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

Young Wasps

"I wish I could see the young wasps come out," said Theodore one day, when the cluster of nests was done and the wasp had not returned for several days.

"I'll tell you what," said Uncle Will; "we will take down the nest and carry it in the house then we can watch and see what happens."

"What a fine idea!" cried Theodore, and he looked on with the greatest interest as Uncle Will carefully removed the little clump of nests with his knife.

"See how Lady Pelopaeus has daubed it all over until it looks like nothing but a lump of mud."

"Yes," responded Theodore, "she has covered up all the pretty braiding. Why did she?"

"Perhaps to strengthen it. Sometimes the wasps do not do that. Perhaps we shall find some nests where the pretty braiding shows. Yes, here is another nest; see!" and Uncle Will, who had been poking around in the shed, lifted Theodore up to look at the new nest, all as neat and pretty as could be. Then they went into the house and put the nest they had taken into a box and set it away.

"We must not forget to watch it," said Uncle Will. But they did forget it until one day Theodore took off the cover,—and out flew two or three wasps, "as mad as hornets," Uncle Will said, when Theodore told him about it and showed him the big swelling under his eye, for he had had his wish and knew how it felt to be stung.

"Once is enough," he assured Uncle Will, who laughed and said he looked as if he had the mumps in his eyes.

"Well, let us see what has happened"; and Uncle Will carefully opened the box again, while Theodore retired toward the open door, ready to disappear if trouble threatened.

"You needn't be afraid," called Uncle Will, "just come here!" and Theodore cautiously advanced and looked in. The caps were all off the cells from which the angry wasps had emerged; but one cap was only partly broken through, and in the little opening Theodore saw something moving.

"It is coming out," he screamed, "let us run!"

"Nonsense!" laughed Uncle Will. "You are a fine soldier to fly before the enemy at the first sign of battle. Now come here and I will show you the best way to disarm a foe. You see those little things in the hole the wasp has made? What are they?"

"Why, I believe they are its feelers!"

"Yes, these are the antennae. You see, the youngster is exploring the world a little, and now is the time to teach it we are its friends"; and Uncle Will gently touched the little feelers with the tip of his finger. Back they were drawn, but presently out they came exploring again, to find Theodore's finger tip in the way.

Theodore got so interested watching the wasp bite its way out that he quite forgot to be afraid, even when its little head looked out and one little slender leg reached out, and then another, and began to pull. Uncle Will put out his finger, and the wasp clasped it with its feet and pulled until it was quite out of the clay nest. It clung to his finger, looking very limp and feeble. Theodore watched with breathless interest as Uncle Will petted the little wasp, gently stroking its head, its back, its back, its wings, while it was busy sucking a drop of sugar and water from his finger tip.

"But you're brave," said Theodore, squinting up his good eye, for the other was nearly swelled shut anyway.

"No, not a bit brave," said Uncle Will, "for this little wasp is not an enemy. It is now a friend, and will not sting me. You see, it only stings when it is frightened and thinks it is going to be injured."

"The others did not wait to find out! They flew right at me!"

"That was their nature," said Uncle Will, laughing; "they thought you were an enemy. It is only necessary to teach them when they are young enough that you are a friend, as you see."

"Won't it ever sting you?" asked Theodore.

"I don't believe it will," said Uncle Will. "I had one once that would come and sit in my hand to get warm when it was cold. It came out of its nest in the winter, you see, because I had it in a warm room. And it came to me to be fed, and was a pleasant and friendly as a little bird."

"Are you going to keep this one?"

"No, I shall let this one fly away to make its nest, for it is yet summer and these wasps that come out early want to make their nests and lay their eggs before cold weather."

"What becomes of them all winter?"

"Don't you remember what I told you about that? The ones that are hatched late in the summer do not complete their transformation that season. They remain in the pupa state until spring."

"Perhaps," said Theodore, "our little friendly wasp will make its nest in the woodshed and we can see its children flying about next summer."

"It may be so," said Uncle Will.

"It does seem strange, though, to think you can tame a wasp," said Theodore.

"I am sure we could tame anything if we only went about it in the right way and had patience enough we could even disarm our foes so that we would not have to go to war."

"Don't you think war is fine thing, Uncle Will?"

"No," said Uncle Will, shaking his head gravely. "War is a terrible thing, Theodore. Why should human beings fight like dogs, and tear each other to pieces? War kills and maims strong men who ought to live to make the earth beautiful. War does no real good in the world today, but a very great deal of harm. If people put all the thought and money and talent into governing the world without war that they put into fighting and building forts and battleships, what a beautiful place the world could be!"

"Why don't they?" asked Theodore.

"They are going to," said Uncle Will. "They are just beginning to understand how wicked and wasteful war is. Uncivilized people had to fight, but as people become civilized they find civilized ways of settling matters."

 Table of Contents  |  Index  |  Home  | Previous: Eyes and Other Matters Concerning Pelopaeus  |  Next: Some Other Masons
Copyright (c) 2005 - 2023   Yesterday's Classics, LLC. All Rights Reserved.