Jack said that because all the beans he had planted were on top of the ground.
Jack was only six years old, and not very well acquainted with beans.
No wonder he was surprised to find them on top of the ground when he had tucked them so snugly out of sight in the brown earth only a few days before.
Jack checked out his beans and started to urge red within the face.
He looked a touch as if he were planning to cry.
“When KO comes I will simply punch him!” he came finally.
For who may have uncovered his beans however his brother Ko?
For KO would rather tease than eat his dinner,—except once there was pudding for afters.
Ko’s real name was bishop, however it took too long to mention that, thus Jack referred to as him knockoutfor brief.
Jack picked up a bean to set it, and what does oneassume had happened? one thing had, for it failed to look because it did once he initial place it within the ground.
It had turned inexperienced to start with. Jack had planted white beans.
He knew they were white at some stage in, for he had bitten an honest several in 2to envision however they looked within. And currently the coat on the surface, that stuck thus tightly initially, had stark naked0.5 off, and also the bean was green!
one thing additional had happened,—a very little white stem had embarked of the bean and gone into the bottom.
Jack was thus stunned the least bit this that he forgot he was angry at knockout, and once his brother came up solely told him to appear.
knockout tried to choose up a bean too, however, it absolutely was fixed quite firmly within the ground.
“They’re growing,” said Ko.
“Did you pull them up?” asked Jack.
“No, indeed!” game knockout.
“They should have forced themselves up,” same Jack.
“Yes,” said Ko, “that’s it. They grew so fast they pulled themselves right up.”
Then Jack sprinkled earth over them until he could not see them, and went away.
In two or three days they were all on top of the ground again!
“Well, well, well!” said Jack, “they don’t know anything—to keep unplanting themselves that way!”
But now he could not pick up any of the beans without tearing loose the stout little stem with roots at the end, that had gone down into the ground.
“You bean,” he said, tapping one on its green head,—for they had grown very green now,—”you bean, I shall plant you deep enough this time; you will die and not grow at all if you don’t stay still in the ground.”
At this the bean smiled.
A bean cannot smile, you say? Oh well, that is what nearly everybody would say, but I can tell you, a great many people do not know about beans, and I am sure that bean smiled.
“If I did stay still in the ground, how could I grow?” asked the bean.
You think beans cannot talk?
Well, as I said before, a great many people do not know about beans; and whether they can talk or not, this bean asked Jack how it could grow if it stayed still in the ground. And what is more, Jack was “stumped,” as the boys say, by the question, and could not answer.
Of course nothing that stayed perfectly still could grow.
“But why don’t you send up a little stem and let the bean that I planted stay planted?” asked Jack.
“I will tell you,” said the bean; and if by this time you do not believe beans can talk, you may as well not read another word of this story.
Talking beans are just as true as “Cinderella,” or “Hop-o-my-thumb,” or “Little Red Riding-Hood,” or “Jack the Giant Killer,” and those people.
Of course everybody knows how true they are.
So Jack’s bean said, “I will tell you,” and then asked, “Are your hands clean?”
“They’re fair to middling,” said Jack, looking at his hands, and for the first time in his life wishing he had washed them.
“Oh well,” said the bean, “if they are not sticky it won’t matter. I am going to let you look at me, but I don’t want you to pull me apart, either on purpose or by accident.”
“I won’t,” said Jack.
“Well, then, very gently open this green part that you planted when it was white, and that won’t stay under the ground, and look.”
Jack did so.
He found the green part was split in two halves, and right between the halves, fastened at the end where the root went down, were stowed away two pretty green leaves.
“My!” said Jack.
“Well, I guess so!” said the bean, rather proudly. “You see I have these little leaves packed away even when I am white.
“But then they are also white and very, very small.
“You very likely would not even see them, at least not with your own eyes.
“You would see something if you knew where to look, but you would not see two leaves without the help of a magnifying glass.
“But I know they are there all the time.”
So it said, “I keep my two white little leaves very closely packed away between my two big hard white cotyledons.”
“Your two big hard white what?” asked Jack.
“My!” said Jack.
“Yes, cotyledons. You probably did not know there were two; you thought it was just one mass of white stuff. Probably you did not know my cotyledons had a coat, either.”
“Yes,” said Jack, “I knew that. It tears open when you grow. And I knew you split in two, only I didn’t know you called yourself cotyledons.”
“We don’t,” said the bean, with a funny little laugh, “but it is no matter what we call ourselves,—grown-up men call our seed-leaves cotyledons.”
“I would rather know what you call them,” said Jack.
“Oh, I can’t tell you that; nobody can. But why don’t you ask me what I mean by my seed-leaves?”
“I think you mean the two halves that come apart with the two little leaves between them,” said Jack.
“Yes, so I do; but there are more than two leaves between; there is a little end that grows down and makes the root.”
“Yes,” said Jack, “I know.”
“Hush!” said the bean, “you don’t know anything about it. You must n’t tell me you know. You must just keep on asking me about myself.”
“You are cross,” said Jack.
“I am not,” said the bean, “I am only right.”
“Well, what shall I ask?” demanded Jack.
“Stupid! if you have nothing to ask, I have nothing to tell you, so good-by.”
“Oh, don’t,” begged Jack. “I will ask and ask and ask, only don’t stop telling.”
“Well, ask away,” said the bean.
“What makes you turn green? What makes you so hard before you’re planted? How do you know when it’s time to wake up? Where do—”
“Don’t interrupt. I turn green because I cannot digest my food unless I do, and how am I to live without food? Even you could not live if you could not digest your food.”
“I’m glad I don’t turn green when I digest my food,” said Jack; then asked, “What do you eat?”
“There you go again, another question and the first set not answered yet. I get my food from the air and the earth. I am fond of gas, and when I turn green I can digest it. You know the air is nothing but gas. Well, I can eat air.”
“I’m glad I don’t have to,” said Jack, thinking of chocolate pudding.
“Oh, of course, you prefer much coarser things, but don’t interrupt. I am fond of air, and the little leaves that I have stowed away need much food, so I just grow up to the top of the ground where there is to be found air and sunlight, and then I let my two little leaves draw all the good out of my cotyledons.
“They have air, too, and water, and the root sends them food, but they eat all the good out of my cotyledons as well, and that is why they grow so fast.
“Look there! see that bean plant over there!
“The cotyledons are all withered and look like dried leaves; that is what they are, just dried leaves.
“That is the way mine will look some day.
“But I don’t care, for more leaves will grow above the first two, and I shall have plenty of stem and many leaves; and after a while beautiful flowers will come, and then lots of new seeds will grow from
“Perhaps I can,” the bean replied, “but they are different from us, and I have told you enough.”
“Well, I suppose after what you have told me, I can find out something about peas for myself,” said Jack.
“Of course you can,” replied the bean. “Some people never know anything, because they cannot find out without being told.”
“Good-by,” said Jack politely, “I am very much obliged to you”; but the bean was not so polite as Jack, for it did not answer at all.
Perhaps, however, that is the polite way among beans.
Jack was still thinking about beans when he went into the house and saw a pan of dried Lima beans soaking for dinner.
He took one up and slipped it out of its white jacket, and it fell apart in his hand, so that he saw quite plainly the little plant packed away at one end.
“It must like water better than I do—to swell itself that full,” said he to himself, for the soaked beans were about twice as large as the dried ones.
“Couldn’t grow a bit without it,” said Jack’s bean in a cross voice, popping from between his fingers
In spite of its crossness Jack felt a little sorry that it was to be eaten for dinner instead of growing in some damp and lovely place, “but,” he thought, and no doubt he was right, “maybe among beans it doesn’t matter if they are eaten. I don’t know beans,” he added, screwing up one eye.
“Why do we eat beans?” he asked his father at dinner.
Because they are nearly all starch, and starch is good food,” his father replied.
“Does the baby bean eat starch?” Jack asked.
“0h, yes,” his father said, “the baby bean grows on the starch stored up in the bean. The little plant is stowed away in one corner of the bean, and lives on the starch of the cotyledons when it first begins to grow.”
“Yes, I know,” said Jack, “but don’t you think it is rather hard on the bean for us to eat it?”
“No,” his father replied, “there would not be room for all the beans to grow. Some would have to die anyway; and if the bean could understand, I am sure it would be very glad to give us food.”
“Perhaps it does understand,” said Jack thoughtfully. “Beans are great thinkers.”
“If that is so,” said papa, smiling, “they must be a little proud to know that all the animals depend upon the plant life for food.”
“I don’t see how that is,” said Ko.
“Well, I will tell you,” said his father. “Plants can eat gases and other minerals.”
“Yes, I know that,” said Jack, remembering what the bean had told him about it.
“They change these things into plant material,” his father went on, “and people, who cannot eat earth and air, eat the plants, and so all are able to live.”
“But we might live on meat,” said Jack.
“But what makes meat?” asked his father. “What do the animals we use for meat live on?”
“Plants,” Jack replied, nodding his head to show he understood.
“Yes, plants; and so, first or last, all the animals depend upon the plants for their lives.”
“If we keep on we shall know beans,” Ko said to Jack in a very sleepy tone of voice that night. But Jack, tucked up in his crib, was already in the Land of Nod.
YOU don’t seem to have to come out of the ground to get started,” Jack said to his sweet peas one day.
“Oh, no,” was the reply.
“But why? Don’t you need air and light?”
“Yes; but we have enough food stored underground to start us, and, as a matter of fact, we prefer to lie still and let our clean, fresh leaves go out into the world.”
“Do garden peas act the same way as sweet peas?” asked Jack, very much awake by this time to what was going on in the garden.
“Yes,” the sweet pea said, in a voice as musical as a summer brook. “Yes the garden peas are our cousins,—our country cousins, as it were; they grow in the same way we do, and we are very fond of them.”
“Do you have a baby in your seed, too?” demanded Jack, sitting down cross-legged on the ground to have a good, comfortable chat with his new friends.
“My seed is a baby pea,” was the reply. “Between my two round cotyledons you can see the rest of the infant tucked away, ready when warmth and moisture come, to spring up and grow into a vine.
“Yes, that’s so,” Jack said, slowly; then added, “Ain’t you afraid to stay out in the garden all night?” It had come over him all of a sudden that he would be very much afraid.
“Do you mean, ‘Aren’t you afraid’?” asked the pea, politely but a little severely.
“Ye-e-s,” said Jack, half a mind to rebel against having to correct bad grammar out of school, but not wanting to offend the pea either; “Aren’t you afraid?”
“No, I am not afraid. We plants love the night-time. We can see as well as in the day-time.”
Jack wanted to ask if they could see at any time without eyes, but feared it might be considered impolite.
The pea replied to his thought.
“Not as you see, but we have a way of knowing about things that you see. I cannot explain how it is, for you are not a pea and could not understand.”
“Can you hear?” asked Jack.
“Not as you hear. But we have a way of knowing about things that you hear. I cannot explain how it is, for you are not a pea and could not understand.”
“Can you smell, or taste, or feel?” persisted Jack.
“Not as you smell, or taste, or feel. But we have a way of knowing about things that you smell, and taste, and feel. I cannot explain how it is, for you are not a pea and could not understand.”
“I don’t seem to know peas either,” muttered Jack to himself.
“No, you don’t know about peas. If you did, you would know more than the President of the United States and the Principal of your school put together.”
“My!” said Jack.
“You never will know all about peas,” the pea went on. “You can know a good many things about them, as well as about other things, that will be good for you, if you keep your eyes open and your brain working.”
“How they all like to teach a feller,” thought Jack, as the pea settled down as though through talking.
“Teach a fellow,” said the pea, rousing up; “teach a boy would sound better yet.”
“Teach a boy,” corrected Jack meekly, and then walked off and found Ko, and told him all the pea had said.
“You dreamed it, you silly,” said Ko, with a very fine air, for he was two years older than Jack, and sometimes liked to remind his brother of this fact. “You dreamed it, and anyway ‘t ain’t polite to listen to what people think.”
“No,” said Jack, politely but a little severely, just as the pea had said it to him, “it isn’t polite, but then that may be polite among peas,—you don’t know peas, you must remember, that.”
TELL you what,” said Ko, “there’s a baby in this peanut.”
Jack looked, and sure enough, flattened down in one corner of the peanut for safe keeping, and looking very much like the bean baby, was a young peanut baby.
“Let’s plant it,” said Jack.
“It ‘s been roasted,” said Ko, “you don’t suppose a roasted baby would grow, do you?”
“No,” said Jack, “I’m afraid it would n’t; let’s ask father.”
“Father says to plant it and see,” Jack said, running back a few minutes later. “He says he’ll get us some raw ones in town to-morrow, and we can plant both kinds.”
“Of course it would be silly to plant a roasted one,” said Ko.
“Why would it?” asked the peanut in his hand.
“Oh, because—it would,” was the wise reply.
“You’re dead, you know,” said Jack, “and dead things can’t grow.”
“Am I dead? Then how can I talk?”
“It is talking,” said Ko, very much surprised as soon as he stopped to think about it.
“Anything can ask questions, whether it is dead or alive,” said Jack, and a very wise speech it was, though you, who do not know as much as you will if you live to be wiser, may not think so.
“Why can’t I grow?” repeated the roasted peanut.
“Well, can you?” asked Ko.
“No, I can’t. Now answer my question. Why can’t I?”
“I don’t know,” said Ko, meekly.
“It’s time you found that out,” said the peanut, snappishly. “It is so easy for you to say a thing is so or is n’t so, and all the time you don’t know anything about it.”
“I hope you’re cross enough,” said Ko, firing up.
But Jack said, “Never mind, Ko, the poor thing has been roasted; if you had been roasted so you could n’t ever grow, you might be cross, too.”
“Me, roasted! I’m not a peanut,” said Ko, indignantly.
“If you knew as much as you never will know, you would understand that there is not such a great difference between us as you think,” said the peanut grimly; “and as to being roasted, that is by no means the worst thing that could happen in the world.”
“What would be worse?” asked Jack, curiously.
“I cannot tell you, you would not understand,” said the peanut.
“They all seem to think alike about our understanding,” said Jack.
“Yes,” said Ko, “they think they know everything.”
Melons and Their Cousins
“WHERE did you get it?” Jack asked, as he went into the yard and found Ko with a slice of ripe watermelon in his hand.
“Mother gave it to me; there’s one for you,” he said, pointing to another slice on a plate in the grass.
“Save the seeds,” said Ko. Then for a few minutes nothing was to be heard but a funny little juicy sound, and when this ceased, what do you think? There was nothing left of the watermelon but just the rind and some flat, black seeds.
Ko handed a seed to Jack.
“What shall I do with it?” asked Jack.
“Take off its jacket,” said Ko, speaking as though he thought Jack a little deaf.
So Jack took the melon seed and peeled off its tough, black coat.
“Now take off its shirt,” said Ko; and Jack slipped off a delicate, silky covering.
“Now look inside,” ordered Ko.
“See!” said Jack, as he did so. The melon seed had fallen into two parts in his hand, just like the bean, and there in one end was the baby plant lying close to the cotyledons.
Of course it would,” said Ko.
“How do you know I would?” asked the melon seed.
“Well, wouldn’t you?” asked Ko. He was used to stopping Jack’s questions this way when he could not answer them, and had not yet learned the difference between Jack and a logical vegetable.
“Yes, I would,” said the melon. “Now answer my question: How do you know I would?”
“Because,” said Ko, confidently, “melon seeds generally do.”
“Do they? How many of those you planted came up?”
“You see you don’t know anything about it. If you cared to be wise, you would find out how I grow,—if you could; then you would know why I don’t grow and how to help me.”
“That is so,” said Ko, “and some day when I have plenty of time, I mean to find it out if I can.”
“Let’s go to the garden now and see if we can find out anything about it,” said Jack. “I know where there are some jolly big melons.”
“All right,” said Ko, and off they went.
But they did not stay long; the melons just lay on the ground and said not a word.
“Stupid things! Come along,” said Ko.
So they went along, and the first thing Jack did was to step on a ripe cucumber.
“Ouch!” he cried, and Ko laughed.
Then Jack said, “Let’s make boats.”
Of course I am not going to tell you what they did then, because everybody knows they just took cucumbers, and cut them open lengthwise, and scraped out the insides, and whittled out sticks, and stuck them in for masts, and pinned on paper sails.
They sailed their boats on the duck pond, and most of them turned over, and some sank. For the wind blew, and Ko said there was a gale on.
If you think it is easy to make cucumber boats sail in a high wind, or in any wind, or in no wind, you just try it.
Cucumber boats do not like to sail.
Jack put a lot of seeds in his pocket; they were rather damp and sticky, but then a boy’s pocket expects such things.
When the whole fleet had come to grief, the boys sat on the edge of the pond, and Jack pulled a handful of seeds out of his pocket.
“Do you suppose these are seed-babies?” he asked, holding one in his fingers.
“Easy enough to find out,” said Ko, splitting one open with his finger-nail. “Yes, there it is,—a cucumber baby tucked up in the corner.”
“Do you suppose all seeds are babies?” asked Jack, following Ko’s example and splitting one open.
“I should n’t wonder,” said Ko.
“Cucumber seeds and melon seeds are just alike, only the cucumber’s are small and white,” said Jack.
“We’re cousins,” piped up the seed.
“What makes your cousins have black seeds, then?” demanded Ko.
“Won’t tell,” screamed the seed, “you’ve spoiled me and I’m mad. Go ask the pumpkins why then have white seeds,—they are cousins, too, and maybe they will tell, but I won’t.”
“I’m sorry I spoiled you,” said Ko.
“Oh, it doesn’t really matter,” muttered the seed. “There are so many of us, we can’t all live, and perhaps I’d rather be spoiled by you than just dry up or rot in the ground.”
“Poor thing,” said Ko; then added, “but I’ll tell you what we’ll do, Jack, when the pumpkins get ripe.”
“I know,” said Jack, and of course you know, so I wouldn’t tell you for anything, how they took a pumpkin when it got ripe, and cleaned all the insides out, and cut such a lovely new moon of a mouth in it, with scallops for teeth. And I won’t tell how they made round holes for eyes and a wedge-shaped hole for a nose. And I never will tell how they put a lighted candle inside, and set it on the gate post one dark night to show their father the way in, and how the telegraph boy came instead, with a message, and was frightened almost out of his senses.
He was a city boy and not used to Jack-o’-lanterns.
Of course Ko and Jack made the acquaintance of the pumpkin seeds, and you know as well as I do, how they found the pumpkin baby tucked away in one corner, so I won’t say a word about it.
“WHAT did you say about nuts for dinner?” asked Jack one day.
“I said we were going to have them,” replied Ko.
“It must be almost dinner time,” said Jack; and sure enough, just then the dinner bell rang.
“There’s a baby in this almond, I do believe,” said Jack, as he cracked his first nut, after dinner had been eaten and the nuts passed.
“It’s like a bean,” said Ko.
“Beans are seeds,” said Jack; “if you plant them they will grow.”
“So are nuts seeds,” added Ko; “if you plant them they’ll grow.”
“Then there must be babies in the nuts,” said Jack, “for it’s the little seed-babies that grow up and make big plants.”
“Let’s look for them in all the nuts,” said Ko; then added, “Mother, can’t we take our nuts on the porch and eat them?”
“Of course you may,” said Mother; so off they went, their nuts in their pockets.
“Now,” said Ko, looking very wise, “you see these almonds grow on trees, and they have to fall a long way, and they might get bruised, so their coat is hard like wood.”
“Do you suppose that’s the reason they’re so hard?” asked Jack.
“It’s as good a reason as any,” said Ko.
“Yes,” said the almond, “that is the way too many people reason, without taking the trouble to find out the real truth about things.”
“Well, why are you hard?” asked Ko.
“I won’t tell you,” said the almond, who, though naturally good-natured, had been made very cross by Ko’s poor reasoning.
“I won’t tell you, because then you would never know why I am hard.”
“Wouldn’t I know if you told me?” asked Ko, opening his eyes in astonishment.
“No, that’s the very reason you would not know. Nobody knows from being told. If you think about it as long as you live and don’t ask anybody’s opinion, you may find out; it’s the only way.”
“We’d need more than one brain, wouldn’t we, if we learned everything everybody tells us to?” asked Jack.