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CHAPTER IV MRS. MOSQUITO AND HER KIN
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 “Thou art welcome to the town, but why come here
To bleed a fellow poet gaunt like thee?
Alas1! the little blood I have is dear,
And thin will be the banquet drawn2 from me.”
—Bryant.
“That horrid3 mosquito,” said Ruth, waking with a start, and slapping her cheek.
 
“Aha! you didn’t get me that time,” answered a thin, high-pitched voice!
 
Ruth sat up. She had been asleep under the apple tree, but she was quite awake now.
 
“Where are you?” she asked, “and are you really talking?”
 
“I seem to be,” answered the mosquito, “though you tried to finish me just now. I bear no ill-will, though. I am quite used to being an outlaw4. What is more, I don’t intend to be any better. I shall go on biting people as much as I please. I must have my meals as well as the rest of the world. People seem to forget that fact.”
 
“But just biting people——” began Ruth.
 
“It isn’t just biting,” put in the mosquito. “It really isn’t biting at all. I have a sharp little instrument to pierce the skin of the fellow I choose for my dinner, and the best kind of sucking pump to pump up his blood. That’s the way I get my meals. It is different with my mate. He is a harmless sort of fellow. He can’t even sing, and he likes such baby food as the nectar of flowers. Now tell me why I am different from other insect musicians.”
 
She fixed5 her big eyes on Ruth, who moved uneasily, and answered with not a little hesitation6:
 
“I—I—really don’t know.”
 
53“I’m a female. That’s why. In all the orders, so far as I know, the singers are males. Naturally I am proud of being an exception. Well, you didn’t know that. Do you know why I don’t care for science?”
 
“It is just like an examination,” thought Ruth, and again she answered.
 
“I don’t know.”
 
“Of course you don’t,” said Mrs. Mosquito. “Is there anything you do know? Well, I suppose I must tell you. I don’t care for science, because it interferes7 too much. Once upon a time men were our friends. We not only had nice juicy meals from them, but we had their rain barrels as nurseries for our children. Of course, what they said about us, when we came too near them, was not always complimentary8, but a mosquito, attending strictly9 to business, doesn’t mind a little thing like that. But now come these fellows who know so much, or think they know so much. We carry malaria10, they say, whatever that is, and the rain barrel must go, because it helps to breed mosquitoes. Not only that, these interfering11 fellows seem to spend their time thinking up ways to finish us. Well, I sting them every chance I get.”
 
“But alas! the rain barrel is going. I was hatched in one of the few to be found in these sad days. I was a lively baby, I can tell you. Young mosquitoes are called wrigglers and, true to my name, I wriggled12 for all I was worth. Now, when you know that my mother had laid something like three hundred eggs, and all had hatched into wrigglers as lively as myself, you can imagine the time there was in that old rain barrel.”
 
“But why,” asked Ruth “are you called wrigglers when you are young, and mosquitoes when you are grown up?”
 
“Why are you called baby when you are born, girl when you are half grown, and woman when you are quite grown?” replied Mrs. Mosquito, and Ruth said no more.
 
“Now,” went on Mrs. Mosquito, “I should like to tell you more about wrigglers, how 55they stand on their heads and breathe with their tails, and how they shed their skins when they become full-grown mosquitoes, but I haven’t time. The others are coming.”
 
“Others?” repeated Ruth. “What others?”
 
“The members of the Diptera order of course,” answered Mrs. Mosquito, with an important air. “You see, I found you sleeping under the tree and I knew you wanted to learn about the things that are worth while, and as we are very worth while, I sent a friend to tell all the members of our order to meet in this spot.”
 
“Exactly what that young mosquito told me,” said Mrs. Hessian Fly, buzzing up excitedly.
 
She was a dusky-winged creature, scarcely more than an eighth of an inch long.
 
“What is the Diptera anyhow?”
 
“Why, you are one,” explained Mrs. Mosquito, with a superior smile. “It is quite a tax to know things for everybody,” she said to Ruth, “but you see I am around men so much I learn a great deal. I once attended a meeting of the men who think themselves wise. I wasn’t invited, you understand, but I went, and I attracted much attention too. Well, this is what I heard: The audience will please listen, it concerns you all:
 
“‘The members of the order Diptera have two gauzy wings and two thread-like organs with knobs at the end in the place where most other insects have a second pair of wings. Their mouth is framed for sucking, and sometimes for piercing. Only a few make cocoons13. Their larvæ are called maggots, and they have no legs. Some are vegetable eaters, some carnivorous, and many are scavengers.’ They said all that about us, and maybe it’s true, but I tell you every man in that meeting felt my sting.”
 
“I don’t care what they say,” remarked Mrs. Hessian Fly. “To be talked about shows our importance, though I have never doubted mine. My family is a Revolutionary one, as my ancestors came over with the Hessians. Of course you have heard of them?”
 
“No, I am only interested in the people who live now,” answered Mrs. Mosquito.
 
“Well, I live now,” said Mrs. Hessian Fly, “and I am interesting enough for any use. I don’t make galls15 like so many flies, but simply lay my eggs in young blades of wheat, and when my little red babies hatch, they have only to crawl down and fasten themselves to the tender stalk, just below the ground. Don’t they love the sap, though? A field of wheat looks pretty sick after they have worked on it a while. Sometimes the wheat midges help them and then it is good-by to the wheat. Mrs. Wheat Midge, you know, lays her eggs in the opening flower of the grain, and her babies eat the pollen16 and ovule. You may guess what happens then.”
 
“I think it is real horrid to do that,” said Ruth.
 
“And what do you know about it, pray?” 58retorted Mrs. Hessian Fly. “We must all eat to live.”
 
“We certainly must,” said a house fly, flitting up with a loud buzz. “I have just escaped with my life. A cook wanted to take it because I tried to lay some eggs on her meat. What better place could a fly ask, I’d like to know? If Mrs. Blow Fly had been there, she would have put her eggs on that meat, screen or no screen. She is a most determined17 body and she can drop her eggs through the finest mesh18, if she makes up her mind to do it.”
 
“Is Mrs. Blow Fly that big, buzzing, blue-bodied thing that is such a botheration?” asked Ruth.
 
“She’s big and blue, and she buzzes, or talks, with her wings, as we all do,” answered Mrs. House Fly, with dignity, “but she isn’t a thing. She’s a fly. There are hundreds of different kinds of flies, I’d like you to understand. The kind like me live in houses, but some prefer stables. They seem to like 59to stay with horses and cows, and are rather common. They have beautiful eyes, though, and plenty of them. Would you believe it, my head is nearly all eyes? I have thousands of tiny ones in my two big ones, not to mention the three single ones at the top of my head.”
 
“Gracious!” said Ruth. “No wonder it is so hard to catch you. But doesn’t it make you dizzy when you walk upside down, and how do you keep from falling?”
 
“Of course we don’t get dizzy and it is easy enough to keep from falling if you have pads and fine hairs on your feet. They just hold you to the place you are standing19 on. Men seem to consider this quite a wonderful thing. One of them has written some poetry about it. This is how it goes:
 
“What a wonderful fellow is Mr. Fly,
He goes where he pleases, low or high,
And can walk just as well with his feet to the sky
As I can on the floor.”
“Say,” spoke20 up a slim, narrow-winged creature with abnormally long legs, “I’m one of your relations, though I can’t walk upside down.”
 
“You?” repeated Mrs. House Fly, contemptuously. “Why, you can’t walk decently right side up.”
 
“It is true,” sighed the crane fly. “I haven’t even the grace of Daddy Long Legs, for:
 
“My six long legs all here and there
Oppress my bosom21 with despair.”
“Well, I don’t care about your legs,” said Mrs. House Fly. “I was speaking of my relations—my smart relations. All are not smart. I have some who need only bite the twig22 of a tree and lay their eggs there, and what do you suppose happens? A round ball grows over the spot and men call it a gall14, but it is really a tiny house for my cousin’s babies. I have another cousin, whose name is Cecidomyia strobiloides. It is long for such a tiny creature, but she bears up very well under it.”
 
“I couldn’t ever pronounce it,” said Ruth. “What does she do, please?”
 
“She flies to a willow23 tree in the Spring, before the leaves are out, and with a spear on the end of her body she cuts a gash24 in the tip end of the bud, just where it is most tender and juicy. She lays an egg in the gash; then goes to another twig, and does the same thing, until she has laid as many eggs as she wishes. When her babies hatch, they do not look at all like their gauzy-winged little gray mother, nor do they care for sun or air. In fact, they never stir from their cells. They can eat, though, and the sap of the tree is their food.”
 
“You all seem to think a good deal of eating,” said Ruth.
 
“Of course. Isn’t that what we are hatched for? But my cousin’s babies have lost their appetites by the Fall, and then they go to sleep. They wake up in the Spring, and, strange to say, they have grown exactly like their mother and are ready to lay eggs on some more willow twigs25. Very likely the willow tree does not care to have them do it, 62for the twig where their cradle is does not grow into a branch as the tree meant it should. Instead, the small leaves just crowd upon each other, until they look like a green pine cone26.”
 
“I hope it will never happen to my willow tree,” said Ruth; “but please tell me more things. They are very interesting.”
 
“Interesting? I should say so. Indeed, I could go on talking all day, and not tell you one half the things we can do. But life is too uncertain to waste it all in talking.”
 
“Life is certainly full of accidents,” buzzed a big horse fly. “I’m here to tell Mrs. Mosquito, if she is looking for the messenger she sent out a while ago, she’d better make up her mind never to see her again. She went too near a horrid warty27 toad28, and you can guess the rest.”
 
“We can,” sighed Mrs. Mosquito. “If it isn’t frogs, it’s toads29 and——”
 
“Often it’s birds,” finished Mrs. Horse Fly, “and they are the worst of all.”
 
“Such subjects remind me that I am hungry,” said Mrs. Mosquito, “and I’m off to find a juicy somebody for dinner. I think I shall lay some eggs too.”
 
“I wonder if it was my toad who ate that mosquito,” thought Ruth, as she watched the audience fly away.

点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 alas Rx8z1     
int.唉(表示悲伤、忧愁、恐惧等)
参考例句:
  • Alas!The window is broken!哎呀!窗子破了!
  • Alas,the truth is less romantic.然而,真理很少带有浪漫色彩。
2 drawn MuXzIi     
v.拖,拉,拔出;adj.憔悴的,紧张的
参考例句:
  • All the characters in the story are drawn from life.故事中的所有人物都取材于生活。
  • Her gaze was drawn irresistibly to the scene outside.她的目光禁不住被外面的风景所吸引。
3 horrid arozZj     
adj.可怕的;令人惊恐的;恐怖的;极讨厌的
参考例句:
  • I'm not going to the horrid dinner party.我不打算去参加这次讨厌的宴会。
  • The medicine is horrid and she couldn't get it down.这种药很难吃,她咽不下去。
4 outlaw 1J0xG     
n.歹徒,亡命之徒;vt.宣布…为不合法
参考例句:
  • The outlaw hid out in the hills for several months.逃犯在山里隐藏了几个月。
  • The outlaw has been caught.歹徒已被抓住了。
5 fixed JsKzzj     
adj.固定的,不变的,准备好的;(计算机)固定的
参考例句:
  • Have you two fixed on a date for the wedding yet?你们俩选定婚期了吗?
  • Once the aim is fixed,we should not change it arbitrarily.目标一旦确定,我们就不应该随意改变。
6 hesitation tdsz5     
n.犹豫,踌躇
参考例句:
  • After a long hesitation, he told the truth at last.踌躇了半天,他终于直说了。
  • There was a certain hesitation in her manner.她的态度有些犹豫不决。
7 interferes ab8163b252fe52454ada963fa857f890     
vi. 妨碍,冲突,干涉
参考例句:
  • The noise interferes with my work. 这噪音妨碍我的工作。
  • That interferes with my plan. 那干扰了我的计划。
8 complimentary opqzw     
adj.赠送的,免费的,赞美的,恭维的
参考例句:
  • She made some highly complimentary remarks about their school.她对他们的学校给予高度的评价。
  • The supermarket operates a complimentary shuttle service.这家超市提供免费购物班车。
9 strictly GtNwe     
adv.严厉地,严格地;严密地
参考例句:
  • His doctor is dieting him strictly.他的医生严格规定他的饮食。
  • The guests were seated strictly in order of precedence.客人严格按照地位高低就座。
10 malaria B2xyb     
n.疟疾
参考例句:
  • He had frequent attacks of malaria.他常患疟疾。
  • Malaria is a kind of serious malady.疟疾是一种严重的疾病。
11 interfering interfering     
adj. 妨碍的 动词interfere的现在分词
参考例句:
  • He's an interfering old busybody! 他老爱管闲事!
  • I wish my mother would stop interfering and let me make my own decisions. 我希望我母亲不再干预,让我自己拿主意。
12 wriggled cd018a1c3280e9fe7b0169cdb5687c29     
v.扭动,蠕动,蜿蜒行进( wriggle的过去式和过去分词 );(使身体某一部位)扭动;耍滑不做,逃避(应做的事等)
参考例句:
  • He wriggled uncomfortably on the chair. 他坐在椅子上不舒服地扭动着身体。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • A snake wriggled across the road. 一条蛇蜿蜒爬过道路。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
13 cocoons 5dceb05da0afff0d0dbbf29f10373b59     
n.茧,蚕茧( cocoon的名词复数 )v.茧,蚕茧( cocoon的第三人称单数 )
参考例句:
  • The silkworms have gone into the bushes to spin their cocoons. 蚕上山了。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • In two more days the " little darlings" would spin their cocoons. 再得两天,“宝宝”可以上山。 来自汉英文学 - 春蚕
14 gall jhXxC     
v.使烦恼,使焦躁,难堪;n.磨难
参考例句:
  • It galled him to have to ask for a loan.必须向人借钱使他感到难堪。
  • No gall,no glory.没有磨难,何来荣耀。
15 galls 3e9428020a1433c1e93e2caed5c24a1b     
v.使…擦痛( gall的第三人称单数 );擦伤;烦扰;侮辱
参考例句:
  • Best results will be obtained on recently formed galls. 如果瘿瘤是新近形成的,则效果最好。 来自辞典例句
  • Crown galls are cancerous growths composed of disorganized and proliferating plant cells. 冠瘿是无组织的正在不断增殖的植物细胞所组成的癌状物。 来自辞典例句
16 pollen h1Uzz     
n.[植]花粉
参考例句:
  • Hummingbirds have discovered that nectar and pollen are very nutritious.蜂鸟发现花蜜和花粉是很有营养的。
  • He developed an allergy to pollen.他对花粉过敏。
17 determined duszmP     
adj.坚定的;有决心的
参考例句:
  • I have determined on going to Tibet after graduation.我已决定毕业后去西藏。
  • He determined to view the rooms behind the office.他决定查看一下办公室后面的房间。
18 mesh cC1xJ     
n.网孔,网丝,陷阱;vt.以网捕捉,啮合,匹配;vi.适合; [计算机]网络
参考例句:
  • Their characters just don't mesh.他们的性格就是合不来。
  • This is the net having half inch mesh.这是有半英寸网眼的网。
19 standing 2hCzgo     
n.持续,地位;adj.永久的,不动的,直立的,不流动的
参考例句:
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
20 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
参考例句:
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
21 bosom Lt9zW     
n.胸,胸部;胸怀;内心;adj.亲密的
参考例句:
  • She drew a little book from her bosom.她从怀里取出一本小册子。
  • A dark jealousy stirred in his bosom.他内心生出一阵恶毒的嫉妒。
22 twig VK1zg     
n.小树枝,嫩枝;v.理解
参考例句:
  • He heard the sharp crack of a twig.他听到树枝清脆的断裂声。
  • The sharp sound of a twig snapping scared the badger away.细枝突然折断的刺耳声把獾惊跑了。
23 willow bMFz6     
n.柳树
参考例句:
  • The river was sparsely lined with willow trees.河边疏疏落落有几棵柳树。
  • The willow's shadow falls on the lake.垂柳的影子倒映在湖面上。
24 gash HhCxU     
v.深切,划开;n.(深长的)切(伤)口;裂缝
参考例句:
  • The deep gash in his arm would take weeks to heal over.他胳膊上的割伤很深,需要几个星期的时间才能痊愈。
  • After the collision,the body of the ship had a big gash.船被撞后,船身裂开了一个大口子。
25 twigs 17ff1ed5da672aa443a4f6befce8e2cb     
细枝,嫩枝( twig的名词复数 )
参考例句:
  • Some birds build nests of twigs. 一些鸟用树枝筑巢。
  • Willow twigs are pliable. 柳条很软。
26 cone lYJyi     
n.圆锥体,圆锥形东西,球果
参考例句:
  • Saw-dust piled up in a great cone.锯屑堆积如山。
  • The police have sectioned off part of the road with traffic cone.警察用锥形路标把部分路面分隔开来。
27 warty 10645af5dab7882d561efe6172133489     
adj.有疣的,似疣的;瘤状
参考例句:
  • Warty recurrences occurred in the perineal wound within a month of surgery. 局部切除术后一个月内伤口疣体复发。 来自互联网
  • African wild swine with warty protuberances on the face and large protruding tusks. 在脸部和突出的长牙上有疣样隆起的非洲野猪。 来自互联网
28 toad oJezr     
n.蟾蜍,癞蛤蟆
参考例句:
  • Both the toad and frog are amphibian.蟾蜍和青蛙都是两栖动物。
  • Many kinds of toad hibernate in winter.许多种蟾蜍在冬天都会冬眠。
29 toads 848d4ebf1875eac88fe0765c59ce57d1     
n.蟾蜍,癞蛤蟆( toad的名词复数 )
参考例句:
  • All toads blink when they swallow. 所有的癞蛤蟆吞食东西时都会眨眼皮。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Toads have shorter legs and are generally more clumsy than frogs. 蟾蜍比青蛙脚短,一般说来没有青蛙灵活。 来自辞典例句


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