Harry the Hooker(audio)/ A Children’s Story

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Down in the meadow surrounded by tall oak trees was a huge lake. Tall cat-tails stood tall all along the edge of the water. Frogs jumped making splashing noises as their slippery bodies plunged into the warm water. Water snakes wiggled this way and that as they looked for food along the edge of the lake. All sorts of insects swarmed around the lake looking for food. The sun was shining ever so brightly making it a beautiful day for one to go fishing.

This is where Harry the Hooker lived with his family. Some of his sisters had already left home and had become beautiful butterflies. Caterpillars like Harry were actually the larvae form of moths and butterflies. Harry had not yet changed into a butterfly and his tubby body still crawled inch by inch along the edge of the water. All of the farmers in the area despised the caterpillars because the greedy pest ruined their crops. It was here on Devil’s lake that Harry had made a deal with a local cat named Potts. Harry would help catch fish for Potts and Potts would keep watch over Harry so the birds would not squeeze his insides out with their sharp beaks.

Now it was Harry’s job to gather up inch worms like him and lure them down to the water’s edge. Then he would jump upon them, wrestling them into submission and force a sharp hook into their bodies. Once the hook was embedded into their soft tender flesh, Potts the cat would toss the fishing line far out in the water. Potts had agreed to protect Harry from the animals who fed daily on all the caterpillars. It seemed that all the animals ate the caterpillars as a source of rich protein.

Since larger animals have fed upon the soft caterpillar for ever so long many have evolved various means to defend themselves. Some have sharp stingers while others are indeed poisonous. Still others can shoot burning acid upon their enemy giving them time to make a getaway.

Harry was called a Saddleback Caterpillar belonging to the slug caterpillars in North America. He was primarily green with brown colors at either end. He had a prominent white-ringed brown dot in the center of his back which looks very much like a saddle, hence the name. Harry had a pair of fleshy “horns” on his head and a pair on his rear. His entire body was covered with hair that secreted poisonous venom. If he were to sting a person it would be very painful. The person would become sick to the stomach, the place where the stinger went would swell and a rash would become noticeable lasting for days.

However there were large birds that could swallow caterpillars like Harry in one gulp. This is where Potts job entered the picture. Potts had a very keen eye and he could see birds much better than Harry. If Potts saw a bird in the area he would let out a scream alerting Harry. Their relationship was working well all too well.

Harry would trick his own kind to the edge of the water, plunge the sharp hook into their plump skin and Potts would sit back in the warm sunshine waiting for the fish to bite. Once the fish bit the caterpillar on the hook it became food for Potts. Nothing was better to Potts than good fresh fish right out of the lake. Each day Potts would search for victims and Harry became fatter and fatter upon the fish.

Day after day Potts filled himself with fresh fish from the lake. However on this particular day Potts had a great surprise waiting for him. Harry had just finished plunging the sharp into the poor caterpillar and Potts threw the line far out into the deep water. He smiled as he watched the cork bobbing on top of the water. He was enjoying the warm sunshine upon his yellow striped fur when all of a sudden the cork went under the water. Potts held onto the fishing pole as tight as he could. This appeared to be a very big fish.

Potts pulled and pulled on the pole but each time he was being pulled closer to the edge of the water. Then with one huge jerk from the big fish, Potts went sailing through the air, into the deep water, pole and all.

Now everyone knows that cats cannot swim and a tiny caterpillar is no help to a drowning feline. Harry heard Potts scream but he was helpless. There was nothing he could do to help Potts. After a few minutes the water became quiet and Potts was no where to be seen. As Harry stood watching poor Potts he failed to see the huge black crow high in the tall pine tree behind him. About the time he heard the flapping of the wings and turned around, the crow snapped him up into his sharp beak. It was lights out for Harry.

Some would say it served Harry right for deceiving his own kind and sticking them with sharp hooks. Some would say cats are similar to the fox thinking only of themselves and should stay away from deep water if they know they cannot swim. Some animals eat and some are eaten. Some insects prey upon others to exist. People eat fish and some fish like sharks eat people. Regardless of what others might say the Eco System continues to keep our world in a perfect balance. So it was with the caterpillar named Harry the Hooker!

Question: Do you think Harry was wrong in luring other caterpillars down to the edge of the water and hooking them onto the sharp metal hook?

Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved
Copyrighted 3-2012

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