The Adventures of Maya the Bee, by Waldemar Bonsels,

The Adventures of Maya the Bee, by Waldemar Bonsels,

Afar off in the sunshine something glimmered red. A lurking impatience seized the little bee. Moreover, she felt hungry. So, courageously, with a loud joyous buzz, she swung out of her hiding-place into the clear, glistening air and the warm sunlight, and 16 made straight for the red patch that seemed to nod and beckon. When she drew near she smelled a perfume so sweet that it almost robbed her of her senses, and she was hardly able to reach the large red flower. She let herself down on the outermost of its curved petals and clung to it tightly. At the gentle tipping of the petal a shining silver sphere almost as big as herself, came rolling toward her, transparent and gleaming in all the colors of the rainbow. Maya was dreadfully frightened, yet fascinated too by the splendor of the cool silver sphere, which rolled by her, balanced on the edge of the petal, leapt into the sunshine, and fell down in the grass. Oh, oh! The beautiful ball had shivered into a score of wee pearls. Maya uttered a little cry of terror. But the tiny round fragments made such a bright, lively glitter in the grass, and ran down the blades in such twinkling, sparkling little drops like diamonds in the lamplight, that she was reassured.
Maya hesitated, then conquered her misgivings and took a few steps forward. He pressed aside a bright petal, Maya entered, and she and the beetle walked beside each other through the narrow chambers with their subdued light and fragrant walls.
“What a charming home!” exclaimed Maya, genuinely taken with the place. “The perfume is positively intoxicating.”
Maya’s admiration pleased the beetle.
“It takes wisdom to know where to live,” he said, and smiled good-naturedly. “‘Tell me where you live and I’ll tell you what you’re worth,’ says an old adage.—Would you like some nectar?”
“Oh,” Maya burst out, “I’d love some.”
The beetle nodded and disappeared behind one of the walls. Maya looked about. She was happy. She pressed her cheeks and little hands against the dainty red hangings and took deep breaths of the delicious perfume, in an ecstasy of delight at being permitted to stop in such a beautiful dwelling.

It was now afternoon. The sun was dropping behind the fruit trees in a large vegetable garden through which Maya was flying. The trees were long past flowering, but the little bee still remembered them in the shining glory of countless blossoms, whiter than light, lovely, pure, and exquisite against the blue of the heavens. The delicious perfume, the gleam and the shimmer—oh, she’d never forget the rapture of it as long as she lived.
As she flew she thought of how all that beauty would come again, and her heart expanded with delight in the glory of the great world in which she was permitted to live.
At the end of the garden shone the starry tufts of the jasmine—delicate yellow faces set in a wreath of pure white—sweet perfume wafted to Maya on the soft wings of the breeze.
And weren’t there still some trees in bloom? Wasn’t it the season for lindens? Maya 90 thought delightedly of the big serious lindens, whose tops held the red glow of the setting sun to the very last.

Meanwhile Maya and the flower-sprite flew through the dense shrubbery of a garden. The glory of it in the dimmed moonlight was beyond the power of mortal lips to say. An intoxicatingly sweet cool breath of dew and slumbering flowers transformed all things into unutterable blessings. The lilac grapes of the acacias sparkled in freshness, the June rose-tree looked like a small blooming heaven hung with red lamps, the white stars of the jasmine glowed palely, sadly, and poured out their perfume as if, in this one hour, to make a gift of their all.

Miss Loveydear swung through the green rushes out over the surface of the water. Maya heard her singing in the sunshine. She stood and listened. It was a fine song, with something of the melancholy sweetness of a folksong, and it filled the little bee’s heart with mingled happiness and sadness.
Softly flows the lovely stream
Touched by morning’s rosy gleam
Through the alders darted,
Where the rushes bend and sway,
Where the water-lilies say
“We are golden-hearted!”

Warm the scent the west-wind brings,
Bright the sun upon my wings,
Joy among the flowers!
Though my life may not be long,
Golden summer, take my song!
Thanks for perfect hours!

Maya lifted herself with a little buzz. Her wings worked splendidly, and to her intense joy she felt that no part of her body had been injured. She flew slowly up to the jasmine flowers, drank avidly of their abundant scented honey-juice, and returned to Bobbie, who had left the blackberry vines and was sitting in the grass.

One day she met a very curious creature. It was angular and flat as a pancake, but had a rather neat design on its sheath; and whether its sheath were wings or what, you couldn’t really tell. The odd little monster sat absolutely still on the shaded leaf of a raspberry bush, its eyes half closed, apparently sunk in meditation. The scent of the raspberries spread around it deliciously. Maya wanted to find out what sort of an animal it was. She flew to the next-door leaf and said how-do-you-do. The stranger made no reply.

The butterfly perched beside the little bee on the slender swaying branch of the raspberry bush, and they rocked together in the morning wind. He told her how he had begun life as a caterpillar and then, one day, when he had shed his last caterpillar skin, he came out a pupa or chrysalis.
“At the end of a few weeks,” he continued, “I woke up out of my dark sleep and broke through the wrappings or pupa-case. I can’t tell you, Maya, what a feeling comes over you when, after a time like that, you suddenly see the sun again. I felt as though I were melting in a warm golden ocean, and I loved my 111 life so that my heart began to pound.”
“I understand,” said Maya, “I understand. I felt the same way the first time I left our humdrum city and flew out into the bright scented world of blossoms.” The little bee was silent a while, thinking of her first flight.—But then she wanted to know how the butterfly’s large wings could grow in the small space of the pupa-case.

Her eyes sparkled, her heart rejoiced.
“I am flying,” she cried. “It cannot be anything else. What I am doing must be flying. Why, it’s splendid, perfectly splendid!”
“Yes, you’re flying,” said the lady-bee, who had difficulty in keeping up with the child. “Those are linden-trees, those toward which we are flying, the lindens in our castle park. You can always tell where our city is by those lindens. But you’re flying so fast, Maya.”
“Fast?” said Maya. “How can one fly fast enough? Oh, how sweet the sunshine smells!”
“No,” replied her companion, who was rather out of breath, “it’s not the sunshine, it’s the flowers that smell.—But please, don’t go so fast, else I’ll drop behind. Besides, at this pace you won’t observe things and be able to find your way back.”
But little Maya transported by the sunshine and the joy of living, did not hear. 11 She felt as though she were darting like an arrow through a green-shimmering sea of light, to greater and greater splendor. The bright flowers seemed to call to her, the still, sunlit distances lured her on, and the blue sky blessed her joyous young flight.