134 STRANGE ADVENTURES OF LITTLE MAIA
smiles again.' And in a few minutes they both appeared beside the leaf.
' This is your future husband. Did you ever see anyone like him ?' asked the proud mother, pushing him forward. But, after one glance, Maia only cried the more; and the little fishes who lived in the stream came swimming round to see what was the matter.
' It is absurd that such a pretty creature should be forced to take a husband whom she does not want,' said they to each other. ' And such an ugly one too ! However, we can easily prevent it.' And by turns they gnawed the stem of the lily-leaf close to the root, till at length it was free, and taking it in their mouths they bore Maia far away, till the little stream grew into a great river.
Oh, how Maia enjoyed that voyage, when once she became quite certain that the frogs could no longer reach her. Past many towns she went, and the people on the banks all turned to look at her, and exclaimed :
' What a lovely little girl! Where can she have come from ?'
' What a lovely little girl!' twittered the birds in the bushes. And a blue butterfly fell in love with her, and would not leave her ; so she took off her sash, which just matched him, and tied it round his body, so that with this new kind of horse she travelled much faster than before.
Unluckily, a great cockchafer, who was buzzing over the river, happened to catch sight of her, and caught her up in his claws. The poor butterfly was terribly frightened at the sight of him, and he struggled hard to free himself, so that the sash bow gave way, and he flew off into the sunshine. But Maia wasn't so fortunate, and though the cockchafer collected honey from the flowers for her dinner, and told her several times how pretty she was, she could not feel at ease with him. The cockchafer noticed this, and summoned his sisters