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Guido saw it go round the branch, and then some way up and round again till it came to a place that pleased it, and then the woodpecker struck the bark with its bill, tap-tap.
The sound was quite loud, ever so much more noise than such a tiny bill seemed able to make. Tap-tap!
If Guido had not been still so that the bird had come close, he would never have found it among the leaves.
Tap-tap! After it had picked out all the insects there, the woodpecker flew away.
“I should just like to stroke him,” said Guido. “ If I climbed up into the oak, perhaps he would come again, and I could catch him.”
“No,” said the wheat, “ he only comes once a day.”
“ Then tell me stories,” said Guido.
“I will if I can,” said the wheat. “Once upon a time, when the wheat was green in this very field, a man came staggering out of the wood and walked out into it. He had an iron helmet on, and he was wounded so that his blood stained the green
wheat red- as he walked. He tried to get to the streamlet (which was wider then), Guido dear, to drink, but he could not reach it. He fell down and died in the green wheat, dear, for he was very much hurt with a sharp spear, but more so with hunger and thirst.”
“I am so sorry,” said Guido ;." and now I look at you, why you are all thirsty and dry, you nice old wheat, and the ground is as dry as dry under you. I will get you something to drink.”
And down he scrambled into the ditch, setting. his foot firm on a root; for though he was so young, he knew how to get to the water without wetting his feet or falling in, and how to climb a tree and everything jolly.
Guido dipped his hand in the streamlet and flung the water over the wheat five or six times till the drops hung on the wheat ears. Then he said, “ Now are you better?”
“Yes, dear, thank you,” said the wheat, who was pleased, though of course the water was not enough to wet the roots. Still it was pleasant, like a very little shower.
SAVAGES OF THE PLANT WORLD
EARLY all of the plants which
you know are well behaved, whether they grow in the gardens or parks where they are tenderly cared for, or wild in the woods. Some of the flowers which we call wild, such as the violet, arbutus, bloodroot, buttercup, aster and goldenrod, are as sweet
and modest in their manners as their city cousins.
But there are some little savages in the plant world with very bad manners indeed.
One of them grows in North Carolina and is named after the goddess of beauty. It is the
VENUS'S FLYTRAP Let me tell you about it.
It grows in marshy or swampy land where it can get plenty of water to drink and some food to
eat. But it is not satisfied with such food as the swamp gives it. It wants meat to eat. Now what do you think of that?
It gets its meat, too, but in a very curious manner.
The two-lobed leaves at the ends of the strong, broad petioles are traps. Do you see the row of
long, sharp spikes around the edges ? There are also three small teeth, like hairs, in the center of each lobe.
Now, let's see the trap work. Here comes a fly buzzing by. Poor fellow ! He touches one of the little hairs as he alights on the leaf and is lost. The blades close rapidly over him. This
is all we can see happen, but a sticky substance flows out of the leaf and surrounds the fly, dissolving all the soft parts of its body into food for the greedy leaves to eat.
It may be two or three weeks before the blades
open again. When they do, only the hard parts, the wings and outer skin of the insect, are left. It seems strange, but the leaf is weaker after the meal than before, and if it has eaten very heartily, it soon dies.
THE SUNDEW is another little savage with a taste for insects.
It is a pretty plant with long, slender flower stalks rising from a rosette of red-haired leaves.
You may find it with its white blossoms in the swamps and bogs during July and August.
Take off a leaf and examine it carefully. You will find that the drops which glisten like dew in the sun and give the plant its name, are not dewdrops at all, but are more like mucilage drops to catch the insects which are looking for sweet nectar.
As soon as an insect alights, it is held fast by the sticky substance, while the hairs on the leaf slowly close over the little victim. In a few hours, or maybe after several days, the leaf having feasted, the hairs unbend, and the leaf flattens out and sets its traps for more insects.