| Among the Meadow People|
|by Clara Dillingham Pierson|
|Delightful stories of field life for young children, relating incidents in the lives of birds, insects, and other small creatures who make the meadow their home. Each chapter features the story of one animal in its daily activities and interactions with the other animals inhabiting the meadow. Ages 5-7 |
THE DIGNIFIED WALKING-STICKS
 THREE Walking-Sticks from the forest had come to live in the
big maple tree near the middle of the meadow. Nobody knew
exactly why they had left the forest, where all their
sisters and cousins and aunts lived. Perhaps they were not
happy with their relatives. But then, if one is a
Walking-Stick, you know, one does not care so very much
about one's family.
These Walking-Sticks had grown up the best way they could,
with no father or mother to care for them. They had never
been taught to do anything useful, or to think much about
other people. When they were hungry they ate some leaves,
and never thought what they
 should eat the next time that
they happened to be hungry. When they were tired they went
to sleep, and when they had slept enough they awakened. They
had nothing to do but to eat and sleep, and they did not
often take the trouble to think. They felt that they were a
little better than those meadow people who rushed and
scrambled and worked from morning until night, and they
showed very plainly how they felt. They said it was not
genteel to hurry, no matter what happened.
One day the Tree Frog was under the tree when the large
Brown Walking-Stick decided to lay some eggs. He saw her
dropping them carelessly around on the ground, and asked,
"Do you never fix a place for your eggs?"
"A place?" said the Brown Walking-Stick, waving her long and
slender feelers to and fro. "A place? Oh, no! I think they
will hatch where they are. It is too much trouble to find a
 "Puk-r-r-rup!" said the Tree Frog. "Some mothers do not
think it too much trouble to be careful where they lay
"That may be," said the Brown Walking-Stick, "but they do
not belong to our family." She spoke as if those who did not
belong to her family, might be good but could never be
genteel. She had once told her brother, the Five-Legged
Walking-Stick, that she would not want to live if she could
not be genteel. She thought the meadow people very common.
The Five-Legged Walking-Stick looked much like his sister.
He had the same long, slender body, the same long feelers,
and the same sort of long, slender legs. If you had passed
them in a hay-field, you would surely have thought each a
stem of hay, unless you happened to see them move. The other
Walking-Stick, their friend, was younger and green. You
would have thought her a blade of grass.
It is true that the brother had the same
 kind of legs as his
sister, but he did not have the same number. When he was
young and green he had six, then came a dreadful day when a
hungry Nuthatch saw him, flew down, caught him, and carried
him up a tree. He knew just what to expect, so when the
Nuthatch set him down on the bark to look at him, he
unhooked his feet from the bark and tumbled to the ground.
The Nuthatch tried to catch him and broke off one of his
legs, but she never found him again, although she looked and
looked and looked. That was because he crawled into a clump
of ferns and kept very still.
His sister came and looked at him and said, "Now if you were
only a Spider it would not be long before you would have six
Her brother waved first one feeler and then the other, and
said: "Do you think I would be a Spider for the sake of
growing legs? I would rather be a
Walking-  Stick without any
legs than to be a Spider with a hundred." Of course you know
Spiders never do have a hundred, and a Walking-Stick
wouldn't be walking without any, but that was just his way
of speaking, and it showed what kind of insect he was. His
relatives all waved their feelers, one at a time, and said,
"Ah, he has the true Walking-Stick spirit!" Then they paid
no more attention to him, and after a while he and his
sister and their green little friend left the forest for the
On the day when the grass was cut, they had sat quietly in
their trees and looked genteel. Their feelers were held
quite close together, and they did not move their feet at
all, only swayed their bodies gracefully from side to side.
Now they were on the ground, hunting through the flat piles
of cut grass for some fresh and juicy bits to eat. The Tree
Frog was also out, sitting in a cool, damp corner of
 the grass rows. The young Grasshoppers were kicking up their
feet, the Ants were scrambling around as busy as ever, and
life went on quite as though neither men nor Horses had ever
entered the meadow.
"See!" cried a Spider who was busily looking after her web,
"there comes a Horse drawing something, and the farmer
sitting on it and driving."
When the Horse was well into the meadow, the farmer moved a
bar, and the queer-looking machine began to kick the grass
this way and that with its many stiff and shining legs. A
frisky young Grasshopper kicked in the same way, and
happened—just happened, of course—to knock over two of
his friends. Then there was a great scrambling and the
Crickets frolicked with them. The young Walking-Stick
thought it looked like great fun and almost wished herself
some other kind of insect, so that she could
 tumble around
in the same way. She did not quite wish it, you understand,
and would never have thought of it if she had turned brown.
"Ah," said the Five-Legged Walking-Stick, "what scrambling!
How very common!"
"Yes, indeed!" said his sister. "Why can't they learn to
move slowly and gracefully? Perhaps they can't help being
fat, but they might at least act genteel."
"What is it to be genteel?" asked a Grasshopper suddenly. He
had heard every word that the Walking-Stick said.
"Why," said the Five-Legged Walking-Stick, "it is just to be
genteel. To act as you see us act, and to——"
Just here the hay-tedder passed over them, and every one of
the Walking-Sticks was sent flying through the air and
landed on his back. The Grasshoppers declare that the
Walking-Sticks tumbled and kicked and flopped around in a
dread-  fully common way until they were right side up. "Why,"
said the Measuring Worm, "you act like anybody else when the
hay-tedder comes along!"
The Walking-Sticks looked very uncomfortable, and the
brother and sister could not think of anything to say. It
was the young green one who spoke at last. "I think," said
she, "that it is much easier to act genteel when one is
right side up."
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