| 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 FROG-HOPPERS GO OUT INTO THE WORLD
 ALONG the upper edge of the meadow and in the corners of the
rail fence there grew golden-rod. During the spring and
early summer you could hardly tell that it was there, unless
you walked close to it and saw the slender and graceful
stalks pushing upward through the tall grass and pointing in
many different ways with their dainty leaves. The Horses and
Cows knew it, and although they might eat all around it they
never pulled at it with their lips or ate it. In the autumn,
each stalk was crowned with sprays of tiny bright yellow
blossoms, which nodded in the wind and scattered their
golden pollen all around. Then it sometimes
 happened that
people who were driving past would stop, climb over the
fence, and pluck some of it to carry away. Even then there
was so much left that one could hardly miss the stalks that
It may have been because the golden-rod was such a safe home
that most of the Frog-Hoppers laid their eggs there. Some
laid eggs in other plants and bushes, but most of them chose
the golden-rod. After they had laid their eggs they wandered
around on the grass, the bushes, and the few trees which
grew in the meadow, hopping from one place to another and
eating a little here and a little there.
Nobody knows why they should have been called Frog-Hoppers,
unless it was because when you look them in the face they
seem a very little like tiny Frogs. To be sure, they have
six legs, and teeth on the front pair, as no real Frog ever
 thought of having. Perhaps it was only a nickname because
their own name was so long and hard to speak.
The golden-rod was beginning to show small yellow-green buds
on the tips of its stalks, and the little Frog-Hoppers were
now old enough to talk and wonder about the great world. On
one stalk four Frog-Hopper brothers and sisters lived close
together. That was much pleasanter than having to grow up
all alone, as most young Frog-Hoppers do, never seeing their
fathers and mothers or knowing whether they ever would.
These four little Frog-Hoppers did not know how lucky they
were, and that, you know, happens very often when people
have not seen others lonely or unhappy. They supposed that
every Frog-Hopper family had two brothers and two sisters
living together on a golden-rod stalk. They fed on the juice
or sap of the golden-rod, pumping it out of the stalk
 with their stout little beaks and eating or drinking it. After
they had eaten it, they made white foam out of it, and this
foam was all around them on the stalk. Any one passing by
could tell at once by the foam just where the Frog-Hoppers
One morning the oldest Frog-Hopper brother thought that the
sap pumped very hard. It may be that it did pump hard, and
it may be that he was tired or lazy. Anyway, he began to
grumble and find fault. "This is the worst stalk of
golden-rod I ever saw in my life," he said.
"It doesn't pay
to try to pump any more sap, and I just won't try, so
He was quite right in saying that it was the worst stalk he
had ever seen, because he had never seen any other, but he
was much mistaken in saying
that it didn't pay to pump sap,
and as for saying that "it didn't pay, so there!" we all
know that when insects begin to talk in that way the best
thing to do is to leave them
 quite alone until they are
The other Frog-Hopper
children couldn't leave him alone,
because they hadn't changed their skins for the last time.
They had to stay in their foam until that was done. After
the big brother spoke in this way, they all began to wonder
if the sap didn't pump hard. Before long the big sister
wiggled impatiently and said, "My beak is dreadfully tired."
Then they all stopped eating and began to talk. They called
their home stuffy, and said there wasn't room to turn around
in it without hitting the foam. They didn't say why they
should mind hitting the foam. It was soft and clean, and
always opened up a way when they pushed against it.
"I tell you what!" said the big brother, "after I've changed
my skin once more and gone out into the great world, you
won't catch me hanging around this old golden-rod."
 "Nor me!" "Nor me!" "Nor me!" said the other young
"I wonder what the world is like," said the little sister.
"Is it just bigger foam and bigger golden-rod and more Frog-Hoppers?"
"Huh!" exclaimed her big brother. "What lots you know! If I
didn't know any more than that about it, I'd keep still and
not tell anybody." That made her feel badly,
and she didn't speak
again for a long time.
Then the little brother spoke. "I didn't know you had ever
been out into the world," he said.
"No," said the big brother, "I suppose
you didn't. There are
lots of things you don't know." That made him feel badly,
and he went off into the farthest corner of the foam and
stuck his head in between a golden-rod leaf and the stalk.
You see the big brother was very cross. Indeed, he was
 For a long time nobody spoke, and then the big sister said,
"I wish you would tell us what the world is like."
The big brother knew no more about the world than the other
children, but after he had been cross and put on airs he
didn't like to tell the truth. He might have known that he
would be found out, yet he held up his head and answered: "I
don't suppose that I can tell you so that you will
understand, because you have never seen it. There are lots
of things there—whole lots of them—and it is very big.
Some of the things are like golden-rod and some of them are
not. Some of them are not even like foam. And there are a
great many people there. They all have six legs, but they
are not so clever as we are. We shall have to tell them
This was very interesting and made the little sister forget
to pout and the little brother come out of his foam-corner.
 even looked as though he might ask a few questions, so
the big brother added, "Now don't talk to me, for I must
think about something."
It was not long after this that the young Frog-Hoppers
changed their skins for the last time. The outside part of
the foam hardened and made a little roof over them while
they did this. Then they were ready to go out into the
meadow. The big brother felt rather uncomfortable, and it
was not his new skin which made him so. It was remembering
what he had said about the world outside.
When they had left their foam and their golden-rod, they had
much to see and ask about. Every little while one of the
smaller Frog-Hoppers would exclaim, "Why, you never told us
about this!" or, "Why didn't you tell us about that?"
Then the big brother would answer: "Yes, I did. That is one
of the things
 which I said were not like either golden-rod
For a while they met only Crickets, Ants, Grasshoppers, and
other six-legged people, and although they looked at each
other they did not have much to say. At last they hopped
near to the Tree Frog, who was sitting by the mossy trunk of
a beech tree and looked so much like the bark that they did
not notice him at first. The big brother was very near the
Tree Frog's head.
"Oh, see!" cried the others. "There is somebody with only
four legs, and he doesn't look as though he ever had any
more. Why, Brother, what does this mean? You said everybody
At this moment the Tree Frog opened his eyes a little and
his mouth a great deal, and shot out his quick tongue. When
he shut his mouth again, the big brother of the Frog-Hoppers
was nowhere to be seen. They never had a chance to
 ask him
that question again. If they had but known it, the Tree Frog
at that minute had ten legs, for six and four are ten. But
then, they couldn't know it, for six were on the inside.
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