Page:The fairy tales of science.djvu/184

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my final metamorphosis, when I gnawed my way through the grating with a pair of mandibles specially provided for that one object. I then swam to the surface, and underwent my change into a perfect insect."

"It is my turn now," said the other fly, a tiny creature with a black body and yellow legs; "and although I am so small, I think I may safely say that I have led a stranger life than any of you. I did not pass my time, when in my caterpillar state, in looking out for food; yet I lived on the fat of the land. I am the dreaded ichneumon-fly, and the egg from which I was produced was deposited by my mother in the soft body of a cabbage-caterpillar, the brother probably of our friend here with the ragged wings. My kind parent settled upon the caterpillar's back, and pierced the skin in about thirty places, depositing an egg in each wound. When we were all hatched, we set to work devouring the fatty portions of the caterpillar, who continued to eat as usual, though his food did not afford him much nourishment. When full grown, we eat our way through the skin of the unfortunate cabbage-feeder, and immediately spun for ourselves a number of little silken cocoons of a bright yellow colour, in which to pass the winter. In one of these little cocoons I underwent my transformations, and when I escaped I had the form which you now behold!"

Such, reader, is the subject of a conversation