp and woof adhere^ 



CHAPTER VIII. 145 

where they touch, by means of their gummy or 
glutinous substance. The spider is particularly 
careful to strengthen the edge of her web by draw- 
ing out all her threads at once, and doubling and 
trebling them as she goes round, that it may not be 
easily torn. When it receives dust, it has been 
said by some, though doubted by others, that she 
sweeps it off with a shake of her paw, but never so 
roughly as to cause a fracture in her work, 

" I have watched a spider through the glass of 
the window, forming her net outside. When her 
work was finished, she placed herself in the centre, 
from whence her threads were drawn like rays, and 
intersected all round with cross threads. The 
vibration of the threads gives notice of the approach 
of a fly. The spider is furnished with a pair of 
very sharp hooked fangs, which, when not wanted, 
remain inclosed in cases in the forepart of the head. 
With these weapons he seizes upon and pierces the 
insects, infusing into the wound a poison, so active 
as to kill in a moment a fly, which would survive 
the mutilation of its limbs, and even the dividing 
asunder of its body. There is aji orifice or slit in 
each point of the fangs, 

"When twc spiders of the same size meet in 
battle, they hold each other by their fangs, and 
neither will yield until death separates them. I 
heard of one being wounded in his leg, so that a 
drop of blood issued from the sore, and being able 
to fight no longer he was obliged to run away, hold- 



146 SISTER'S STORIES. 

ing up his leg, which soon, however, fell from his 
body. A wound in the upper part of his body kills 
him in a moment." 

"Do they always watch in the centre of the web? n 
inquired Robert. 

"Not always,*" his sister answered; "sometimes 
he is seen near the edge, or in a snug little corner of 
his web, where he may the more readily dart upon 
his prey." 

" If you touch a spider with your finger, in the 
gentlest manner, it terrifies him ; at first he tries to 
run away, but if he still meets your finger, he 
gathers himself up into a ball and pretends to die; 
but in a little time he recovers and runs away. 

"He changes his skin at certain seasons, and 
leaves his old covering hanging to the cord which 
sustained him during the operation. We shall 
now leave this species of spider, of which Solomon 
says, ' the spider taketh hold with her hands and is 
in king^s palaces. 1 The GARDEN SPIDER, (Ara- 
nea horticola,) is no less skilful in her operations. 
When she wishes to transport herself from one place 
to another, she fixes one end of her thread to the 
place where she stands, and with her hind paws 
draws several threads at once out of her little papil- 
lae, which being lengthened and blown by the wind, 
fasten by their natural clamminess to some branch, 
&c. this is her bridge by which she passes and re- 
passes at pleasure, spinning as she goes and strength- 
ening her thread, from whence she draws another 



CHAPTER VIII. 147 

to the ground and fastens it, and at length forms a 
net, in the centre of which she takes her station, 
with her head downwards to watch for her prey. 

" I read of a gentleman who wished to know how 
long a spider could live without catching and eating 
flies. He took a large Garden spider, (its belly 
was as large as a nut,) and put it under a glass bell, 
which he secured all round the bottom with cement, 
and let it remain during ten months ; the spider was 
still as active and strong as if it received its daily 
food, but its poor little belly shrunk to the size of a 
pin's head. He then gave it a companion of its 
own species. For some time they kept quiet, and 
at a respectful distance from each other, at last, 
however, the starved spider attacked the stranger, 
and showed his superior strength by pulling off his 
limbs, which he carried off and devoured, and also 
three of his own claws which he had lost in the com- 
bat. In some measure his plumpness was restored, 
but not entirely, until the following day, when he 
again attacked the poor defenceless body of the 
spider, which he completely devoured, after which 
he looked as fat as before his confinement." 

" I do not like these experiments," said Emma, 
"they are very cruel." 

"I agree with you, Emma; though I like to 
know the result, I should be very sorry to be a 
party concerned in making them. 

" From the bags, in which the young brood of 
the garden spider are produced, an attempt has 



148 SISTER'S STORIES. 

been made to manufacture silk: thirteen ounces of 
these bags were collected, and after having been 
beaten with a stick to free them from dust, they 
were washed clean with warm water. After this, a 
mixture was made of soap, nitre, and gum arable, 
in which, after being steeped for some time, they 
were boiled for two or three hours over a gentle fire. 
They were then washed again in clean warm water 
to clear them from the soap, and after being well 
dried, they were loosened with the fingers, and 
afterwards carded by the common silk-carders, and 
a beautiful ash-coloured silk was obtained, which 
was easily spun into a stronger thread than that of 
the silk-worm ; but the operation of carding took 
from it the lustre of silk, which that of the silk- 
worm retains, the thread being already formed more 
distinctly, and wound off the ball. From the 
thirteen ounces of bags, four of silk were produced, 
three of which being woven in the loom of a stock- 
ing weaver, made a pair of stockings large enough 
for a man. It never can however be a manufacture 
of any importance, since to obtain one pound of 
silk there must be 28,000 bags, which the female 
spiders alone spin, of which 27,648 would be 
necessary: 2,304 silk-worms produce one pound of 
silk: 280 spiders would not yield more silk than a 
single worm. Another obstacle arises from their 
propensity to devour each other. If the experi- 
ment had succeeded so as to establish a manufacture 
from the different species of spiders, there would 



CHAPTER VIII. 149 

have been various genuine colours, such as gray, 
white, sky-blue, and coffee colour. The silk-worm 
produces but two, white and orange."" 

"What is the bag?" inquired Robert. 

" It is the nest in which the spider lays her eggs, 
from six to seven hundred; this happens in August 
or September; in about sixteen days afterwards 
they are hatched; but if the weather be cold, the 
little spiders keep close in the bag for several 
months, neither eating nor increasing in size. At 
the beginning of the warm season they venture out, 
but they are without a mother's care ; she dies soon 
after she has deposited her eggs. 

"There is another species called the WANDERING 
SPIDER, by Linnaeus, Aranea viatica; in France, 
FAraigme rurale. It does not lie in wait for its 
prey ; but is a lively hunter. With its immoveable 
eyes, it perceives all that hovers round it; and 
without alarming, it stretches over the flies its 
arms, which being furnished with feathers, entangle 
the wings of the insects, and ensnare them like the 
spreading forth of nets, and give an opportunity to 
their enemy to seize them in its merciless jaws, and 
suck out their blood. 

" There is another spider which leaps like a grass- 
hopper, from whence it is called the JUMPING 
SPIDER, or Aranea scenica. When watching for 
its prey, it stands still, raising itself on its hind 
legs and looking all around. If it perceives a fly 
at three or four yards distance, it does not run 



150 SISTER'S STORIES. 

towards it; but cautiously steals along, until near 
enough to spring upon the back of the insect. It 
seldom misses its aim, but should the fly take wing, 
the spider keeps its eye upon it until it alights upon 
another spot, where it follows to make another 
attack. It has been seen in the act of instructing 
its young ones; and when failing in its leap to 
catch its prey, as if ashamed, it ran into a crevice 
to hide itself. 

"The Aranea aquatica, or WATER SPIDER, is 
found in fresh waters. In the water its body appears 
covered with a silver varnish; which is however 
nothing more than a bubble of air attached to the 
body by the oily humour which exudes from it, 
and prevents the immediate contact of the water. 
This bubble is of great use in forming its habitation 
under the water. It fixes several silky threads to 
the stalks of the water-plants, then ascending to the 
surface, thrusts the hinder part of its body above 
the water, drawing it back with so much rapidity 
as to attach beneath a bubble of air, which it has 
the art of detaining by placing it under its threads 
which it bends as a covering round it. It then 
ascends, and brings down another bubble of air to 
enlarge its chamber, until it constructs a commodi- 
ous aerial dwelling which it enters and leaves at 
pleasure. The female builds apartments of this 
description for its young ones. The figure of this 
spider would not be remarked but for its singular 
property of constructing aerial habitations under tlie 



CHAPTER VIII. 151 

water. During the winter it lodges in an empty shell 
which it dexterously closes up with a web." 

" I had no idea," said Robert, " that there was so 
much variety among the spiders." 

"There are still a number, of which I have 
not yet told you. The GOSSAMER SPIDER, (Ara- 
nea Obtectrix) though not larger than the head of 
a pin, covers the hedges, the meadows, the corn- 
fields, the stubble land, and the surrounding dis- 
tricts, with their slender threads resembling a fine 
white gauze. Multitudes of these insects extending 
their threads, which can seldom be seen but by 
means of a glass, make the fields appear as if cover- 
ed with swarms of gnats. The agitation of the 
gentlest breath of wind unites these threads, so as 
to thicken and float in the atmosphere. This hap- 
pens during the harvest, and in Germany is called 
the Jl ying summer ; because it is at the time of its 
departure. An account is inserted of the Gossamer 
in the Natural History of Selborne, which I shall 
read to you : 

" 'On September 21st, 1 741 , being on a visit, and 
intent on field sports, I rose before daybreak. When 
I came into the inclosures, I found the stubbles and 
clover grounds matted all over with a thick coat of 
cobweb, in the meshes of which a copious and heavy 
dew hung so plentifully, that the whole face of the 
country seemed, as it were, covered with setting- 
nets drawn one over the other. When the dogs 
attempted to hunt, their eyes were so blinded and 



152 SISTER'S STORIES. 

hood-winked, that they were compelled to lie down 
and scrape the incumbrance from their faces with 
their forefeet; finding my sport so entirely inter- 
rupted, I returned home, musing in my mind upon 
this strange occurrence. As the morning advanced, 
the sun shone bright and warm, and the day was 
one of the most lovely which the autumnal season 
produces; cloudless, calm, serene, and worthy of 
the south of France itself. 

"'About nine o'clock, a very unusual appearance 
demanded our attention; a shower of cobwebs fall- 
ing from very elevated regions, continued without 
interruption until the close of the day. They were 
not single filmy threads, floating in the air in all 
directions, but perfect flakes or rags, some nearly an 
inch broad, and five or six long, falling with a de- 
gree of velocity which proved them to be consider- 
ably heavier than the atmosphere. On every side, 
as the observer turned his eyes, he might behold a 
continual succession of fresh flakes falling, and 
twinkling like stars, as they turned their sides to- 
wards the sun. 

" * How far this wonderful shower extended would 
be difficult to say; but we know that it reached 
Bradley, Selborne, and Alresford, three places 
which lie in a sort of triangle ; the shortest of whose 
sides is eight miles in extent. 

"'At Selborne there was a gentleman (for whose 
veracity and intelligent turn of mind, I have the 
greatest veneration,) who observed it the moment 



CHAPTEIl VIII. 153 

he got abroad; but concluded that, as soon as he 
came upon the hill above his house, where he took 
his morning rides, he should be higher than this 
meteor: which he imagined, might have been blown, 
like thistle-down, from the common above. But, 
to his great astonishment, when he rode to the most 
elevated part of the down, 311 feet above the level 
of the fields, he found the webs, in appearance, as 
much above him as before; still descending in 
constant succession, and twinkling in the sun, so as 
to attract the observation of the most incurious. 

" ' Neither before nor after was any such fall seen ; 
the flakes hung in the trees and hedges so thick 
that baskets full might have been gathered. 

" ' Nobody in the present days, can doubt but 
these cobweb appearances are the real productions 
of small spiders, which swarm in the fields in fine 
weather in autumn. 



:c Now the subtle tribe 



Of spiders, by their glittering webs betrayed, 
Like tented fairies cover all the field." 

" ' Every fine day, at this season chiefly, do I see 
these little spiders shooting out their webs and 
mounting aloft : if you take them into your hand, 
they will go off in this manner from your finger. 
Last summer one alighted on my book as I was 
reading, and running to the top of the page, and 
shooting out a web, took its departure from thence. 
But what I most wondered at was, that it went off 
with considerable velocity where no air was stirring; 



154> SISTER'S STORIES. 

and I am sure I did not assist it with my breath. 
These diminutive animals seem to have, while 
mounting, some locomotive power without the use 
of wings, and to move in the air faster than the air 
itself. 1 

"There is a very extraordinary species of spider 
called TARANTULA. It is a native of Italy, Cy- 
prus, Barbary, and the East Indies; and lives in 
bare fields in a dwelling about four inches deep, 
and half an inch wide, closed at the entrance with 
a net, and curved at the bottom. The animal sits 
in it during wet weather, but cuts its way out, if 
any water enters its abode. They lay above 700 
eggs, which are hatched in the spring, without the 
care of their parents, who do not survive the winter. 
This creature is rather more than an inch in length ; 
its breast, and underpart of its body and legs, ash- 
coloured with blackish rings. Its fangs red inside. 

"The envenomed bite of this animal causes in- 
flammation, difficulty of breathing, and sickness, for 
which music was supposed to be the cure; however 
it is now known to be a trick practised upon credu- 
lous travellers. When Mr. Swinburne was in 
Italy, he minutely investigated every particular 
relative to this insect. As I have got his travels 
here, I may as well read you his own account: 
'The season not being far enough advanced, no 
Taranti had begun to stir. 1 The children interrupt- 
ed their sister, to ask the meaning of the word 
Taranti, and she having told them that it was a 



CHAPTER VIII. 155 

name given to persons bitten by the Tarantula, she 
continued to read: 'I prevailed upon a woman who 
had formerly been bitten, to dance the Tarantula 
before me. A great many musicians were sum- 
moned, and she performed the dance, as all who 
were present assured me, to perfection. At first, 
she lolled stupidly on a chair, while the instruments 
were playing some dull music. At length they 
touched the chord which was supposed to vibrate 
to her heart, and up she sprang with a most hideous 
yell, and staggered about the room like a drunken 
person, holding a handkerchief in both hands, rais- 
ing them alternately, and moving in very true time. 
As the music grew brisker, her motions quickened,, 
and she skipped about with great vigour and variety 
of steps, every now and then shrieking very loud. 
The scene was far from pleasant, and it was put an 
end to, at my request, before the woman was tired. 
The place prepared for the Tarantati to dance, is 
hung round with bunches of grapes and ribbons. 
The patients are dressed in white, with red, green, 
or yellow ribbons, for those are their favourite 
colours; on their shoulders they cast a white scarf, 
let their hair fall loose about their ears, and throw 
their heads as far back as they can bear it. They 
are exact copies of the ancient priestesses of Bac- 
chus. The orgies of that God, whose worship 
under various symbols was more widely spread over 
the globe than that of any other divinity, were no 
doubt performed with energy and enthusiasm by the 



156 



SISTER S STORIES. 



lively inhabitants of this warm climate. The intro- 
duction of Christianity abolished all public exhibi- 
tions of these heathenish rites, and the women durst 
no longer act a frantic part in the character of Bac- 
chantes. Unwilling to give up so darling an amuse- 
ment, they devised other pretences ; and possession 
by evil spirits may have furnished them with one. 
Accident also may have led them to the discovery 
of the Tarantula; and upon the strength of its poi- 
son, the Puglian dames still enjoy their old dance, 
though time has effaced the memory of its ancient 
name and institution: and this I take to be the 
origin of so strange a practice. If at any time 
these dancers are really and involuntarily affected, 
I can suppose it to be nothing more than an attack 
upon their nerves, a species of St. Vitus's dance. I 
incline the more to the idea, as there are numberless 
churches and places dedicated to that saint. 

"'The Tarantula, from trials made in 1693 and 
1740 by different naturalists, was proved to be 
harmless. The illness may be attributed to hy- 
sterics, excessive heat, stoppage of perspiration, and 
other effects of sleeping out of doors in a hot sum- 
mer air, which is always extremely dangerous, if 
not fatal, in many parts of Italy. Violent exercise 
may have been found a cure for this malady, and 
continued by tradition, though the date and circum- 
stances of this discovery may long since have pas- 
sed into oblivion; a natural passion for dancing, 
imitation, custom of the country, and a desire of 




BIRD-CATCHING SPIDER.- Mygale avicularia. 



CHAPTER VIII. 157 

raising contributions of the spectators, are probably 
the true motives that inspire the Tarantati. 

" There is a species of spider called, the BIRD- 
CATCHING SPIDER (Aranea avicularia) of such an 
enormous size as is frightful to behold; its feet spread 
over ten inches of space, and from its head to the 
extremity of its body, it measures above three 
inches. Its legs are as thick a goose's quill, and 
are covered with hair. The body is brown, and 
the fangs strong and sharp like those of a rapacious 
bird. Its eight eyes are set in a kind of oblong 
square in the front of the thorax. Of these the 
two middle ones are so large as to admit of their 
being set in the manner of glasses to be used as 
microscopes: the rest are smaller and of an oval 
form. This hideous animal resides in trees, to the 
terror of the little birds, which it seizes and wounds 
by its fangs, then sucks out the blood until the 
bird is destroyed. There is an orifice or slit near 
the tip of the fangs so visible that it can be dis- 
cerned without the help of a glass; through this 
orifice they distil a poisonous liquid into the wound 
they inflict. 

''Captain Stedman, during his residence at Suri- 
nam, put one of these creatures into a glass bottle, 
above eight inches high, it was filled with spirits, 
and the claws of the spider reached from the surface 
to the bottom : he gives a loathsome description of 
its size and appearance. 

" Bingley tells of a species of spider, the female of 



158 SISTER'S STORIES. 

which digs a hole downward about three inches 
long and one wide, which she lines comfortably 
with a thick tough material like leather. In this 
little dwelling she and her family reside, and there 
is a curious door to it, which they open and shut 
as often as they pass in or out; the hinges of the 
door resemble those of the sea-shells. 

" Dampier gives an account of an immense spider 
almost as large as a man's shut hand. Its legs are 
long and slender, and it has two fangs smooth and 
black as jet. They are an inch and a half long, 
a little curved, and pointed so sharp at the end, that 
people use them for tooth-picks, and carry them in 
their tobacco pouches to pick their pipes with." 

"How hard they must be!" observed Robert. 

" The backs of these spiders," continued Georgi- 
ana, " are clothed in a dark yellowish down, resem- 
bling velvet for softness." 

"They must be frightful animals if they are 
venomous," said Emma, " their size being so en- 
ormous." 

" It is not known, I believe," her sister answered, 
"whether they are venomous or not. I forget 
whether I told you before that spiders change their 
skin, which is often found in the web, dry and trans- 
parent, with the mandibles attached. . When ready 
to lay aside the old garment, they suspend them- 
selves in some nook, and gradually pull out their 
legs as if drawing off' a glove ; when this is done, 
they crawl cut of a crack in the back of the old 
skin." 



CHAPTER VIII. 159 

" O how very curious !" said Emma; " Georgiana 
did not you tell us of some man who petted a 
spider?" 

"Yes, I think I told you of poor Pelisson, who 
by his writings offended the French government, 
and was in consequence confined in one of the cells 
of the Bastille, where he was deprived of every re- 
source : he was not permitted to receive the visits of 
any friend, nor a book to read, nor the use of pen, 
ink and paper. Months passed away in this dread- 
ful situation, where the only living thing, except 
the gaoler, which approached him was a spider, and 
with it he shared the only food which was given 
him, (bread and water,) and as often as he went to 
his meals the spider descended on its thread to par- 
take of the frugal fare : the occupation of attending 
to the insect lightened the insupportable load of 
life, and the feeling that he was no longer alone, 
soothed his sorrows. He was not long, however, 
permitted to enjoy this poor consolation. One day 
when the gaoler was later than usual in bringing the 
accustomed supply, the spider descended and Pelis- 
son threw him his crumbs. The gaoler broke out 
into invective, at witnessing an amusement which 
he deemed base, and with one of the large keys in 
his hand, in a moment deprived the insect of life, 
which drew from the bereaved prisoner the first 
tears he had been seen to shed.' 1 

"Ah what an ill-natured, wicked man! I hate 
him !" said little Annie. 



CHAPTER IX. 






"How very extraordinary,"" observed Emma, "that 
we should find so much entertainment in the his- 
tory of little ugly crawling insects! Well, I am 
determined in future to treat them with more re- 
spect." 

"Especially, Emma," answered her sister, "when 
you recollect how mercifully they are furnished with 
all which is necessary for their comfort and exis- 
tence, by the same Creator who provides for us, and 
watches over the minute concerns of our lives. 
What are we ourselves, but worms, in comparison 
with his greatness? and yet he does not treat us 
with contempt." 

The children as usual arranged themselves round 
the table, at the top of which their kind sister sat, 
with some books before her which treated of insects, 
that she might occasionally refresh her memory 
from them. 

" When I was a little girl like you," she continu- 



CHAPTER IX. 161 

ed, looking at her younger sisters, " I used to be 
very anxious to hear from papa the cause and 
meaning of things which I was not then capable of 
understanding. One of my foolish wishes was to 
climb up to the moon and stars, that I might be 
able to discover of what materials they are compos- 
ed, but he advised me first to get acquainted with 
things which were within my reach, and no less 
wonderful in displaying the works of God ; and the 
minutest insect which he thought worth creating, 
we should consider deserving of our attention. 
My dear papa made me observe the beautiful order 
in which these seemingly helpless little animals are 
formed, clothed and provided for. They are endow- 
ed with instinct, which directs them to their proper 
food, teaches them how to build their habitations, 
where to place them securely, and how to guard and 
provide for their young brood.*" 

"How they carry on their works is always a 
mystery to me,*" observed Robert, "without any 
implements of industry " 

" Except those with which nature has furnished 
them,"" answered Georgiana; "and they are found 
quite sufficient not only to forward their labours, 
but as weapons of defence against their most for- 
midable enemies." 

"That is true indeed, Georgiana; even a little 
ant can inflict her dart, and the sting of a bee or 
wasp is a serious hurt. 1 " 

" They have strong teeth,"" continued Georgiana, 



162 



SISTER S STORIES. 



"a double saw, claws, &c. &c. and many of them 
are defended from injury by a scaly coat of mail. 
Then the builders, the carpenters, the spinners, the 
weavers, the wa$ and honey makers, are at no loss for 
implements or materials to carry on their works, 
and we never find an idler amongst them. And 
how splendid is the clothing of many insects ! I 
have seen a lady dressed in India muslin, embroi- 
dered with beetle's wings, which sparkled like eme- 
ralds. Indeed even a common fly seen through a 
magnifying glass would surprise you with the 
elegance of its attire. As of the lily, we may say of 
it, that < Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed 
like one of these.' Feathers in all their soft plu- 
mage, gauze, lace, gold, pearls, and diamonds, seem 
to lend their brilliancy and lightness in adorning 
the tiny brows of these diminutive creatures. 

4 Their wings, all glorious to behold, 
Bedropt with azure, jet, and gold, 
Wide they display ; the spangled dew 
Reflects their eyes and various hue.'" 

"But what are the implements they make use 
of? 11 inquired Emma. 

" Too many to enumerate,"" her sister answered. 
" The spinners are at no loss for distaffs and fingers 
to form their slender threads, nor the weavers, for 
shuttles and clews of thread. There are uphols- 
terers, carpenters, divers, mathematicians, paper- 
makers, carders, &c. &c. &c. all furnished with the 
requisites for their operations beyond what the in- 



CHAPTER XI. 163 

genuity of man could devise or accomplish. The 
sirup distilled from flowers by means of the trunk 
or proboscis, can never be imitated by man with the 
most ingenious chemical apparatus." 

" I am glad you are coming to the Bees, Geor- 
giana; I think we shall find their history nearly as 
entertaining as that of the ants," said Emma. 

" Do we find any mention made of them in Scrip- 
ture ?" asked Georgiana. 

"I think we do," answered Emma. "We hear 
of a land flowing with milk and honey" 

Georgiana here gave the children some references 
to look out, and each taking a Bible read in turn, 
Exodus iii. 8. Psalm xix. 10. Proverbs xxiv. 13. xxv. 
16. Psalm Ixxxi. 16. 1 Samuel xiv. 25,26,27. Judges 
xiv. 8, 9, 14, 18. Isaiah vii. 15. Psalm cxix. 103. 
Canticles v. 1. "This country, (Ireland,)" observ- 
ed Georgiana, " is mentioned by the venerable Bede 
as being rich in milk and honey." She then spoke 
of another insect which is very remarkable in Scrip- 
ture, and on which St John fed in the wilderness, 
" His meat was locusts, and wild honey," which in 
the Jewish law was permitted to be eaten : " These 
of them ye may eat ; the locust after his kind."* 
And opening Bagster's Comprehensive Bible, she 
gave out more references, and read the notes de- 
scriptive of this fearful insect, which laid waste all 
before it like an overpowering host. " It was one 
of the tremendous plagues of Egypt," continued 

Leviticus xi, 22. 



164? SISTER'S STORIES. 

Georgiana: "they were first threatened with them." 
6 1 (that is God himself) will bring the locusts into 
thy coast: and they shall cover the face of the 
earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth : and 
they shall eat the residue of that which has escaped, 
and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out 
of the field. And shall fill thy houses, &c.'* The 
description of this formidable insect is here given. 
The word Locust in Hebrew signifies, to multiply, 
because they increase more than any other animal, 
and because of the immense swarms by which the 
countries in the East are infested. These insects 
belong to a genus, known by the name of Grylli* 

"O! I remember," interrupted Robert, "that is 
what they were called in Italy." 

"This name," continued his sister, "includes 
three species, crickets, grasshoppers, and locusts, 
which in form and appearance resemble our grass- 
hoppers. The common great brown LOCUST is about 
three inches long; has two antennae about an inch 
long, and two pairs of wings. The head and horns 
are brown; the mouth and inside of the larger legs 
bluish ; the upper side of the body and upper wings 
brown, the former spotted with black, and the latter 
with dusky spots. The back is defended by a shield 
of a greenish hue ; the under wings are of a light 
brown, tinctured with green, and nearly transparent. 
It has a large open mouth; in the two jaws of which 
it has four teeth, which cross each other like scissors, 

* Exodus x. 4, 5, 6. 



CHAPTER XI. 165 

being calculated from their mechanism to gripe or 
cut. In the thirteenth verse of this chapter, it is 
said, that ' the Lord brought an east wind upon the 
land all that day, and all that night; 1 which wind 
brought the threatened plague. 'The locusts went 
up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the 
coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they. For 
they covered the face of the whole earth, so that 
the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb 
of the land, and all the fruit of the trees, and there 
remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the 
herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt. 1 
When the Lord was entreated to take away this 
plague, he did so, by turning 'a mighty strong 
west wind, which took away the locusts, and 
cast them into the Red Sea; there remained not 
one locust in all the coasts of Egypt.' Thus can 
the strong arm of the Lord, to whom the winds and 
the waves are subservient, do all things. He turn- 
eth those all-powerful agents as he listeth, and who 
can let or hinder him? 1 '' 

" Is there not more mention made of locusts in 
the Bible? 11 inquired Emma. 

"Yes, 11 replied Georgiana, "in several parts. In 
the awful curses denounced against the rebellious, 
impenitent Israelites, they were told, that they 
should carry much seed into the field, but should 
gather but little in, for the locust should consume 
it; and plant and dress their vineyards, but should 
neither drink the wine nor gather the grapes, for 



166 



SISTER S STORIES. 



the worm, or grub of the same insect should eat 
them:* which judgment he promises to remove, if 
by prayer they turn to him.f The depredations 
of these destroyers are represented in a striking 
simile which you will find in the first and second 
chapters of Joel: 'That which the palmer-worm 
hath left hath the locust eaten ; and that which the 
locust hath left hath the canker-worm eaten ; and 
that which the canker-worm hath left hath the 
caterpillar eaten. 1 In the note on this verse it is 
said, that the learned are of opinion that the four 
Hebrew words here used, and which are translated, 
palmer-worm, locust, canker-worm, caterpillar, de- 
note four species of locust. How strikingly de- 
scriptive of the desolation is what follows! 'A 
nation is come up upon my land, strong, and 
without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, 
and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion. He hath 
laid my vine waste, and barked my fig-tree: he 
hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the 
branches thereof are made white.... The field is 
wasted, the land mourneth ; for the corn is wasted, 
the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth. Be 
ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen ; howl, O ye vine- 
dressers, for the wheat and for the barley ; because 
the harvest of the field is perished. The vine is 
dried up, and the fig-tree languisheth; the pome- 
granate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, 

Deut. xxviii. 38, 39, 42. Ps. Ixxviii. 4fi. and cv. 34, 35. 
f 2 Chron. vii. 13, 14, 15. Is. xxxiii. 4. 



CHAPTER XT. 167 

even all the trees of the field are withered; because 
joy is withered away from the sons of men."" Be- 
cause of the fearful devastation, the people are 
exhorted to sanctify a fast, and call a solemn 
assembly that they might cry to the Lord for the 
destruction from the Almighty, which was at hand. 
And the prophet continues: 'Is not the meat cut 
off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the 
house of our God? The seed is rotten under their 
clods, the garners are laid desolate; [nothing now 
remaining to be stored into them,] the barns are 
broken down; for the corn is withered. How do 
the beasts groan ! the herds of cattle are perplexed, 
because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of 
sheep are made desolate.'"" 

"Well, Georgiana," observed Robert, "all that 
you have now read, ought to convince us that the 
weakest and most insignificant instruments in the 
hands of God, are rendered all-powerful to destroy 
life or to save." 

" Very true, Robert," answered Georgiana. 
"These insects are his appointed messengers of 
vengeance; and diminutive and helpless as they 
are, they set at nought the power of man to destroy 
or prevent the fatal consequences which they are 
commissioned to effect. This is the account given 
of them in Volney's travels : 

"'The quantity of these insects is incredible to 
all who have not themselves witnessed their as- 
tonishing numbers ; the whole earth is covered with 



168 SISTER'S STORIES. 

them for the space of several leagues. The noise 
they make in browsing on the trees and herbage 
may be heard at a great distance, and resembles 
that of an army in secret. The Tartars themselves 
are less destructive than these little animals. One 
would imagine that fire had followed their progress. 
Wherever their myriads spread, the verdure of the 
country disappears; trees and plants stripped of 
their leaves and reduced to their naked boughs and 
stems, cause the dreary image of winter to succeed 
in an instant to the rich scenery of spring. When 
these clouds of locusts take their flight to surmount 
any obstacles, or to traverse more rapidly a desert 
soil, the heavens may literally be said to be obscured 
by them.'" 

" How exactly the text agrees with this account !" 
observed Robert, who had his Bible open before 
him. 

" Read it pray," said his sister. 

" ' A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of 
clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread 
upon the mountains; a great people and strong. 
A fire devoureth before them, and behind them a 
flame burneth : the land is as the garden of Eden 
before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; 
yea, and nothing shall escape them. The appear- 
ance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as 
horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of 
chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, 
like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the 




LOCUST. Locusta migratoria. 



CHAPTER IX. 169 

stubble, as a strong people set in battle-array. 
Before their face the people shall be much pained; 
all faces shall gather blackness. They shall run 
like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like 
men of war; and they shall march every one on his 
ways, and they shall not break their ranks: neither 
shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one 
in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, 
they shall not be wounded. They shall run to and 
fro in the city ; they shall run upon the wall ; they 
shall climb up upon the houses ; they shall enter in 
at the windows like a thief."" 

" I find another note in Bagster's Bible on this 
passage," said Georgiana, " quoted from Dr. Shaw : 
' In their progress, they kept their ranks like men 
of war; climbing over every tree or wall that was 
in their way. Nay, they entered into our very 
houses and bed-chambers, like so many thieves. 
Every effort of the inhabitants to stop them was 
unavailing; the trenches they had dug were quickly 
filled up, and the fires they had kindled extinguish- 
ed by infinite swarms succeeding each other." In 
the twenty-fifth verse of this second chapter of Joel 
the Lord calls these insects his great army. And 
in the ninth chapter of Revelation we hear of the 
power given to them. Wherever he sends them, 
famine and pestilence follow. It is recorded, that im- 
mense swarms having been driven into the rivers, the 
putrid smell from their dead bodies caused a plague. 
It is said, when they take the field, they have a 
Q 



170 SISTER'S STORIES. 

leader at their head, whom they observe and follow. 
At a distance they appear like a black cloud, gather- 
ing darkness so dense as almost to obscure daylight; 
and wherever they alight, in a few minutes the 
labours and expectations of the husbandman are 
totally destroyed for that year. They are said to 
burn whatever they touch, and to destroy even more 
than they devour, leaving marks of their devasta- 
tion, which remain two or three years. In this 
manner they affect European countries ; but in their 
own tropical regions, though equally stripped of 
verdure, the consequence is not so deplorable, from 
the much greater power of vegetation; three or four 
days will repair the damage." 

"One would think," said Robert, "that in their 
native climate no green bud or leaf would be ever 
suffered to appear above ground. Have they ever 
visited these countries ?" 

" There is an account in a little book I have lately 
read, of one wing, which visited England in 1748, 
of a great army of locusts having separated itself 
from the main body, which at the same time was 
seen in Transylvania, Hungary and Poland, doing 
incalculable damage. I shall give you the account 
of an eye-witness nearly in his own words : 

"'The first swarms entered Transylvania in Au- 
gust, 1748; and were succeeded by others so 
numerous, that when they reached the Red Tower, 
they were full four hours in their passage over that 
place; though they flew so close that the beating 



CHAPTER IX. 171 

of their wings made a noise in the air. The width 
of the swarm was some hundred fathoms, and its 
height or density so great as to hide the sun and 
darken the sky; and when they flew low, the peo- 
ple could not know each other at the distance of 
twenty paces : wherever they alighted the usual con- 
sequence ensued, and having laid waste all before 
them, as if a signal had been given them, they pro- 
ceeded on their devastating march. The guards of 
the Red Tower attempted to stop their irruption 
into Transylvania, by firing at them, which separat- 
ed the swarm, but the ranks filled up again in a 
moment and they proceeded forwards. 

" ' In the month of September, some of the com- 
panies were brought to the ground by great rains 
and rough weather; and being thoroughly soaked, 
they sought shelter where they could, and having 
deposited their eggs, died. The eggs, very like 
grains of oats, were disregarded. In the following 
spring, little blackish worms sticking together in 
clusters were seen lying in the fields and among the 
bushes; but they also were unheeded, and were 
hidden by the shooting corn when its verdure cloth- 
ed the ground. In June the lurking enemy began 
to appear in the destruction of the vegetation : they 
were then like common grasshoppers, rather more 
than a finger's length, dispersed all over the fields. 
Towards the end of June, they cast off their out- 
ward covering, and displayed wings like those of 
a bee, but still folded up, unfit for flying ; these 



172 SISTER'S STORIES. 

however they gradually unloosed with their hinder 
feet as flies do, and being expanded they soared up; 
but not to any distance until joined by their com- 
panions. At first they contented themselves with 
circular flights round their native fields, until all 
their produce was laid waste ; then in large troops 
they proceeded on their way and eat up every sort 
of vegetable, the young corn, and grass.'" 

" The people in the countries infested by these 
destructive insects, must suffer much from scarcity 
of provisions," observed Robert; "indeed I wonder 
how they can ever preserve a crop." 

" The merciful God who created them as it ap- 
pears to be a scourge to mankind, has also limited 
the bounds to which they are to go;" answered his 
sister. " They are often destroyed by storms, and 
borne away by strong winds to distant regions, and 
they are generally accompanied by the locust-eater, 
a species of bird which follows them in numbers 
nearly proportioned to their own." 

"You did not tell us," said Emma, "whether 
they did any mischief in England." 

"They were not suffered to do much injury 
here," replied Georgiana, "their progress being 
stopped, and their numbers thinned, by the damp, 
cold climate to which they were unaccustomed." 

" It was one of the distant regions to which some 
strong wind must have carried them ;" said Robert. 
" Are they useful in any way ?" 

"Certainly," answered Georgiana; "there is no 



CHAPTER IX. 173 

created thing without its use. Locusts are parched 
over the fire in a earthen pan, and eaten by the 
natives of many of the Eastern countries ; for which 
purpose they are caught in nets." 

" You said, Georgiana, that the locusts were not 
suffered to do much injury in England. Was there 
any expedient found out to destroy them ?" inquir- 
ed Emma. 

"Not that I heard of," replied Georgiana. "I 
do not think they can be destroyed by any human 
means. We read of the vain efforts of the farmers 
to this effect; of crowds of people being collected 
to sweep them backwards, but as often as they were 
driven from one quarter they filled another; of fires 
kindled round the fields, which they passed over 
like overpowering torrents, when fuel failed; there- 
fore by the Power which brings them forward, they 
can alone be repelled. The Lord did not suffer 
them to do harm to England ; the wet, cold weather 
was his agent in overcoming the threatened evil." 



CHAPTER X. 



TIHlll WAi^g gM(ll}$I{l[& 8 MOE) 



" WHAT are the paper-making insects, Georgiana?" 
inquired Robert. 

" WASPS," was the answer of his sister. 

" Wasps!" he reiterated. "O! I remember to 
have seen a wasp's nest composed of the lightest, 
most ingenious texture very much like paper the 
hexagon cells formed like those of the bee, with 
mathematical precision, equal in size, and fitting 
exactly. Of what materials is this fabric erected?" 

"That was long a matter of conjecture to natur- 
alists. Reaumur had been twenty years studying 
the operations of the wasps before he discovered it. 
One day he remarked a female wasp gnawing the 
wood of his window sash with her mandibles. You 
may be sure he watched her very closely, for he 
guessed that she was preparing to build. He found 
that she pulled out the fibres of wood, finer than 
a hair, and that she gathered them into a little bundle 



CHAPTER X. 175 

under her feet; this she took up and carried to 
another part of the window frame, where she picked 
up a few more fibres, and added them to her load, 
until she had as much as she could carry, all rolled 
compactly into a little ball, but not moistened ; 
which the naturalist ascertained by seizing upon her, 
that he might the more closely examine the nature 
of her bundle." 

"But how do these slender fibres adhere," inquir- 
ed Robert, "if not moistened?" 

"They certainly go through a preparation, to 
form them into that paper-like texture which you 
have seen," answered Georgiana. " The wasp mois- 
tens them with glutinous liquid from her mouth, 
and kneads them into a kind of paste. 

"The few wasps which outlive the winter are 
roused to exertion by the first warm gleam of sun 
in spring, and may be seen running into little holes ; 
which, if they do not find already burrowed by field 
mice, they burrow for themselves ; digging into the 
earth with their strong mandibles, and carrying and 
pushing away the clay before them, while they 
form their entrance gallery, which is less than an 
inch in diameter, in a zigzag direction, one or two 
feet deep. It leads to a wide chamber, in which 
they build their nest, first lining it with their papery 
substance, of which several sheets are laid on to 
prevent any particles of earth from tumbling in on 
the nest, which is built downwards, and suspended 
from the roof by 12 or 13 rods made of the same 



176 



SISTERS STORIES. 



material. The shape of the nest is an upright 
oval, often measuring 10 or 12 inches in diameter: 
it consists of several horizontal stages or stories of 
cells, connected together by the rods or little pillars 
which I already mentioned, and surrounded by 
walls, like the roof, composed of paste, or papier 
mache. The females when their task is finished, 
deposit their eggs one in each cell, which is the 
little cradle of the young soft white maggot, to 
which the mother now directs all her care in 
providing its food. In a few weeks it becomes a 
perfect wasp, able to assist in the extension of the 
nest." 

"What do wasps feed on? 11 asked Emma. "Do 
they gather honey from ' every opening flower?"'* 

" No, Emma, the art of extracting honey from 
the flower is confined to the bee, whom these plun- 
derers rob of its sweets as often as they can find 
an opportunity. But the bees do not tamely part 
with their treasures; fierce battles are often fought 
between them, but unless there are superior num- 
bers on their side, the poor bees are overcome by 
their stronger opponents, and put to death by their 
stings, and their honey bags rifled. When these 
marauders cannot procure honey, they seek out 
the sweetest and ripest fruits which the garden pro- 
duces to feed on. It is providential that these 
comparatively useless insects are not so long-lived 
as the bee. They multiply so fast that they would 
become a great nuisance; they live but one season, 




WASPS. 
L Common or Social Wasp. 2 Mason Wasp. 3 Nest of Mason Wasp. 




Nest of Social Wasp. 



CHAPTER X. 177 

"with the exception of a few females, which survive 
the winter. When the cold sets in, the worms die 
in their cradles, and are carried out by the wasps, 
who are cleanly in their habits, and probably know 
instinctively the noisome effluvium which so many 
dead bodies would produce. 

" Their cells, I suppose, on this account, are 
always found empty,"" observed Robert, " at least 
all those I ever happened to see were so." 

"They never store them with winter provisions, 
like the industrious foresighted bees," said Georgi- 
ana, " consequently they must die."" 

" Do the surviving females build the nest alone?" 
inquired Robert. 

"It is said," answered his sister, "that they first 
lay eggs, and hatch them two at a time, which soon 
become useful labourers in assisting their mothers 
to build. They increase so fast, that a single female 
before the month of June will produce ten thousand 
wasps, which assemble from all parts in the heat of 
summer to labour at and form their habitation." 

" Are there not different species of wasps ?" asked 
Emma. 

" There are," Georgiana replied. " Those I have 
been telling you of are called SOCIAL WASPS. The 
SOLITARY or MASON WASP is quite different in its 
operations. It spends its short life in preparing an 
apartment for its young one. This is excavated 
some inches deep in the finest sandy soil. This 
insect is furnished with two strong, firm teeth, which 



178 



SISTER S STORIES. 



it uses effectually in its laborious enterprize of per- 
forating a passage just of a size for its own body to 
pass through, and then hollowing an apartment, 
which it does by moistening the earth by some clam- 
my substance, and removing it to the door of its 
habitation in little pellets, of which it builds a round 
tower over the mouth of its nest ; from time to time 
it takes little excursions, as it is supposed to obtain 
some liquid to make mortar of the clay within; yet 
so little time is lost, that in an hour it has been seen 
to dig a hole the length of its body, and raise its 
round tower in the same proportion. After much 
toil, the narrow defile is formed, and a cavity at 
its termination, in which the wasp lays her egg. 
Her next care is to lay in a stock of provision for 
her young grub ; for this purpose she selects ten 
or twelve green caterpillars, all of the same species, 
which she conveys into her nest, and arranges in 
such a manner that the young one when it comes 
to life may easily feed. The mother lays in the 
exact quantity of provision necessary to nourish the 
grub until the time of his transformation, when food 
is no longer required ; then he spins his silken web, 
and continues fixed in his cell till the summer sun 
rouses him, and tempts him to leave his dark abode." 

"Does he find his mother then?" asked little 
Rosa. 

" I think not, Rosa," answered Georgiana, " he 
no longer wants a mother's care ; her business was 
over when she immured him in his safe retreat, well 



CHAPTfcB, X. 179 

provided with all he could possibly require; and 
having carefully closed up the mouth of the passage 
that no ichneumon fly might gain access, she has 
nothing more to do, and it is said she dies soon 
after." 

" What wise creatures they are !" said Emma. 

As a confirmation of this remark, Georgians 
related a little anecdote of Dr. Darwin. A wasp on 
a gravel walk had caught a fly, nearly as large as 
himself. The Doctor knelt down to observe him, 
and he saw him separate the tail and the head from 
the body part, to which the wings were attached ; 
which burden he took in his paws, and rose about 
two feet from the ground; but the gentle breeze 
wafting the fly's wings, turned him round in the air, 
and he settled again with it on the gravel. The 
doctor then distinctly saw him first cut off one wing 
with his mouth, then the other, after which he again 
took it up and flew away with it unmolested. A 
wasp has often been observed, when removing a dead 
body, if too heavy, dividing and carrying it away in 
separate portions. 

Georgiana seemed here as if she had exhausted 
her stock of information respecting the wasps, and 
when her auditors asked her if it were the case, she 
told them of some others of the same species which 
formed their nests and suspended them from the 
top branches of trees ; these are the wasps of 
Cayenne: he forms a perfect house of a kind of 
card, smooth, strong, and white, as skilfully as a 



180 SISTER'S STORIES. 

real manufacturer of that substance. And there are 
others, in the West Indies, she added, which attach 
their elegant nests of a globular form, the size of 
an egg, to some straw, or projecting substance from 
the tops of the houses; and others to the stem of a 
nettle, or to stalks of grass. 

"Can you tell us any thing of the EPHEMERA, 
Georgiana?" said Robert; "it is an insect of a day, 
as I have heard." 

" Nay, rather of an hour, after it has undergone 
its last change," replied his sister: "its frame is of 
so fragile a texture, that whatsoever touches kills 
it, and as they rise in myriads from the water into 
the air, their hitting together is death to them." 

" They are called Cicindela or MAY-FLY," con- 
tinued Georgiana, "of which there are numerous 
species; they excavate burrows for themselves in 
the mud or soft earth which banks the rivers and 
canals, and being under the level, these holes fill 
with water in which the grub swims." 

" Why not swim on the pond itself then ?" in- 
quired Emma. 

" It would be in danger of being swallowed by 
fishes who are ever ready to catch their prey, and 
would not find its food so conveniently, which it is 
said is the slimy lining of its hole." 

" I should not like such pudding !" cried Anna. 

This observation, and a few similar wise re- 
marks, excited some merriment among the young 
party, together with expressions of pleasure, that it 




DAY FLIES. Ephemera. 



CHAPTER X. 181 

was not with such dainties that their kind mamma 
regaled them. Georgiana having called her auditors 
to order, continued; "The grub of the ephemera 
is in form like the letter Z; it has strong jaws, 
and feet, with which it digs its cylindrical pit, 
eighteen inches into the earth: in clearing away 
the particles of earth, it places them on its broad 
square head, and throws them to a sufficient dis- 
tance beyond the entrance to its habitation; to 
render this task of carrying out loads easier, it 
has two convenient tubercles or fleshy excrescences 
on its back, thickly covered with red hair. It works 
its way out so heavily laden that it is often obliged 
to rest before it can renew its labours. When they 
are concluded, the little creature fixes itself at the 
entrance of its den, to which the broad plate on the 
top of its head forms a kind of trap-door fitting ex- 
actly; it remains immoveable with expanded jaws, 
ready to seize and devour any luckless wandering 
insect."" 

" Oh then," cried William, " it does not confine 
itself to its pudding ; these I suppose are its varie- 
ties of fish and flesh." 

" It is particularly fond of the smaller beetles," 
said Georgiana, " and is so voracious that it will 
seize on and eat even its own species. In case of 
danger, it sinks securely to the bottom of its den." 

" How indefatigable the exertions of naturalists 
must be," observed Robert, "to discover these 
things!" 

B, 



182 SISTERS STOEIES. 

" It was found very difficult in this case," answer- 
ed Georgiana. "The same method succeeded as 
with the field cricket; by introducing a straw into 
the hole, and digging the earth away around it with 
great care, the little zigzag grub was found at the 
bottom of its cell. When about to undergo its 
transformation into a pupa, it first cautiously closes 
the mouth of its cavern, and then lays itself secure- 
ly at the bottom. These insects are said to live 
two or three years before they become aurelias with 
wings, which waft them to the nearest tree, where 
they settle, and instantaneously undergo their final 
change, into the beautiful butterfly-like ephemera, 
with four gauzy transparent wings." 

"They are not seen in this country, I think; 1 ' 
said Robert. 

His sister told him that they were not natives of 
England or Ireland; but in France, on the banks of 
the Rhine, or the Seine, he might see the air alive 
with them during the period of their short existence, 
and the earth covered with their fallen, lifeless 
remains. At the approach of evening, the aurelias 
rise from beneath the surface of the water, and dis- 
engage themselves from their old garments with 
much greater alacrity and ease than other insects: 
the females having dropped their eggs into the 
water, sport and flutter, and fall to rise no more. 
Though these insects in general live but an hour, 
there are some species of them whose existence ex- 
tends to some days. 




DRAOOW FLT. Libellula virgo. 



CHAPTER X. 183 

**I think," said Emma, "that I never again shall 
look with disgust on the ugly hairy worms that I 
have seen crawling among the moist clay; I shall 
look forward to the time of their transformation, 
when they may be arrayed in some beauteous cloth- 
ing." 

"Such as the Libellula, or DRAGON-FLY," said 
Georgiana, "whose splendid colouring exhibits the 
various hues of the rainbow.' 1 

" I have often watched their brilliant tints and 
beautiful transparent wings with great admiration, 
as they flitted among the plants and hedges which 
skirt the running brooks," observed Robert. 

" The largest kind of these insects are from two to 
three inches long; their tail is forked; their eyes 
large, and when resting, their glossy wings, four in 
number, lie flat, and glisten like gold or silver. 
The eggs of these insects are deposited and hatched 
in the water, and after being exuded, the worm 
creeps and swims slowly. When about to change 
to their winged state, they creep up the stem of a 
water plant until they have got above the surface; 
and firmly fixing themselves by means of their 
sharp claws, they remain for a short period motion- 
less, then the skin of the head and back opens, and 
out comes the head with its large eyes; then the 
six legs, and by degrees the whole animal extricates 
itself from its prison, and creeping forward rests, 
while its folded moist wings dry and expand them- 
selves; and soon it learns to wing its way. No 



184 SISTES'S STORIES. 

longer able to exist in its native element, the water, 
it is now an inhabitant of the air. One hour effects 
this important change; before it could not breathe 
out of the water, now it could not exist one moment 
in it, and with its new existence it acquires new 
pursuits, and hovers up and down to seize on its 
prey; the broad-winged butterfly, the wasp, the 
bee, the hornet and largest flies become its merci- 
less prey. It seizes and devours these insects with 
voracious appetite." 

The little party were now on the point of break- 
ing up, when Emma seeing a little book among 
those which her sister had selected for their amuse- 
ment, opened it, and having read a few lines ex- 
claimed, "O! what a droll man?" 

"Of whom do you speak ?" was the general query. 

"O! I must read this to you:" was her answer. 
"It is about a flea" and the children listened with 
great delight while she read: "a flea will drag after 
it a chain an hundred times heavier than itself; and 
to compensate for this force, will eat ten times its 
own weight of provisions in a day. 

"An ingenious watchmaker, who some years ago 
lived in the Strand, London, exhibited to the pub- 
lic a little ivory chaise, with four wheels, and all 
its proper apparatus, and a man sitting on the box, 
all of which were drawn by a single flea. He made 
a small landau, which opened and shut by springs, 
with six horses harnessed to it, a coachman sitting 
on the box, and a dog between his legs : four per. 



CHAPTER X. 185 

sons were in the carriage, two footmen behind it, 
and a postillion riding on one of the fore horses, 
which were all easily drawn along by a flea. He 
likewise had a chain of brass, about two inches 
long, containing two hundred links, with a hook at 
one end, and a padlock and key at the other, which 
the flea drew very nimbly along. 

" In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, a blacksmith 
made a lock, consisting of eleven pieces of iron, 
steel and brass, with a hollow key to it, that alto- 
gether weighed but one grain of gold. He likewise 
made a gold chain, composed of forty-three links, 
which he fastened to the lock and key, and having 
put it about the neck of a flea, that little creature 
drew them all with ease ; which being done in her 
Majesty's presence, he put the lock and key, flea, 
and chain into a pair of scales, and they altogether 
weighed but one grain and a half." 

Here Emma closed the little book, and while 
the young ones expressed their wonder that such 
things could be done, Robert said, he was sorry 
to hear that any rational being should squander 
away his precious hours in such a trifling finikin 
manner, as making chains and carriages to be drawn 
by a flea. 



CHAPTER XI. 



" Now for the BEES ! Georgiana! Now for the 
bees !" passed from mouth to mouth of the assemb- 
led little party of brothers and sisters. "We all 
long to hear of the bees," and Rosa, with animated 
looks, repeated her little hymn: 

"How doth the little busy bee 

Improve each shining hour ; 
And gather honey all the day, 

From every opening flower." 

"I do not wonder," began Georgiana, "that the 
bees interest you. We hear of their having occu- 
pied the attention of naturalists from the earliest 
ages." 

"Yes," answered Robert, "Pliny tells us of Aris- 
tomachus, of Soles, in Cilicia, fifty-eight years of 
whose life was spent in forests, for the purpose of 
watching the bees." 

"Yet neither he, nor several others, with all their 



CHAPTER XI. 187 

philosophical researches, have made any important 
discoveries," said Georgiana. "A mathematician of 
Nice, named Miraldi, by his invention of glass hives, 
was the first who led to them; and Reaumur, 
Huber, &c. &c. have continued the investigation 
by improvements on these means. 

" The jaws of the bees, are their only instruments 
in modelling and polishing their waxen cells. With 
its teeth, the bee scrapes the walls and removes all 
roughness, but at the same time takes care that 
nothing shall be lost. Of such detached fragments 
it forms a little ball, and carries it to another part 
of the building where wax is wanted. A number of 
bees crowd together to succeed and assist in form- 
ing the cells; but not so as to interfere with each 
other's labours, which are carried on with the most 
perfect regularity: first laying the foundations of 
the combs, which is done with great despatch. The 
combs are generally arranged in a direction parallel 
to each other, with streets between, that the bees 
may have a free passage; they are just wide enough 
to admit of two bees passing each other. There 
are also cross lanes which are covered over, to 
shorten the journey for the labourers. When build- 
ing the hive, they divide themselves into bands, 
each of which has its distinct employments ; those 
who range the fields and gardens supply them- 
selves with food, while those who labour within 
doors are attended to by caterers whose office it is 
to refresh them. When they are weary, the la- 



188 SISTER'S STORIES. 

bourer intimates his wish to eat by bending down 
his trunk or proboscis to the provider, who opens 
the honey bag, and pours in a few drops, which 
have been distinctly seen rolling through the trunk, 
which swells as the liquor flows through. The 
labourer then returns with renewed vigour to his 
task. 

"A hive contains three kinds of bees. First, the 
queen bee, who differs from all the others in the 
length of her body and the shortness of her wings. 
The second class are the working bees, to the 
amount of many thousands : they are the smallest 
sized bees in the hive, and are armed with a sting. 
The third class are the drones or males, in number 
about 1500 or 2000: they are larger than the work- 
ers and of a darker colour, they make a greater 
noise in flying, and have no sting: they go about 
idle, while the whole labour of the community is 
performed by the working bees; these make the 
wax, construct the cells, collect the honey, and feed 
the young brood. In the beginning of autumn, 
they put the useless drones to death. The office 
of the queen bee is to lay her eggs, which remain 
about three days in the cells before they are hatch- 
ed, when a small white worm appears, which is fed 
on honey for some days, then changes into a nymph 
or pupa; and having remained in this state for a 
certain period, it comes forth a perfect winged 
insect, and 



CHAPTER XI. 189 

* From mead to mead, in wanton labour moves, 

And loads its little thigh, or gilds its little wing 

With all the essence of the flushing groves : 

Extracts the aromatic soul of flowers, 

And, humming in delight, its waxen bowers 

Fills with the luscious spoils, and lives ambrosial hours.' 

" In many parts of South Africa, the bees sus- 
pend their honeycomb from edges of rocks; and 
these nests are easily discovered by the Hottentots, 
by means of a little brown bird, called the Indicator, 
or HONEY-BIRD, which, on the discovery of a nest, 
makes it known by whistling and flying towards the 
place. This little guide is not alarmed at the ap- 
pearance of man ; but invites him by its expressive 
little note to follow, as it flits from tree to tree, 
until it stops at one wherein is a hollow, well stored 
with a treasure of honey and wax, which it wishes 
to share; but feeling its own weakness and inability 
to encounter an attack from a legion of bees, it is 
induced to ask the aid of a more powerful agent, 
who always rewards it by a division of the spoil. 

" The wild bees of Palestine made their hives in 
the rocks: 'he made him to suck honey out of the 
rock.' 'With honey out of the rock should I have 
satisfied thee.' 

"In some parts of France, and of Piedmont, there 
are floating apiaries of a hundred bee hives : 

1 So through the vales of Loire the bee-hives glide, 
The light raft dropping with the silent tide; 
So, till the laughing scenes are lost in sight, 
The busy people wing their various flight, 
Culling unnumbered sweets from nameless flowers, 
That scent the vineyard in its purple hours.' " 

ROGERS. 



390 SISTER'S STORIES. 

" If a stranger queen be introduced into a hive, 
she is immediately surrounded and taken prisoner," 
continued Georgiana. " The lawful queen is also 
confined that she may not escape, but fight for her 
territories. There is an instinctive rivalship be- 
tween the two queens. Their guards, the working 
bees, make way for them on both sides, and they 
rush impetuously to the combat, darting out the 
sting furiously : if it strike the vulnerable part be- 
tween the rings of the belly, the wound is mortal. 
The rest of the body is encased in scaly armour 
impervious to the little dart." 

"It is no little dart however," said Robert, "to 
the poor bee. I suppose it must be in proportion 
to what a great spear would be to us. Does the 
conquering queen remain in peaceable possession 
of the hive?" 

" Of course she does," answered his sister. 

"It is very ill-natured in them," said Emma, 
"that they cannot agree together, and mutually 
hold the reins of government." 

"That is never the case however," answered 
Georgiana; "even among the human species it 
would cause confusion and discord; to have two 
equal in power issuing rules and orders, often oppo- 
site to each other. Instinct has taught the bees 
that one queen-mother is sufficient for a whole com- 
munity; wherefore, neither she nor her subjects 
will suffer the encroachment of another." 

"But are not all the females queen-mothers?" 



CHAPTER XI. 191 

inquired Robert. " What then can become of num- 
bers which must be produced?"" 

"They are destroyed by their mother in the 
cell, which she tears open, when she sees them as- 
suming a shape like her own, with the hatred of a 
deadly enemy, and, darting in her sting, wounds 
them to death. 11 

" O ! the horrid cruel bees, I hate them, 11 said 
Rosa; "how glad I am that my own dear good- 
natured mamma is not a bee." 

" You do not hate bees, however, Rosa, when 
you are eating the honey they so industriously 
collect. 11 

" It is the working bees, however, not the queens 
which collect it, 11 said Emma. 

"Very true, 11 answered Georgiana; "it is also 
the workers which clothe the young grubs or worms 
in a silken coat, inclosed in every direction, to 
ward off the sting; but these supernumeraries are, 
purposely no doubt, left uncovered on the only 
vulnerable part of the body, the lower rings of the 
belly, that they may be destroyed, which is neces- 
sary for the well-being of the hive. 11 

" They might as well employ the workers to kill 
their children, and not do the barbarous act them- 
selves, 11 said Emma. "How can they understand 
each other's wishes P 11 

"The antennae, or feelers, as is supposed from 
different experiments, are the organs of communica- 
tion; by the touch of these they work in the 



192 SISTER'S STORIES. 

darkness of the hive. Their sight is very acute, as 
has been discovered by their swift and straight 
return to their hive, though placed among a dozen 
others, after having gone to a great distance from 
it. If deprived of sight, they fly at random." 

" Have not each of the three classes, the workers, 
drones or males, and their queen, distinct employ- 
ments?"" inquired Robert. 

" The drones, as you have already heard, do no 
work. The labourers seem to have different works 
assigned them. One set are architects; they plan 
and build the edifice, and at the same time watch 
over the young these are called the Nurse-bees; 
the other are more common workmen, bricklayers 
and plasterers, who only bring the raw materials, 
without forming the wax into any shape. These 
are called Wax-workers." 

" How is the wax made ?" asked Emma. 

" It is a secretion found under the belly in the 
form of scales; they pull it off with their little 
pincers, and mince it with their tongue, which they 
can change into different forms, according to their 
wants. Sometimes it is a trowel, then flattened 
into a spatula. At other times it ends in a point 
like a pencil. The scale, when moistened, becomes 
glutinous and draws out like a string. As they 
work up the wax, they fix it to the vault of the 
hive, and go away, to give place to others, who 
deposit then* supply in the same spot until a little 
heap is raised, from whence the builders remove it, 




HIVE BEES. Api$ mettifica. 
1 Male. 2. Female. 3 Worker. 



CHAPTER XI. 193 

forming the cells with such wonderful skill and pre- 
cision as would puzzle many a mathematician. 1 " 

4 'The cells serve them for resting places, I sup- 
pose, when their labours are over," observed Robert. 

" Not at all : they are either filled with honey or 
serve as the covered recess of a worm, which is the 
young bee the object of their anxious solicitude. 
The working bees, having gorged themselves with 
nectar from flowers, hang motionless in the hive. 
Their manner of reposing is very curious. Four or 
five suspend themselves to a part of the hive by 
their forefeet, stretching out their hind legs, which 
other bees cling to with their forepaws. Others do 
the same to them, until they all hang down like a 
great festoon, or in clusters. 1 ' 

" There are three sorts of cells; the first are for 
the larvae of workers; the second for those of 
drones; the third are the cradles of the infant queen, 
which differ materially from the other cells; they 
are placed vertically in the form of a pear with the 
small end downwards. One queen is sufficient to 
fill the cells with eggs. She no sooner deposits one 
than it becomes the care of the nurses, who will not 
suffer more than one egg to remain in each cell. In 
a day or two, the little worm bursts from the shell, 
and is attended with anxious tenderness, and fed 
with a whitish substance on which it also reposes, 
This is prepared by the working bees who supply 
it regularly at short intervals. In ten days, the worm 
is at its full growth, and no longer requires food.^ 



194 SISTER'S STORIES. 

The mouth of its cell is then closed up with a waxen 
lid, which secures it from every injury. It then 
begins to labour, and lines its apartment with a soft 
material; soon after it passes into an aurelia state, 
and in twenty-one days becomes a perfect bee, 
fitted for its future labours ; but not freed from the 
encumbrances of its former covering until licked 
clean by the working bees ; some of whom assidu- 
ously feed it with honey, while others clean out the 
empty cell that it may be ready for a new inhabi- 
tant. Instinct immediately directs the young bee 
to its appointed task. It roves from flower to flower, 
selecting those from which it may extract honey, 
which passes from its stomach to its honey-bag, a 
little oblong bladder clear as crystal.'*' 

" O yes, I know that bag well,"" said William ; 
"a little boy caught a wild bee, killed it, and shewed 
me the bag full of honey, which he gave me to suck." 

" I hope you never followed his example, Wil- 
liam; for the gratification of tasting the quantity 
which such a small reservoir could contain, how 
cruel to deprive the bee of its life, and put an end 
to its useful labours !" 

" No, Georgiana, I never killed a bee, 11 answered 
the little boy. "Tell us more now." 

" The young bee is directed by the same instinct 
to return to its own home after its first excursion, 
without any other directer or guide." 

" It is wiser than Rosa and I were, the day we 
strayed away from you, when we were at Duncan's, 
Vale, and could not find our way back."" 



CHAPTER XI. 195 

"How is the bee-bread made?" inquired Robert. 

"You have often, I am sure, remarked the farina 
inside the cups of flowers," said Georgiana. 

" What the yellow dust of the auricula, and many 
others?' 1 '' again he inquired. 

"The very same; when the bee perceives a flower 
plentifully covered with this dust, it enters the cup 
and rolls itself round, until it collects the whole 
upon its body, which in many parts is covered with 
fine down or hair. To secure the treasure, it is 
provided with little brushes which grow on the last 
joint but one of each leg. With these, one after 
another it easily contrives to clear itself of the pol- 
len or dust, which it collects into two little heaps, 
and having kneaded it into very small pellets, it 
sticks them into its little baskets." 

"Ah! Georgiana, how can a bee carry baskets? 
what sort of atoms must they be?" inquired Emma. 

"The merciful providence of their maker has 
furnished them with these necessary appendages. 
In the thighs of the last pair of their legs are two 
cavities, fringed with hair, in which they deposit 
this store of provisions; when increased to the size 
of a grain of pepper, the bee flies away to the hive 
to unburthen itself; for this purpose it enters the 
cell head foremost, and having detached its load, it 
is moistened and mixed with a little honey, and 
kneaded into that substance which nourishes the 
bees, and without which they cannot exist. If rob- 
bed of their honey, treacle will serve as a substitute. 



196 SISTER'S STORIES. 

but none has ever yet been found for the bee-bread. 
To collect it unmixed, the bee takes care to rifle 
flowers of the same species of their farina. Though 
the garden be full of flowers, and the one it first 
alighted on very scarce, it will pass over all the 
others to select only that one." 

"I have observed bees," said Robert, "collecting 
the gum, which exudes from birch, willow, and 
poplar trees. Can they mistake it for honey?" 

"Certainly not," answered Georgiana. "They 
fill their little baskets with it, and carry it home for 
the purpose of binding closely or soldering the 
angles of the cells destined for the young. It is 
also left in a convenient spot for the workers, which 
draw it out like a thread, cut it with their teeth, 
and holding it in their claws, enter one of the newly 
formed cells, which it lines and solders at the angles 
formed by the junction of the six sides. Every 
crack and crevice in the hive is glued together by 
this substance, that no other insect may gain admit- 
tance, nor rain penetrate it, which would do infinite 
damage. Another use has been discovered, that 
the bees make this resinous gum to cover over the 
body of a snail which inadvertently crawls into the 
hive. They are remarkable for their cleanliness, 
and immediately put to death the rash intruder; but 
not being able to remove the enormous carcase, 
they secure themselves from any farther defilement, 
by casing it over thickly with this glutinous sub- 
stance, called by the ancients propolis. In one 



CHAPTER XI. 197 

instance a snail in its shell had got into a hive, and 
fixed itself to the glass side. The bees, unable to 
penetrate the shell with their stings, imprisoned the 
animal for life, by firmly soldering the orifice of the 
shell round to the glass with this resin."" 

" The poor snail," said Emma, " must have been 
starved to death though covered up in its own 
house." 

" What is the reason of the bees swarming ?" 
asked Robert. 

"The old bees go out to make room for the 
young," answered his sister. "A queen-mother 
will lay from 70,000 to 100,000 eggs in one season, 
and of course a single hive cannot contain so many 
inhabitants therefore, the old experienced bees 
willingly consign their labours to the young brood, 
and look out for a convenient place to construct a 
new city for themselves. 1 " 

" This reminds me," said Robert, " of the 
American settlers having cleared a place with 
immense labour and industry, built a house, and 
established themselves comfortably, and then they 
leave all to their sons; and remove in their old age 
to another settlement, where they have all their 
labours to begin again." 

" There are about twenty royal cells," continued 
Georgiana, u each of which contains a queen, who, 
as I have already told you, is furiously attacked by 
its mother, when she sees it transformed into a 
nymph. Each cell is guarded, but the guards 
s2 



198 



SISTER S STORIES. 



make way for the old queen, who exhausts her 
strength in murdering a few of her daughters, and 
gnawing at the cells of others, but the sight of so 
many remaining which she cannot possibly destroy, 
causes her to rush from the hive, having touched the 
antennas of a number of the workers, which is a 
signal for them to follow and seek another home. 
Days intervene between the births of the young 
queens, and as soon as one is at liberty she attacks 
the others, but is not treated by the guards with the 
same deference as her mother was; when she ap- 
proaches a cell with murderous intent, they surround 
her, bite her, and drive her away. She goes from 
cell to cell, and meets with the same treatment ; 
until exasperated and furious she goes through the 
hive communicating her feelings to a sufficient 
number of workers, who issue from the hive with 
her to seek another abode. In this way several 
swarms leave the hive during the season; and for 
this cause it must be that the lives of the young 
queens are preserved. When there happens to be 
too many appearing at once for the population, the 
bees fasten up their prison doors as fast as they 
attempt to bite their way out. They are not how- 
ever suffered to die for want; as often as they pipe 
for food and thrust out their proboscis, a nurse-bee 
immediately supplies them with honey." 

"Do they always detain them prisoners? 1 ' asked 
Emma. 

" They detain them no longer than is necessary," 



CHAPTER XI. 199 

her sister answered; "when sufficient workers are 
produced, and the hive wants thinning, the queens 
are set at liberty. When several swarms have 
issued forth, and no more bees remain than are 
wanted for the preservation of the colony, the lives 
of the royal brood are no longer guarded; the first- 
born queen is allowed to tear open their cells, and 
kill the nymphs, the bees even assist in destroying 
the worms. When the young queen is not permit- 
ted to vent her rage on her sister brood, she appears 
greatly irritated at the conduct of those who ought 
to pay her homage, and standing upright utters a 
shrill or piping cry, which when heard by the bees 
seems to paralyze them; they hang down their heads 
motionless, but immediately are roused to exertion, 
when the queen makes another attempt to demolish 
the cells. The cry being again repeated has the 
same astounding effect upon their senses." 

"What becomes of the swarming divisions?*" 
asked Robert. 

" They form new colonies wherever a convenient 
spot is found ; for the purpose of fixing one, scouts 
are often previously sent out. Sometimes a young 
swarm endeavours to enter an inhabited hive, when 
a desperate battle takes place, which lasts for hours, 
sometimes days, until the ground is strewed with 
the dead." 

"Do the bees of the same hive live peaceably 
together?" inquired Emma. 

" Not always," replied Georgiana ; " they are often 



200 SISTER'S STORIES. 

seen issuing in pairs from the hive for the purpose 
fighting; or walking outside if one rudely jostle the 
other a combat ensues; they roll each other on the 
ground, dart their stings between the scales, and infuse 
a poisonous liquor with which the insect is provided. 
When its antagonist is killed, the victorious bee 
stands beside him on his four front legs and rubs 
the hind ones together. Should the duel take place 
in the hive, the corpse of the slain bee is carried out 
by the victor and left outside. 

" Another very extraordinary manuoevre of the 
bees is the ventilation of the hive;' 1 continued 
Georgiana. "When too warm, the workers unite 
their wings by means of little hooks at their edges 
into one piece, flapping them up and down like 
fans. For this purpose they range themselves in 
files at the bottom of the hive. Some are stationed 
outside with their heads turned to the entrance."" 

" They seem to have intelligence like human 
beings," observed Robert. 

"And the same kind of angry feelings," said 
Emma. 

"Yes," continued Georgiana; " they also evince 
another vice to which human nature is addicted, 
theft and robbery. When they manage badly, and 
do not supply their hive with a sufficient stock of 
honey, they enter by stealth into a neighbouring 
hive ; at first few in number, but gradually increas- 
ing, until the whole troop rush in and prepare for 
battle. On each side they engage with desperate 



CHAPTER XI. 201 

fury until one of the queens lies among the slain ; 
then the bees all rally round the sovereign who is 
the survivor, and having ransacked the hive carry 
off its treasures to the habitation they had quitted. 

"All that I have been telling you relates to the 
hive bee, v added Georgiana: "there are other species 
of bees quite different in their habits and employ- 
ments. First, the HUMBLE-BEE, which makes its 
nest of moss in a little hole in the ground. Not 
unfrequently one of these has been overtaken on 
its solitary way, and robbed by a party of hive-bee 
plunderers, which seize it roughly, strike against its 
breast and pull its legs until they compel it to un- 
fold its tongue arid disgorge the honey, with which 
it was laden for its nest. The robbers one after 
another take a sip until the whole is exhausted, and 
then set their captive at liberty without doing it 
farther injury. 

" The humble-bee is supposed to be of a kinder 
and more generous disposition than the others, and 
to possess a finer instinct in discovering the recep- 
tacle in which the honey lies concealed in the flowers ; 
a flower which has been deserted by the hive bee 
as rifled of its sweets, will be probed by the humble- 
bee and found a rich repository. In times of 
scarcity, its little nest is frequently plundered by 
its more powerful neighbours; with whom it has 
been known willingly to share the fruits of its 
labours, when invited to it by their licking it, and 
presenting the proboscis without shewing their sting."" 



202 SISTER'S STORIES. 

" I love these dear little bees," said William ; 
" and remember the mowers finding one of their 
nests, in the meadow, as you describe it, made in 
a little tuft of moss. He took out a bit of the comb 
and gave it to me to suck, and I thought it the 
sweetest honey I ever tasted." 

u What other kinds of bees are there?" inquired 
Robert. 

" There is the CARPENTER-BEE, which bores its 
nest into dry rotten wood, and having formed a 
cavity from twelve to fifteen inches long, cleaning 
out all the dust, it divides it into twelve compart- 
ments, in each of which it deposits an egg among 
a collection of bee-bread, and covers all over with 
a composition made of a glutinous substance, ming- 
led with the saw-dust which it had shovelled out of 
its excavation in the wood." 

" The mother takes care to leave provision for 
the young bee; but when old enough to leave its 
cell, how does it get out ?" inquired Robert. 

" She makes a hole at the bottom of the tube or 
excavation, which serves as a back door by which 
the young brood make their escape," answered his 
sister. 

" Well, Georgiana," said Robert, " certainly the 
history of insects is most surprising, and makes me 
think less of my own works of ingenuity. If I had 
heard of these bees before I made that little 
carriage for Rosa, I don't think I should have 
shewn it about with so much conceit." 



CHAPTER XI. 203 

" The labours of the insects carried on with so 
much method and unremitting industry, may well 
give a lesson of instruction to us," observed Geor- 
giana. 

" There is a bee called the UPHOLSTERER, which 
forms its nest of leaves, which it cuts as dexterously 
as any lady would with scissors, rolls them into a 
tube, and lays them horizontally, or vertically in 
the ground ; there are several layers, and the cells 
with an egg in each like little thimbles lie compact. 
The mouth of the cell is covered with a circular lid 
cut off a leaf to fit as exactly as if a compass had been 
used in cutting it ; which task the bee accomplishes 
in a few seconds, and at a distance from the nest> 
but as if it calculated the precise diameter of each 
cell, though the outer one must be larger in every 
direction than the inner. Some species of these 
bees make their nests by the edge of a corn-field 
when the wild poppy is in full flower, the scarlet 
leaf of which it loves to choose for its gay lining. 
It fixes on a dry spot for its purpose, other- 
wise the soft lining of its baby's cradle, and the 
honey designed for its food would become putrid; so 
would it find a tomb where it was to have found a 
birth-place. 

" And now I think I have exhausted the re- 
sources of my memory of all which I have read or 
heard of bees, except of one which is the MASON- 
BEE; shall we put off its history until to-morrow?"" 

" O no, do let us hear it at present," was the 
general petition. 



204 SISTER'S STORIES. 

"You will find its nest,"" Georgiana continued, 
" enclosed in a rough-looking lump of mortar, which 
seems like the slovenly work of a clumsy plasterer, 
who, not sufficiently using his trowel, has left it to 
disfigure the garden wall, whose sunny aspect 
promises an abundant crop of fruits and flowers to 
the trees which are planted against it. So firmly 
are these lumps fixed to the wall that the strong- 
est knife will be ineffectual to separate them. 
When one is, however, forcibly detached, it will be 
found to contain eight or ten cavities, in which the 
larvae of the bees repose with their supply of food. 
It appears like a solid lump of mortar pierced 
through, which is not the case. The industrious 
bee selects each grain of gravel, and cements them 
together with a viscid liquor from its mouth, and 
mixing in a little earth thus forms a pellet the size 
of a garden pea, of well tempered mortar, with 
which it flies to the spot selected for its nest. It 
lays down its heap, and returns for more, until the 
foundation of its round tower is laid. It does not 
however simply lay down its burthen, but twists 
and twirls it with its teeth and forepaws, until 
moulded into a proper form. Though rough out- 
side, it takes care to have all smooth within, for 
the accommodation of the young brood which are 
to be its inhabitants. Each cell is separately formed, 
and when arrived at a certain height, the builder 
goes in search of honey and pollen, of which it 
deposits a supply for its young, kneaded into bee- 



CHAPTER XI. 205 

bread, and nicely packed with the egg, and care- 
fully covering all up, its labours are over; and 
having fulfilled the purposes of nature, the insect 
dies. The worms inclosed in then- stony prison, 
undergo the usual changes without a mother's care, 
and when arrived at a proper degree of strength 
and age, work their way out. Before the nests of 
these insects were discovered, some naturalists who 
saw them flying with gravel stones, imagined they 
were hive-bees which took this precaution to pre- 
vent their being carried away by the wind. I 
must not forget to tell you that they are usurpers 
of one another's rights: for instance, while a mason- 
bee is in search of materials to finish its nest, ano- 
ther of its own species enters, and takes possession 
of it as unceremoniously as if the labour had been 
all its own; and when the lawful owner arrives, it 
refuses her admittance. She lays down her load of 
mortar however, and endeavours to force the intru- 
der out. A combat ensues, which though furious and 
long, is not deadly; the bee which is soonest tired, 
leaves the other in quiet possession of the tenement." 

"Are their nests always constructed of this kind 
of mortar?" enquired Robert. 

"Sometimes they work up moist clay, which 
appears like a splash of mud thrown against the 
wall where it had dried and hardened," answered 
his sister. "When closely inspected, however, it 
will be found mixed up with little stones, which 
indicate the labour of the bee. The cells are 
exactly the size and form of a lady's thimble. The 



206 SISTEE'S STORIES. 

inside polished perfectly smooth, in places stained 
with yellow. These last are not so inaccessible as 
the others, and are the kind of nests to be seen 
most frequently in our own country, between the 
interstices of bricks in a wall. The others are 
described by Reaumer, the Pliny of France as he 
is called. The cells are sometimes in the form of a 
little bag or purse, with a small opening at the top. 

" These bees of which I have been telling you, 
are classed among the solitary bees, because the 
females alone are the workers; they are unattended; 
the males are idle, and probably do not even know 
of the habitations thus diligently constructed. 

"Let us now, dear children, reflect upon these 
wonderful operations, which the Maker of all things 
has impressed upon the minds of these little insects, 
such as no human architect could exceed. The 
bee has no plan given her; no tools, but those 
which nature has provided her teeth and her claws 
suffice; with these alone she accomplishes her task 
in the neatest manner, cleaning away all chips or 
fragments which might inconvenience the young 
inhabitant of her cell. The works of human indus- 
try are daily improving, but the insects have but one 
perfect original design, which neither receives nor 
requires improvement. 11 

"What is that book you have been looking into? 11 
inquired Robert. 

"The Naturalist's Diary, 11 his sister answered, 
and she then repeated the following beautifully 
applicable lines of Shakespeare : 



CHAPTER XI. 207 

" So work the honey bees : 

Creatures, that, by a rule in nature, teach 
The act of order to a peopled kingdom. 
They have a king, and officers of sorts ; 
Where some, like magistrates, correct at home ; 
Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad; 
Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings, 
Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds ; 
Which pillage they with merry march bring home 
To the tent-royal of their emperor : 
Who, busied in his majesty, surveys 
The singing masons building roofs of gold ; 
The civil citizens kneading up the honey ; 
The poor mechanic porters crowding in 
Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate ; 
The sad-eyed justice, with his surly hum, 
Delivering o'er to executors pale 
The lazy yawning drone." 

"Have you any more to tell us respecting the 
bees?"" asked Emma. 

" Yes, a great deal, and of many other insects, 
which would interest you exceedingly," answered 
Georigana; but you know Robert leaves us in the 
morning, and I have promised him, not to continue 
the history of insects until his return. 1 ' 

This communication cast a cloud over the little 
party, which did not wear away for that evening, 
nor entirely for some days after their brother's 
departure. At length, however, they began to 
anticipate the pleasure of his return, and to form 
plans of various kinds for his amusement and their 
own ; and all their sorrows vanished like the morn- 
ing cloud. 

THE END 



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