The Story of Little Cacinella From the book; Verotchka's Tales written in 1922 by D. N. Mamin-Siberiak; Translated by Ray Davidson; Illustrated by the great Boris M. Artzybasheff

I


OW and where little Cacinella (“Ladybug“) was born, no one knows. It happened one sunny day in spring.

Little Cacinella looked around and said, “Very nice.” She stretched her tiny wings, rubbed one little thin leg against the other, looked around again and said:”How very, very nice! How warm the sun! How blue the sky! How green the grass! How very, very nice! and all this is mine!”

Rubbing one little leg against the other once more, little Cacinella began to fly. She flew and looked around and rejoiced. Beneath her, the grass was green, and hidden in its bosom, was a crimson flower.

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“Little Cacinella, come to me,” called the flower.

Cacinella came down to the ground, climbed into the flower and sipped its sweet nectar.

“How kind you are, little flower,” said Cacinella, rubbing her mouth with one of her little thin legs.

“Yes, I may be kind, but I cannot walk,” complained the flower.

“Still, the world is lovely,” said little Cacinella, “and it is all mine, too.”

She had hardly finished, when a hairy drone flew down upon the flower with a loud buzz.

“Buzz! Buzz! Who dares to get into my flower? Buzz! Buzz! Who dares to sip my sweet nectar? Buzz! Buzz! Oh, you nasty little Cacinella, get away from here! Buzz! Buzz! Get away or I’ll sting you to death.”

“I say, what does this mean?” piped little Cacinella. “Everything is mine.”

“Buzz! Buzz! No, it’s mine.”

Little Cacinella was barely able to escape from the angry drone. She crept into the grass, licked her thin little legs, sticky with flower nectar, and said angrily:”How rude that drone was! It’s quite amazing! He even tried to sting me to death! Why, aren’t they all mine, the sun and the grass and the flower!”

“No, pardon me. They are all mine,” said a fuzzy Caterpillar, crawling along a blade of grass. Little Cacinella realized that a caterpillar cannot fly, so she grew bold.

“Pardon me, Mr. Caterpillar. You are mistaken. I do not interfere with your crawling. Don’t argue with me.”

“Very well. Pray don’t touch my grass. To tell you the truth, I don’t like it. So many of you fly about here. You are all such light-minded creatures; while I, Caterpillar, am a serious person. To be frank, everything is mine. I crawl along a blade of grass and I eat it up. I get into a flower and I eat that up. Good day.”

II


N a few hours, little Cacinella learned many things. She learned that besides the sun, the blue sky and the green grass, there are angry drones, serious caterpillars, thorns on flowers—all of which made one sad. Little Cacinella had thought that everything belonged to her and was especially created for her. Now it hurt her to discover that others thought that everything had been made especially for them. Something was wrong.

Little Cacinella flew further and she came to a pool.”Now, this is surely mine,” she piped gaily. “My water. I am so happy. Here are also grass and flowers.”

Then she met other cacinellas.”Hello, sister,” they called.

“Hello, dears. I’m so glad I met you. It was getting very lonely flying about alone. What are you doing here?”

“We are playing, sister. Come along with us. We are very happy. When were you born?”

“Just to-day. A drone almost stung me to death and I also met a caterpillar. I thought everything belonged to me. They said everything was theirs.”

The little cacinellas calmed their guest and invited her to play with them. Then they swarmed in a thick cloud over the pool, playing tag, flying and squeaking.

Our little Cacinella was almost overcome with joy and completely forgot the angry drone and the serious caterpillar.

“Oh how nice,” she gurgled with delight. “It’s all mine—the sun, the grass, the water. I cannot understand why the others were so angry. It is all mine, but I don’t interfere with anybody’s life. I let them fly and buzz and be happy. It doesn’t bother me.”

Little Cacinella played a while and then sat down for a rest among some reeds. Sitting there, little Cacinella watched the other cacinellas playing, when suddenly a sparrow flashed by, no one knew whence, and dropped like a stone among them.

“Oh! Oh!” cried the little cacinellas, scattering in all directions.

When the sparrow flew away, many little cacinellas were missing from the flock.

“The thief,” scolded the older cacinellas. “He ate about fifteen or more of us.”

“That’s worse than the drone,” thought little Cacinella, and growing frightened, she hid with the other cacinellas deeper among the reeds. But there too, they found enemies. Two of them were eaten by a small fish and two more by a frog.

“What’s all this?” wondered little Cacinella. “This is not a bit nice. It is almost impossible to live. They are perfectly horrid!”

It was a good thing that there were many little cacinellas. Those that disappeared were hardly missed; many new ones were always coming, flying about and squeaking, “It’s all ours! It’s all ours!”

“No, it’s not,” called our little Cacinella to them. “There are, besides us, angry drones, serious caterpillars, horrid sparrows, fishes and frogs. Take care, sisters! Take care!”

When night came, all the little cacinellas hid in the rushes. Stars sprinkled the sky. The moon rose and reflected everything in the water.

“My moon, my stars,” thought little Cacinella; but she did not dare to say it aloud. Some one might take them away from her.

III


UMMER passed quickly for little Cacinella. There was so much to make her happy, but there were sad times, too. Twice she was almost swallowed by a swift marten. Once a frog crept up to her unawares and nearly gobbled her up. A little cacinella has many enemies, you know.

Our little Cacinella had her own joys. One day, she met another little Cacinella with long hairy moustache, who said:

“You are so pretty, little Cacinella. Let us be friends and live together.”

And they did. And they were very happy. They were always together; wherever one went, the other followed.Summer passed before they were aware of it.

Rainy days came; nights grew cold. Our little Cacinella laid many eggs. She hid them in the thick grass, murmuring, “How tired I am.”

No one saw how or when little Cacinella died. She may not have died at all. She may have only fallen asleep quietly for the winter, to wake up in the spring and be happy once more.

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