| 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 |
 IN the lower part of the meadow, where the grass grew tall
and tender, there lived a fine and sturdy young Snail; that
is to say, a fine-looking Snail. His shell was a beautiful
soft gray, and its curves were regular and perfect. His body
was soft and moist, and just what a Snail's body should be.
Of course, when it came to travelling, he could not go fast,
for none of his family are rapid travellers, still, if he
had been plucky and patient,
 he might have seen much of the
meadow, and perhaps some of the world outside. His friends
and neighbors often told him that he ought to start out on a
little journey to see the sights, but he would always
answer, "Oh, it is too hard work!"
There was nobody who liked stories of meadow life better
than this same Snail, and he would often stop some friendly
Cricket or Snake to ask for the news. After they had told
him, they would say, "Why, don't you ever get out to see
these things for yourself?" and he would give a little sigh
and answer, "It is too far to go."
"But you needn't go the whole distance in one day," his
visitor would say, "only a little at a time."
"Yes, and then I would have to keep starting on again every
little while," the Snail would reply. "What of that?" said
the visitor; "you would have plenty of resting spells, when
you could lie in the shade of a tall weed and enjoy
 "Well, what is the use?" the Snail would say. "I can't enjoy
resting if I know I've got to go to work again," and he
would sigh once more.
So there he lived, eating and sleeping, and wishing he could
see the world, and meet the people in the upper part of the
meadow, but just so lazy that
he wouldn't start out to find
He never thought that the Butterflies and Beetles might not
like it to have him keep calling them to him and making them
tell him the news. Oh, no indeed! If he wanted them to do
anything for him, he asked them quickly enough, and they,
being happy, good-natured people, would always do as he
asked them to.
There came a day, though, when he asked too much. The
Grasshoppers had been telling him about some very delicious
new plants that grew a little distance away, and the Snail
wanted some very badly. "Can't you bring me some?" he
"There are so many of you, and you have such good, strong
legs. I should think you might each bring me a small piece
in your mouths, and then I should have a fine dinner of it."
The Grasshoppers didn't say anything then, but when they
were so far away that he could not hear them, they said to
each other, "If the Snail wants the food so much, he might
better go for it. We have other things to do," and they
hopped off on their own business.
The Snail sat there, and wondered and wondered that they did
not come. He kept thinking how he would like some of the new
food for dinner, but there it ended.
He didn't want it
enough to get it for himself.
The Grasshoppers told all
their friends about the Snail's request, and everybody
thought, "Such a lazy, good-for-nothing fellow deserves to
be left quite alone." So it happened that for a very long
time nobody went near the Snail.
 The weather grew hotter and hotter. The clouds, which blew
across the sky, kept their rain until they were well past
the meadow, and so it happened that the river grew shallower
and shallower, and the sunshine dried the tiny pools and
rivulets which kept the lower meadow damp. The grass began
to turn brown and dry, and, all in all, it was trying
weather for Snails.
One day, a Butterfly called some of her friends together,
and told them that she had seen the Snail lying in his old
place, looking thin and hungry. "The grass is all dried
around him," she said; "I believe he is starving, and too
lazy to go nearer the river, where there is still good food
They all talked it over together, and some of them said it
was of no use to help a Snail who was too lazy to do
anything for himself. Others said, "Well, he is too weak to
help himself now, at all events,
 and we might help him this
once." And that is exactly what they did. The Butterflies
and the Mosquitoes flew ahead to find the best place to put
the Snail, and all the Grasshoppers, and Beetles, and other
strong crawling creatures took turns in rolling the Snail
down toward the river.
They left him where the green things were fresh and tender,
and he grew strong and plump once more. It is even said that
he was not so lazy afterward, but one cannot tell whether to
believe it or not, for everybody knows that when people let
themselves grow up lazy, as he did, it is almost impossible
for them to get over it when they want to. One thing is
sure: the meadow people who helped him were happier and
better for doing a kind thing, no matter what became of the
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics