"The little scamps, they're always up to something!" said the mothers, beaming with maternal love. But the Beetle was bored by all this, and so he asked how far it was to the nearest hotbed.
"Oh, that's way out in the world, on the other side of the ditch," said an Earwig. "I hope none of my children ever goes that far - it would be the death of me."
"Just the same I'll try to go that far," said the Beetle, and then he went off without taking any formal leave, for that's considered the politest thing to do. And by the ditch he met several of his kind - all Beetles.
"We live here," they said. "And we're very cozy here, too. May we invite you to step down into this rich soil? The journey must have tired you out."
"Indeed it has," said the Beetle. "I've been lying on linen out in the rain, and cleanliness tires me very much. I also have rheumatism in my wing joints, from standing in a draft under a broken flowerpot. It's really very relaxing to be among one's own kind again."
"Perhaps you come from the hotbed?" asked the oldest of them.
"Oh, I come from a much higher place," said the Beetle. "I come from the Emperor's stable, where I was born with golden shoes on! I'm traveling on a secret mission. You mustn't ask me any questions, for I won't tell you anything."
And so the Beetle stepped down into the rich soil. There sat three young lady Beetles, and they tittered because they didn't know what to say.
"They are not engaged yet," said their mother, and then the young lady Beetles tittered again, this time from embarrassment.
"I have never seen greater beauties even in the Emperor's stables!" said the traveling Beetle.
"Now don't you spoil my daughters," said the mother, "and please don't speak to them unless you have serious intentions. But of course your intentions are honorable, and so I give you my blessing!"
"Hurrah!" cried all the other Beetles at once, and so the Beetle was engaged. First the engagement, then the wedding; there was nothing to wait for.