Read A HAPPY DAY of The Grasshopper Stories , free online book, by Elizabeth Davis Leavitt, on

Billy was off for a walk. He had kissed his mother good-bye; he had stood his toys up in the corner; and now, with his little lunch-basket in his hand, he was running down to the gate when somebody said, “Good-morning, Billy! Where are you going?”

He looked around and there sat a grasshopper on a blade of grass.

“Good-morning, Grasshopper,” said Billy. “I’m going for a walk.”

“I should like to go with you,” said the grasshopper. “May I?”

“Of course!” answered Billy. “Shall we run a race?”

They were off like the wind, but the grasshopper hopped such big hops, he had to wait for Billy to catch up after each hop.

“Stop running!” he called out as he sat waiting. “You might tread on this ant.”

When Billy came up, he saw an ant trying to pull a piece of bread to the door of her house. How hard the ant was working! Up hill and down hill, for ridges of earth in the road seemed like great hills to the little ant.

“Why don’t you help the ant, Billy?” asked the grasshopper.

“That’s so!” said Billy. “I will!” He brought a green leaf and said, “Now Mrs. Ant, if you will pull the bread on this leaf, I will help you to get it to your home.”

“O, thank you!” said the ant. “My babies are very hungry.” So she put the bread on the leaf and sat down beside it and Billy drew the leaf to the little hill of sand that he knew was the ant’s house.

“Thank you!” said the ant. “You are very kind, little boy!”

“You are welcome,” said Billy and he and the grasshopper went on their way.

Suddenly they stopped. There, on the edge of the road, was a tiny baby-bird. It was trying to fly, but it was too little. Its wings were not strong enough.

“I believe I’ll take it home,” said Billy.

“O Billy,” exclaimed the grasshopper, “Don’t you hear its mother calling to it? There she is on that branch, flapping her wings and calling. She wants it in the nest again but she does not know how to get it there. Why don’t you put it in the nest for her?”

“That’s so!” said Billy. “I will!”

So they hunted in the bushes and found the nest, low enough for Billy to reach. There were two other little baby-birds in it and when Billy put in the little bird that had fallen, they all began to chirp, “Peep! Peep! Peep!” That meant “Thank you!” Then the mother-bird hopped around so gladly and said “Thank you, little boy; you are very kind!”

“You are welcome,” replied Billy and he and the grasshopper went on their way.

Pretty soon they grew hungry. They sat down and opened the lunch-basket and while they were eating the bread and jelly and nuts that Billy’s mother had put up for him, a little squirrel hopped out of his hole in a tree. He cocked his head on one side and watched them with bright little eyes.

“Why don’t you give him a nut?” asked the grasshopper.

“That’s so!” said Billy. “I will!”

So he threw a nut on the grass. The squirrel picked up the nut, cracked it with his sharp little teeth and ate it with so much relish that Billy threw him another and another. When everything was gone, the squirrel said, “Thank you, little boy. You are very kind!”

“You are welcome,” said Billy, and for some reason he felt very happy.

As he and the grasshopper were walking along again, they saw a beautiful, big butterfly sitting on a tall, yellow poppy. It was quite still. So Billy said, “That butterfly is asleep! I’m going to put it in my hat and take it home!”

“He is not asleep!” contradicted the grasshopper. “He has just waked up! He is waiting for his wings to grow strong, so he can fly. Leave him here in the sunshine. He would be very unhappy if you took him into your house!” The grasshopper hopped way out of sight, for this was the very longest speech he had ever made.

“O, please come back, grasshopper!” called Billy, “and tell me, did the butterfly sleep on that flower?”

The grasshopper was beside Billy before he had finished speaking. “No, no!” he replied to Billy’s question. “He slept in the little house that he made for himself before he went to sleep!” The grasshopper looked at an empty cocoon hanging from a twig of a tree.

“Is that his house?” asked Billy, looking at it very curiously, for he had never seen anything like it before. The grasshopper nodded his head and winked an eye.

Just then the butterfly began to move his beautiful yellow and black wings up and down, very, very slowly.

“Why don’t you fly?” asked Billy, “I’m not going to take you home with me.”

“Thank you for leaving me out in the sunshine,” said the butterfly, “I want to fly up to the blue sky very much indeed and, if I wait and work my wings, they will grow stronger and then I shall be able to fly ever so high.”

Billy sat down on a stone and the grasshopper perched on a blade of grass.

“Did you know how to fly before you went to sleep?” asked Billy.

“O dear no!” replied the butterfly. “I was only a caterpillar and had to creep along the earth or on cabbage leaves.”

“Only a caterpillar!” gasped Billy. “Then where did you get those wings?”

“They grew in the night,” answered the butterfly, “while I was asleep.”

At this the grasshopper began to laugh. He laughed so hard, he had to hold his sides.

“Why are you laughing, Grasshopper?” asked Billy indignantly.

The grasshopper did not answer him, but said, “Butterfly, do you know how long you slept in that little house you made for yourself when you were a caterpillar?”

“How long?” asked the butterfly, who had been working his wings up and down all this time.

“Many days and many nights, all through the cold winter. The wind rocked you in your little cradle-house; the rain kept your house nice and soft; and now, today, the warm, spring sun has waked you up and soon you will fly!”

At these words, the butterfly pressed his wings down and soared up in the air, over the trees and far away. “Good-bye,” he called out as he disappeared among the tall trees, “and thank you, little boy!”

“You are welcome,” called Billy and then he sat still and silent.

“What’s the matter, Billy?” asked the grasshopper.

“I was wishing that I might fly!” said Billy.

“Who knows!” exclaimed the grasshopper. “Perhaps you may some day!”

“But I can run!” and Billy was off down the road on his way home. The grasshopper overtook him in one hop. “Shall we stop and pick some flowers for your mother?” he asked.

“That’s so!” said Billy, “we will!”

So they went into a field and began to pick flowers. Billy picked a daisy and the grasshopper picked a daisy. Billy picked a clover and the grasshopper picked a clover. Billy picked a bluet and the grasshopper picked a bluet. Billy picked a wind flower and the grasshopper picked a wind flower. Then the grasshopper gave his flowers to Billy and Billy thanked him.

“Now, we must go home,” said Billy, so they ran until they came to Billy’s door.

“I am glad you went with me, Grasshopper,” said Billy. “Shall we go again some day?”

“We will go again, some day!” replied the grasshopper, bowing very low.

“Good-bye,” said Billy, as he ran in to give his mother the flowers and tell her all about his walk. As she smiled and listened to Billy, the grasshopper peeped in at the open window and sang out,

“Oh, I am a grasshopper, very, very wise!
I know about everything underneath the skies!”