A LESSON OF FAITH
BY MRS. ALFRED GATTY (ADAPTED)
 "LET me hire you as a nurse for my poor children," said a
butterfly to a quiet caterpillar, who was strolling along a
cabbage-leaf in her odd, lumbering fashion.
"See these little eggs," continued the butterfly; "I do not
know how long it will be before they come to life, and I
feel very sick. If I should die, who will take care of my
baby butterflies when I am gone? Will you, kind, mild, green
caterpillar? They cannot, of course, live on your rough
food. You must give them early dew, and honey from the
flowers, and you must let them fly about only a little way
at first. Dear me! it is a sad pity that you cannot fly
yourself. Dear, dear! I cannot think what made me come and
lay my eggs on a cabbage-leaf! What a place for young
butterflies to be bore upon! Here, take this gold-dust from
my wings as a reward. Oh, how dizzy I am! Caterpillar! you
will remember about the food—"
And with these words the butterfly drooped her wings and
died. The green caterpillar, who had not had the opportunity
of even saying
 "yes" or "no" to the request, was left standing alone by the
side of the butterfly's eggs.
"A pretty nurse she has chosen, indeed, poor lady!"
exclaimed she, "and a pretty business I have in hand. Why
did she ever ask a poor crawling creature like me to bring
up her dainty little ones! Much they'll mind me, truly, when
they feel the gay wings on their backs, and can fly away."
However, the poor butterfly was dead, and there lay the eggs
on the cabbage-leaf, and the green caterpillar had a kind
heart, so she resolved to do her best.
"But two heads are better than one," said she; "I will
consult some wise animal on the matter."
Then she thought and thought till at last she thought of the
lark, and she fancied that because he went up so high, and
nobody knew where he went to, he must be very clever and
know a great deal.
Now in the neighboring cornfield there lived a lark, and the
caterpillar sent a message to him, begging him to come and
talk to her. When he came she told him all her difficulties,
and asked him how she was to feed and rear the little
"Perhaps you will be able to inquire and learn something
about it the next time you go up high," said the caterpillar
 "Perhaps I can," answered the lark; and then he went singing
upwards into the bright, blue sky, till the green
caterpillar could not hear a sound, nor could she see him
any more. So she began to walk round the butterfly's eggs,
nibbling a bit of the cabbage-leaf now and then as she moved
"What a time the lark has been gone!" she cried at last. "I
wonder where he is just now. He must have flown higher than
usual this time. How I should like to know where he goes,
and what he hears in that curious blue sky! He always sings
going up and coming down, but he never lets any secret out."
And the green caterpillar took another turn round the
At last the lark's voice began to be heard again. The
caterpillar almost jumped for joy, and it was not long
before she saw her friend descend with hushed note to the
"News, news, glorious news, friend caterpillar!" sang the
lark, "but the worst of it is, you won't believe me!"
"I believe anything I am told," said the caterpillar
"Well, then, first of all, I will tell you what those little
creatures are to eat"—and the lark nodded his head toward
the eggs. "What do you think it is to be? Guess!"
 "Dew and honey out of the flowers, I am afraid!" sighed the
"No such thing, my good friend," cried the lark exultantly;
"you are to feed them with cabbage-leaves!"
"Never!" said the caterpillar indignantly.
"It was their mother's last request that I should feed them
on dew and honey."
"Their mother knew nothing about the matter," answered the
lark; "but why do you ask me, and then disbelieve what I
say? You have neither faith nor trust."
"Oh, I believe everything I am told," said the caterpillar.
"Nay, but you do not," replied the lark.
"Why, caterpillar, what do you think those little eggs will
turn out to be?"
"Butterflies, to be sure," said the caterpillar.
"Caterpillars!" sang the lark; "and you'll find it out in
time." And the lark flew away.
"I thought the lark was wise and kind," said the mild, green
caterpillar to herself, once more beginning to walk round
the eggs, "but I find that he is foolish and saucy instead.
Perhaps he went up too high this time. How I wonder what he
sees, and what he does up yonder!"
"I would tell you if you would believe me," sang the lark,
descending once more.
 "I believe everything I am told," answered the caterpillar.
"Then I'll tell you something else," cried the lark. "You
will one day be a butterfly yourself!"
"Wretched bird," exclaimed the caterpillar, "you are making
fun of me. You are now cruel as well as foolish! Go away! I
will ask your advice no more."
"I told you you would not believe me," cried the lark.
"I believe everything I am told," persisted the
caterpillar,—"everything that it is reasonable
to believe. But to tell
me that butterflies' eggs are caterpillars, and that
caterpillars leave off crawling and get wings and become
butterflies!—Lark! you do not believe such nonsense
yourself! You know it is impossible!"
"I know no such thing," said the lark. "When I hover over
the cornfields, or go up into the depths of the sky, I see
so many wonderful things that I know there must be more. O
caterpillar! it is because you crawl, and never get beyond
your cabbage-leaf, that you call anything impossible."
"Nonsense," shouted the caterpillar, "I know what's possible
and what's impossible. Look at my long, green body, and many
legs, and then talk to me about having wings! Fool!"
"More foolish you!" cried the indignant lark,
 "to attempt to reason about what you cannot understand. Do
you not hear how my song swells with rejoicing as I soar
upwards to the mysterious wonder-world above? Oh,
caterpillar, what comes from thence, receive as I do,—on
"What do you mean by that?" asked the caterpillar.
"On faith," answered the lark.
"How am I to learn faith?" asked the caterpillar.
At that moment she felt something at her side. She looked
round,—eight or ten little green caterpillars were moving
about, and had already made a hole in the cabbage-leaf. They
had broken from the butterfly's eggs!
Shame and amazement filled the green caterpillar's heart,
but joy soon followed. For as the first wonder was possible,
the second might be so too.
"Teach me your lesson, lark," she cried.
And the lark sang to her of the wonders of the earth below
and of the heaven above. And the caterpillar talked all the
rest of her life of the time when she should become a
But no one believed her. She nevertheless had learned the
lark's lesson of faith, and when she was going into her
chrysalis, she said:—
"I shall be a butterfly some day!"
 But her relations thought her head was wandering, and they
said, "Poor thing!"
And when she was a butterfly, and was going to die she said:—
"I have known many wonders,—I have faith,—I can trust
even now for the wonder that shall come next."
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics