| 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 |
TWO LITTLE CRAYFISHES QUARREL
HE day after the Eels left, the pond people talked of
nothing else. It was not that they were so much
missed, for the Eels, you know, do not swim around in
the daytime. They lie quietly in the mud and sleep or
talk. It is only at night that they are really lively.
Still, as the Mother Mud Turtle said, "They had known
that they were there, and the mud seemed empty without
The larger people had been sorry to have them go, and
some of them felt that without the Eels awake and
stirring, the pond was hardly a safe place at night.
"I think it is a good deal safer," remarked a Minnow,
who usually said what
 she thought. "I have always believed that the Eels
knew what became of some of my brothers and sisters,
although, of course, I do not know."
"Why didn't you ask them?" said a Stickleback.
"Why?" replied the Minnow. "If I had gone to the Eels
and asked them that, my other brothers and sisters
would soon be wondering what had become of me."
"I have heard some queer things about the Eels myself,"
said the Stickleback, "but I have never felt much
afraid of them. I suppose I am braver because I wear
so many of my bones on the outside."
Just then a Wise Old Crayfish came along walking
sidewise. "What do you think about the Eels?" asked
the Stickleback, turning suddenly to him.
The Crayfish stuck his tail into the mud. He often did
this when he was
 surprised. It seemed to help him think. When he had
thought for a while, he waved his big pinching-claws
and said, "It would be better for me not to tell what I
think. I used to live near them."
This showed that the Wise Old Crayfish had been well
brought up, and knew he should not say unpleasant
things about people if he could help it. When there
was need of it, he could tell unpleasant truths, and
indeed that very evening he did say what he thought of
the Eels. That was when he was teaching some young
Crayfishes, his pupils. Their mother had brought up a
large family, and was not strong. She had just cast
the shell which she had worn for a year, and now she
was weak and helpless until the new one should harden
on her. "It is such a bother," she said, "to keep
changing one's shell in this way, but it is a comfort
to think that the new one will last a year when I do
 While their mother was so weak, the Wise Old Crayfish
amused the children, and taught them things which all
Crayfishes should know. Every evening they gathered
around him, some of them swimming to him, some walking
forward, some sidewise, and some backward. It made no
difference to them which way they came. They were
restless pupils, and their teacher could not keep them
from looking behind them. Each one had so many eyes
that he could look at the teacher with a few, and at
the other little Crayfishes with a few more, and still
have a good many eyes left with which to watch the
Tadpoles. These eyes were arranged in two big bunches,
and, unless you looked very closely, you might think
that they had only two eyes apiece. They had good
ears, and there were also fine smelling-bristles
growing from their heads. The Wise Old Crayfish
sometimes said that each of his pupils should sit in a
 circle of six teachers, so that he might be taught on
all sides at once.
"That is the way in which children should learn," he
said, "all around at once. But I do the best I can,
and I at least teach one side of each."
This evening the Wise Old Crayfish was very sleepy.
There had been so much talking and excitement during
the day that he had not slept so much as usual; and now,
when he should have been wide awake, he felt
exceedingly dull and stupid. When he tried to walk,
his eight legs stumbled over each other, and the weak
way in which he waved his pinching-claw legs showed how
tired he was.
After he had told his pupils the best way to hold their
food with their pinching-claws, and had explained to
them how it was chewed by the teeth in their stomachs,
one mischievous little fellow called out, "I want to
know about the Eels. My mother would never let me go
 them, and now
they've moved away, and I won't ever see
them, and I think
it's just horrid."
"Eels, my children," said their teacher, "are long,
slender, sharp-nosed, slippery people, with a fringe of
fins along their backs, and another fringe along their
bellies. They breathe through very small gill-openings
in the backs of their heads. They have large mouths,
and teeth in their mouths, and they are always sticking
out their lower jaws."
"And how do—" began the Biggest Little Crayfish.
"Ask me that to-morrow," said their teacher, stretching
his eight walking legs and his two pinching-claw legs
and his tail paddles, "but remember this one thing:—if
you ever see an Eel, get out of his way. Don't
stop to look at him."
"We won't," said one little Crayfish, who thought it
smart to be saucy. "We'll look to stop at him." All
of which meant
 nothing at all and was only said to annoy his teacher.
They scrambled away over the pond-bottom, upsetting
Snails, jiggling the young Clams, and racing with each
other where the bottom was smooth. "Beat you running
backward!" cried the Saucy Crayfish to the Biggest
Little Crayfish, and they scampered along backward in
the moonlit water. There was an old log on the bottom
of the pond, and they sat on that to rest. The Biggest
Little Crayfish had beaten. "I would like to see an
Eel," said he.
"I'd like to see them running on the land," said the
"Pooh!" said the biggest one.
"That's all you know!
They don't run on land."
"Well, I guess they do," replied the saucy one. "I
know as much about it as you do!"
"Eels swim. They don't run," said the biggest one.
"Guess I know!"
 "Well, they don't swim in air," said the saucy one.
"That's the stuff that lies on top of the water and
the ground, and people can't swim in it. So there!"
I've seen the Wild Ducks swim in it! They swim
with their legs in the water, and with their wings in
the air," said the biggest one.
"I don't believe it," said the saucy one. "Anyhow,
Eels run on land."
"Eels swim on land," said the biggest one.
Then the two little Crayfishes, who had been talking
louder and louder and becoming more and more angry,
glared at each other, and jerked their feelers, and
waved their pinching-claws in a very, very ugly way.
They did not notice a great green and
 yellow person swimming gently toward them, and they did
not know that the Eels had come back to live in the old
pond again. Mother Eel opened her big mouth very wide.
"On land," she said decidedly, as she swallowed the
Biggest Little Crayfish, "Eels wriggle." Then she
swallowed the Saucy Crayfish.
MOTHER EEL OPENED HER BIG MOUTH.
"There!" said she.
"I've stopped that dreadful
quarrel." And she looked around with a satisfied
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