It’s the best fun in the world to watch them

Rosamond Napier, Tamsie, Londres,  Hodder & Stoughton, 1912 p. 298- 302.

« Do you see this, Tamsie ? » he asked hurriedly, fishing up a little stick-like object. «  A caddis-worm. Isn’t this a neat little house he has made for himself by spinning twigs, gravel, weeds and leaves together ? »

Tamsie scarcely looked.

« It’s empty. Shall we come on now ? »

« It’s not empty dear child. The fellow is inside, right enough hooked securely on by the ends of his tail. Do you know he would let himself be pulled in pieces rather than let go ? »

« Would he ? » said Tamsie, but in reality she was wondering if Buchan had let himself be torn in pieces rather than let go of some hidden project.

« Good-bye, my chickabiddy. You are a splendid boy, Thomas. I’m so proud of you. »

She was looking down with dilated eyes into the cloudy olive masses of weed stirring gently under the water.

Roddy really did happen to know something of the habits of aquatic insects. He struggled patiently on, although Tamsie’s attention was so obviously wandering.

« She is finding me a bore, such an intolerable bore, » though he a little resentfully. «  Does the child really suppose it amuses me to carry a pickle jar for a mile in the hot sun ; to muddy my trousers, and get water up my sleeves ? » But aloud he was saying- ‘ Catch some for me, Tamsie. Look there is one dragging himself along the bottom. What a collection of twigs and rubbish the fellow has got on him ! »

He pointed out a caddis-worm dragging itself laboriously along, on the six horny legs projecting from one end of its long case. Tamsie rolled up her sleeve, and went down on her hands and knees once again.

« We will take them home, and they won’t get enough to eat, and then they fight, and break open their cases, and devour each over. It’s the best fun in the world to watch them, » said this least blood-thirsty of men.

Suddendly his forehaed was so damp and pink as to causqe his eyebrows to look white ; for Tamsie, bending over the water, the caddis-worm in her dripping fingers, had looked up in undisguised astonishment.

« Roddy ! why I thought you hated that sort of thing ! »

« Don ‘t be so ridiculous, » he said testily, and colouring still more. « As though a caddis-worm can feel anything to speak of. ‘Pon my soul, tamsie, for all those wonderful brains of yoursq, you are not very bright at times.  »

Hi stone as even sharper than his words.

« Oh, I don’t mind, if you don’t, » murmured Tamsie, drying her outstreched glistening arm with an inadequate handkerchief ; but her eyes had unexpectedmy filled.

Poor Tamsie ! She had been so snappy herself of late ; but that Roddy should snap at her, filled her with a dreadful surprise. It was so easy of course for Roddy to be kind. A stellar spectra, or solar spetrum reveals dark lines, though the naked eye can only see brightness ; Tamsie, and others, saw only the kindliness of Roderic Blennerhassett, and guessed nothing of the dark bands and lines that in truth went to make up that same kindliness.
They carried their pickle jar of worms and tad-poles home, each endeavouring to take if from the other with excessive, but angry politeness ; both acutely aware of te ridiculous figure they must cut.

« With Nick, this would have been natural a success, somehow scientific, » thought Tamsie resentfully, and very young. «  This is just silly. »

roddy felt it to be « just silly » himself. For halfa moment he debated whether he should throw the miserable things into the river. But with the intense obstinacy so often underlying the most futile of us, he hung on to the idea Tamsie should be amused by tad-poles. Himself he went into the pantry, and brought out a large and particularly fine cut-glass bowl, in which Mrs. Blennerhassett had junket served.

Tamsie opened her eyes, but said nothing, and the caddis-worms and the tad-poles with sundry musical little pliplops were dropped into the bowl.

« We can keep them on the top of the wall, under the elder tree, » said Roddy, wondering a little drearily why kindness was such up-hill work. « Come along, Tamsie. Get together some wet dead leaves that will sink ; little twigs, and gravel. I am going to take the caddis-worms out of their houses, and in an hour’s time you will see they will have made themselves new ones, from your little bits of grass, and twigs, and rubbish.

« You can’t, «  objected tamsie. «  You said yourself they were fastened in, and would let themselves be torn in pieces rather than taken out. »

« Dear child, it would give me the greatest pleasure to slap you, » exclaimed Roddy, taking the pin out of his cravat. « Give me a caddis-worm. »

Red-cheeked and silent, Tamsie took one of the worms dragging round the bottom of the bowl, and handed it to him. The worm drew in his head, and six legs, till there was nothing seen of i tat all.

« this is devilish, » thought Roody, feeling a little sick, « but if it amuses this poor cross child ! Now, my boy, out you come, » he added aloud.

He had just touched the end of the sheath with the point of his scarf-pin. The larva must instantly heve unhooked, for now it hurried out from its sheath, and fell wriggling into the water, a fat pale looking worm with three legs on either side of his head.

« lend me your pin, Roddy. I want to try, « cried, Tamsie very quickly.

The complet success of the little experiment was such as would have attended Buchan. It made her think of Buchan.

One by one the caddis-worms were dislodged. Roddy, flushed and pleased, had the six tenentless little cases, open at either end and so miraculously spun together, in his hand.

The larvae obviously perturbed at their defenceless condition, dragged themselves about Mrs. Blennerhassett’s junket bowl, curled round, or rolled helplessly on their backs.

Tamsie had been smiling. Suddenly she was quite grave.

« I feel like that. Someone pricked me, and I had to come out. Oh, if there was another little sheath for me to creep into ! »

Roddy was desperated hurt. He could not speak for a moment.

« In a few hours they will make themselves new sheaths. There are the materials round them, Tamsie. They must just make their own happiness and comfort,- as well all can, and have to do. »

« But don’t you see, Roddy everyone can’t. They don’t want the new sheaths, they want the old ones they have know all their lives ! » Tamsie’s voice was almost a cry.

She had forgotten the Stag-fellow now. « Where are those little cases ? You have got them. Oh, give them to me quickly. »

Mechanically, and with a sense of defeat, Roddy handed her the little cases, and Tamsie as though forgetful of his presence, set them carefully before each worm.

There was a deep rose hawthorn in the garden, and next to it was unfortunetely planted a pink chestnut. The coppery tone of the latter clashed with the pure rose of the may-tree. It looked as though its pink had gone sour, as it were ; and Roddy’s kind eyes resting on the chestnut, thought the pure rose of Tamsie’s young life had turned sour also. Would ite ver change again to sweetness ?

« I don’t know one is to go on, if life is so unbearable, » said Tamsie quite quietly watching the caddis-worms entering the front opening, preparatory to turning round inside. «  I thoughtone might have a little times of trouble.

I did not know it could go on, all day, every day. Your eyes keep filling, and your throat aching, while a far away person you know is yourself, laughs, and talks in a tinkling voice, and does marvellous things ; brushes its hair, washes it teeth, says its prayers, answers, correctly questions it has never even heard ! »