912 PETER, PETE, AND PETERKIN
like hollyhocks, they were so long and lanky. He was very fond of that flower ; he had in fact lain in a hollyhock, the stork said.
Pete had lain in a buttercup. He looked so buttery round the corners of his mouth, and was yellow-skinned ; one might believe that if he was cut in the cheek, butter would come out. He seemed born to be a butter-man, and might have been his own sign-board, but inwardly he was a * rattle-man ' ; he was the musical portion of the Peterson family, ' but enough for all of them together,' said the neighbours. He composed seventeen new polkas in a week, and made an opera out of them with trumpet and rattle. Oh, how lovely it was !
Peterkin was white and red, little and common-looking ; he had lain in a daisy. He never hit out when the other boys struck him ; he said that he was the most sensible, and the most sensible always gives way. He collected first slate-pencils, then seals, then he got a little cabinet of natural curiosities, in which was the skeleton of a stickleback, three blind young rats in spirits, and a stuffed mole. Peterkin had a taste for the scientific and an eye for nature, and that was deHghtful for the parents, and for Peterkin too. He would rather go into the woods than the school, and preferred nature to discipline. His brothers were already engaged to be married, while he still lived only to complete his collection of the eggs of water-fowls. He very soon knew more about beasts than about human beings, and even thought that we could not approach the beasts in that which we set highest—' love.5 He saw that when the hen-nightingale sat hatching her eggs, the father nightingale sat and sang the whole night to his little wife, ' Cluck, cluck, jug, jug, jug.' Peterkin could never have done that, nor devoted himself to the task. When the mother stork lay in the nest with the young ones, the father stork stood on the roof the whole night on one leg : Peterkin could not have stood like that for one hour. And when he one day observed the spider's web and what was in it, he quite gave up all thought of matrimony. Mr. Spider weaves to catch thoughtless flies, young and old, blood-filled and wind-dried ; he lives to weave and nourish his family, but Mrs. Spider lives for Father alone.