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It was very
“Do as you like about that; but would you ever imagine this grand butterfly was once only a crawling caterpillar ? Nevertheless it is true, my boy: some months ago this very lovely creature was a green caterpillar, with velvety black rings spotted with red, and carried on the back of its neck two tiny fleshy horns shaped somewhat like the letter Y. fond of eating the leaves or flowers of fennel and carrot, instead of being satisfied with a sip of juice, as the butterfly now is. This caterpillar was a most greedy animal, never seeming tired of devouring food. After the caterpillar had spent many a day creeping among the feathery fennel leaves, it began to prepare for a great change.”
“The hungry creature does not deserve to be changed into anything pretty, papa."
“Do not be so hard on the poor caterpillar; you will not grudge him a little feasting when I tell you he was getting ready for a fast which sometimes lasts several months. When the right moment came, the caterpillar fixed itself to some stem or leaf, and began to spin a little web, to which it fastened itself by means of hooks, with which its last two feet were furnished. This being done, it hung head downwards. It might, however, soon be seen moving up and down, until at length a long rent appeared in the skin of the caterpillar, and the little thing succeeded in drawing itself out of its old dress, as you might pull your fingers out of a glove."
Oh, it must have been very cold!" “I see you pity the insect now, but you must not imagine it was sorry for its old dress; on the contrary, it took a great deal of trouble to throw the worn-out
garment away. This done, it fastened itself by silken threads more firmly to its resting-place, and in this state we call it a chrysalis, or pupa. It neither moves, nor eats, and you might easily mistake it for a dry leaf or bit of wood." “But sure, papa, it was not really dead P”
Certainly not, my boy; for when the warm summer came it wakened up from its long sleep, burst its coffin, and escaped into the sunshine.”
I saw it, I saw it, papa, this morning ; but surely this bright butterfly is quite unlike the caterpillar P”
• Yes, indeed, Frank; you could scarcely fancy two creatures more unlike in form and habits; still, they are really the same in different stages of being. Instead of crawling on the ground, it now wings its way through the air ; instead of a shaggy dress it wears a robe like the rainbow; instead of feeding on coarse leaves it regales itself with the honey of flowers."
“How delightful, dear little swallow-tail ! I cannot help liking you, even though you were a caterpillar long ago." And now, before
your favourite flies off to the garden, let me show you some of its wondrous beauty, Just look at those wings."
They are covered with bright dust, papa, which would come off if I touched them."
“What seem only specks of dust to you, Frank, are really hundreds of thousands of tiny scales, or feathers, each one tinted with the gayest colours. Then watch the motion of those little horns which project from the head. Can you guess their use"
“No indeed, papa."
“It is probable that the butterfly uses them as feelers, and touches various substances with them, as you do with your finger when you want to find out whether a thing is hard or soft, hot or cold.”
“But, papa, I wish so much to know how the butterfly can force itself down into very narrow flowers without spoiling its pretty wings.”
“ That is a thoughtful inquiry, Frank, for many flowers keep their honey stores in deep cells quite out of sight, I shall try to explain it to you. Now, if there were a little honey in the bottom of this vase, and you wished to get it without using your hands, how would you accomplish the difficult task P"
"Well, really I do not know, for the vase is too narrow for my head and too long for my tongue."
“The butterfly might have been equally unable to sip the flower juice if it had not been supplied by the Creator with a most curious hollow tongue, long and narrow, and made up of very many little rings fastened together. Through this tongue it can drink the nectar or juice of the smallest flower. This tiny trunk is coiled up under the head when the insect is at rest, and we should require a strong magnifying glass to be able to examine it. I hope when you grow older you will take great pleasure in learning about the wonders of creation ; for God teaches his children lessons out of two books-his word and his works. Even this butterfly seems to say to us, ' Try to be like me; once I was a creeping thing, fond of earth, and neither able nor willing to soar above it; then I lay cold, stiff, and motionless; but look at me now, I love everything pure, and bright, and beautiful. So, dear
boy, I hope it will be with us; if our souls are washed from sin by Jesus, and quickened by the Holy Spirit, we need not fear the long sleep of death, but lie down in the hope of a glorious resurrection,' when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.'"
Frank looked at his father's face while he said these last words ; then turning to take another glance at the butterfly, the bright wings were spread, and the gay little creature was soon in the garden. His admirer quickly followed, and, rich in the possession of some new ideas, roamed up and down among the flowers as happy as the merry butterfly,
A heaven of joy and love ;
Go to that world above."
And pleasures never cease ;
And still, and still increase.
From life's delightful way.
And run the heavenly race;
To see thee face to face.