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

Melons and Their Cousins

"W HERE did you get it?" Jack asked, as he went into the yard and found Ko with a slice of ripe watermelon in his hand.

"Mother gave it to me; there's one for you," he said, pointing to another slice on a plate in the grass.


"Save the seeds," said Ko. Then for a few minutes nothing was to be heard but a funny little juicy  sound, and when this ceased, what do you think? There was nothing left of the watermelon but just the rind and some flat, black seeds.

Ko handed a seed to Jack.

"What shall I do with it?" asked Jack.

"Take off its jacket," said Ko, speaking as though he thought Jack a little deaf.

So Jack took the melon seed and peeled off its tough, black coat.

"Now take off its shirt," said Ko; and Jack slipped off a delicate, silky covering.

"Now look inside," ordered Ko.

"See!" said Jack, as he did so. The melon seed had fallen into two parts in his hand, just like the bean, and there in one end was the baby plant lying close to the cotyledons.

"Do you suppose it would grow?" asked Jack.


"Of course it would," said Ko.

"How do you know I would?" asked the melon seed.

"Well, wouldn't you?" asked Ko. He was used to stopping Jack's questions this way when he could not answer them, and had not yet learned the difference between Jack and a logical vegetable.

"Yes, I would," said the melon. "Now answer my question: How do you know I would?"

"Because," said Ko, confidently, "melon seeds generally do."

"Do they? How many of those you planted came up?"

Ko blushed.

"You see you don't know anything about it. If you cared to be wise, you would find out how I grow,—if you could; then you would know why I don't grow and how to help me."

"That is so," said Ko, "and some day when I have plenty of time, I mean to find it out if I can."

"Let's go to the garden now and see if we can find out anything about it," said Jack. "I know where there are some jolly big melons."

"All right," said Ko, and off they went.

But they did not stay long; the melons just lay on the ground and said not a word.

"Stupid things! Come along," said Ko.

So they went along, and the first thing Jack did was to step on a ripe cucumber.

"Ouch!" he cried, and Ko laughed.

Then Jack said, "Let's make boats."

Of course I am not going to tell you what they did then, because everybody  knows they just took cucumbers, and cut them open lengthwise, and scraped out the insides, and whittled out sticks, and stuck them in for masts, and pinned on paper sails.


They sailed their boats on the duck pond, and most of them turned over, and some sank. For the wind blew, and Ko said there was a gale on.

If you think it is easy to make cucumber boats sail in a high wind, or in any wind, or in no wind, you just try it.

Cucumber boats do not like to sail.

Jack put a lot of seeds in his pocket; they were rather damp and sticky, but then a boy's pocket expects such things.

When the whole fleet had come to grief, the boys sat on the edge of the pond, and Jack pulled a handful of seeds out of his pocket.

"Do you suppose these are seed-babies?" he asked, holding one in his fingers.


"Easy enough to find out," said Ko, splitting one open with his finger-nail. "Yes, there it is,—a cucumber baby tucked up in the corner."

"Do you suppose all  seeds are babies?" asked Jack, following Ko's example and splitting one open.

"I shouldn't wonder," said Ko.

"Cucumber seeds and melon seeds are just alike, only the cucumber's are small and white," said Jack.

"We're cousins," piped up the seed.

"What makes your cousins have black seeds, then?" demanded Ko.

"Won't tell," screamed the seed, "you've spoiled me and I'm mad. Go ask the pumpkins why they have white seeds,—they are cousins, too, and maybe they will tell, but I won't."


"I'm sorry I spoiled you," said Ko.

"Oh, it doesn't really  matter," muttered the seed. "There are so many of us, we can't all  live, and perhaps I'd rather be spoiled by you than just dry up or rot in the ground."

"Poor thing," said Ko; then added, "but I'll tell you what we'll do, Jack, when the pumpkins get ripe."

"I know," said Jack, and of course you  know, so I wouldn't tell you for anything, how they took a pumpkin when it got ripe, and cleaned all the insides out, and cut such a lovely new moon of a mouth in it, with scallops for teeth. And I won't tell how they made round holes for eyes and a wedge-shaped hole for a nose. And I never will  tell how they put a lighted candle inside, and set it on the gate post one dark night to show their father the way in, and how the telegraph boy came instead, with a message, and was frightened almost out of his senses.

He was a city boy and not used to Jack-o'-lanterns.

Of course Ko and Jack made the acquaintance of the pumpkin seeds, and you know as well as I do, how they found the pumpkin baby tucked away in one corner, so I won't say a word about it.


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