Children’s Story – Molly

Molly lay in the hammock on the shady end of the porch and scowled at the sun shining between the morning glory leaves. She was usually a happy little girl, and the frown did not come naturally to her face. Now the ugly line between her eyes made her look very unhappy. The whole trouble was that her mother, who was making currant jelly, had asked her to pick a few more currants from the bushes in the garden. The evening before, Molly had thought it was fun to help pick, but now the garden was hot and sunny. Mother, too busy in the kitchen to come herself, wanted three more boxes to fill a kettle. Molly said that she was tired of picking currants, and the more she thought about it, the more tired she grew. She decided that her back ached with bending over so much, though she had not noticed the ache before.

“Next winter, will you want currant jelly with your hot cakes, Molly?” Mother’s voice came from the kitchen. Molly did not answer. “Because if you do, now is the time to get ready for it.”

Molly lay and considered. Was there any use in thinking about winter now, in hot summertime, or in bothering to prepare for it if you did not feel like working?

Suddenly her rebellious thoughts were disturbed by a sharp, high, buzzing sound, very thin, and continuing for some time without a pause. She looked around carefully all over the vines near her head, and finally she discovered three peculiar objects arranged side by side on the wooden shutter of the porch window. They looked like tiny clay tunnels, no larger around than lead pencils, fastened flat to the rough wood and so close to each other that their walls touched. A black wasp appeared to be nibbling at the lower end of one clay tunnel, and as it moved its head from side to side it made the queer shrill buzzing noise. Molly lay very quietly and watched. The wasp was close enough to her head for her to see each movement. Its little black head, feelers, and first pair of legs all together seemed to be working at the edge of the tunnel. She noticed the clay at the edge was darker, as if wet, and that instead of nibbling it away, as she first thought, the wasp was adding to it, pressing and fingering it into shape.

God’s creation always fascinated Molly, and now she wanted to know what the wasp was doing. She had forgotten all about currants and backaches as she sat breathlessly watching it. Firmly clutching in its jaws a round ball of dark mud larger than its own head, the wasp smeared the fresh mud neatly along the edge of the tunnel and patted it into shape.

Then, as the wasp flew away for more mud, Molly dashed into the house to see what she could learn about mud wasps from her encyclopedia. She read that the structure the wasp was building was a mud house in which it would lay its eggs and then seal up the ends. When the eggs hatched, the cocoons would over winter in the mud house until spring, living on food stored during the summer before the eggs were laid. “The wasp does not worry about winter when it comes,” read Molly, “for it has prepared its mud house and is ready for it.”

Molly, thinking very hard, returned to the porch just in time to watch the wasp with another ball of mud. Suddenly she jumped from the hammock and ran into the house. “Mother,” she called eagerly, “where are the berry boxes? I am going to pick currants and help you get ready for next winter.”