Little Six Legs by Sheila Buchanan Buell – Chapter 5 Singing Cousins

       The summer was very hot.  The trees had many green leaves now.  The seeds that had come up as such little plants in the spring were very big plants now.  There seemed to be little six legs all over the trees and weeds.  They were flying in the air, they were jumping and hopping everywhere.  When the days were too hot Marjorie, Cathleen and Bruce just played in the shade at home. 

 They watched to see if Busy Black Ant might come home, but she did not.  Out in the yard they saw Tidy Black Ant with the yellow spot on her back, always working very hard.  Once Tidy even crawled up on the breakfast table and took away a little piece of sugar.  Soon the days were not quite so hot.  The children decided to go back to the meadow and see if they could find Busy.  Maybe something had happened to Busy, or maybe she was just having such a very good time with her cousin insects that she had forgotten to come home to the anthill.  The children looked hard for Busy Back Ant.

       There were butterflies flying here and there.  A beetle flying past got stuck in Marjorie’s hair.  Bruce frightened a moth in the grass, and it flew up in the air.  There were ants crawling everywhere, and Cathleen thought it was funny that they could not find Busy Back Ant anywhere.  

       There were shadows popping up and down over the grass blades Hop! Jump! Zip!  Down came two grasshoppers.  One was green, and the other was brown.  The green one stayed up on a grass blade.

The brown one jumped to the ground.  And there was Busy Black Ant too!  

Cathleen wanted to know about these long creatures.  She watched the grasshopper clean his short brown feelers.

The green grasshopper swung on the grass and cleaned his long green feelers.

       “What do you do all day?” Busy wondered.

       Then scritch, scritch, scritch went the brown grasshopper, as he rubbed his back legs against his wings.  That is the way he sang this song.

       Scritch! Scritch! Scritch!

       “What do I do all day? Why ’tis fun to eat the farmer’s hay, and in his garden I play.  I’m bad, the people say, for I eat everything green that comes my way.”

       “You had better learn to have better manners then,” said Busy. “But I rather like the way you can sing.  I cannot sing at all.”

“Come down Mr. Green Grasshopper,” signaled Busy.

       “Oh no.  I am much safer where it is green because I am green too.  If I come down with you, a bird will eat me up.  I could not hide in the brown dirt as Mr. Brown Grasshopper does and birds just love to eat us up.”

       “What is your name?” asked Busy.

       “Katydid! Katydid! Katydid!” sang the green hopper.

       “That is nice,” said Busy Black Ant.  Then she ran up to see how the Katydid sang out her name.  But the green Katydid stopped her song at once.  She looked very hard at Busy, and waved her long feelers in the air.  Then she went to work cleaning her feelers, but she would not sing while Busy watched.  When she did not sing, Busy turned to go.  Just as soon as her back was turned the green Katydid began to sing.

       “Katydid!  Katydid!  Katydid!”

       Busy Black Ant looked again.  The Katydid stopped again.  She just would not show Busy how she sang her song.  Then Zip! Zip! And just like that, the green Katydid and the brown grasshopper were gone again.  Busy thought they were silly cousins.  She hoped to meet someone she liked better, soon.

       It was almost dark now.  Busy Black Ant began to feel very lonely.  She began to wish she was back home with her own family, the little black ants.  Then she heard a shrill song calling:

       “Cricri!  Cricri!  Cricri!”

       “What” could that be?” she wondered.  “The brown grasshopper and the Katydid sang all day, but who can be singing even in the dark night?”

       “Cricri!  Cricri!  Cricri!” someone kept singing.

       “Oh, I know! Of course, that is Tom, the cricket.”

       “Maybe, if I ask him, he will tell me how he sings his song.  Maybe he knows how the Katydid sings too,” said Busy.  Then she went down among the weeds and stones. There stood Tom the cricket up on a stone.

“Good evening, Mr. Cricket.”

       “The Brown Grasshopper showed me how he sang his song.  The Katydid would not show me how she sang her song.  Will you tell me how you sing your pretty song?’ asked Busy.

       Black, fat Mr. Tom the cricket began to strut up and down the stone.  His mate, Betty Cricket, was watching him.  Busy Black Ant watched him.

       “Why of course, why of course.  I will show you how I sing.  Just come over close to me.  I am going to sing to my mate, Betty Cricket.  See, I lift my wings right over my back.  Then I rub one wing very fast over my other wing.  Then you hear: Cricri! Cricri!  Cricri! You see, I use my wings for a violin.  I do not fly with them,” said Tom the cricket.  “Katydid plays songs with her wings too.”

       “Betty Cricket likes your song,” said Busy.

       “Yes, she hears me with the ears on her front legs,” said Tom the cricket.

       “What a funny place to have ears,” said the little ant.

       “Well, you have no ears at all,” said the cricket.

       “That is true,” said Busy.  “I have a way of feeling all the sounds that you hear.”

       “We eat and play all night, so you may sleep under our stone if you like,” said the cricket.

       “Thank you,” said Busy Black Ant.  “I am very tired.”

       So the crickets sang, and sang that night.  Busy Black Ant slept under the stone.  And two very sleepy little girls and a sleepy little boy walked home feeling very tired.  For of course they were also watching the crickets that night.  Cathleen, Marjorie, and Bruce were soon fast asleep in their beds too.

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