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首页 » 英文短篇小说 » The Real Fairy Folk » CHAPTER VIII MRS. TUMBLE BUG AND OTHERS
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
 Their wings with azure1 green
And purple glossed2.
—Anna L. Barbauld.
Something exciting was going on. Ruth could not tell just what it was at first. She could only watch and wonder. Then her eyes grew large and bright. Surely some fairy’s wand had touched the old orchard3, for suddenly it seemed alive with beetles5—big beetles and little beetles; beetles in sober colourings, and beetles gleaming with all the tints6 of the rainbow. Ruth had never dreamed that there could be so many of them or that they were so beautiful.
The gorgeously coloured, graceful7 tigers attracted her first, though she didn’t know their name.
“Oh,” she cried, “how lovely!”
“And how strange,” added a voice just above her head, “how very strange, their children should be so homely8.”
“What’s that?” asked one of the tigers, a metallic9 green fellow, with purple lights, and two pale yellow dots on the edge of each wing cover. “Our children not so beautiful as we are, did you say? Of course, they are not; a fat grub couldn’t be, you know. But let me tell you, there are few things as smart as a tiger beetle4 baby. I say,” he added, looking full at Ruth, “have you ever seen the hole he digs? It is often a foot deep, while he is less than an inch long. He has only his jaws10 and fore11 legs to work with too. Yet he piles the earth on his flat head as if it were the easiest thing in the world, and then, climbing to the top, he throws it off, and is ready for another load.”
120“I suppose he digs a hole to catch things,” said Ruth, “like the ant lion, and does he stay at the bottom and——”
“No, he doesn’t stay at the bottom. He watches near the top of his hole for his dinner, hanging on by a pair of hooks which grow out of a hump on his back. He always goes to the bottom to eat his dinner, though; he seems to like privacy. Yes, we are a fierce family from the beginning, for we grown tigers can catch our prey12 either running or flying, and we usually manage to get it, too. But, then, farmers need not complain of us, for we never eat plants, and that is more than can be said of many here.”
“Such taste,” said a cloaked, knotty13 horn, holding herself in a position that showed off her changeable blue and green dress, and her short yellow cape14.
But the tiger did not answer. He was off after his dinner. Several tree borers, however, nodded their heads in agreement.
“I believe in a vegetable diet myself,” 121said Mrs. Sawyer, who wore as usual her dress of brown and gray. “It is just such people as the tigers who make things like that necessary in a respectable meeting,” and as she spoke15 she waved her very long antennæ toward a big sign which read:
“I am glad to say I am not one of that kind. I wonder if any one of you know why the members of our family are called sawyers. Perhaps I had better tell you: It is because our children saw into the trunks of evergreen16 trees, and sometimes they make holes large enough to kill the trees. Smart, isn’t it, for a baby?”
“But it doesn’t seem to be very nice,” began Ruth. Then she stopped, for Mrs. Sawyer was looking at her and the borers were nodding their heads again.
“Our children do not saw,” said the borers, “but they do bore, and it is pretty much the same thing for the tree.”
“My friends,” broke in a very solemn voice.
Every beetle stopped talking, and Ruth jumped to her feet, then flopped17 down on the grass again, waiting for what was coming.
The speaker, a large, clean-looking beetle, had just flown to a twig18 in the very middle of the meeting. He was black in colour, well sprinkled above and below with pale straw yellow in dots and points, but the queer thing about him was the two oval velvety19 black spots, each with a narrow line of straw colour around it, on his thorax. They were like great eyes, and made him look very wise.
“He is the eyed-elater,” whispered Mrs. Sawyer to Ruth. “There he is speaking again.”
“My friends,” the big beetle was saying in tones as solemn, as before, “the important thing in any meeting is to keep to the main issue.”
“The main issue?” said the goldsmith beetle, a beautiful little creature with wing covers of golden yellow, and a body of metallic green covered with white, woolly fuzz. “What is the main issue?”
“Dinner,” replied the tiger beetle, returning to his old place. “If it isn’t breakfast or supper.”
“No, my friend,” said the eyed-elater, with a grave glance, “the main issue is——”
Then he stopped and fixed20 his two real eyes and the two spots which looked like eyes on some small beetles which were leaping in the air, turning somersaults, and making quite a noise.
“Will you be still?” he said in his sternest voice.
“How foolish,” said Mrs. Sawyer, “to expect click beetles to be still!”
But Ruth was all curiosity.
“I’ve seen you before,” she said, going closer and touching21 one of the funny little fellows.
Suddenly it curled up its legs, dropped as if shot, then lay like one dead.
“Here, here!” called the elater. “No 124more of that! We know all about your tricks!”
“All right,” said the would-be dead one, and he gave a click, popped into the air several inches, and came down on his back.
“That won’t do at all,” he said, and, clicking and popping once more, he came down on his feet.
“There,” he added, “you need to have patience with click beetles. You ought to know that, friend elater, for you are one of us.”
“Well, I’m bigger, and not so foolish, and my children are not so harmful as yours. Think of being a parent of those dreadful wire worms! That is what you click beetles are, and you know the farmer hasn’t a worse enemy. Now we must get back to the main issue.”
“Back?” said Mrs. Sawyer. “Were we ever there to begin with? You can’t scare me,” she added, “no matter how hard you stare. You haven’t any more eyes than the 125rest of us. Those two spots are not real eyes, and you know it.”
“The main issue,” repeated the elater in a very loud voice, “is, What makes us beetles?”
“That’s something I’d like to know,” said a handsome little beetle in a striped coat. “I’m a beetle, if there ever was one, yet I have a world-wide reputation as a bug22.”
“Pray don’t get excited, Mrs. Potato Bug. It isn’t your time to talk yet. We are on the main issue, and I will answer my own question.”
Ruth was glad some one would answer it, for at this rate it seemed they would never get anywhere.
“We are beetles for several reasons,” went on the elater. “In the first place, we belong to the order Coleoptera.”
Another tera, thought Ruth.
“That name is taken from a language called Greek, and means sheath wing. It is given to us because we have handsome outside wings which we use to cover our real flying wings. 126All beetles have them, though those of our cousin, Mr. Rove Beetle, are quite short.”
“That’s a fact,” said a rove beetle, “and no one need think we have outgrown23 our coats. It is simply a fashion in our family to wear our sheath wings short. We can always fold our true wings under them, and I’d like to see the fellow who says we can’t.”
“Well, you needn’t get so mad about it,” answered the elater in mild tones.
“And don’t curl your body up as if you were a wasp,” added Mrs. Sawyer. “Everybody knows you can’t sting.”
“I don’t care,” said the rove beetle. “I hate to be misunderstood. We are useful too. I heard a man call us scavengers. I don’t know what it means, but something good, I am sure, from the way he said it. I must be going soon. It is so dry here. You know my home is in damp places under stones or leaves.”
“You may go when you wish,” answered the elater. “We are still on the main issue. 127As I said before, we are beetles, and there is no reason to take us for bugs24. Calm yourself, Mrs. Potato Bug. We have no sucking beak25 as the bugs have, but we have two sets of horny jaws, which move sideways, and not up and down. These are to bite roots, stems, and leaves of plants, so most of our order live on vegetable food and are enemies to the farmer, but some of us are his friends, for we eat the insects that injure his crops. Our children are called grubs. Some of them make a sort of glue, with which they stick together earth or bits of wood for a cocoon26; others make tunnels in tree trunks or wood and transform in them. We may well be proud, for we belong to a large and beautiful order, and we are found in all parts of the world. We are divided into two sub-orders—true beetles and snout beetles. I hope our cousins, the snout beetles, will not be offended. They are real in a way.”
“The farmer and fruit grower think so anyway,” said a little weevil. “We have been called bugs just because we have a snout, but any one can see at a glance that it isn’t a bug’s snout. It is not a tube at all, but has tiny jaws at the tip.”
“I don’t believe I could see all that,” said Ruth rather timidly, for these clever little people had a way of making her feel she knew very little.
“Maybe you can’t,” was the short answer, “and I dare say you can’t tell how we use our snouts either. We punch holes with them in plums, peaches, cherries, and other fruits, not to mention nuts and the bark of trees. I am a peach curculio, but that is not important. We all work in the same way—that is, drop an egg in the hole made by our snout, then use the snout again to push the egg down. Mrs. Plum Weevil is busy now in the plum orchard back of us; so of course she couldn’t come to this meeting. ‘Duty before pleasure,’ she said. She will lay eggs in quite a number of plums, and the plums will drop from the trees before they are ripe.”
“And there’ll be a lump of gum on them!” cried Ruth, clapping her hands.
The weevil looked at her with approval. “You do notice some things,” she said.
“The gum oozes27 out of the hole made by our snouts. Of course our egg hatches inside the fruit, and the baby has its dinner all around it. As it hasn’t a leg to walk on——”
“Dear! dear!” sighed the elater. “You seem to forget that we are trying to keep to the main issue. As I said before——”
“You are always saying what you said before,” snapped Mrs. Sawyer.
“Now, they are beginning again,” thought Ruth, but the elater paid no attention to Mrs. Sawyer.
“As I said before,” he repeated, “we have reason to be proud, for though we build no cities, like ants, wasps28, and bees, and make no honey or wax, or have, in fact, any special trades, yet we are interesting and beautiful. The ancient Egyptians thought some of us sacred and worshipped us.”
“There!” cried Mrs. Tumble Bug, literally29 tumbling into their midst. “I couldn’t come at a better time.”
Ruth gave a little scream of delight when she saw her, and Mrs. Tumble Bug nodded with the air of an old friend.
As usual, her black dress looked neat and clean, though she and her husband had rolled and tumbled all over the road in their effort to get their ball to what they considered the best place for it. They had succeeded, and Mrs. Tumble Bug’s shovel-shaped face wore a broad smile in consequence.
“I knew about this meeting,” she said, “but my husband and I agreed that duty should come before pleasure.”
“She heard me say that,” whispered the little peach weevil to her nearest neighbour.
“I didn’t,” answered Mrs. Tumble Bug. “I have just come. We only found a safe place for our ball a little while ago.”
“That ball!” said Mrs. Sawyer in disgusted 131tones. “I should think you would be tired of it.”
“Tired of our ball?” repeated Mrs. Tumble Bug. “Why, our ball is the most important thing in the world. This was a big one, too. We made it in Farmer Brown’s barnyard, and then I laid my eggs in it, and we rolled it all the way here. Of course it grew on the road, and I couldn’t have moved it alone, but my mate helped me. He always helps. Indeed it seems to me tumble bugs are the only husbands in the insect world who care about their children’s future.”
“Now I know,” said Ruth, who had been thinking very hard. “You think so much of your balls because they hold your eggs. I’ve often wondered about them.”
“Of course that is the reason,” answered Mrs. Tumble Bug; “and when our eggs hatch the babies will have a feast all around them.”
“Ugh!” said Ruth, and some flower beetles shook their little heads, and added:
“It would be better to starve than eat the stuff in that ball.”
“Tastes differ,” said Mrs. Tumble Bug, amiably30; “but, speaking of sacred beetles, it was our family the Egyptians worshipped. They could not understand why we were always rolling our ball, so they looked upon us as divine in some way, and made pictures of us in stone and precious gems31. They can be seen to-day, I am told, but I do not care about that. I must make another ball,” and, nodding to her mate, they left the meeting together.
“Now we’ll adjourn32 for dinner,” announced the elater, much to the disgust of Mrs. Potato Bug, who was just getting ready to speak.
“Dinner is well enough,” she said, “but how is one to enjoy it when one must stop in a little while?”
“You needn’t stop,” answered the elater. “Stay with your dinner. We are not so anxious to hear you talk.”
“But I mean to talk, and I will,” and Mrs. Potato Bug was off to the potato field, intending, as she said, to take a light lunch, and be back when the meeting opened.
But potato bugs propose, and farmers dispose, and——


1 azure 6P3yh     
  • His eyes are azure.他的眼睛是天蓝色的。
  • The sun shone out of a clear azure sky.清朗蔚蓝的天空中阳光明媚。
2 glossed 4df0fb546674680c16a9b0d5fffac46c     
v.注解( gloss的过去式和过去分词 );掩饰(错误);粉饰;把…搪塞过去
  • The manager glossed over the team's recent defeat. 经理对这个队最近的失败闪烁其词。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He glossed over his selfishness with a display of generosity. 他以慷慨大方的假象掩饰他的自私。 来自互联网
3 orchard UJzxu     
  • My orchard is bearing well this year.今年我的果园果实累累。
  • Each bamboo house was surrounded by a thriving orchard.每座竹楼周围都是茂密的果园。
4 beetle QudzV     
  • A firefly is a type of beetle.萤火虫是一种甲虫。
  • He saw a shiny green beetle on a leaf.我看见树叶上有一只闪闪发光的绿色甲虫。
5 beetles e572d93f9d42d4fe5aa8171c39c86a16     
n.甲虫( beetle的名词复数 )
  • Beetles bury pellets of dung and lay their eggs within them. 甲壳虫把粪粒埋起来,然后在里面产卵。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • This kind of beetles have hard shell. 这类甲虫有坚硬的外壳。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
6 tints 41fd51b51cf127789864a36f50ef24bf     
色彩( tint的名词复数 ); 带白的颜色; (淡色)染发剂; 痕迹
  • leaves with red and gold autumn tints 金秋时节略呈红黄色的树叶
  • The whole countryside glowed with autumn tints. 乡间处处呈现出灿烂的秋色。
7 graceful deHza     
  • His movements on the parallel bars were very graceful.他的双杠动作可帅了!
  • The ballet dancer is so graceful.芭蕾舞演员的姿态是如此的优美。
8 homely Ecdxo     
  • We had a homely meal of bread and cheese.我们吃了一顿面包加乳酪的家常便餐。
  • Come and have a homely meal with us,will you?来和我们一起吃顿家常便饭,好吗?
9 metallic LCuxO     
  • A sharp metallic note coming from the outside frightened me.外面传来尖锐铿锵的声音吓了我一跳。
  • He picked up a metallic ring last night.昨夜他捡了一个金属戒指。
10 jaws cq9zZq     
  • The antelope could not escape the crocodile's gaping jaws. 那只羚羊无法从鱷鱼张开的大口中逃脱。
  • The scored jaws of a vise help it bite the work. 台钳上有刻痕的虎钳牙帮助它紧咬住工件。
11 fore ri8xw     
  • Your seat is in the fore part of the aircraft.你的座位在飞机的前部。
  • I have the gift of fore knowledge.我能够未卜先知。
12 prey g1czH     
  • Stronger animals prey on weaker ones.弱肉强食。
  • The lion was hunting for its prey.狮子在寻找猎物。
13 knotty u2Sxi     
  • Under his leadership,many knotty problems were smoothly solved.在他的领导下,许多伤脑筋的问题都迎刃而解。
  • She met with a lot of knotty problems.她碰上了许多棘手的问题。
14 cape ITEy6     
  • I long for a trip to the Cape of Good Hope.我渴望到好望角去旅行。
  • She was wearing a cape over her dress.她在外套上披着一件披肩。
15 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
  • 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。
16 evergreen mtFz78     
  • Some trees are evergreen;they are called evergreen.有的树是常青的,被叫做常青树。
  • There is a small evergreen shrub on the hillside.山腰上有一小块常绿灌木丛。
17 flopped e5b342a0b376036c32e5cd7aa560c15e     
v.(指书、戏剧等)彻底失败( flop的过去式和过去分词 );(因疲惫而)猛然坐下;(笨拙地、不由自主地或松弛地)移动或落下;砸锅
  • Exhausted, he flopped down into a chair. 他筋疲力尽,一屁股坐到椅子上。
  • It was a surprise to us when his play flopped. 他那出戏一败涂地,出乎我们的预料。 来自《简明英汉词典》
18 twig VK1zg     
  • 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。
19 velvety 5783c9b64c2c5d03bc234867b2d33493     
adj. 像天鹅绒的, 轻软光滑的, 柔软的
  • a velvety red wine 醇厚的红葡萄酒
  • Her skin was admired for its velvety softness. 她的皮肤如天鹅绒般柔软,令人赞叹。
20 fixed JsKzzj     
  • 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。
21 touching sg6zQ9     
  • It was a touching sight.这是一幅动人的景象。
  • His letter was touching.他的信很感人。
22 bug 5skzf     
  • There is a bug in the system.系统出了故障。
  • The bird caught a bug on the fly.那鸟在飞行中捉住了一只昆虫。
23 outgrown outgrown     
长[发展] 得超过(某物)的范围( outgrow的过去分词 ); 长[发展]得不能再要(某物); 长得比…快; 生长速度超过
  • She's already outgrown her school uniform. 她已经长得连校服都不能穿了。
  • The boy has outgrown his clothes. 这男孩已长得穿不下他的衣服了。
24 bugs e3255bae220613022d67e26d2e4fa689     
adj.疯狂的,发疯的n.窃听器( bug的名词复数 );病菌;虫子;[计算机](制作软件程序所产生的意料不到的)错误
  • All programs have bugs and need endless refinement. 所有的程序都有漏洞,都需要不断改进。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The sacks of rice were swarming with bugs. 一袋袋的米里长满了虫子。 来自《简明英汉词典》
25 beak 8y1zGA     
  • The bird had a worm in its beak.鸟儿嘴里叼着一条虫。
  • This bird employs its beak as a weapon.这种鸟用嘴作武器。
26 cocoon 2nQyB     
  • A cocoon is a kind of silk covering made by an insect.蚕茧是由昆虫制造的一种由丝组成的外包层。
  • The beautiful butterfly emerged from the cocoon.美丽的蝴蝶自茧中出现。
27 oozes 1d93b6d63593be8d249e2bb6d5dae2bd     
v.(浓液等)慢慢地冒出,渗出( ooze的第三人称单数 );使(液体)缓缓流出;(浓液)渗出,慢慢流出
  • The spring oozes out of a rock. 泉水从岩石中渗出。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • Blood oozes from a wound. 血从伤口渗出。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
28 wasps fb5b4ba79c574cee74f48a72a48c03ef     
黄蜂( wasp的名词复数 ); 胡蜂; 易动怒的人; 刻毒的人
  • There's a wasps' nest in that old tree. 那棵老树上有一个黄蜂巢。
  • We live in dread not only of unpleasant insects like spiders or wasps, but of quite harmless ones like moths. 我们不仅生活在对象蜘蛛或黄蜂这样的小虫的惧怕中,而且生活在对诸如飞蛾这样无害昆虫的惧怕中
29 literally 28Wzv     
  • He translated the passage literally.他逐字逐句地翻译这段文字。
  • Sometimes she would not sit down till she was literally faint.有时候,她不走到真正要昏厥了,决不肯坐下来。
30 amiably amiably     
  • She grinned amiably at us. 她咧着嘴向我们亲切地微笑。
  • Atheists and theists live together peacefully and amiably in this country. 无神论者和有神论者在该国和睦相处。 来自《简明英汉词典》
31 gems 74ab5c34f71372016f1770a5a0bf4419     
growth; economy; management; and customer satisfaction 增长
  • a crown studded with gems 镶有宝石的皇冠
  • The apt citations and poetic gems have adorned his speeches. 贴切的引语和珠玑般的诗句为他的演说词增添文采。
32 adjourn goRyc     
  • The motion to adjourn was carried.休会的提议通过了。
  • I am afraid the court may not adjourn until three or even later.我担心法庭要到3点或更晚时才会休庭。


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