The Beetle Who Went on His Travelspage 4 / 7
“You are both quite right,” said he; so they begged him to walk in, that is to come as far as he could under the broken piece of earthenware.
“Now you shall also see my little earwigs,” said a third and a fourth mother, “they are lovely little things, and highly amusing. They are never ill-behaved, except when they are uncomfortable in their inside, which unfortunately often happens at their age.”
Thus each mother spoke of her baby, and their babies talked after their own fashion, and made use of the little nippers they have in their tails to nip the beard of the beetle.
“They are always busy about something, the little rogues,” said the mother, beaming with maternal pride; but the beetle felt it a bore, and he therefore inquired the way to the nearest dung-heap.
“That is quite out in the great world, on the other side of the ditch,” answered an earwig, “I hope none of my children will ever go so far, it would be the death of me.”
“But I shall try to get so far,” said the beetle, and he walked off without taking any formal leave, which is considered a polite thing to do.
When he arrived at the ditch, he met several friends, all them beetles; “We live here,” they said, “and we are very comfortable. May we ask you to step down into this rich mud, you must be fatigued after your journey.”
“Certainly,” said the beetle, “I shall be most happy; 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 the draught under a piece of broken crockery. It is really quite refreshing to be with one's own kindred again.”
“Perhaps you came from a dung-heap,” observed the oldest of them.
“No, indeed, I came from a much grander 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, but you must not ask me any questions, for I cannot betray my secret.”