The Two Bees

Charles Lamb

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But a few words could William say,
And those few could not speak plain,
Yet thought he was a man one day;
Never saw I boy so vain.

From what could vanity proceed
In such a little lisping lad?
Or was it vanity indeed?
Or was he only very glad?

For he without his maid may go
To the heath with elder boys,
And pluck ripe berries where they grow:
Well may William then rejoice.

Be careful of your little charge;
Elder boys, let him not rove;
The heath is wide, the heath is large,
From your sight he must not move.

But rove he did: they had not been
One short hour the heath upon,
When he was nowhere to be seen;
"Where," said they, "is William gone?"

Mind not the elder boys' distress;
Let them run, and let them fly.
Their own neglect and giddiness
They are justly suffering by.

William his little basket filled
With his berries ripe and red;
Then, naughty boy, two bees he killed,
Under foot he stamped them dead.

William had coursed them o'er the heath,
After them his steps did wander;
When he was nearly out of breath,
The last bee his foot was under.

A cruel triumph which did not
Last but for a moment's space,
For now he finds that he has got
Out of sight of every face.

What are the berries now to him?
What the bees which he has slain?
Fear now possesses every limb,
He cannot trace his steps again.

The poor bees William had affrighted
In more terror did not haste
Than he from bush to bush, benighted
And alone amid the waste.

Late in the night the child was found:
He who these two bees had crushed
Was lying on the cold damp ground,
Sleep had then his sorrows hushed.

A fever followed from the fright,
And from sleeping in the dew;
He many a day and many a night
Suffered ere he better grew.

His aching limbs while sick he lay
Made him learn the crushed bees' pain;
Oft would he to his mother say,
"I ne'er will kill a bee again."

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