The beetle



The Emperor's horse was shod with gold - a golden shoe on each of its feet.

And why was he getting golden shoes?

He was a magnificent-looking animal, with slender legs, intelligent eyes, and a mane that hung down his neck like a soft veil of silk. He had carried his master through the smoke and flame of battle and heard the bullets sing and whistle around him; he had kicked and bitten those about him and done his share of the fighting whenever the enemy advanced; he had leaped, carrying his master on his back, over the enemy's fallen horse and had saved the Emperor's red gold crown, saved the life of the Emperor, which was much more valuable than the red gold; and that's why the Emperor's horse had golden shoes, a golden shoe on each of his feet.

And the Beetle came creeping out.

"First the big ones," he said, "and then the little ones; but size isn't the only thing that does it." Then he stretched out his thin legs.

"And what do you want?" demanded the Blacksmith.

"Golden shoes," replied the Beetle.

"Why, you must be crazy!" said the Blacksmith. "Do you want golden shoes, too?"

"Golden shoes," said the Beetle. "I'm just as good as that great creature that is waited on, currycombed, and brushed, and served with food and drink. Don't I belong to the imperial stable, too?"

"But why does the horse have golden shoes?" asked the Blacksmith. "Don't you understand that?"

"Understand? I understand that it is a personal insult to me," said the Beetle. "It's just done to annoy me, so I'm going out into the world."

"Get out of here!" said the Blacksmith.

"What a rude person!" said the Beetle as he left the stable. He flew a little way and presently found himself in a beautiful flower garden, all fragrant with roses and lavender.

"Isn't it lovely here?" asked one of the little Ladybirds that were flying about, with black spots on their red shieldlike wings. "How sweet it smells here and how beautiful it is!"

"I'm used to much better things," said the Beetle. "Do you call this beautiful? Why, there isn't so much as a manure pile here!"

Then he went on and got into the shadow of a large Gillyflower. A Caterpillar was crawling along on it.

"How beautiful the world is!" said the Caterpillar. "The sun is so warm, and everything is so pleasant! And when my time comes and I must die, as people call it, I'll wake up again, and I'll be a butterfly!"

"What conceit!" said the Beetle. "You fly about like a butterfly, indeed! I'm from the stable of the Emperor, and no one there, not even the Emperor's favorite horse - who wears my castoff golden shoes - has any idea like that! Get wings! Fly! Why, I can fly already!" and then the Beetle flew away. "I don't really want to be annoyed, and yet I am annoyed."

Soon afterward he settled on a large lawn. Here he lay quietly for a while, and then he fell asleep.

My goodness! The rain came down in buckets! The noise woke up the Beetle, and he wanted to get down into the earth at once, but he couldn't. He tumbled over; sometimes he was swimming on his stomach, sometimes on his back, and it was out of the question to try to fly; would he ever escape from there with his life? So he just lay where he was and remained lying there.

When the rain had let up a little, and the Beetle had blinked the water from his eyes, he saw something gleaming white. It was linen that had been put out there to bleach; he managed to make his way to it and creep into a fold of the damp cloth. Certainly this place wasn't as comfortable as the warm stable, but there was nothing better, and so he stayed there for a whole day and a whole night, while the rain stayed, too. The next morning he crept out, very much annoyed with the weather.

Two frogs were sitting on the linen, their bright eyes shining with pleasure.

"What wonderful weather this is!" one of them said. "How refreshing! And this linen holds the water together so perfectly! My hind legs are tickling as if I were going to swim."

"I'd like to know," said the other Frog, "whether the swallow, who flies so far in her many trips to foreign countries, ever finds a better climate than ours. Such a storm, and such a downpour! You really might think you were lying in a wet ditch. Anybody that doesn't enjoy this weather certainly doesn't love his native country!"

"Have you ever been in the Emperor's stable?" asked the Beetle. "The dampness there is both warm and refreshing. That's what I am used to; that's the climate for me; but one can't take it along on a journey. Isn't there a nice hotbed here in the garden, where persons of rank, like me, can find a place to live and make himself at home?"

But the Frogs either didn't or wouldn't understand him.

"I never ask a question twice," said the Beetle, after he had already asked three times without getting any answer.

He went on a little farther and bumped against a piece of broken pottery. It certainly shouldn't have been lying there, but since it was it gave good shelter. Several families of Earwigs lived here, and they didn't need very much room; but they liked company. The females were full of the most devoted mother love, and so each one considered her own child the most beautiful and clever of all.

"Our son has become engaged!" said one mother. "The sweet, innocent baby! His greatest ambition is to creep someday into a clergyman's ear! He's such a lovely boy. And being engaged will keep him out of mischief. What joy for a mother!"

"Our son," said another mother, "had hardly crept from the egg before he got into mischief. He's so full of life and spirits he'll run his horns off! What joy that is for a mother! Isn't that true, Mr. Beetle?" for she had recognized the stranger by his shape.

"You're both quite right," said the Beetle; so they invited him to walk in - that is, to come as far as he could under the broken flowerpot.

"Now you ought to see my little earwig!" observed a third mother, and a fourth. "They're such lovely children, and so amusing! They never behave badly, except when they have a stomach-ache, but that happens pretty often at their age."

Then each mother spoke of her own youngster, and the youngsters joined in the conversation, and used the little forks in their tails to pull the Beetle's mustache.

"The little scamps, they're always up to something!" said the mothers, beaming with maternal love. But the Beetle was bored by all this, and so he asked how far it was to the nearest hotbed.

"Oh, that's way out in the world, on the other side of the ditch," said an Earwig. "I hope none of my children ever goes that far - it would be the death of me."

"Just the same I'll try to go that far," said the Beetle, and then he went off without taking any formal leave, for that's considered the politest thing to do. And by the ditch he met several of his kind - all Beetles.

"We live here," they said. "And we're very cozy here, too. May we invite you to step down into this rich soil? The journey must have tired you out."

"Indeed it has," said the Beetle. "I've been lying on linen out in the rain, and cleanliness tires me very much. I also have rheumatism in my wing joints, from standing in a draft under a broken flowerpot. It's really very relaxing to be among one's own kind again."

"Perhaps you come from the hotbed?" asked the oldest of them.

"Oh, I come from a much higher place," said the Beetle. "I come from the Emperor's stable, where I was born with golden shoes on! I'm traveling on a secret mission. You mustn't ask me any questions, for I won't tell you anything."

And so the Beetle stepped down into the rich soil. There sat three young lady Beetles, and they tittered because they didn't know what to say.

"They are not engaged yet," said their mother, and then the young lady Beetles tittered again, this time from embarrassment.

"I have never seen greater beauties even in the Emperor's stables!" said the traveling Beetle.

"Now don't you spoil my daughters," said the mother, "and please don't speak to them unless you have serious intentions. But of course your intentions are honorable, and so I give you my blessing!"

"Hurrah!" cried all the other Beetles at once, and so the Beetle was engaged. First the engagement, then the wedding; there was nothing to wait for.

The following day passed pleasantly, and the next was fair enough, but by the third day it was time to think of food for the wife and perhaps for children.

"I've let them put something over on me," he said, "and now the only thing to do is put something over on them in return."

And that he did. Away he went, away all day, and away all night, while his wife was left a widow.

The other Beetles said that they had taken nothing more than a complete tramp into the family and now his wife was left a burden on their hands.

"Well, then, she shall be unmarried again," said her mother, "and sit here among my unmarried daughters. Shame on that disgusting rascal who deserted her!"

Meanwhile the Beetle had been traveling on, and had sailed across the ditch on a cabbage leaf. That morning two persons came by, and when they saw the Beetle they picked him up, turned him over and over, and both looked very learned - especially one of them, a boy.

"Allah sees the black beetle in the black stone and in the black mountain," he said. "Isn't that in the Koran?" Then he translated the Beetle's name into Latin and discoursed upon its nature and family history. The older scholar was opposed to carrying him home, saying they had just as good a specimen there. This, the Beetle thought, was a very rude thing to say, consequently he suddenly flew out of the speaker's hand. As his wings were dry now, he flew a considerable distance and reached a greenhouse, where he found a sash of the glass roof partly open, so, with the greatest of ease, he slipped in and buried himself in the manure.

"It's very comfortable here," he remarked.

Soon he feel asleep and dreamed that the Emperor's horse had fallen down and that Mr. Beetle had been given its golden shoes, with the promise that he should have two more.

It was all very charming. And when the Beetle woke up he crept out and looked around him. What splendor there was in the greenhouse! Great palm trees were growing high, and the sun made them look transparent. And beneath them what a riot of green, and blooming flowers, red as fire, yellow as amber, or white as freshly fallen snow!

"What magnificent plants! How delicious they'll taste when they're nice and decayed!" said the Beetle. "This is a splendid larder! I am sure some of my relatives live here; I'll just see if I can find anyone fit to associate with. I'm proud, and I'm proud of being that way."

So he thought of the dream he had had about the dying horse and the golden shoes he had won. But suddenly a hand seized the Beetle and squeezed him and turned him over and over.

The gardener's little son and his playmate had come to the greenhouse and, seeing the Beetle, had decided to have some fun with him. First he was wrapped in a vine leaf and then shoved down into a warm trousers pocket. He squirmed and wriggled, but he got a good squeezing from the boy's hand. The boy went rapidly toward the great lake at the bottom of the garden. Here they put the Beetle in an old broken wooden shoe, with the top part missing. A little stick was placed upright for a mast, and to this the Beetle was bound with a woolen thread. Now he was a skipper and had to sail away.

The lake was very large, and to the Beetle it seemed a vast ocean; he was so amazed at its size that he fell over on his back and kicked out with all his legs.

The wooden shoe sailed away. The current bore it along, but whenever it went too far from shore one of the boys would roll up his trousers, go in after it, and bring it back. However, just as it sailed merrily out to sea again, the boys were called away, and quite sharply, too, so that they ran away from the lake, leaving the wooden shoe to its fate. It drifted away from the shore, farther and farther out; it was a terrible situation for the Beetle; he couldn't fly, for he was bound tightly to the mast.

Then a Fly paid him a visit.

"What beautiful weather we're having!" said the Fly. "I'll rest here; I can take a sun bath here. You're certainly having a nice time of it!"

"You don't know what you're talking about," replied the Beetle. "Can't you see I'm tied up?"

"I'm not a prisoner," said the Fly, and promptly flew away.

"Well, now I guess I know the world," the Beetle said. "And it's a mean place. I'm the only honest person in it. First, they won't give me my golden shoes, then I have to lie on wet linen and stand in a draft, and as a climax they hitch a wife to me. Then, when I made a quick move out into the world, and found out how people live, and how I ought to live, one of these human puppies comes and ties me up and leaves me to the mercy of the wild ocean, while the Emperor's horse prances about proudly in golden shoes. That's what annoys me more than anything else! But you mustn't expect sympathy in this world! My career has been very interesting, but what's the good of that, if nobody knows about it? The world doesn't deserve to know about it, for it should have given me golden shoes when the Emperor's horse was shod and I stretched out my feet to be shod, too. If they'd given me golden shoes I'd have been an honor to the stable. Now the stable has lost me, and the world has lost me! It's all over!"

But it wasn't all over yet. Some young girls came rowing up in a boat.

"There's an old wooden shoe sailing along over there!" said one of them.

"And there's a little animal tied fast in it!" said another.

Their boat came quite close to the wooden shoe, and they fished him out of the water. One of the girls took out a tiny pair of scissors and cut the woolen thread without hurting the Beetle; and when she stepped on shore she placed him down on the grass.

"Crawl, crawl, fly, fly away if you can!" she said. "Freedom is a precious thing!"

And the Beetle flew straight through the open window of a large building, and there he sank down, tired and exhausted, in the long, fine, soft mane of the Emperor's favorite horse, which was standing in the stable where he and the Beetle lived. He clung fast to the mane and sat there a little while until he had collected himself.

"Here I am sitting on the Emperor's favorite horse! Yes, sitting on him as his rider! But what am I saying? Oh, yes, now it's clear to me; yes, it's a good idea and quite right. Why did the horse get golden shoes, the blacksmith asked me. Now I know the answer. They were given to the horse on my account!"

That put the Beetle in good spirits again.

"Traveling broadens the mind," he said.

The sun's rays streamed in on him and shone very brightly.

"On the whole, the world isn't so bad, after all!" said the Beetle. "But you must know how to take it!"

The world was wonderful, because the Emperor's favorite horse had golden shoes and because the Beetle was its rider.

"Now I am going down to the other beetles and tell them about all the pleasures I have enjoyed on my trip abroad, and I am going to say that now I'm going to stay at home until the horse has worn out his golden shoes."
Kejserens hest fik guldsko; guldsko på hver en fod.

Hvorfor fik han guldsko?

Han var det dejligste dyr, havde fine ben, øjne så kloge og en manke, der hang som et silkeslør ned om halsen. Han havde båret sin herre i krudtdamp og kugleregn, hørt kuglerne synge og pibe; han havde bidt om sig, slået om sig, kæmpet med, da fjenderne trængte på; med sin kejser sat i et spring over den styrtede fjendes hest, frelst sin kejsers krone af det røde guld, og derfor fik kejserens hest guldsko, guldsko på hver en fod.

Og skarnbassen krøb frem.

"Først de store, så de små," sagde den, "dog det er ikke størrelsen, som gør det." Og så strakte den frem sine tynde ben.

"Hvad vil du?" spurgte smeden.

"Guldsko!" svarede skarnbassen.

"Du er nok ikke klarhovedet!" sagde smeden, "vil du også have guldsko?"

"Guldsko!" sagde skarnbassen. "Er jeg ikke lige så god som det store bæst, der skal have opvartning, strigles, passes, have føde og drikke. Hører jeg ikke også til kejserens stald?"

"Men hvorfor får hesten guldsko?" spurgte smeden, "begriber du det ikke?"

"Begriber? Jeg begriber, at det er ringeagt imod mig," sagde skarnbassen, "det er en krænkelse - og nu går jeg derfor ud i den vide verden!"

"Pil af!" sagde smeden.

"Grov karl!" sagde skarnbassen, og så gik den udenfor, fløj et lille stykke, og nu var den i en nydelig lille blomsterhave, hvor der duftede af roser og lavendler.

"Er her ikke dejligt!" sagde en af de små "Vorherres høns," der fløj om med sorte prikker på de røde skjoldstærke vinger. "Hvor her lugter sødt og hvor her er kønt!"

"Jeg er vant til bedre!" sagde skarnbassen, "kalder I dette kønt? Her er jo ikke engang en mødding!"

Og så gik den videre frem, ind i skyggen af en stor levkøj; der krøb en kålorm på den.

"Hvor dog verden er dejlig!" sagde kålormen, "solen er så varm! Alt er så fornøjeligt! og når jeg engang sover ind og dør, som de kalder det, så vågner jeg op og er en sommerfugl!"

"Bild dig noget ind!" sagde skarnbassen, "nu flyver vi om som sommerfugl! Jeg kommer fra kejserens stald, men ingen der, ikke engang kejserens livhest, der dog går med mine aflagte guldsko, har slige indbildninger. Få vinger! flyve! ja nu flyver vi!" Og så fløj skarnbassen. "Jeg vil ikke ærgre mig, men jeg ærgrer mig dog!"

Så dumpede den ned på en stor græsplet; her lå den lidt, så faldt den i søvn.

Bevares, hvilken skylregn der styrtede! skarnbassen vågnede ved det plask og ville straks ned i jorden, men kunne det ikke; den væltede, den svømmede på maven og på ryggen, flyve var der ikke at tænke på, den kom vist aldrig levende fra denne plet; den lå hvor den lå og blev liggende.

Da det hoftede lidt, og skarnbassen havde blinket vandet af sine øjne, skimtede den noget hvidt, det var linned på blegen; den nåede derhen, krøb ind i en fold af det våde lintøj, det var rigtignok ikke, som at ligge i den varme dynge i stalden; men her var nu intet bedre, og så blev den her en hel dag, en hel nat, og også regnvejret blev. I morgenstunden kom skarnbassen frem; den var så ærgerlig over klimaet.

Der sad på linnedet to frøer; deres klare øjne lyste af bare fornøjelse. "Det er et velsignet vejr!" sagde den ene. "Hvor det forfrisker! og lintøjet holder så dejligt sammen på vandet! det kriller mig i bagbenene, som om jeg skulle svømme!"

"Jeg gad nok vide," sagde den anden, "om svalen, som flyver så vidt omkring, om den på sine mange rejser i udlandet har fundet et bedre klima, end vort; sådant et rusk, og sådan en væde! det er ligesom om man lå i en våd grøft! er man ikke glad ved det, så elsker man rigtignok ikke sit fædreland!"

"I har da aldrig været i kejserens stalde?" spurgte skarnbassen. "Der er det våde både varmt og krydret! det er jeg vant til; det er mit klima, men det kan man ikke tage med på rejsen. Er her ingen mistbænk i haven, hvor standspersoner, som jeg, kan tage ind og føle sig hjemme?"

Men frøerne forstod ham ikke, eller ville ikke forstå ham.

"Jeg spørger aldrig anden gang!" sagde skarnbassen, da den havde spurgt tre gange uden at få svar.

Så gik den et stykke, der lå et potteskår; det skulle ikke ligge der, men som det lå gav det ly. Her boede flere ørentvistefamilier; de forlanger ikke meget husrum, men kun selskabelighed; hunnerne er især begavet med moderkærlighed, derfor var også hvers unge den kønneste og den klogeste.

"Vor søn er blevet forlovet!" sagde en moder, "den søde uskyldighed! hans højeste mål er engang at kunne krybe i øret på en præst. Han er så elskelig barnlig og forlovelse holder ham fra udskejelser! det er så glædeligt for en moder!"

"Vor søn," sagde en anden moder, "kom lige ud af ægget og var straks på spil; det sprutter i ham, han løber hornene af sig. Det er en uhyre glæde for en moder! Ikke sandt? Hr. Skarnbasse!" De kendte den fremmede på skabelonen.

"De har begge to ret!" sagde skarnbassen, og så blev den budt op i stuen, så langt den kunne komme under potteskåret.

"Nu skal De også se min lille ørentvist!" sagde en tredje og fjerde af mødrene, "det er de elskeligste børn og så morsomme! de er aldrig uartige uden når de har ondt i maven, men det får man så let i deres alder!"

Og så talte hver moder om sine unger, og ungerne talte med og brugte den lille gaffel de havde på halen til at trække i skarnbassens mundskæg.

"De finder nu også på alting, de småskælme!" sagde mødrene og dunstede af moderkærlighed, men det kedede skarnbassen, og så spurgte den om der var langt herfra til mistbænken.

"Det er langt ude i verden, på den anden side grøften!" sagde ørentvisten, "så langt, vil jeg håbe, kommer aldrig nogen af mine børn, for så døde jeg!"

"Så langt vil jeg dog prøve at nå!" sagde skarnbassen og gik uden afsked; det er galantest.

Ved grøften traf den flere af sin slægt, alle skarnbasser.

"Her bor vi!" sagde de. "Vi har det ganske lunt! Tør vi ikke byde Dem ned i det fede! Rejsen har vist trættet Dem!"

"Det har den!" sagde skarnbassen. "Jeg har ligget på linned i regnvejr, og renlighed tager især på mig! jeg har også fået gigt i vingeleddet, ved at stå i træk under et potteskår. Det er rigtig en vederkvægelse at komme engang til sine egne!"

"De kommer måske fra mistbænken!" spurgte den ældste.

"Højere op!" sagde skarnbassen. "Jeg kommer fra kejserens stald, hvor jeg blev født med guldsko; jeg rejser i et hemmeligt ærinde, hvorom De ikke må fritte mig, thi jeg siger det ikke!"

Og så steg skarnbassen ned i det fede dynd; der sad tre unge hunskarnbasser, de fnisede, for de vidste ikke hvad de skulle sige.

"De er uforlovede!" sagde moderen, og så fnisede de igen, men det var af forlegenhed.

"Jeg har ikke set dem skønnere i kejserens stalde!" sagde den rejsende skarnbasse.

"Fordærv mig ikke mine pigebørn! og tal ikke til dem, uden De har reelle hensigter; - men det har De, og jeg giver Dem min velsignelse."

"Hurra!" sagde alle de andre, og så var skarnbassen forlovet. Først forlovelse, så bryllup, der var jo ikke noget at vente efter.

Næste dag gik meget godt, den anden luntede af, men på den tredje dag skulle man dog tænke på føden for kone og måske rollinger.

"Jeg har ladet mig overraske!" sagde den, "så må jeg nok overraske dem igen -!"

Og det gjorde den. Væk var den; væk hele dagen, væk hele natten - og konen sad enke. De andre skarnbasser sagde, at det var en rigtig landstryger de havde optaget i familien; konen sad dem nu til byrde.

"Så kan hun sidde som jomfru igen!" sagde moderen, "sidde som mit barn! fy, det lede skarn, som forlod hende!"

Han var imidlertid på farten, var sejlet på et kålblad over grøften; hen på morgenstunden kom to mennesker, de så skarnbassen, tog den op, vendte og drejede den og de var meget lærde begge to, især drengen. "Allah ser den sorte skarnbasse i den sorte sten i det sorte fjeld! står der ikke således i Alkoranen?" spurgte han og oversatte skarnbassens navn på latin, gjorde rede for dens slægt og natur. Den ældre lærde stemte imod at den skulle tages med hjem, de havde der lige så gode eksemplarer, sagde han, og det var ikke høfligt sagt, syntes skarnbassen, derfor fløj den ham af hånden, fløj et godt stykke, den var blevet tør i vingerne og så nåede den drivhuset, hvor den i største bekvemmelighed, da det ene vindue var skudt op, kunne smutte ind og grave sig ned i den friske gødning.

"Her er lækkert!" sagde den.

Snart faldt den i søvn og drømte at kejserens hest var styrtet og at hr. Skarnbasse havde fået dens guldsko og løftet om to til. Det var en behagelighed og da skarnbassen vågnede, krøb den frem og så op. Hvilken pragt her i drivhuset! store viftepalmer bredte sig i højden, solen gjorde dem transparente, og under dem vældede der en fylde af grønt og skinnede der blomster, røde som ild, gule som rav og hvide som nyfalden sne.

"Det er en mageløs plantepragt! hvor den vil smage når den går i forrådnelse!" sagde skarnbassen. "Det er et godt spisekammer; her bor vist af familien; jeg vil gå på eftersporing, se at finde nogen, jeg kan omgås med. Stolt er jeg, det er min stolthed!" Og så gik den og tænkte på sin drøm om den døde hest og de vundne guldsko.

Da greb lige med ét en hånd om skarnbassen, den blev klemt, vendt og drejet.

Gartnerens lille søn og en kammerat var i drivhuset, havde set skarnbassen og skulle have fornøjelse af den; lagt i et vindrueblad kom den ned i en varm bukselomme, den kriblede og krablede, fik så et tryk med hånden af drengen, der gik rask af sted til den store indsø for enden af haven, her blev skarnbassen sat i en gammel knækket træsko, som vristen var gået af; en pind blev gjort fast, som mast; og til den blev skarnbassen tøjret med en ulden tråd; nu var den skipper og skulle ud at sejle.

Det var en meget stor indsø, skarnbassen syntes, at det var et verdenshav og blev så forbavset, at den faldt om på ryggen og sprættede med benene.

Træskoen sejlede, der var strømning i vandet, men kom fartøjet lidt for langt ud, så smøgede den ene dreng straks sine bukser op og gik ud og hentede det, men da det igen var i drift blev der kaldt på drengene, alvorligt kaldt, og de skyndte dem af sted og lod træsko være træsko; den drev og det altid mere fra land, altid længere ud, det var gyseligt for skarnbassen; flyve kunne den ikke, den var bundet fast til masten.

Den fik besøg af en flue.

"Det er et dejligt vejr vi har!" sagde fluen. "Her kan jeg hvile mig! her kan jeg sole mig. De har det meget behageligt!"

"De snakker, som De har forstand til! ser De ikke, at jeg er tøjret!"

"Jeg er ikke tøjret!" sagde fluen og så fløj den.

"Nu kender jeg verden!" sagde skarnbassen, "det er en nedrig verden! jeg er den eneste honnette i den! Først nægter man mig guldsko, så må jeg ligge på vådt linned, stå i træk og til sidst prakker de mig en kone på. Gør jeg nu et rask skridt ud i verden, og ser hvorledes man kan have det og jeg skulle have det, så kommer en menneskehvalp og sætter mig i tøjr på det vilde hav. Og imidlertid går kejserens hest med guldsko! det kreperer mig mest; men deltagelse kan man ikke vente sig i denne verden! mit levnedsløb er meget interessant, dog hvad kan det hjælpe når ingen kender det! Verden fortjener heller ikke at kende det, ellers havde den givet mig guldsko i kejserens stald, da livhesten blev skoet og jeg rakte benene frem. Havde jeg fået guldsko, da var jeg blevet en ære for stalden, nu har den tabt mig og verden har tabt mig, alt er ude!"

Men alt var ikke ude endnu, der kom en båd med nogle unge piger.

"Der sejler en træsko!" sagde den ene.

"Der er et lille dyr tøjret fast i den!" sagde den anden.

De var lige ved siden af træskoen, de fik den op, og den ene af pigerne tog en lille saks frem, klippede uldtråden over uden at gøre skarnbassen skade og da de kom i land, satte hun den i græsset.

"Kryb, kryb! flyv, flyv, om du kan!" sagde hun. "Frihed er en dejlig ting!"

Og skarnbassen fløj lige ind af det åbne vindue på en stor bygning og der sank den træt ned i den fine bløde, lange manke på kejserens livhest, der stod i stalden, hvor den og skarnbassen hørte hjemme; den klamrede sig fast i manken og sad lidt og summede sig. "Her sidder jeg på kejserens livhest! sidder som rytter! Hvad er det jeg siger! ja nu bliver det mig klart! det er en god ide, og rigtig. Hvorfor fik hesten guldsko? Det spurgte han mig også om, smeden. Nu indser jeg det! for min skyld fik hesten guldsko!"

Og så blev skarnbassen i godt humør.

"Man bliver klarhovedet på rejsen!" sagde den.

Solen skinnede ind på den, skinnede meget smukt. "Verden er ikke så gal endda," sagde skarnbassen, "man må bare vide at tage den!" Verden var dejlig, thi kejserens livhest havde fået guldsko fordi skarnbassen skulle være dens rytter.

"Nu vil jeg stige ned til de andre basser og fortælle hvor meget man har gjort for mig; jeg vil fortælle om alle de behageligheder jeg har nydt på udenlandsrejsen, og jeg vil sige, at nu bliver jeg hjemme så længe, til hesten har slidt sine guldsko!"

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