James And The Giant Peach

written by Sona

James' parents died and he was adopted by his gruesome aunts. How does he escape?

Last Updated






Chapter Thirteen

Chapter 13
A few-minutes later, Miss Spider had made the first bed. It was hanging from the ceiling, suspended by a rope of threads at either end so that actually it looked more like a hammock than a bed. But it was a magnificent affair, and the stuff that it was made of shimmered like silk in the pale light.
‘I do hope you’ll find it comfortable,’ Miss Spider said to the Old-Green-Grasshopper. ‘I made it as soft and silky as I possibly could. I spun it with gossamer. That’s a much better quality thread than the one I use for my own web.’
‘Thank you so much, my dear lady,’ the Old-Green-Grasshopper said, climbing into the hammock. ‘Ah, this is just what I needed. Good night, everybody. Good night.’
Then Miss Spider spun the next hammock, and the Ladybird got in.
After that, she spun a long one for the Centipede, and an even longer one for the Earthworm.
‘And how do you like your bed?’ she said to James when it came to his turn. ‘Hard or soft?’
‘I like it soft, thank you very much,’ James answered.
‘For goodness’ sake stop staring round the room and get on with my boots!’ the Centipede said. ‘You and I are never going to get any sleep at this rate! And kindly line them up neatly in pairs as you take them off. Don’t just throw them over your shoulder.’
James worked away frantically on the Centipede’s boots. Each one had laces that had to be untied and loosened before it could be pulled off, and to make matters worse, all the laces were tied up in the most terrible complicated knots that had to be unpicked with fingernails. It was just awful. It took about two hours. And by the time James had pulled off the last boot of all and had lined them up in a row on the floor – twenty-one pairs altogether – the Centipede was fast asleep.
‘Wake up, Centipede,’ whispered James, giving him a gentle dig in the stomach. ‘It’s time for bed.’
‘Thank you, my dear child,’ the Centipede said, opening his eyes. Then he got down off the sofa and ambled across the room and crawled into his hammock. James got into his own hammock – and oh, how soft and comfortable it was compared with the hard bare boards that his aunts had always made him sleep upon at home.
‘Lights out,’ said the Centipede drowsily.
Nothing happened.
‘Turn out the light!’ he called, raising his voice.
James glanced round the room, wondering which of the others he might be talking to, but they were all asleep. The Old-Green-Grasshopper was snoring loudly through his nose. The Ladybird was making whistling noises as she breathed, and the Earthworm was coiled up like a spring at one end of his hammock, wheezing and blowing through his open mouth. As for Miss Spider, she had made a lovely web for herself across one corner of the room, and James could see her crouching right in the very centre of it, mumbling softly in her dreams.
‘I said turn out the light!’ shouted the Centipede angrily.
‘Are you talking to me?’ James asked him.
‘Of course I‘m not talking to you, you ass!’ the Centipede answered. ‘That crazy Glow-worm has gone to sleep with her light on!’
For the first time since entering the room, James glanced up at the ceiling – and there he saw a most extraordinary sight. Something that looked like a gigantic fly without wings (it was at least three feet long) was standing upside down upon its six legs in the middle of the ceiling, and the tail end of this creature seemed to be literally on fire. A brilliant greenish light as bright as the brightest electric bulb was shining out of its tail and lighting up the whole room.
‘Is that a Glow-worm?’ asked James, staring at the light. ‘It doesn’t look like a worm of any sort to me.’
‘Of course it’s a Glow-worm,’ the Centipede answered. ‘At least that’s what she calls herself. Although actually you are quite right. She isn’t really a worm at all. Glow-worms are never worms. They are simply lady fireflies without wings. Wake up, you lazy beast!’

But the Glow-worm didn’t stir, so the Centipede reached out of his hammock and picked up one of his boots from the floor. ‘Put out that wretched light!’ he shouted, hurling the boot up at the ceiling.
The Glow-worm slowly opened one eye and stared at the Centipede. ‘There is no need to be rude,’ she said coldly. ‘All in good time.’

‘Come on, come on, come on!’ shouted the Centipede. ‘Or I’ll put it out for you!’
‘Oh, hello, James!’ the Glow-worm said, looking down and giving James a little wave and a smile. ‘I didn’t see you come in. Welcome, my dear boy, welcome – and good night!’
Then click – and out went the light.
James Henry Trotter lay there in the darkness with his eyes wide open, listening to the strange sleeping noises that the ‘creatures’ were making all around him, and wondering what on earth was going to happen to him in the morning. Already, he was beginning to like his new friends very much. They were not nearly as terrible as they looked. In fact they weren’t really terrible at all. They seemed extremely kind and helpful in spite of all the shouting and arguing that went on between them.
‘Good night, Old-Green-Grasshopper,’ he whispered. ‘Good night, Ladybird – Good night, Miss Spider –’ But before he could go through them all, he had fallen fast asleep.
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