James Henry Trotter Quotes in James and the Giant Peach
They were selfish and lazy and cruel, and right from the beginning they started beating poor James for almost no reason at all. They never called him by his real name, but always referred to him as “you disgusting little beast” or “you filthy nuisance” or “you miserable creature,” and they certainly never gave him any toys to play with or any picture books to look at. His room was as bare as a prison cell.
And as time went on, he became sadder and sadder, and more and more lonely, and he used to spend hours every day standing at the bottom of the garden, gazing wistfully at the lovely but forbidden world of woods and fields and ocean that was spread out below him like a magic carpet.
“Oh, Auntie Sponge!” James cried out. “And Auntie Spiker! Couldn’t we all—please—just for once—go down to the seaside on the bus? It isn’t very far—and I feel so hot and awful and lonely...”
“Why, you lazy good-for-nothing brute!” Aunt Spiker shouted.
“Beat him!” cried Aunt Sponge.
“I certainly will!” [...] “I shall beat you later on in the day when I don’t feel so hot,” she said.
“It’s ripe!” she cried. “It’s just perfect! Now see here, Spiker. Why don’t we go and get us a shovel right away and dig out a great big hunk of it for you and me to eat?”
“No,” Aunt Spiker said. “Not yet.”
“Because I say so.”
“But I can’t wait to eat some!” Aunt Sponge cried out. She was watering at the mouth now and thin trickle of spit was running down one side of her chin.
“My dear Sponge,” Aunt Spiker said slowly, winking at her sister and smiling a sly, thin-lipped smile. “There’s a pile of money to be made out of this if only we can handle it right. You wait and see.”
“There he goes again!” the Earthworm cried, speaking for the first time. “He simply cannot stop telling lies about his legs! He doesn’t have anything like a hundred of them! He’s only got forty-two! The trouble is that most people don’t bother to count them. They just take his word.”
James decided that he rather liked the Centipede. He was obviously a rascal, but what a change it was to hear somebody laughing once in a while. He had never heard Aunt Sponge or Aunt Spiker laughing aloud in all the time he had been with them.
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.
“But my dear friends!” cried the Old-Green-Grasshopper, trying to be cheerful, “we are there!”
“Where?” they asked. “Where? Where is there?”
“I don’t know, the Old-Green-Grasshopper said. “But I’ll bet it’s somewhere good.”
“None of us three girls can swim a single stroke.”
“But you won’t have to swim,” said James calmly. “We are floating beautifully. And sooner or later a ship is bound to come along and pick us up.”
They all stared at him in amazement.
“Are you quite sure that we are not sinking?” the Ladybug asked.
“Of course I’m sure,” answered James.
“You must be crazy! You can’t eat the ship! It’s the only thing that is keeping us up!”
“We shall starve to death if we don’t!” said the Centipede.
“And we shall drown if we do!” cried the Earthworm.
“You can eat all you want,” James answered. It would take us weeks and weeks to make any sort of a dent in this enormous peach. Surely you can see that?”
“Good heavens, he’s right again!” cried the Old-Green-Grasshopper, clapping his hands.
“Is there nothing we can do?” asked the Ladybug, appealing to James. “Surely you can think of a way out of this.”
Suddenly they were all looking at James.
“Think!” begged Miss Spider. “Think, James, think!”
“Come on,” said the Centipede. “Come on, James. There must be something we can do.”
Their eyes waited upon him, tense, anxious, pathetically hopeful.
“Why, it’s absolutely brilliant!” cried the Old-Green-Grasshopper when James had explained his plan.
“The boy’s a genius!” the Centipede announced. “Now I can keep my boots on after all.”
“Oh, I shall be pecked to death!” wailed the poor Earthworm.
“Of course you won’t.”
“I will, I know I will! And I won’t even be able to see them coming at me because I have no eyes!”
James went over and put an arm gently around the Earthworm’s shoulders. “I won’t let them touch you,” he said. “I promise I won’t.”
“Action stations!” James shouted. “Jump to it! There’s not a moment to lose!” He was the captain now, and everyone knew it. They would do whatever he told them.
“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’re joking,” James said. “Nobody could possibly have his ears on his legs.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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 mosquitos in my webs. I am a decent person.”
There was not a sound anywhere. Traveling upon the peach was not in the least like traveling in an airplane. The airplane comes clattering and roaring through the sky, and whatever might be lurking secretly up there in the great cloud-mountains goes running for cover at its approach. That is why people who travel in airplanes never see anything.
But the peach...ah, yes...the peach was a soft, stealthy traveler, making no noise as it floated along. And several times during that long silent night ride high up over the middle of the ocean in the moonlight, James and his friends saw things that no one had ever seen before.
“Those are skyscrapers! So this must be America! And that, my friends, means that we have crossed the Atlantic Ocean overnight!”
“You don’t mean it!” they cried.
“It’s not possible!”
“It’s incredible! It’s unbelievable!”
“Oh, I’ve always dreamed of going to America!” cried the Centipede. “I had a friend once who—“
“Be quiet!” said the Earthworm. Who cares about your friend? The thing we’ve got to think about now is how on earth are we going to get down to earth?”
“Ask James,” said the Ladybug.
Far below them, in the City of New York, something like pandemonium was breaking out. A great round ball as big as a house had been sighted hovering high up in the sky over the very center of Manhattan, and the cry had gone up that it was an enormous bomb sent over by another country to blow the whole city to smithereens.
“Don’t be frightened of us, please!” James called out. “We are so glad to be here!”
“What about those others beside you?” shouted the Chief of Police. “Are any of them dangerous?”
“Of course they’re not dangerous!” James answered. “They’re the nicest creatures in the world! Allow me to introduce them to you one by one and then I’m sure you will believe me.”
And because so many of them were always begging him to tell and tell again the story of his adventures on the peach, he thought it would be nice if one day he sat down and wrote a book.
So he did.
And that is what you have just finished reading.