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首页 » 英文短篇小说 » The Real Fairy Folk » CHAPTER IX LITTLE MISCHIEF MAKERS
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 It’s a wonder, it’s a wonder
That they live to tell the tale.
Mrs. Potato Bug1 did not return. A sister bug rose to speak when the meeting opened after dinner. There had been a sad tragedy in the potato field, she told them, and even at that very minute the farmer and the farmer’s men, armed with barrels of “pizens,” were waging a warfare2 in which millions of potato bugs3 were going down to their death. “Alas! my friends,” she finished with a sigh that seemed to come from the very tips of her six feet, “no words can paint the dreadful scene. She who was here but a short while ago, so chipper and so gay, even she was giving her last gasp4 as I fled from the field of carnage.”
The story moved the audience deeply, and all agreed that something should be done to suppress the farmers. It was even suggested to appoint a committee to consider ways and means, but at this point a very young potato bug asked the question:
“If there were no farmers, who would plant potatoes for us?”
“No one,” answered Mrs. Sawyer, who was there just as self-important as ever. “Then maybe there would be no potato bugs, and I for one wouldn’t be sorry.”
“Indeed,” said the potato bug who had told the tale of battle, “I’d have you know we are Colorado beetles6, if you please, and our family has a world-wide fame. We are true Americans, too, and not emigrants7 from Europe, like many other insects, and that 136reminds me: The other day when I was having a nice chew on some very juicy potato leaves, I heard somebody say to somebody else: ‘Oh, young Lochinvar is come out of the West.’ He said a lot more, but I heard that plainly, and I wondered if he meant our family, and didn’t know our name, because, you know, we came out of the West.”
“I am sure he didn’t mean you,” said Ruth, who was in her old place right in the middle of the meeting. “That line is from a lovely piece of poetry about——”
“No one asked your opinion,” answered the potato bug angrily. “It is bad enough to have outsiders force themselves in, without being obliged to hear their silly remarks.”
Ruth’s face grew red, and she was about to reply, when Mrs. Sawyer whispered in her ear.
“Don’t mind her, she is only a potato bug.”
It was well that Mrs. Potato Bug did not hear this. “Before 1859,” she was saying, “our home was in the shade of the Rocky Mountains. There we fed on sandspur, a plant belonging to the potato family, and the East knew us not. It was only after the white settlers came West and planted potatoes that we found out how much nicer a potato leaf is than a sandspur leaf, so of course we ate potato leaves. We came East, travelling from patch to patch, and by 1874 we had conquered the country to the Atlantic Ocean. That shows what a smart family we must be, and I will tell you how we do. We lay our eggs on the potato leaves, and our children find their dinner all ready, and, as they hatch with splendid appetites, they get right to work. Those that hatch in the Fall sleep all Winter in the ground and come out as beetles in the Spring, just in time to lay more eggs. So we keep things going, especially the potatoes.” And Mrs. Potato Bug retired8 with the air of one quite proud of herself.
Her place was taken by a little ladybug, looking quite pretty in her reddish-brown dress, daintily spotted9 with black.
“I have several cousins,” she said, “of 138different colours, but all spotted and all friends to farmers and fruit growers, for we eat the aphides and scale bugs which do so much harm to plants. We are called bugs, but of course we are beetles. I could tell you a story——”
“Never mind the story,” said a great brown blundering fellow, much to Ruth’s regret, for she wanted to hear the story.
“Excuse my awkwardness,” said the newcomer. “It bothers me to fly by day. I like to go around the evening lamps. I can buzz loud enough for a fellow three inches long, though I am really not one. I am called a June bug, and I’m really a May beetle5. What do you think of that? I have been told that the farmers do not like us, nor our children either. They are such nice, fat, white grubs too. They do love to suck the roots of plants though, and, as we grown fellows are just as fond of the leaves, between us we make the poor old plants pretty sick.”
“I wish something had made you sick before you came here to disturb quiet folks with your buzzing,” said a large blue beetle, dropping some oil from her joints10 in her excitement.
“Oh, it doesn’t matter,” she added when Ruth spoke11 to her about it. “It only proves that I have a right to be called an oil beetle. In these days it is so important to know who is who.”
Ruth was watching the oozing12 oil curiously13.
“Does it hurt?” she asked.
“Oh, no,” was the answer. “It is perfectly14 natural. I can’t move about fast, I am too fat, and I haven’t any wings to speak of. So when anything disturbs me I can only play ’possum and drop oil. I wasn’t always like this, though,” she went on, with a heavy sigh. “Would you believe it? I was born under a stone in a field of buttercups. I was tiny, but my body had thirteen joints and three pairs of as active little legs as you ever saw. Each had a claw on it too. 140What do you think of that? I used my legs right away to climb a nearby flower stalk. Something inside of me seemed to tell me just what to do, and when a bee came flying by, though she looked like a giant, I wasn’t a bit afraid, but I popped on her back, and clutched so tight with my six little claw-like legs she couldn’t have gotten me off if she had tried. But maybe she didn’t know I was there. Anyway, I had some lovely free rides, for she flew from flower to flower, and then she went home.”
“Oh,” interrupted Ruth, “did you go right into the hive?”
“Yes, but I didn’t notice much about it at first. I felt very tired, and I can only remember dropping from her back and going to sleep. When I awoke a funny thing had happened.”
“What?” asked Ruth, full of curiosity.
“My legs were gone, and only a half dozen short feelers were left me instead. But I didn’t mind. I was in one of the tiny rooms 141of the hive, and there was a nice fat bee baby for me to eat. I didn’t lose any time either; I was hungry. Besides the baby there were bee bread and honey. Who could ask for more? Indeed, I ate so much I went to sleep again, and, would you believe me? in that sleep I lost even my short feelers, and, worst of all, my mouth.”
“Gracious!” said Ruth.
“I suppose after that I slept again, for what’s the use of staying awake if you can’t eat? But that nap finished me. I waked up looking as I do now. It was a sad change. Maybe that is why I feel so blue and am called the indigo15 beetle.”
“I don’t see why you changed so many times,” said Ruth.
“Neither do I. No other insect does, but I suppose it has to be. I shall soon lay my eggs, and that no doubt will be the end of me. We seem to begin and end with eggs.”
She sighed heavily, and went on: “I have a cousin who is used to make blisters17 142on people. Think of it! She is called Spanish fly, and she is no more a fly than you are.”
“Does she bite them to make the blister16?” asked Ruth.
“Dear me, no! The poor thing is dried and made into powder and then spread with ointment18 on a cloth. That makes the blister. I suppose it takes ever so many of my poor cousins for just one blister. I tell you, life is sad.”
“Do stop that sort of thing, I can’t stand it!” said a plain, slender little beetle, with no pretensions19 to beauty of any sort. “I came here as a special favour, and then I am forced to hear such talk as that. I am never at my best in the day, and you should know it. Some of you complain of being called bug, and others object to the name fly. Now I am as much a beetle as any of you, and I’ve been called both bug and fly.”
“A lightning bug?” cried Ruth.
“Yes, and also firefly, and if it was dark I’d prove it. Of course my light can’t be seen in the day, and generally I’m not to be seen either, for we fireflies hide away on the leaves of plants until it begins to grow dark. Then we come out, and have gay times flying over the meadows. Some of our family who live in warm climates are so large and bright they are used to read by. Not only that, ladies wear them as they would jewels, and in Japan——”
But the firefly could say no more, for just at this moment some whirligig beetles came flying in and every one turned to look at them.
“I should like to know what those fellows are doing here,” said a bumble-bee beetle, making such a loud humming that Mrs. Sawyer declared she thought a real bumble bee was in their midst. “People who live in the water shouldn’t belong to our family, anyhow. I can’t imagine any one liking20 the water.”
“That’s because you are not a water beetle,” answered one of the whirligigs.
“Why, the water is the most sociable21 place in the world. Something lively happening all the time. Constant changes too. Those who are with us one moment are gone the next, but that is life on land as well as in the water for us insects. Dinner is always our first thought. Of course we water fellows are fitted for our life. We are put together more tightly than you land beetles, and we are boat-shaped besides. We use our hind22 legs for paddles, and we have wings with which we can leave the water if we wish. We whirligigs are sociable fellows, always a lot of us together, and such fun as we have dancing and whirling about in the water! We don’t often dive unless something is after us.”
“You must have very good times,” said Ruth, watching the shiny, bluish black little beetles with eager attention. Then she asked quite suddenly:
“Have you four eyes?”
“No, my dear,” answered the first speaker, “we have only two. They look like four, because they are divided into upper and lower halves. So you see we can look up and down at the same time, and, I tell you, insects need to step lively to keep out of our way. Good times? I should say we did have good times. Now to the surface to snatch bubbles of air with the tiny hairs on the tip of our tails, and then down again for a race or a game of tag with our friends. No, not all the water beetles are as frisky23 as we are. Some are—now what is that?”
The whirligig might well ask the question, for a sound like a tiny popgun had broken in upon his remarks, and the whole audience, including Ruth of course, was looking at a greenish blue beetle who had just come in, leaving a fine trail of smoke behind him. It was he who had made the queer noise, and he seemed quite disturbed by the sensation he was creating.
“Do excuse me,” he begged. “I really forgot I was among friends.”
“I should think so,” answered the elater, looking at him sternly. “A beetle who carries a gun should be careful about using it.”
“Well, I try to be careful, but accidents will happen.”
“Yes, you might really call it a gun,” he said, in answer to Ruth’s question, “and I have been named the Bombardier beetle because I carry it. When men try to catch me, I shoot it off, though I suppose it really doesn’t hurt them, but it quite blinds my insect enemies until I can get away, anyhow. Oh, no, I do not use balls or shot. It is a fluid, in a sac at the end of my body, and when I spurt24 it out it turns to gas, and looks like smoke.”
“Well, we have had talk enough for to-day,” interrupted the elater, and the Bombardier beetle said no more.
“Talk?” repeated Mrs. Sawyer, “I should say so. Very tiresome25 talk too. Now I’m going out to lay some eggs. I know a lovely tree.”
147“That’s all she thinks about,” said the elater. “I’m sure we have had a very interesting meeting, and I made the main issue very plain.”


1 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。
2 warfare XhVwZ     
  • He addressed the audience on the subject of atomic warfare.他向听众演讲有关原子战争的问题。
  • Their struggle consists mainly in peasant guerrilla warfare.他们的斗争主要是农民游击战。
3 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》
4 gasp UfxzL     
  • She gave a gasp of surprise.她吃惊得大口喘气。
  • The enemy are at their last gasp.敌人在做垂死的挣扎。
5 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。
6 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》
7 emigrants 81556c8b392d5ee5732be7064bb9c0be     
n.(从本国移往他国的)移民( emigrant的名词复数 )
  • At last the emigrants got to their new home. 移民们终于到达了他们的新家。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • 'Truly, a decree for selling the property of emigrants.' “有那么回事,是出售外逃人员财产的法令。” 来自英汉文学 - 双城记
8 retired Njhzyv     
  • The old man retired to the country for rest.这位老人下乡休息去了。
  • Many retired people take up gardening as a hobby.许多退休的人都以从事园艺为嗜好。
9 spotted 7FEyj     
  • The milkman selected the spotted cows,from among a herd of two hundred.牛奶商从一群200头牛中选出有斑点的牛。
  • Sam's shop stocks short spotted socks.山姆的商店屯积了有斑点的短袜。
10 joints d97dcffd67eca7255ca514e4084b746e     
接头( joint的名词复数 ); 关节; 公共场所(尤指价格低廉的饮食和娱乐场所) (非正式); 一块烤肉 (英式英语)
  • Expansion joints of various kinds are fitted on gas mains. 各种各样的伸缩接头被安装在煤气的总管道上了。
  • Expansion joints of various kinds are fitted on steam pipes. 各种各样的伸缩接头被安装在蒸气管道上了。
11 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。
12 oozing 6ce96f251112b92ca8ca9547a3476c06     
v.(浓液等)慢慢地冒出,渗出( ooze的现在分词 );使(液体)缓缓流出;(浓液)渗出,慢慢流出
  • Blood was oozing out of the wound on his leg. 血正从他腿上的伤口渗出来。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The wound had not healed properly and was oozing pus. 伤口未真正痊瘉,还在流脓。 来自《简明英汉词典》
13 curiously 3v0zIc     
  • He looked curiously at the people.他好奇地看着那些人。
  • He took long stealthy strides. His hands were curiously cold.他迈着悄没声息的大步。他的双手出奇地冷。
14 perfectly 8Mzxb     
  • The witnesses were each perfectly certain of what they said.证人们个个对自己所说的话十分肯定。
  • Everything that we're doing is all perfectly above board.我们做的每件事情都是光明正大的。
15 indigo 78FxQ     
  • The sky was indigo blue,and a great many stars were shining.天空一片深蓝,闪烁着点点繁星。
  • He slipped into an indigo tank.他滑落到蓝靛桶中。
16 blister otwz3     
  • I got a huge blister on my foot and I couldn't run any farther.我脚上长了一个大水泡,没办法继续跑。
  • I have a blister on my heel because my shoe is too tight.鞋子太紧了,我脚后跟起了个泡。
17 blisters 8df7f04e28aff1a621b60569ee816a0f     
n.水疱( blister的名词复数 );水肿;气泡
  • My new shoes have made blisters on my heels. 我的新鞋把我的脚跟磨起泡了。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • His new shoes raised blisters on his feet. 他的新鞋把他的脚磨起了水疱。 来自《简明英汉词典》
18 ointment 6vzy5     
  • Your foot will feel better after the application of this ointment.敷用这药膏后,你的脚会感到舒服些。
  • This herbal ointment will help to close up your wound quickly.这种中草药膏会帮助你的伤口很快愈合。
19 pretensions 9f7f7ffa120fac56a99a9be28790514a     
自称( pretension的名词复数 ); 自命不凡; 要求; 权力
  • The play mocks the pretensions of the new middle class. 这出戏讽刺了新中产阶级的装模作样。
  • The city has unrealistic pretensions to world-class status. 这个城市不切实际地标榜自己为国际都市。
20 liking mpXzQ5     
  • The word palate also means taste or liking.Palate这个词也有“口味”或“嗜好”的意思。
  • I must admit I have no liking for exaggeration.我必须承认我不喜欢夸大其词。
21 sociable hw3wu     
  • Roger is a very sociable person.罗杰是个非常好交际的人。
  • Some children have more sociable personalities than others.有些孩子比其他孩子更善于交际。
22 hind Cyoya     
  • The animal is able to stand up on its hind limbs.这种动物能够用后肢站立。
  • Don't hind her in her studies.不要在学业上扯她后腿。
23 frisky LfNzk     
  • I felt frisky,as if I might break into a dance.我感到很欢快,似乎要跳起舞来。
  • His horse was feeling frisky,and he had to hold the reins tightly.马儿欢蹦乱跳,他不得不紧勒缰绳。
24 spurt 9r9yE     
  • He put in a spurt at the beginning of the eighth lap.他进入第八圈时便开始冲刺。
  • After a silence, Molly let her anger spurt out.沉默了一会儿,莫莉的怒气便迸发了出来。
25 tiresome Kgty9     
  • His doubts and hesitations were tiresome.他的疑惑和犹豫令人厌烦。
  • He was tiresome in contending for the value of his own labors.他老为他自己劳动的价值而争强斗胜,令人生厌。


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