| Among the Pond People|
|by Clara Dillingham Pierson|
|Presents the adventures of Mother Eel, the Playful Muskrat, the Snappy Snapping Turtle, and the other Pond People. These stories are full of humor, yet cleverly convey information about the frogs, minnows, and other pond residents and often suggest a moral in a delicate manner which no child could resist. Ages 5-7 |
THE CARELESS CADDIS WORM
HEN the Caddis Fly felt like laying eggs, she crawled down
the stalk of one of the pond plants and laid them
there. She covered them with something sticky, so that
they were sure to stay where she put them. "There!"
she said, as she crawled up to the air again. "My work
is done." Soon after this, she lay down for a long,
long rest. What with flying, and visiting, and laying
eggs, she had become very tired; and it was not
strange, for she had not eaten a mouthful since she got
This had puzzled the Dragon-Flies very much. They
could not understand it, because they were always
eating. They would have liked to ask her about
 it, but they went to sleep for the night soon after she
got up, and whenever she saw them coming she flew away.
"I do not seem to feel hungry," said she, "so why
should I eat? Besides," she added, "I couldn't eat if
I wanted to, my mouth is so small and weak. I ate a
great deal while I was growing—quite enough to last
me—and it saves time not to bother with hunting food
When her eggs hatched, the larvæ were slender,
soft, six-footed babies called Caddis Worms. They were
white, and they showed as plainly in the water as a
pond-lily does on the top of it. It is not safe to be
white if one is to live in the water; certainly not
unless one can swim fast and turn quickly. And there
is a reason for this, as any one of the pond people
will tell you. Even the fishes wear all their white on
the under side of their bodies, so that if they swim
near the top of the water, a hungry Fish Hawk is
 not so likely to see them and pounce down on them.
The Caddis Worms soon found that white was not a good
color to wear, and they talked of it among themselves.
They were very bright larvæ. One day the biggest
one was standing on a stem of pickerel-weed, when his
sister came toward him. She did not come very fast,
because she was neither swimming nor walking, but
biting herself along. All the Caddis Worms did this at
times, for their legs were weak. She reached as far
forward as she could, and fastened her strong jaws in
the weed, then she gave a jerk and pulled her body
ahead. "It is a very good way to travel," said she,
"and such a saving of one's legs." Now she was in so
great a hurry that sometimes when she pulled herself
ahead, she turned a half-somersault and came down on
"What is the matter?" called the Biggest Caddis Worm.
"Don't hurry so.
 There is lots of time." That was just him, for he was
lazy. Everybody said so.
"I must hurry," said she, and she breathed very fast
with the white breathing hairs that grew on both sides
of her body. She picked herself up from her last
somersault and stood beside her brother, near enough to
speak quite softly. "I have been getting away from
Belostoma," she said, "and I was dreadfully afraid he
would catch me."
"Well, you're all right now, aren't you?" asked her
brother. And that was also like him. As long as he
could have enough to eat and was comfortable, he did
not want to think about anything unpleasant.
"No, I'm not," she answered, "and I won't be so long
as any hungry fish or water-bug can see me so plainly.
I'm tired of being white."
"You are not so white as you were," said her brother.
"None of us children
 are. Our heads and the front part of our bodies are
turning brown and getting harder." That was true, and
he was particularly hard-headed.
"Yes, but what about the rest of us?" said she, and
surely there was some excuse for her if she was
impatient. "If Belostoma can see part of me and chase
that, he will find the rest of me rather near by."
"Keep quiet then, and see if you don't get hard and
brown all over," said he.
"I never shall," said she. "I went to the Clams and
asked them if I would, and they said 'No.' I'm going
to build a house to cover the back part of my body, and
you'd better do the same thing."
The Biggest Caddis Worm looked very much surprised.
"Whatever made you think of that?" said he.
"I suppose because there wasn't anything else to think
of," said she. "One has to think of something."
 "I don't," said he.
She started away to where her other brothers and
sisters were. "Where are you going?" cried he.
"Going to build my house," answered she.
"You'd better come too."
"Not now," said he. "I am waiting to get the rest of
my breakfast. I'll come by and by."
The Biggest Caddis Worm stood on the pickerel-weed and
ate his breakfast. Then he stood there a while longer.
"I do not think it is well to work right after eating,"
he said. Below him in the water, his brothers and
sisters were busily gathering tiny sticks, stones, and
bits of broken shell, with which to make their houses.
Each Caddis Worm found his own, and fastened them
together with a sort of silk which he pulled out of his
body. They had nobody to show them how, so each
planned to suit himself, and no two were exactly alike.
 "I'm going to make my house big enough so I can pull
in my head and legs when I want to," said one.
"So am I," cried all the other Caddis Worms.
After a while, somebody said, "I'm going to have an
open door at the back of my house." Then each of his
busy brothers and sisters cried, "So am I."
When the tiny houses were done, each Caddis Worm
crawled inside of his own, and lay with head and legs
outside the front door. The white part of their bodies
did not show at all, and, if they wanted to do so, they
could pull their heads in. Even Belostoma, the Giant
Water-Bug, might have passed close to them then and not
seen them at all.
"Let's hook ourselves in!" cried one Caddis Worm, and
all the others answered, "Let's."
So each hooked himself in with the two stout hooks
which grew at the end of his
 body, and there they were as snug and comfortable as
Clams. About this time the Big Brother came slowly
along the stem of pickerel-weed. "What," said he, "you
haven't got your houses done already?"
"Yes," answered the rest joyfully. "See us pull in our
heads." And they all pulled in their heads and poked
them out again. He was the only white-bodied person in
"I must have a home," said he. "I wish one of you
Worms would give me yours. You could make yourself
another, you know. There is lots more stuff."
"Make it yourself," they replied. "Help yourself to
"But I don't know how," he said, "and you do."
"Whose fault is that?" asked his sister. Then she was
afraid that he might think her cross, and she added
quickly, "We'll tell
you how, if you'll begin."
 The Biggest Caddis Worm got together some tiny sticks
and stones and pieces of broken shell,
but it wasn't very
much fun working alone. Then they told him what
to do, and how to fasten them to each other with silk.
"Be sure you tie them strongly," they said.
"Oh, that's strong enough,"
he answered. "It'll do,
anyhow. If it comes to pieces I can fix it." His
brothers and sisters thought he should make it stouter,
yet they said nothing more, for he would not have liked
it if they had; and they had already said so once.
When he crawled into his house and hooked himself in,
there was not a Caddis Worm in sight, and they were
very proud to think how they had planned and built
their houses. They did not know that Caddis Worms had
always done so, and they thought themselves the first
to ever think of such a thing.
The Biggest Caddis Worm's house was
 not well fastened together, and every day he said, "I
really must fix it to-morrow." But when to-morrow
came, it always proved to be to-day, and, besides, he
usually found something more interesting to be done.
It took him a great deal of time to change his skin,
and that could not be easily put off. He grew so fast
that he was likely to awaken almost any morning and
find his head poking through the top of his skin, and,
lazy as he was, he would not have the pond people see
him around with a crack in the skin of his head, right
where it showed. So when this happened, he always
pulled his body through the crack, and threw the old
skin away. There was sure to be a whole new one
underneath, you know.
When they had changed their skin many times, the Caddis
Worms became more quiet and thoughtful. At last the
sister who had first planned to build houses, fastened
hers to a stone, and spun
 gratings across both its front and its back doors. "I
am going to sleep," she said, "to grow my feelers and
get ready to fly and breathe air. I don't want anybody
to awaken me. All I want to do is to sleep and grow
and breathe. The water will come in through the
gratings, so I shall be all right. I couldn't sleep
in a house where there was not plenty of fresh water to
breathe." Then she cuddled down and dozed off, and
when her brothers and sisters spoke of her, they called
her "the Caddis Nymph."
They did not speak of her many times, however, for they
soon fastened their houses to something solid, and spun
gratings in their doorways and went to sleep.
One day a Water-Adder came around where all the Caddis
houses were. "Um-hum," said he to himself. "There
used to be a nice lot of Caddis Worms around here, and
now I haven't seen one in ever so long. I suppose
they are hidden away
 somewhere asleep. Well, I must go away from here and
find my dinner. I am nearly starved. The front half
of my stomach hasn't a thing in it." He whisked his
tail and went away, but that whisk hit a tiny house of
sticks, stones, and bits of broken shell, and a fat
sleeping Caddis Nymph rolled out. It was the Biggest
Soon Belostoma, the Giant Water-Bug, came that way.
"What is this?" he exclaimed, as he saw the sleeping
Caddis Nymph. "Somebody built a poor house to sleep
in. You need to be cared for, young Caddis." He
picked up the sleeping Caddis Nymph in his stout
forelegs and swam off. Nobody knows just what happened
When the other Caddis Nymphs awakened, they bit through
their gratings and had a good visit before they crawled
out of the pond into their new home, the air. "Has
anybody seen my biggest
 brother?" asked one Nymph of another, but everybody
Each looked all around with his two far-apart eyes, and
then they decided that he must have awakened first and
left the water before them. But you know that he could
not have done so, because he could never be a Caddis
Fly unless he finished the Nymph-sleep in his house,
and he did not do that. He had stopped being a Caddis
Worm when he turned into a Caddis Nymph. Nobody will
ever know just what did become of him unless Belostoma
tells—and Belostoma is not likely to tell.
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