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pointed ferns appeared and overshadowed the mosses, and presently shrubs and thickets grew up and overshadowed the ferns, and tall trees lifted their green arches into the air, and overroofed the shrubs; and they all lived together in peace, and drew life from the Children of the Flood who brought them food constantly from the sides of the mountains.
Being filled with this spirit of service and good will, it naturally happened that the abodes of the mountain brooks became the loveliest places in all the world; and after the children of men had come to their home and had begun to find out its hidden beauties, there were no places that they loved more to visit than the shady water courses in the forest.
None of the forces that inhabit the earth have ever performed more willing and various service for man than the Children of the Flood. Dwelling in the secret places of the hills, they feed the ponds and lakes through all the summer drought; and if only a channel is laid for them, they will rush down to great cities and flow through little underground paths into every house, carrying purity and health to all who will accept the gift.
Moreover, they are the greatest manufacturers in the world. Wherever there is a wheel to be turned, some little mountain brook is ready to put his shoulder to it. They saw logs, plane the planks, knit stockings, weave cloth, print calico and make paper; in short, there is no end to the things they do.
But, with all the burdens they bear, they never lose their beauty or happiness; indeed, never do they beam so brightly, sing so merrily, or clothe themselves in such airy garments of spray, as when they are most busily employed.
PRUINOSA AND HER COUSIN PRUINOSA is a cicada.
She objects very much to being called a locust, for a locust is a grasshopper, while she is a harvest fly, a very different kind of an insect.
It is her father that makes such a harsh, rattling noise in the trees, when we say, “O dear,
there goes a locust; it will be hotter than ever to-morrow.” But remember it is a cicada, not a locust, which plays weather prophet. I say this for him, because he, too, objects to being called by a wrong name.
Pruinosa is only one of a large family of children. Her mother laid between four and five hundred eggs in different nests, which she made by slitting the bark of a tree with a sharp, little sword in her body.
When Pruinosa was about six weeks old, she came out of her egg. She did not look at all as she does now. She was a tiny grub with six legs, two little humps on her shoulders, and a long, sucking beak.
She played around on the leaves for a short time, but when she saw all of her brothers and sisters crawl out to the end of the branch and drop to the
ground, she plucked up her courage, gave a great leap and landed, safe and sound. Still following the example of the
other cicadas, she began to burrow into the ground.
I do not know how far down she went, but some cicadas burrow ten or twelve feet below the earth.
She lived there summer and winter for a year at least, burrowing back and forth among the roots of plants and trees, taking long, deep drinks of sap from them with her piercing and sucking beak. But she slept SHORT-HORNED GRASSa great deal of the time.
By and by the little humps on her shoulders changed to wings.
“ Something will surely happen now,” she thought.
She was right, and her instinct told her what to do.
She began to creep up the side of her burrow one day in July. Up, up, she went; when she reached the surface, she followed some other cicadas to an old apple tree. She climbed halfway up, when a strange thing happened.
While clinging securely to the bark with her strong, clawlike legs, her skin split open down the back. She made a discovery: she had been living in a shell, but the shell had cracked.
She pushed her head out, drawing her body after it, and wriggled until her wings and legs were free.
She took a last look at the shell in which she had lived so long, and flew away to enjoy herself in the air, leaving the empty shell clinging to the tree trunk.
If you find it, please do not call it a locust shell, for you will hurt her feelings if you do.
Pruinosa has a cousin, whose name is Septemdecim, or you may call him the Seventeen Year Locust, if it pleases you better.