The Great Splendid Silk-moth Or Samia Cecropia
from Things To See In Springtime
When I was a very small boy, I saw my father bring in from the orchard a ragged looking thing like parchment wrapped up with some tangled hair; it was really the bundle-baby of this Moth. He kept it all winter, and when the spring came, I saw for the first time the great miracle of the insect world—the rag bundle was split open, and out came this glorious creature with wings of red and brown velvet, embroidered with silver and spots that looked like precious stones. It seemed the rarest thing in the world, but I have found out since, that it is one of our common moths, and any of you can get one, if you take the trouble.
Now listen, and you shall hear of what happened long ago to a green crawler who was born to be a splendid Silk-Moth, but who spoiled it all by a bad temper.
It had been a very cold, wet summer, and one day, when the wind was whispering, he cried out: "Mother Carey, when I have done with my working life, and go into the Great Sleep, grant that it may never rain on me for I hate rain, and it has done nothing but pour all summer long." And he shivered the red knobs on his head with peevishness.
"You silly little green crawler, don't you think I know better than you what is good for you? Would you like there to be no rain?"
"Yes, I would," said the red-knobbed Samia rebelliously.
"Would you?" said the All-Mother to another green crawler, who hung on a near-by limb.
"Mother Carey, we have had a wet, cold summer, and the rain has been miserable, but I know you will take care of us."
"Good," said the All-Mother: "then, in this way it shall be. You little Red-Knobs shall have what you so much wish, you shall hang up in a dry loft where not a drop of dew even shall touch you in your bundle-baby sleep. And you little Yellow-Knobs shall hang under a limb where every rain that comes shall drench your outer skin." And she left them.
When the time came to hang up, Red-Knobs was led to a place as dry as could be, under a shed and swung his bundle-baby hammock from the rafters.
Yellow-Knobs hung up his hammock under a twig in the rose garden.
The winter passed, and the springtime came with the great awakening day. Each of the bundle-babies awoke from his hammock and broke his bonds. Each found his new wings, and set about shaking them out to full size and shape. Those of the rain-baby came quickly to their proper form, and away he flew to rejoice in perfect life. But though the other shook and shook, his wings would not fluff out. They seemed dried up; they were numbed and of stunted growth.
Shake as he would, the wings stayed small and twisted. And as he struggled, a Butcher-bird came by. His fierce eye was drawn by the fluttering purple thing. It had no power to escape. He tore its crumpled wings from its feathery form, and made of it a meal. But before dying it had time to say, "Oh, Mother Carey, now I know that your way was the best."
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