King Caddis Worm

Olwen Bowen, Taddy Tadpole and the Pond-Folk, Ill. L. R. Brightwell, Londres, Nelson (1933), 1946, p. 27-40.


Down through the water, head first, spluttering and a little dazed, came a fish- a fish  like Fury Stickleback- a fish very like Fury Stickleback- in fact, quite undoubtedly Fury Stickleback himself.

In a moment Hubert, Bunch, and Taddy were beside him.

« What’s happened ? »

« Where have you been ? »

« How did you escape ? »

For a moment Fury gazed stupidly up at them, then he gave himself a little shake and tried to push his way past them all.

« How did you escape ? »

« How did you get back ? »

« What happened ? »

There was no way out of it. Fury had to tell tem, and, frowning, he muttered angrily :

« He said I was –er-too small. Then he threw me back. »

Somewhere at the bottom of the Pond a Caddis Worm tittered, and Fury swam angrily away. His mouth was hurting him and he was trying to look like a fish who was a little deaf-a fish who could not hear the voices of the Larvae at the bottom of the Pond, rude little Larvae, who very ignorant and didn’t know any better. No, he couldn’t-wourldn’t-hear them. Of course he couldn’t hear them as they chanted :

« Too small to keep !

Poor little Stickleback

Had to be thrown back !

Stickleback-Throwback !


Stickleback-Throwback… »

King caddis worm

Splash ! Splash !!PLASH !!!

Never before had there been such an upheaval in the Pond. Thewatter rocked from side to side. Waves, forming in the middle, washed outwards in circles until they rushe up the soft muddy banks, only to fall back again with a splash into the Pond itself.

« what is it ? »

« What’s happening ? »

« What is the matter ? »

With startled cries the Pond Folk scuttled away, some to bury themselves in the soft mud at the bottom of te Pond, others to seek safety among the sheltering stems and roots of the rushes that grew by the side of the bank.

Splsh ! Splash !! Still the upheaval continued. Small darks objects be seen drifting down through the water. Two Sticklebacks suddenly appeared as though from nowhere, looked rouns the Pond, then together hurried away towards the opening. A suddden wave of the surging water lifted them easily over the shallow rapids the stream, down which they awam and were soon out of sight of the Pond.

Water Snails drifted through the water. Pebbles and water-weed, rained in a continuous stream., till at last the splashing ceased. Then gradually the waves grew less, the disturbance in the water died away, stirred up fragments of mud settled slowly into place, and all within the Pond was calm once more.

Whirligig was the first emerge from his hiding-plae. Darting to and fro in  the water he explored first one corner and ten another. Up to thesurface and down again, round and round, from side to side of the Pond. Then suddenly he turned and flashed out of sight, ost among the overgrown stems of the reeds from whence he had coe.

« Do come out ! Oh, do come out ! » he cried excitedly to any one who might be listening. «  It’s all quiet now ; the water’s all quite still again, but there are such a number of strange people about. The Pond is fullof fresh faces ! »

A mound of mud stirred itself, once end heaved cautiously, and out came the head of Hubert Newt.

« What has been happening ? » he asked suspiciously.

« I don’t know what’s been happening, » answeredWhirligig ; «  but, whatever it was, it’s all finished now. Do please come out and see who some of these people are. »

Limb by limb the Newt drew himself out of the mud, wiped a piece of water-weed from his face, and climbed up on to a stone. Then slowly and deliberately he launched himself into the water and followed Whirligig into the centre of the Pond.

« There ! » exclaimed Whirligig triumphantly a moment later, as he came to rest on what looked like a twig at the bottom of the Pond. «  There ! You see what I mean. New faces everywhere ! »

« Would yoy mind not landing on my back everytime ? » said the weary voice of Sam Caddis Worm.

With a hurried apology Whirligig moved off on to a pebble near by.

« I’m very sorry, Sam, but yoy know you are so exactly like a twig that it is very difficult to tell which is you and which isn’t. »

Sam nodded. He wasn’t really annoyed. He was quite used to it. Everybody made the same mistake , and he was generally very patient about it.

« Do look ! There are such numbers of new people ! »

Whriligig had forgotten all about Sam and was talking excitely to Hubert Newt. « Look ! There’s Water Scorpion, just like the one that used to live here several months ago. And Leech, too ! And, oh ! I’ve never seen such a handsomeWater Snail ! »

But Hubert was not looking at the Water Sanail, nor was he looking at the Leech, nor yet the Water Scorpion. His eyes and his attention were both fixed on a number of brilliantly coloured beads which were moving slowly across the Pond a few inches away from him.

« What is it, What can it be ? »

Whirligig had seen it too, and without a moment’s hesitation he darted away and swam round and round in tiny circles above the sparkling beads.

« Don’t do that !It makes me giddy. »

Whirligig was so taken aback at te harsh voice which came suddenly from the middle of the beads that he stopped swimming and sank suddenly into the mud by its side.

« Please, who are you ? «  he gasped.

« I am King Caddis Worm, »wasthe reply.

« Caddis Worm, Oh, like Sam ! » said Whirligig, beginning to understand.

« Not in the least like Sam ! » snapped the creature.

« King Caddis Worm, I said. I should have thought you could have seen that my royal robes. »

« And he did lokk very handsome, you know, » said Whirligig later on when he was telling Jolly the Water Boatman all about it. «  He was dressed all over in such lovely beads. I’ve never seen such wonderful colouring –brighter even than Fury Stickleback when he has got his best clothes on. »

The news of the arrival of the visitors spread quickly through the Pond one by one the Pond Folk hurried out to see their newneighbours.

«  Where did they all comes from ? »

« How did they get here ? »

Every one was asking questions, and nobody knew how to answer them until King Caddis Worm himself-he refused to be called by any other name- told them what had happened.

« Well all come from a large glass Pond know as an Aquarium, » he said. «  We have lived there for many weeks in the greatest of comfort, fed and looked after by some giant people who very rightly supplied me with my royal beads with wich to cover myself and who kept us all there because tey liked to look at us. »

« How big were they ? » asked Taddy.

« As big as Crayfish ? » suggested Whirligig.

« Bigger than twenty Crayfish, » said King Caddis Worm scornfully. «  And to-day they brought the Aquarium down and emptied it into this Pond, so that is how we have come to live among you. »

« Were they tired of looking at you ? » asked Jolly the Water Boatman ;

King Caddis Worm gave him one withering look.

« They were going away, » he said with dignity.

Having arrived in the Pond, the Aquarium people showed every sign of meaning to stay here. The Pond Folk, being friendly people, did all they could to welcome the new arrivals, most of whom they liked very much, the one exception being King Caddis Worm himself.

King Caddis Worm was not popular. This washardly surprising for he did nothing all day but stroll about the bottom of the Pond in a lordly fashion, giving orders to any the smaller Pond Folk who happened to come hisway, and making himself as unpleasant as he possibly could if they were not carried out. Sam Caddis Worm he seemed to regard as his particular slave. He followed Sam about most of the time, telling him to do this, ordering him to to that, calling him back if he showed signs of escaping to the order side of the Pond, and Sam, who felt it wouldbe inhospitable not to do all he could to make a viditor feel at home, patireltly trotted to and fro at King Caddis Worm’s bidding from first thing in the morning until it grew dark at night.

« Why Sam does it all I can’t think, «  said Bunch one day when Sam had been kept even busier than usual.

« It’s too bad, it really is. »

« He says he must help a fellow Caddis in distress, » answered Hubert Newt gloomily.

« Not much distress about him, » retorted Bunch ; and the rest of the Pond Folk, who wee growing very tired of King Caddis Worm’s lordly manners ; agreed with her.

The oddthing was the way King Caddis Worm always seemed to get his own way. He had no pointed fangs to bite with, no sharp nippers with which ti punish his enemies, and yet, dressed as he was in dazzling beads, the largest of which, a bright emerald green bead, he wore as a crown upon his head, he seemed able to give his commands and quite capable of seeing they were carried out. To any one who showed any sign of disobeying him he had a way of saying the most unpleasant things, and made them feel so foolish that they were glad to do quickly the next thing he required of them, if only to escape his cutting remarks. Even Bulbus the Great Water Beetle was ordered about as though he were a person of no importance ; and once when Fury Stickleback visited the floor of the Pond in search of food, King Caddis Worm treated him as though he were a mere nobody, and Fury Stickleback returned home in such a temper that nobody dared go near him for days.

And then one days, quite suddenly and without anybody knowing how it had happened, King Caddis Worm disappeared. Nobody knew where he had gone, and nobody had seen him go.

All that the Pond Folk knewwas that, whereas yesterday his bright coloured beads had sparkled at the bottom of the Pond, to-day there was not one bead to be seen.

« It’s very much nicer without him, «  said Taddy rather wistfully. «  I wonder how soon he’ll come back. »

But King Caddis Worm did not come back. His disappearance remained a mystery, and gradually the Pond Folk settled down again to the very much pleasanter lifr they had led before he came among them. Sam Caddis Worm in particular, tired from all the extra work he had been made to do, said he felt as though he were having a long holiday now King Caddis Worm was away.

« But I do wonder where he has gone, » added Sam thoughtfully.
Day after day passed by and still there was no news of the lordly Caddis Worms, till at last the mystery was almost forgoten in the rush and excitement of everyday life in the Pond.

It was several weeks after this that Fury Sticklenack sent out the invitations for his tea-party. It was not to be large party-that any one at all should be asked inside Stickleback’s much prized and carefully guerded home was a rare enough occurrence-but was to be a very select affair.

« None of the small fry are being invited of course, » he confided in mary Minnow when shecalled to tell him she’d be very pleased to come. « It will be only just yourself Hubert Newt, a Roach who lives near by, and perhaps that Water Beetle Bulbus, though I have not yet made up my mind whether I shall ask him or not. »

Evrubody was very curious to know what the inside of Fury’s house was like. He was always so particular whom he asked in, and was exceedingly annoyed if he found any uninvited guests within inchees of his doorway.

« I’ve been in once, » admitted Taddy, «  but it was dark, so I couldn’t see it properly, and, anyway, I was much too frightened to notice anything, » and he gave a littler shiver of fright as he remembered the terrible day of his Mud Pie Party, when he had been emprisoned in Fury’s house.

« Do tell us what it is like when you come back, Hubert, » begged Jolly the Water Boatman ; and, « Oh yes, please do, » broke in Whirligig.

Hubert Newt promised that he would, and they all arranged to meet that evening when Hubert should have returned from his party.

They had not long to wait.Punctually to te minute Hubert arrived, paddling along through the water with a look of suppressed excitement on his good-naturel face.

« It’s a very fine house indeed, » he said at once in answer to the shower of questions that poured down on him from all sides.

« Is it comfortable ? » asked Bunch Shrimp.

« Yes, I supposed it’s comfortable, » answered Hubert.

« But it is certainly very handsome, and it’s decorated in a most uusual style. »

« Where did he get the decorations from ? » asked Whriligig.

« That’s just what Mary Minnow asked him, » replied Hubert, » and all he would say was, « All the things in my house are my own », and wouldn’t tell us where any of them came from. »

« What sort of decorations were there ? » Jolly wanted to know.

« Beads, » said Hubert thoughtfully. «  Bright shining beads. Bunch, what colour was the large bead King Caddis Worm used to wear as a crown ? »

« Emerald green, » said Bunch without hesitation ;

Hubert nodded his head.

«  I thought so, » he said. « That as the one Fury uses as a lantern over his door. Those beads are the same that King Caddis Worm wore. »

Turning a litle pale, Bunch Shrimp changed the subject quickly, and never again were the beads in Fury’s house mentioned by any of the Pond Folk. They did not even want to think of them, for everybody now knew, without te least shadow of doubt, what had happened to the boastful Caddis Worm. He had been eaten by Fury Sticklebak.