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 Twenty Four

Chapter 24
But up on the peach itself, everyone was still happy and excited.
‘I wonder where we’ll finish up this time,’ the Earthworm said.
‘Who cares?’ they answered. ‘Seagulls always go back to the land sooner or later.’
Up and up they went, high above the highest clouds, the peach swaying gently from side to side as it floated along.
‘Wouldn’t this be a perfect time for a little music?’ the Ladybird asked. ‘How about it, Old Grasshopper?’
‘With pleasure, dear lady,’ the Old-Green-Grasshopper answered, bowing from the waist.
‘Oh, hooray! He’s going to play for us!’ they cried, and immediately the whole company sat themselves down in a circle around the Old Green Musician – and the concert began.
From the moment that the first note was struck, the audience became completely spellbound. And as for James, never had he heard such beautiful music as this! In the garden at home on summer evenings, he had listened many times to the sound of grasshoppers chirping in the grass, and he had always liked the noise that they made. But this was a different kind of noise altogether. This was real music – chords, harmonies, tunes, and all the rest of it.
And what a wonderful instrument the Old-Green-Grasshopper was playing upon. It was like a violin! It was almost exactly as though he were playing upon a violin!
The bow of the violin, the part that moved, was his back leg. The strings of the violin, the part that made the sound, was the edge of his wing.
He was using only the top of his back leg (the thigh), and he was stroking this up and down against the edge of his wing with incredible skill, sometimes slowly, sometimes fast, but always with the same easy flowing action. It was precisely the way a clever violinist would have used his bow; and the music came pouring out and filled the whole blue sky around them with magic melodies.
When the first part was finished, everyone clapped madly, and Miss Spider stood up and shouted, ‘Bravo! Encore! Give us some more!’
‘Did you like that, James?’ the Old-Green-Grasshopper asked, smiling at the small boy.
‘Oh, I loved it!’ James answered. ‘It was beautiful! It was as though you had a real violin in your hands!’
‘A real violin!’ the Old-Green-Grasshopper cried. ‘Good heavens, I like that! My dear boy, I am a real violin! It is a part of my own body!’
‘But do all grasshoppers play their music on violins, the same way as you do?’ James asked him.
‘No,’ he answered, ‘not all. If you want to know, I happen to be a “short-horned” grasshopper. I have two short feelers coming out of my head. Can you see them? There they are. They are quite short, aren’t they? That’s why they call me a “short-horn”. And we “short-horns” are the only ones who play our music in the violin style, using a bow. My “long-horned” relatives, the ones who have long curvy feelers coming out of their heads, make their music simply by rubbing the edges of their two top wings together. They are not violinists, they are wing-rubbers. And a rather inferior noise these wing-rubbers produce, too, if I may say so. It sounds more like a banjo than a fiddle.’
‘How fascinating this all is!’ cried James. ‘And to think that up until now I had never even wondered how a grasshopper made his sounds.’
‘My dear young fellow,’ the Old-Green-Grasshopper said gently, ‘there are a whole lot of things in this world of ours that you haven’t started wondering about yet. Where, for example, do you think that I keep my ears?’
‘Your ears? Why, in your head, of course.’
Everyone burst out laughing.
‘You mean you don’t even know that?’ cried the Centipede.
‘Try again,’ said the Old-Green-Grasshopper, smiling at James.
‘You can’t possibly keep them anywhere else?’
‘Oh, can’t I?’
‘Well – I give up. Where do you keep them?’
‘Right here,’ the Old-Green-Grasshopper said. ‘One on each side of my tummy.’
‘It’s not true!’
‘Of course it’s true. What’s so peculiar about that? You ought to see where my cousins the crickets and the katydids keep theirs.’
‘Where do they keep them?’
‘In their legs. One in each front leg, just below the knee.’
‘You mean you didn’t know that either?’ the Centipede said scornfully.
‘You’re joking,’ James said. ‘Nobody could possibly have his ears in his legs.’
‘Why not?’
‘Because… because it’s ridiculous, that’s why.’
‘You know what I think is ridiculous?’ the Centipede said, grinning away as usual. ‘I don’t mean to be rude, but I think it is ridiculous to have ears on the sides of one’s head. It certainly looks ridiculous. You ought to take a peek in the mirror some day and see for yourself.’
‘Pest!’ cried the Earthworm. ‘Why must you always be so rude and rambunctious to everyone? You ought to apologize to James at once.’
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