Page:The fairy tales of science.djvu/175

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143
METAMORPHOSES.

pinions with my feeble muscles? Instead of boasting about your superior strength and prowess, you ought to accept your gifts with a humble thankfulness, as you must be aware that you are far inferior in point of intellect to the sober bee, or the tiny ant."

"Do not be too hard upon me, Mr. Butterfly," said the great insect; "I own myself in the wrong, and am quite willing to adopt any suggestion you may make with regard to the manner of passing our last hours." The two little flies on hearing their dreaded enemy speak so rationally, instantly recovered their self-possession, and the gnat actually ventured within the reach of his formidable mandibles.

"Well, then," said the butterfly, "let each relate his history in as few words as possible, describing the metamorphoses he has undergone, and the wonderful things that have fallen within the sphere of his observation."

This proposition was received with unanimous approbation, and it was speedily determined that the butterfly should tell the first story.

We will now lay before the reader a true report of the conversation that ensued, adding such explanatory remarks as may be necessary to make the speeches of the insects intelligible.

"I am generally known as the cabbage-butterfly," said the first speaker, "and although my wings are now in a very dilapidated condition, I think you