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The Beetle
by [?]

“Perhaps you come from some muck-heap?” observed the oldest of them.

“Indeed, I come from a much higher place,” replied the beetle. “I came from the emperor’s stable, where I was born with golden shoes on my feet. I am travelling on a secret embassy. You must not ask me any questions, for I can’t betray my secret.”

With this the beetle stepped down into the rich mud. There sat three young maiden beetles; and they tittered, because they did not know what to say.

“Not one of them is engaged yet,” said their mother; and the beetle maidens tittered again, this time from embarrassment.

“I have never seen greater beauties in the royal stables,” exclaimed the beetle, who was now resting himself.

“Don’t spoil my girls,” said the mother; “and don’t talk to them, please, unless you have serious intentions. But of course your intentions are serious, and therefore I give you my blessing.”

“Hurrah!” cried all the other beetles together; and our friend was engaged. Immediately after the betrothal came the marriage, for there was no reason for delay.

The following day passed very pleasantly, and the next in tolerable comfort; but on the third it was time to think of food for the wife, and perhaps also for children.

“I have allowed myself to be taken in,” said our beetle to himself. “And now there’s nothing for it but to take them in, in turn.”

So said, so done. Away he went, and he stayed away all day, and stayed away all night; and his wife sat there, a forsaken widow.

“Oh,” said the other beetles, “this fellow whom we received into our family is nothing more than a thorough vagabond. He has gone away, and has left his wife a burden upon our hands.”

“Well, then, she shall be unmarried again, and sit here among my daughters,” said the mother. “Fie on the villain who forsook her!”

In the meantime the beetle had been journeying on, and had sailed across the ditch on a cabbage leaf. In the morning two persons came to the ditch. When they saw him, they took him up, and turned him over and over, and looked very learned, especially one of them–a boy.

“Allah sees the black beetle in the black stone and in the black rock. Is not that written in the Koran?” Then he translated the beetle’s name into Latin, and enlarged upon the creature’s nature and history. The second person, an older scholar, voted for carrying him home. He said they wanted just such good specimens; and this seemed an uncivil speech to our beetle, and in consequence he flew suddenly out of the speaker’s hand. As he had now dry wings, he flew a tolerable distance, and reached a hot-bed, where a sash of the glass roof was partly open, so he quietly slipped in and buried himself in the warm earth.

“Very comfortable it is here,” said he.

Soon after he went to sleep, and dreamed that the emperor’s favourite horse had fallen, and had given him his golden shoes, with the promise that he should have two more.

That was all very charming. When the beetle woke up, he crept forth and looked around him. What splendour was in the hothouse! In the background great palm trees growing up on high; the sun made them look transparent; and beneath them what a luxuriance of green, and of beaming flowers, red as fire, yellow as amber, or white as fresh-fallen snow.

“This is an incomparable plenty of plants,” cried the beetle. “How good they will taste when they are decayed! A capital store-room this! There must certainly be relations of mine living here. I will just see if I can find any one with whom I may associate. I’m proud, certainly, and I’m proud of being so.” And so he prowled about in the earth, and thought what a pleasant dream that was about the dying horse, and the golden shoes he had inherited.