The Emperor's horse was shod with gold - a golden shoe on each of its feet.
And why was he getting golden shoes?
He was a magnificent-looking animal, with slender legs, intelligent eyes, and a mane that hung down his neck like a soft veil of silk. He had carried his master through the smoke and flame of battle and heard the bullets sing and whistle around him; he had kicked and bitten those about him and done his share of the fighting whenever the enemy advanced; he had leaped, carrying his master on his back, over the enemy's fallen horse and had saved the Emperor's red gold crown, saved the life of the Emperor, which was much more valuable than the red gold; and that's why the Emperor's horse had golden shoes, a golden shoe on each of his feet.
And the Beetle came creeping out.
"First the big ones," he said, "and then the little ones; but size isn't the only thing that does it." Then he stretched out his thin legs.
"And what do you want?" demanded the Blacksmith.
"Golden shoes," replied the Beetle.
"Why, you must be crazy!" said the Blacksmith. "Do you want golden shoes, too?"
"Golden shoes," said the Beetle. "I'm just as good as that great creature that is waited on, currycombed, and brushed, and served with food and drink. Don't I belong to the imperial stable, too?"
"But why does the horse have golden shoes?" asked the Blacksmith. "Don't you understand that?"
"Understand? I understand that it is a personal insult to me," said the Beetle. "It's just done to annoy me, so I'm going out into the world."
"Get out of here!" said the Blacksmith.
"What a rude person!" said the Beetle as he left the stable. He flew a little way and presently found himself in a beautiful flower garden, all fragrant with roses and lavender.
"Isn't it lovely here?" asked one of the little Ladybirds that were flying about, with black spots on their red shieldlike wings. "How sweet it smells here and how beautiful it is!"
"I'm used to much better things," said the Beetle. "Do you call this beautiful?