Gateway to the Classics: Seed-Babies by Margaret Warner Morley
Seed-Babies by  Margaret Warner Morley


S UCH lots of queer eggs as Kittie and Ko and Jack found that summer and the next! Once started looking for eggs they found them everywhere. Even in the winter they found spiders' eggs in the cellar, and the boys' father told the children about the grasshoppers' eggs lying in the ground where the mother grasshopper had laid them, all ready to hatch into little grasshoppers when the spring came.


"We'll be on hand when spring comes," Jack said; and sure enough they were, and about the first thing they found were the frogs' eggs in the ponds.


These eggs were little round balls about as big as peas, dark-colored on one side, and a dozen or more encased in something that looked like colorless jelly.

The children put some of these egg masses in a jar of water and watched them. After a while they hatched into tadpoles, or pollywogs, as the children called them.


"I wonder why things don't hatch right out, instead of hatching into something else first," Kittie said, as she looked at them.

"I wonder, too," said Jack. "Butterflies' eggs make caterpillars, flies' eggs make maggots, beetles' eggs make grubs, frogs' eggs make pollywogs,—and after a while the caterpillars turn into butterflies, and the maggots into flies, and the grubs into beetles, and the pollywogs into frogs. It's an awful topsy-turvy sort of way to do."

"But they all come out right in the end," said Kittie.

"I'm going to keep my eye on these fellows," said Jack, looking into the jar of pollywogs, "and see them get their legs."

"There's one already got hind legs," said Kittie, pointing to a black little pollywog, and sure enough he was the proud possessor of two very tiny legs.

It was not long before they all had hind legs, and a right merry time they had swimming about with their stout little tails, with their new legs to help them.

"I believe their front legs come out of these little pockets where the gills are," Jack said, one day. "It seems to me I can see them in there."


"I believe you're right," said Ko.

And he was; for one day, out of those very same openings there slipped the little forelegs.

"I tell you, they're getting a new mouth," Kittie declared, one day. The boys laughed at this, but they laughed too soon, for the pollywogs were  getting new mouths.

Their old mouths, which were just little round openings, by means of which they greedily ate the bread-crumbs and bits of meat the children fed them, disappeared, and fine, wide frog mouths opened in another place. Nose openings appeared too, and finally the tails began to shrink. It was not long after this that the pollywogs lost their tails entirely. They just shrank and shrank until no tails were left, and in short, the brown pollywogs turned into little green frogs.


"One of them's dead! The biggest one, too!" cried Kittie, one morning.

Sure enough, the little thing was lying on its back in the water.


"I think it is drowned," said Mother, coming at Kittie's cries to see what had happened.

"Drowned!" exclaimed all three children, for the boys always came over the first thing after breakfast to look at the "pollys," as they called their pets.

"Yes," said Mother, "it seems strange at first, but you must remember that frogs have lungs like ours, and breathe air. They go under water and sometimes stay a good while, but after all, only as long as they can hold their breath. When they want to breathe they have to come to the top.

"Now these little fellows, as long as they are pollywogs, breathe with gills, like fishes; but when they turn into frogs they lose their gills and get lungs. This water is very deep for them; and this one, which has turned wholly into a frog, was not able to stay on top long enough to get all the air it needed.

"You will have to put them in a shallower dish, and put in some stones, so they can come out when they get ready."

"Poor little thing," said Kittie, laying the froggie on its back on her hand. "I'm going to try 'monia,—that brings people to, sometimes, and maybe it's only in a faint."

So she got the ammonia bottle and held it to the froggie's nose. Well, what do you think happened?

Froggie's leg jerked! Kittie was so excited that she spilled a drop of ammonia on one little foot. This made froggie jump in earnest, and pretty soon he was sitting up, "winking" his throat, as Jack said, just like any grown-up frog.

He soon recovered from his drowning, but the ammonia had hurt the tender little foot so that it never grew quite right, and when he had grown to be a big fellow, and ate as many flies and other insects as the children could get for him, he always had one "game leg," as Ko said, in memory of the time when he was nearly drowned.

This is a true story, every word of it, and if you want to have some fun, my wise little readers, I advise you to get some frogs' eggs next spring for yourself. You can watch the legs come out, and the nose and mouth appear.

Only be careful and not drown your froggies when they get through being tadpoles, and be sure to feed them. And be very  sure to keep them in plenty of fresh water from the start,—otherwise they will die.


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