A costly Diamond, that had once sparkled in a lady’s ring, lay in a field amid tall grasses and oxeye daisies.
Just above it, was a big Dewdrop that clung timidly to a nodding grass-blade.
Overhead, the blazing sun shone in all his noonday glory.
Ever since the first pink blush of dawn, the modest Dewdrop had gazed fixedly down upon the rich gem, but feared to address a person of such exalted consequence.
At last, a large Beetle, during his rambles, chanced to espy the Diamond, and he also recognised him to be some one of great rank and importance.
“Sire,” he said, making a low bow, “permit your humble servant to offer you greeting.”
“Tha—nks,” responded the Diamond in languid tones of affectation.
As the Beetle raised his head from his profound bow, his gaze happened to alight upon the Dewdrop.
“A relative of yours, I presume, Sire?” he remarked affably, waving one of his feelers in the direction of the Dewdrop.
The Diamond burst into a rude, contemptuous laugh.
“Quite too absurd, I declare!” he exclaimed loftily. “But there, what can you expect from a low, grovelling beetle? Away, sir, pass on! Your very presence is distasteful to me. The idea of placing ME upon the same level—in the same family, as a low-born, mean, insignificant, utterly valueless——” Here the Diamond fairly choked for breath.
“But has he not beauty exactly like your own, Sire?” the Beetle ventured to interpose, though with a very timid air.
“BEAU—TY!” flashed the Diamond, with fine disdain—”the impudent fellow merely apes and imitates ME. However, it is some small consolation to remember that ‘Imitation is the sincerest flattery.’ But, even allowing him to possess it, mere beauty without rank is ridiculous and worthless. A Boat without water—a Carriage, but no horses—a Well, but never a winch: such is beauty without rank and wealth! There is no real worth apart from rank and wealth. Combine Beauty, Rank, and Wealth, and you have the whole world at your feet. Now you know the secret of the world worshipping ME.”
And the Diamond sparkled and gleamed with vivid, violet flashes, so that the Beetle was glad to shade his eyes.
The poor Dewdrop had listened silently to all that had passed, and felt so wounded, that at last he wished he never had been born. Slowly a bright tear fell and splashed the dust.
Just then, a Skylark fluttered to the ground and eagerly darted his beak at the Diamond.
“Alas!” he piped, with a great sob of disappointment. “What I thought to be a precious dewdrop is only a worthless diamond. My throat is parched for want of water. I must die of thirst!”
“Really? The world will never get over your loss,” cruelly sneered the Diamond.
But a sudden and noble resolve came to the Dewdrop. Deeply did he repent his foolish wish. He could now lay down his life that the life of another might be saved!
“May I help you, please?” he gently asked.
The Lark raised his drooping head.
“Oh, my precious, precious friend, if you will, you can save my life!”
“Open your mouth then.”
And the Dewdrop slid from the blade of grass, tumbled into the parched beak, and was eagerly swallowed.
“Ah—well, well!” pondered the Beetle as he continued his homeward way. “I’ve been taught a lesson that I shall not easily forget. Yes, yes! Simple worth is far better than rank or wealth without modesty and unselfishness—and there is no true beauty where these virtues are absent!”