Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

A Week Spent In A Glass Pond By The Great Water-Beetle
by [?]

Very few beetles have ever seen a Glass Pond. I once spent a week in one, and though I think, with good management, and in society suitably selected, it may be a comfortable home enough, I advise my water-neighbours to be content with the pond in the wood.

The story of my brief sojourn in the Glass Pond is a story with a moral, and it concerns two large classes of my fellow-creatures: those who live in ponds and–those who don’t. If I do not tell it, no one else will. Those connected with it who belong to the second class (namely, Francis, Molly, and the learned Doctor, their grandfather) will not, I am sure. And as to the rest of us, there is none left but–

However, that is the end of my tale, not the beginning.

The beginning, as far as I am concerned, was in the Pond. It is very difficult to describe a pond to people who cannot live under water, just as I found it next door to impossible to make a minnow I knew believe in dry land. He said, at last, that perhaps there might be some little space beyond the pond in hot weather, when the water was low; and that was the utmost that he would allow. But of all cold-blooded unconvinceable creatures, the most obstinate are fish.

Men are very different. They do not refuse to believe what lies beyond their personal experience. I respected the learned Doctor, and was really sorry for the disadvantages under which he laboured. That a creature of his intelligence should have only two eyes, and those not even compound ones–that he should not be able to see under water or in the dark–that he should not only have nothing like six legs, but be quite without wings, so that he could not even fly out of his own window for a turn in the air on a summer’s evening–these drawbacks made me quite sorry for him; for he had none of the minnow’s complacent ignorance. He knew my advantages as well as I knew them myself, and bore me no ill-will for them.

“The Dyticus marginalis, or Great Water-Beetle,” I have heard him say, in the handsomest manner, “is equally at home in the air, or in the water. Like all insects in the perfect state, it has six legs, of which the hindmost pair are of great strength, and fringed so as to serve as paddles. It has very powerful wings, and, with Shakespeare’s witches, it flies by night. It has two simple, and two sets of compound eyes. When it goes below water, it carries a stock of air with it, on the diving-bell principle; and when this is exhausted, comes to the surface, tail uppermost, for a fresh supply. It is the most voracious of the carnivorous water-beetles.”

The last sentence is rather an unkind reflection on my good appetite, but otherwise the Doctor spoke handsomely of me, and without envy.

And yet I am sure it could have been no matter of wonder if my compound eyes, for instance, had been a very sore subject with a man who knew of them, and whose one simple pair were so nearly worn out.

More than once, when I have seen the old gentleman put a green shade on to his reading-lamp, and glasses before his eyes, I have felt inclined to hum,–“Ah, my dear Doctor, if you could only take a cool turn in the pond! You would want no glasses or green shades, where the light comes tenderly subdued through water and water-weeds.”

Indeed, after living, as I can, in all three–water, dry land, and air,–I certainly prefer to be under water. Any one whose appetite is as keen, and whose hind-legs are as powerful as mine, will understand the delights of hunting, and being hunted, in a pond; where the light comes down in fitful rays and reflections through the water, and gleams among the hanging roots of the frog-bit, and the fading leaves of the water-starwort, through the maze of which, in and out, hither and thither, you pursue, and are pursued, in cool and skilful chase, by a mixed company of your neighbours, who dart, and shoot, and dive, and come and go, and any one of whom at any moment may either eat you or be eaten by you.