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Margaret Warner Morley

More Nests

N EXT day when Uncle Will and Theodore got to their perch on the workbench lo! the little mud cave was closed up! There was no sign of a hole anywhere. "It is all over," said Theodore, ruefully. "I wish we had seen her close it up. What do you think has become of her?"

"Why, here she is," said Uncle Will; and, sure enough, in flew the little lady Pelopaeus with another pellet of mud, and began to build another cell beside the first one. Theodore was so delighted at this that he forgot himself and began to kick.

"I declare," said Uncle Will, "I've a mind to put you in a mud cave and seal you up!"

"I would hammer on the walls with my heels and fists and break the clay to pieces and crawl out," said Theodore, stopping his kicking and hugging Uncle Will about the neck, which was almost as bad.

Meantime Pelopaeus was as busy as ever coming with her mud pellets and going after more.

"I believe," said Uncle Will one day, "that I have found where Pelopaeus gets her clay. Come, let us go and see."

So they went, and, sure enough, there behind the woodshed was a nice wet spot where the clay was a red as blood, and on one edge of it were not only one, but half a dozen wasps, all standing with their tails in the air and working as if for dear life, each trying to bite out a nice round ball with its little jaws.

"Why do they stand on their heads?" asked Theodore, laughing at the sight.

"They are so engrossed they probably do not know whether they are on their heads or their heels; you see, they get a pretty good purchase standing that way."

Which was their Pelopaeus they could not tell; but it was great sport to watch them as, one by one, their efforts crowned with success, they lifted themselves in the air with their burdens and flew off each to its own nest. And while some were always going away laden, others were always arriving without any load.

It was such fun to watch these proceedings that Uncle Will and Theodore stayed until they were almost late for dinner, and they would have come again in the afternoon only that Uncle Will had to go to town and Theodore wanted to play with the boys who lived next door.

Day after day the nest-making went on. All in good time the second cell was finished, provisioned with spiders and sealed up, and this time Uncle Will and Theodore actually saw the door closed, as they said.

Then the third nest was begun, finished, provisioned, and sealed. And then a fourth was started, not beside the other three, but on top of one of them. Of course Uncle Will and Theodore came every day to see how matters were progressing.

"She is making a pile of nests," said Theodore, as the wasp started a fifth nest on top of the first set and beside number four.

"Yes," said Uncle Will. "Pelopaeus is apt to do that. I have seen a bunch of wasp's nests as big as your fist."

"I wonder why she gets up there under the roof," said Theodore, as they stood watching, one day.

"Perhaps," replied Uncle Will, "she wants to be safe from hungry birds who might be looking out for a good meal of tender young wasp."

"Perhaps she wants to get in out of the rain," said Theodore. "Maybe the rain would melt her mud nests."

"Maybe," said Uncle Will, "but I doubt it. She does such strong, firm work, and there are wasps that always build in the open. I found such a nest awhile ago hanging to the branch of a pine tree. It looked like a ball of sand, and was almost as hard as brick. Inside of it were little caves in each of which lay a white grub."

"I wish," said Theodore, "you had kept it for me."

"I wish so too," said Uncle Will. "Next time I find one you may be sure I will keep it."

"Do you know what kind of wasp built it, Uncle Will?"

"Yes, but it was not Pelopaeus. It belonged to another family of wasps."