The Life of the Caterpillar

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Dodd, Mead, 1918 - Larvae - 376 pages
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Page 77 - I leave the famished ones at half-past ten, persuaded that they will take counsel with their pillow and that on the morrow things will have resumed their ordinary course. I was wrong. I was expecting too much of them when I accorded them that faint gleam of intelligence which the tribulations of a distressful stomach ought, one would think, to have aroused. I visit them at dawn. They are lined up as on the day before, but motionless. When the air grows a little warmer, they shake off their torpor,...
Page 76 - Grazing-time has arrived. The caterpillars have come crowding from all the nests in the greenhouse to browse upon the pine-branches planted by myself beside the silken purses. Those in the garden do the same, for the temperature is mild. The others, lined up along the earthenware cornice, would gladly take part in the feast; they are bound to have an appetite after a ten hours' walk. The branch stands green and tempting not a hand's breadth away. To reach it they need but go down; and the poor wretches,...
Page 73 - ... as it goes. The rail is simply doubled and has no branches anywhere, for my brush has destroyed them all. What will the caterpillars do on this deceptive, closed path? Will they walk endlessly round and round until their strength gives out entirely? The old schoolmen were fond of quoting...
Page 88 - The caterpillars in distress, starved, shelterless, chilled with cold at night, cling obstinately to the silk ribbon covered hundreds of times, because they lack the rudimentary glimmers of reason which would advise them to abandon it.
Page 79 - Again the Caterpillars march round and round all day. The next night is again cold, and the Caterpillars gather in a heap which overflows both sides of the fatal ribbon. Next morning, when they awake, some of them who find themselves outside the track actually follow a leader who climbs...
Page 74 - I have said, on the 3Oth of January, about midday, in splendid weather. The caterpillars march at an even pace, each touching the stern of the one in front of him. The unbroken chain eliminates the leader with his changes of direction; and all follow mechanically, as faithful to their circle as are the hands of a watch. The headless file has no liberty left, no will ; it has become mere clock-work. And this continues for hours and hours. My success goes far beyond my wildest suspicions. I stand amazed...
Page 74 - Will my caterpillars show a little of his mother wit? Will they, after many attempts, be able to break the equilibrium of their closed circuit, which keeps them on a road without a turning? Will they make up their minds to swerve to this side or that, which is the only method of reaching their bundle of hay, the green branch yonder, quite near, not two feet off? I thought that they would and I was wrong. I said to myself: "The procession will go on turning for some time, for an hour, two hours perhaps;...
Page 79 - ... keep warm. Perhaps, now that they are divided into two parts, one of the leaders, not being obliged to follow a Caterpillar in front of him, will have the sense to break away. I am delighted to see them lining up by degrees into two distinct files, with two leaders, free to go where they please.
Page 58 - it is the nature of the sheep always to follow the first, wheresoever it goes; which makes Aristotle mark them for the most silly and foolish animals in the world." The Pine Caterpillar is even more sheeplike, not from foolishness, but from necessity: where the first goes all the others go, in a regular string, with not an empty space between them.

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