The Caterpillar

By Hannah Flagg Gould

Don’t kill me!’ Caterpillar said,
As Charles had raised his heel
Upon the humble worm to tread,
As though it could not feel.
‘Don’t kill me!’ and I’ll crawl away
To hide awhile, and try
To come and look, another day,
More pleasing to your eye.
‘I know I’m now among the things
Uncomely to your sight;
But by and by on splendid wings
You’ll see me high and light!
‘And then, perhaps, you may be glad
To watch me on the flower;
And that you spared the worm you had
To-day within your power!’
Then Caterpillar went and hid
In some secreted place,
Where none could look on what he did
To change his form and face.
And by and by, when Charles had quite
Forgotten what I’ve told,
A Butterfly appeared in sight
Most beauteous to behold.
His shining wings were trimmed with gold,
And many a brilliant dye
Was laid upon their velvet fold,
To charm the gazing eye!
Then, near as prudence would allow,
To Charles’s ear he drew
And said, ‘You may not know me, now
My form and name are new!
‘But I’m the worm that once you raised
Your ready foot to kill!
For sparing me, I long have praised,
And love and praise you still.
‘The lowest reptile at your feet,
When power is not abused,
May prove the fruit of mercy sweet,
By being kindly used!’

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