The Little Robber Girl
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
AMERICAN INDIAN STORIES
Animal Sketches And Stories
Blondine Bonne Biche and Beau Minon
BRER RABBIT and HIS NEIGHBORS
CHINESE MOTHER-GOOSE RHYMES
FABLES FOR CHILDREN
FABLES FROM INDIA
FATHER PLAYS AND MOTHER PLAYS
FIRST STORIES FOR VERY LITTLE FOLK
For Classes Ii. And Iii.
For Classes Iv. And V.
For Kindergarten And Class I.
FUN FOR VERY LITTLE FOLK
Good Little Henry
JAPANESE AND OTHER ORIENTAL TALES]
Jean De La Fontaine
King Alexander's Adventures
KINGS AND WARRIORS
LAND AND WATER FAIRIES
Lessons From Nature
LITTLE STORIES that GROW BIG
MODERN FAIRY TALES
MOTHER GOOSE CONTINUED
MOTHER GOOSE JINGLES
MOTHER GOOSE SONGS AND STORIES
Myths And Legends
NEGLECT THE FIRE
ON POPULAR EDUCATION
PLACES AND FAMILIES
Poems Of Nature
RESURRECTION DAY (EASTER)
RHYMES CONCERNING "MOTHER"
RIDING SONGS for FATHER'S KNEE
ROMANCES OF THE MIDDLE AGES
SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY
Selections From The Bible
SLEEPY-TIME SONGS AND STORIES
Some Children's Poets
Songs Of Life
STORIES BY FAVORITE AMERICAN WRITERS
STORIES FOR CHILDREN
STORIES for LITTLE BOYS
STORIES FROM BOTANY
STORIES FROM GREAT BRITAIN
STORIES FROM IRELAND
STORIES FROM PHYSICS
STORIES FROM SCANDINAVIA
STORIES FROM ZOOLOGY
STORIES _for_ LITTLE GIRLS
THE DAYS OF THE WEEK
The King Of The Golden River; Or, The Black Brothers
The Little Grey Mouse
THE OLD FAIRY TALES
The Princess Rosette
THE THREE HERMITS
THE TWO OLD MEN
UNCLES AND AUNTS AND OTHER RELATIVES
VERSES ABOUT FAIRIES
WHAT MEN LIVE BY
WHERE LOVE IS, THERE GOD IS ALSO
The Fire Quest
from Japanese Fairy Tales
The Wise Poet sat reading by the light of his taper. It was a night of
the seventh month. The cicala sang in the flower of the pomegranate, the
frog sang by the pond. The moon was out and all the stars, the air was
heavy and sweet-scented. But the Poet was not happy, for moths came by
the score to the light of his taper; not moths only, but cockchafers and
dragon-flies with their wings rainbow-tinted. One and all they came upon
the Fire Quest; one and all they burned their bright wings in the flame
and so died. And the Poet was grieved.
"Little harmless children of the night," he said, "why will you still
fly upon the Fire Quest? Never, never can you attain, yet you strive and
die. Foolish ones, have you never heard the story of the Firefly Queen?"
The moths and the cockchafers and the dragon-flies fluttered about the
taper and paid him no heed.
"They have never heard it," said the Poet; "yet it is old enough.
"The Firefly Queen was the brightest and most beautiful of small things
that fly. She dwelt in the heart of a rosy lotus. The lotus grew on a
still lake, and it swayed to and fro upon the lake's bosom while the
Firefly Queen slept within. It was like the reflection of a star in the
"You must know, oh, little children of the night, that the Firefly Queen
had many suitors. Moths and cockchafers and dragon-flies innumerable
flew to the lotus on the lake. And their hearts were filled with
passionate love. 'Have pity, have pity,' they cried, 'Queen of the
Fireflies, Bright Light of the Lake.' But the Firefly Queen sat and
smiled and shone. It seemed that she was not sensible of the incense of
love that arose about her.
"At last she said, 'Oh, you lovers, one and all, what make you here
idly, cumbering my lotus house? Prove your love, if you love me indeed.
Go, you lovers, and bring me fire, and then I will answer.'
"Then, oh, little children of the night, there was a swift whirr of
wings, for the moths and the cockchafers and the dragon-flies
innumerable swiftly departed upon the Fire Quest. But the Firefly Queen
laughed. Afterwards I will tell you the reason of her laughter.
"So the lovers flew here and there in the still night, taking with them
their desire. They found lighted lattices ajar and entered forthwith. In
one chamber there was a girl who took a love-letter from her pillow and
read it in tears, by the light of a taper. In another a woman sat
holding the light close to a mirror, where she looked and painted her
face. A great white moth put out the trembling candle-flame with his
"'Alack! I am afraid,' shrieked the woman; 'the horrible dark!'
"In another place there lay a man dying. He said, 'For pity's sake light
me the lamp, for the black night falls.'
"'We have lighted it,' they said, 'long since. It is close beside you,
and a legion of moths and dragon-flies flutter about it.'
"'I cannot see anything at all,' murmured the man.
"But those that flew on the Fire Quest burnt their frail wings in the
fire. In the morning they lay dead by the hundred and were swept away
"The Firefly Queen was safe in her lotus bower with her beloved, who was
as bright as she, for he was a great lord of the Fireflies. No need had
he to go upon the Fire Quest. He carried the living flame beneath his
"Thus the Firefly Queen deceived her lovers, and therefore she laughed
when she sent them from her on a vain adventure."
* * * * *
"Be not deceived," cried the Wise Poet, "oh, little children of the
night. The Firefly Queen is always the same. Give over the Fire Quest."
But the moths and the cockchafers and the dragon-flies paid no heed to
the words of the Wise Poet. Still they fluttered about his taper, and
they burnt their bright wings in the flame and so died.
Presently the Poet blew out the light. "I must needs sit in the dark,"
he said; "it is the only way."
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