Gateway to the Classics: Will o' the Wasps by Margaret Warner Morley
Will o' the Wasps by  Margaret Warner Morley

The Inventors of Paper

"I S it really paper she makes, Uncle Will?" Theodore asked, after thinking of it a few minutes.

"Just as real as the paper the newspapers are printed on. She takes wood fiber and chews it up and mixes it with a sticky substance from her mouth and flattens it out into thin paper; don't you remember the paper nests we found last winter?"

"Oh, yes! They are still in the attic. You promised to cut one open sometime, so we could see what is inside."

"So we will, but not yet. It will be better fun to see what is inside before the cover is put on. Come, I know where our white-faced lady has gone. We will see what she is doing with her paper."

"How did she learn to make paper?" Theodore asked, as he followed his uncle towards the barn.

"Oh, she understood the art from the beginning. Long before we had discovered ways of making paper, our fiery little Vespa was hanging her paper temples through all the forests of the earth. The only trouble with her paper for man's use is that it is too brittle and in too small sheets."

"And it is gray," said Theodore.

"Yes, though some of it is red or yellow or brown or even almost white, according to the material she finds to work with; the prettiest, I think, is a clear, pale, silver gray. I have seen beautiful hornets' nests of that. But here we are," and Uncle Will pointed to the hornet very busy over some tiny object under the window frame. When she had flown away, Uncle Will and Theodore went close to see what she had been doing.

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