Dragon-flies

★ Dragon-flies Story  :

In some parts of the Isle of Wight, these insects are found of a peculiarly large size, and their colours are extremely beautiful. There is an old legend respecting them which is still current. It is supposed by the country people that their sting or bite is venomous, as bad as that of a snake or adder, and perhaps from this belief their provincial name of snake-stanger or snake-stang is derived.

It is said that these insects can distinguish the good children from the bad when they go fishing: if the latter go too near the water, they are almost sure to be bitten; but when the good boys go, the dragon-flies point out the places where the fish are, by settling on the banks, or flags, in the proper direction. This curious myth is commemorated by the following song:

Snakestanger! snakestanger! vlee aal about the brooks; Sting aal the bad bwoys that vor the vish looks, But lat the good bwoys ketch aal the vish they can, And car’m awaay whooam[43] to vry’em in a pan; Bred and butter they shall yeat at zupper wi’ their vish, While aal the littul bad bwoys shall only lick the dish.

[Footnote 43: Carry them away home.]

This has of late years been introduced into the nursery, but in different suit of clothes:

Dragon fly! dragon fly! fly about the brook; Sting all the bad boys who for the fish look; But let the good boys catch all that they can, And then take them home to be fried in a pan; With nice bread and butter they shall sup upon their fish, While all the little naughty boys shall only lick the dish.

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The Tempest