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 Five

Chapter 25
James didn’t want the Earthworm and the Centipede to get into another argument, so he said quickly to the Earthworm, ‘Tell me, do you play any kind of music?’
‘No, but I do other things, some of which are really quite extraordinary’ the Earthworm said, brightening.
‘Such as what?’ asked James.
‘Well,’ the Earthworm said. ‘Next time you stand in a field or in a garden and look around you, then just remember this: that every grain of soil upon the surface of the land, every tiny little bit of soil that you can see has actually passed through the body of an Earthworm during the last few years! Isn’t that wonderful?’
‘It’s not possible!’ said James.
‘My dear boy, it’s a fact.’
‘You mean you actually swallow soil?’
‘Like mad,’ the Earthworm said proudly. ‘In one end and out the other.’
‘But what’s the point?’
‘What do you mean, what’s the point?’
‘Why do you do it?’
‘We do it for the farmers. It makes the soil nice and light and crumbly so that things will grow well in it. If you really want to know, the farmers couldn’t do without us. We are essential. We are vital. So it is only natural that the farmer should love us. He loves us even more, I believe, than he loves the Ladybird.’
‘The Ladybird!’ said James, turning to look at her. ‘Do they love you, too?’
‘I am told that they do,’ the Ladybird answered modestly, blushing all over. ‘In fact, I understand that in some places the farmers love us so much that they go out and buy live Ladybirds by the sackful and take them home and set them free in their fields. They are very pleased when they have lots of Ladybirds in their fields.’
‘But why?’ James asked.
‘Because we gobble up all the nasty little insects that are gobbling up all the farmer’s crops. It helps enormously, and we ourselves don’t charge a penny for our services.’
‘I think you’re wonderful,’ James told her. ‘Can I ask you one special question?’
‘Please do.’
‘Well, is it really true that I can tell how old a Ladybird is by counting her spots?’

‘Oh no, that’s just a children’s story,’ the Ladybird said. ‘We never change our spots. Some of us, of course, are born with more spots than others, but we never change them. The number of spots that a Ladybird has is simply a way of showing which branch of the family she belongs to. I, for example, as you can see for yourself, am a Nine-Spotted Ladybird. I am very lucky. It is a fine thing to be.’
‘It is, indeed,’ said James, gazing at the beautiful scarlet shell with the nine black spots on it.
‘On the other hand,’ the Ladybird went on, ’some of my less fortunate relatives have no more than two spots altogether on their shells! Can you imagine that? They are called Two-Spotted Ladybirds, and very common and ill-mannered they are, I regret to say. And then, of course, you have the Five-Spotted Ladybirds as well. They are much nicer than the Two-Spotted ones, although I myself find them a trifle too saucy for my taste.’
‘But they are all of them loved?’ said James.
‘Yes,’ the Ladybird answered quietly. ‘They are all of them loved.’
‘It seems that almost everyone around here is loved!’ said James. ‘How nice this is!’
‘Not me!’ cried the Centipede happily. ‘I am a pest and I‘m proud of it! Oh, I am such a shocking dreadful pest!’
‘Hear, hear,’ the Earthworm said.
‘But what about you, Miss Spider?’ asked James. ‘Aren’t you also much loved in the world?’
‘Alas, no,’ Miss Spider answered, sighing long and loud. ‘I am not loved at all. And yet I do nothing but good. All day long I catch flies and mosquitoes in my webs. I am a decent person.’
‘I know you are,’ said James.
‘It is very unfair the way we Spiders are treated,’ Miss Spider went on. ‘Why, only last week your own horrible Aunt Sponge flushed my poor dear father down the plug-hole in the bathtub.’
‘Oh, how awful!’ cried James.
‘I watched the whole thing from a corner up in the ceiling,’ Miss Spider murmured. ‘It was ghastly. We never saw him again.’ A large tear rolled down her cheek and fell with a splash on the floor.

‘But is it not very unlucky to kill a spider?’ James inquired, looking around at the others.
‘Of course it’s unlucky to kill a spider!’ shouted the Centipede. ‘It’s about the unluckiest thing anyone can do. Look what happened to Aunt Sponge after she’d done that! Bump! We all felt it, didn’t we, as the peach went over her? Oh, what a lovely bump that must have been for you, Miss Spider!’
‘It was very satisfactory,’ Miss Spider answered. Will you sing us a song about it, please?’
So the Centipede did.
‘Aunt Sponge was terrifically fat,
And tremendously flabby at that.
Her tummy and waist
Were as soggy as paste –
It was worse on the place where she sat!
So she said, “I must make myself flat.
I must make myself sleek as a cat.
I shall do without dinner
To make myself thinner.”
But along came the peach!
Oh, the beautiful peach!
And made her far thinner than that!’
‘That was very nice,’ Miss Spider said. ‘Now sing one about Aunt Spiker.’
‘With pleasure,’ the Centipede answered, grinning:
‘Aunt Spiker was thin as a wire,
And dry as a bone, only drier.
She was so long and thin
If you carried her in
You could use her for poking the fire!
‘ “I must do something quickly,” she frowned.
‘I want FAT. I want pound upon pound!
I must eat lots and lots
Of marshmallows and chocs
Till I start bulging out all around.”
‘ “Ah, yes,” she announced, “I have sworn
That I’ll alter my figure by dawn!”
Cried the peach with a snigger,
“I’LL alter your figure –”
And ironed her out on the lawn!’
Everybody clapped and called out for more songs from the Centipede, who at once launched into his favourite song of all:
‘Once upon a time
When pigs were swine
And monkeys chewed tobacco
And hens took snuff
To make themselves tough
And the ducks said quack -quack -quacko,
And porcupines
Drank fiery wines
And goats ate tapioca
And Old Mother Hubbard
Got stuck in the c –’
‘Look out, Centipede!’ cried James. ‘Look out!’
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