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At this the boy reached out and slapped her pretty face, whereupon she also began to sob.
Although possessed of neither soul nor conscience, the b.u.t.terfly had a very tender heart, and now decided it could endure this boy no longer.
"If I permitted him to exist," it reflected, "I should never forgive myself, for the monster would do nothing but evil from morning 'til night."
So it flew directly into his face and touched his forehead with its sticky front feet.
The next instant the boy had disappeared, but a grunting pig ran swiftly up the road in the direction of its sty.
The b.u.t.terfly gave a sigh of relief.
"This time I have indeed used the mandarin's magic upon a child," it whispered, as it floated lazily upon the light breeze; "but since the child was originally a pig I do not think I have any cause to reproach myself. The little girls were sweet and gentle, and I would not injure them to save my life, but were all boys like this transformed pig, I should not hesitate to carry out the mandarin's orders."
Then it flew into a rose bush, where it remained comfortably until evening. At sundown it returned to its master.
"Have you changed two of them into pigs?" he asked, at once.
"I have," replied the b.u.t.terfly. "One was a pretty, black-eyed baby, and the other a freckle-faced, red-haired, barefooted newboy."
"Good! Good! Good!" screamed the mandarin, in an ecstasy of delight.
"Those are the ones who torment me the most! Change every newboy you meet into a pig!"
"Very well," answered the b.u.t.terfly, quietly, and ate its supper of mola.s.ses.
Several days were pa.s.sed by the b.u.t.terfly in the same manner. It fluttered aimlessly about the flower gardens while the sun shone, and returned at night to the mandarin with false tales of turning children into swine. Sometimes it would be one child which was transformed, sometimes two, and occasionally three; but the mandarin always greeted the b.u.t.terfly's report with intense delight and gave him mola.s.ses for supper.
One evening, however, the b.u.t.terfly thought it might be well to vary the report, so that the mandarin might not grow suspicious; and when its master asked what child had been had been changed into a pig that day the lying creature answered:
"It was a Chinese boy, and when I touched him he became a black pig."
This angered the mandarin, who was in an especially cross mood. He spitefully snapped the b.u.t.terfly with his finger, and nearly broke its beautiful wing; for he forgot that Chinese boys had once mocked him and only remembered his hatred for American boys.
The b.u.t.terfly became very indignant at this abuse from the mandarin.
It refused to eat its mola.s.ses and sulked all the evening, for it had grown to hate the mandarin almost as much as the mandarin hated children.
When morning came it was still trembling with indignation; but the mandarin cried out:
"Make haste, miserable slave; for to-day you must change four children into pigs, to make up for yesterday."
The b.u.t.terfly did not reply. His little black eyes were sparkling wickedly, and no sooner had he dipped his feet into the magic compound than he flew full in the mandarin's face, and touched him upon his ugly, flat forehead.
Soon after a gentleman came into the room for his laundry. The mandarin was not there, but running around the place was a repulsive, scrawny pig, which squealed most miserably.
The b.u.t.terfly flew away to a brook and washed from its feet all traces of the magic compound. When night came it slept in a rose bush.