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Mr. Thompson and the Bumble Bee

by Allan Forman

 

"Buzz, buzz-z, buzz-z-z," scolded old Mr. Bumble-Bee, flying around Mr. Thompson's head. Mr. Thompson didn't understand him, however, and only brushed at him impatiently, and said, "Get out!" in a tone anything but sociable; but the old bee kept flying around just the same, and complained in his drowsy voice: "Buzz, buzz-z, buzz-z-z. I wish you would go away. I want to get into my house, and I don't want you to see me. My family are in there, and we are making bread to-day, and unless I get home with the flour, my wife will scold awfully. Buzz, buzz-z, buzz-z-z."

But in the mean time Mr. Thompson had fallen asleep, and the old bee sat down on the fence rail and watched him. "Hum, hum, hum," he murmured. "I guess that he has gone to sleep. I don't see what men want to stay awake for, anyway; they are not half so much trouble when they are asleep. And only listen how nicely he can buzz through his nose!—he really seems to be quite like a sensible bee."

Now Mr. Thompson says he did not go to sleep at all; he says that he only closed his eyes, and in a few minutes he could understand every word that the old bee said.

"He's a pleasant-looking man," buzzed the bee. "I wonder if he likes honey?"

Mr. Thompson answered through his nose that he was very fond of it.

"Sensible, too," said the bee, who thought (all bumble-bees do) that anybody who agreed with him must be sensible. Then, turning to Mr. Thompson, the bee murmured, in a more pleasant hum, "If you like honey, try some of this." As he said it he alit on Mr. Thompson's lips, and pressed some of the honey he had with him into his mouth.

Mr. Thompson began to grow smaller, and as he shrunk in size, his light alpaca duster became gauzy, and formed itself into wings. Just as he had begun to wonder how long it would take him to shrink into nothing, the bee said, "There, I guess that will do."

Mr. Thompson stretched himself, and found to his surprise that he was in reality nothing more than a large black bumble-bee. He shook his wings, arose, and, flying around for a few moments, settled on the fence rail. He has since told me that if it is true, as Mr. Darwin says, that men were evolved from the lower orders of animals, they made the greatest mistake of their lives when they left off their wings.

"Well," remarked the old bee, "you look quite presentable. Won't you drop in and take dinner with me? My wife would be delighted to see you."

Mr. Thompson thought how much he resembled a certain highly respectable old gentleman who was wont to invite his friends to his humdrum dinners, and buzz them unmercifully in the same drowsy way. But as he did not like to offend his new friend, he answered, politely, that he would be most happy, and followed him under the rail into a round hole that was the door of the bumble-bee's house.

They entered a long cylindrical corridor, or, as the old bee expressed it, "arched at the top, sides, and floor." It was lined with the fibres of the wood, and was as soft as velvet. After walking some distance along the hall, they reached a part where it widened into a sort of parlor. Here Mrs. Bumble-Bee was seated, resting from the labor of bread-making.

"Well, you are home at last," she buzzed, angrily. "I'll be bound you forgot the flour."

"Why, my dear, don't you see it? I have it here," answered Mr. Bee, soothingly, pointing to two little yellow bundles on his legs.

After greeting her guest, Mrs. Bee excused herself on the score of domestic duties, and busied herself in carrying the flour, or pollen, into the corridor above. Soon she returned, and after they had made a meal of bee-bread and honey, Mr. Bumble-Bee proposed to show his guest through his mansion. They passed through several long corridors, so constructed that the rain could not beat into the living-rooms, as Mr. Bee explained. One end of one of the upper galleries was securely walled up, and in another compartment lay three or four worm-like insects almost covered with bee-bread.

"What is this room used for?" inquired Mr. Thompson.

"This is the nursery," answered Mr. Bee, proudly.

"Ah, indeed! And what are those white, ugly-looking grubs?"

Mr. Bee looked aghast for a moment, but his surprise quickly turned into indignation, as he buzzed, angrily: "Grubs! grubs! ugly-looking grubs! Those, sir, are my children, sir, and I flatter myself that a more charming family does not exist. Grubs, forsooth! Out of my house, base insulter!" And before Mr. Thompson could apologize, Mr. Bee had pushed him out, and stung him on the end of his nose.

He fell, and as he dropped from the rail he began to grow larger, and when he reached the ground he had assumed his natural proportions. He found himself lying in the same place beside the fence that he had occupied when the bee first spoke to him.

When he related the story to his friends, some one suggested that he had dreamed the whole adventure. He gently touched his inflamed and swelled nose, and answered, in a grieved tone, "I suppose I dreamed this too."

This argument was unanswerable, and Mr. Thompson is now engaged in writing a lecture on the habits and customs of the bumble-bee. Among other things he says, "Bumble-bees only consider those people sensible who agree with them"; and again, "Bumble-bees invariably think their own children the most beautiful and interesting creatures in existence."

Which facts, if they are true, show the great superiority of men over bumble-bees.