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The Beetle
by [?]

On the linen two frogs were sitting. Their bright eyes absolutely gleamed with pleasure.

“Wonderful weather this!” one of them cried. “How refreshing! And the linen keeps the water together so beautifully. My hind legs seem to quiver as if I were going to swim.”

“I should like to know,” said the second, “if the swallow, who flies so far round, in her many journeys in foreign lands ever meets with a better climate than this. What delicious dampness! It is really as if one were lying in a wet ditch. Whoever does not rejoice in this, certainly does not love his fatherland.”

“Have you been in the emperor’s stable?” asked the beetle: “there the dampness is warm and refreshing. That’s the climate for me; but I cannot take it with me on my journey. Is there never a muck-heap, here in the garden, where a person of rank, like myself, can feel himself at home, and take up his quarters?”

But the frogs either did not or would not understand him.

“I never ask a question twice!” said the beetle, after he had already asked this one three times without receiving any answer.

Then he went a little farther, and stumbled against a fragment of pottery, that certainly ought not to have been lying there; but as it was once there, it gave a good shelter against wind and weather. Here dwelt several families of earwigs; and these did not require much, only sociality. The female members of the community were full of the purest maternal affection, and accordingly each one considered her own child the most beautiful and cleverest of all.

“Our son has engaged himself,” said one mother. “Dear, innocent boy! His greatest hope is that he may creep one day into a clergyman’s ear. It’s very artless and loveable, that; and being engaged will keep him steady. What joy for a mother!”

“Our son,” said another mother, “had scarcely crept out of the egg, when he was already off on his travels. He’s all life and spirits; he’ll run his horns off! What joy that is for a mother! Is it not so, Mr. Beetle?” for she knew the stranger by his horny coat.

“You are both quite right,” said he; so they begged him to walk in; that is to say, to come as far as he could under the bit of pottery.

“Now, you also see my little earwig,” observed a third mother and a fourth; “they are lovely little things, and highly amusing. They are never ill-behaved, except when they are uncomfortable in their inside; but, unfortunately, one is very subject to that at their age.”

Thus each mother spoke of her baby; and the babies talked among themselves, and made use of the little nippers they have in their tails to nip the beard of the beetle.

“Yes, they are always busy about something, the little rogues!” said the mothers; and they quite beamed with maternal pride; but the beetle felt bored by that, and therefore he inquired how far it was to the nearest muck-heap.

“That is quite out in the big world, on the other side of the ditch,” answered an earwig. “I hope none of my children will go so far, for it would be the death of me.”

“But I shall try to get so far,” said the beetle; and he went off without taking formal leave; for that is considered the polite thing to do. And by the ditch he met several friends; beetles, all of them.

“Here we live,” they said. “We are very comfortable here. Might we ask you to step down into this rich mud? You must be fatigued after your journey.”

“Certainly,” replied the beetle. “I have been exposed to the rain, and have had to lie upon linen, and cleanliness is a thing that greatly exhausts me. I have also pains in one of my wings, from standing in a draught under a fragment of pottery. It is really quite refreshing to be among one’s companions once more.”