The Centipede Quotes in James and the Giant Peach
“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.
“For dinner on my birthday I shall tell you what I choose:
Hot noodles made from poodles on a slice of garden hose—
And a rather smelly jelly
Made of armadillo’s toes.
(The jelly is delicious, but you have to hold your nose.)”
“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.
“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.”
“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.
“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.”