Stránka:tales 1921.djvu/97

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went silently forward, and each took a long drink of the double goblet.

Then they crawled away, and at once became the most beautiful of all caterpillars, brilliant jewel-green with stripes of pink, velvet, and gold. Never before were there seen such exquisite little crawlers.

But now a sad thing happened. They were so beautiful that many creatures became their enemies, and began to kill them and eat them one after another. They crawled as fast as they could, and hid away, but many of them were killed by birds and beasts of prey, as well as by big fierce insects.

They did not know what to do, so next day the few that were left crawled back to the Grove of Ages, and once more stood before Mother Carey.

"Well, my Beauty-crawlers," she said, "what would you?"

"Oh, Mother Carey, it is fearful, everyone seeks to destroy us. Most of us are killed, and many of us wounded. Will you not protect us?"

"You drank of the two goblets, my children. I warned you that your beauty would bring terrible trouble with it."

They bowed their little heads in silent sorrow, for they knew that that was true.

"Now," said the All-Mother, "do you wish to go back and be ugly again?"

They whispered together and said: "No, Mother Carey, it is better to be beautiful and die."

Then Mother Carey looked on them very kindly, and said: "Little ones, I love your brave spirit. You shall not die. Neither shall you lose your beauty. I will give you a defence that will keep off all your enemies but one, that is the Long-stinger Wasp, for you must in some way pay for your loveliness." She waved her wand, and all over each ..text continues