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THE BEETLE WHO DID NOT LIKE CATERPILLARS

  • ONE morning early in June, a fat and shining May Beetle lay on his back among
  • the grasses, kicking his six legs in the air, and wriggling around while he
  • tried to catch hold of a grass-blade by which to pull himself up. Now, Beetles
  • do not like to lie on their backs in the sunshine, and this one was hot and
  • tired from his long struggle. Beside that, he was very cross because he was
  • late in getting his breakfast, so when he did at last get right side up, and
  • saw a brown and black Caterpillar watching him, he grew very ill-mannered, and
  • said some things of which he should have been ashamed.
  • "Oh, yes," he said, "you are quick enough to laugh when you think somebody
  • else is in a fix. I often lie on my back and kick, just for fun." (Which was
  • not true, but when Beetles are cross they are not always truthful.)
  • "Excuse me," said the Caterpillar, "I did not mean to hurt your feelings. If I
  • smiled, it was because I remembered being in the same plight myself yesterday,
  • and what a time I had smoothing my fur afterwards. Now, you won't have to
  • smooth your fur, will you?" she asked pleasantly."No, I'm thankful to say I
  • haven't any fur to smooth," snapped the Beetle. "I am not one of the crawling,
  • furry kind. My family wear dark brown, glossy coats, and we always look trim
  • and clean. When we want to hurry, we fly; and when tired of flying, we walk or
  • run. We have two kinds of wings. We have a pair of dainty, soft ones, that
  • carry us through the air, and then we have a pair of stiff ones to cover over
  • the soft wings when we come down to the earth again. We are the finest family
  • in the meadow."
  • "I have often heard of you," said the Caterpillar, "and am very glad to become
  • acquainted."
  • "Well," answered the Beetle, "I am willing to speak to you, of course, but we
  • can never be at all friendly. A May Beetle, indeed, in company with a
  • Caterpillar! I choose my friends among the Moths, Butterflies, and Dragon-
  • flies,—in fact, I  move in the upper circles."
  • "Upper circles, indeed!" said a croaking voice beside him, which made the
  • Beetle jump, "I have hopped over your head for two or three years, when you
  • were nothing but a fat, white worm. You'd  better not put on airs. The fine
  • family of May Beetles were all worms once, and they had to live in the earth
  • and eat roots, while the Caterpillars were in the sunshine over their heads,
  • dining on tender green leaves and flower buds."
  • The May Beetle began to look very uncomfortable, and squirmed as though he
  • wanted to get away, but the Tree Frog, for it was the Tree Frog, went on: "As
  • for your not liking Caterpillars, they don't stay Caterpillars. Your new
  • acquaintance up there will come out with wings one of these days, and you will
  • be glad enough to know him." And the Tree Frog hopped away.
  • The May Beetle scraped his head with his right front leg, and then said to the
  • Caterpillar, who was nibbling away at the milkweed: "You know, I wasn't really
  • in earnest about our not being friends. I shall be very glad to know you, and
  • all your family."
  • "Thank you," answered the Caterpillar, "thank you very much, but I have been
  • thinking it over myself, and I feel that I really could not be friendly with a
  • May Beetle. Of course, I don't mind speaking to you once in a while, when I am
  • eating, and getting ready to spin my cocoon. After that it will be different.
  • You see, then I shall belong to one of the finest families in the meadow, the
  • Milkweed Butterflies. We  shall eat nothing but honey, and dress in soft
  • orange and black velvet. We  shall not blunder and bump around when we fly. We
  • shall enjoy visiting with the Dragon-flies and Moths. I shall not forget you
  • altogether, I dare say, but I shall feel it my duty to move in the upper
  • circles, where I belong. Good-morning."