The Water Babies

Illustrated Online Children's Book by Charles Kingsley

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“But why do you run after all these poor people?” said Tom, who liked the giant very much.
“My dear, it’s they that have been running after me, father and son, for hundreds and hundreds of years, throwing stones at me till they have knocked off my spectacles fifty times, and calling me a malignant and a turbaned Turk, who beat a Venetian and traduced the State—goodness only knows what they mean, for I never read poetry—and hunting me round and round—though catch me they can’t, for every time I go over the same ground, I go the faster, and grow the bigger. While all I want is to be friends with them, and to tell them something to their advantage, like Mr. Joseph Ady: only somehow they are so strangely afraid of hearing it. But, I suppose I am not a man of the world, and have no tact.”
“But why don’t you turn round and tell them so?”
“Because I can’t. You see, I am one of the sons of Epimetheus, and must go backwards, if I am to go at all.”
“But why don’t you stop, and let them come up to you?”
“Why, my dear, only think. If I did, all the butterflies and cockyolybirds would fly past me, and then I should catch no more new species, and should grow rusty and mouldy, and die. And I don’t intend to do that, my dear; for I have a destiny before me, they say: though what it is I don’t know, and don’t care.”
“Don’t care?” said Tom.
“No. Do the duty which lies nearest you, and catch the first beetle you come across, is my motto; and I have thriven by it for some hundred years. Now I must go on. Dear me, while I have been talking to you, at least nine new species have escaped me.”
And on went the giant, behind before, like a bull in a china-shop, till he ran into the steeple of the great idol temple (for they are all idolaters in those parts, of course, else they would never be afraid of giants), and knocked the upper half clean off, hurting himself horribly about the small of the back.
But little he cared; for as soon as the ruins of the steeple were well between his legs, he poked and peered among the falling stones, and shifted his spectacles, and pulled out his pocket-magnifier, and cried -
“An entirely new Oniscus, and three obscure Podurellae! Besides a moth which M. le Roi des Papillons (though he, like all Frenchmen, is given to hasty inductions) says is confined to the limits of the Glacial Drift. This is most important!”
And down he sat on the nave of the temple (not being a man of the world) to examine his Podurellae. Whereon (as was to be expected) the roof caved in bodily, smashing the idols, and sending the priests flying out of doors and windows, like rabbits out of a burrow when a ferret goes in.
But he never heeded; for out of the dust flew a bat, and the giant had him in a moment.