Many, many years ago, a large family of caterpillars moved to a small lettuce plant that grew on the farm of a man named José. They were about to start the banquet with that delicious delicacy (for the caterpillars, lettuce is like for us a cream and chocolate ice cream), when José arrived. The farmer, when he saw those miserable creatures that crawled and were about to eat his lettuce, leaving only some leaky remains, he got angry and, without thinking too much, rushed to exterminate them. While the ignorant caterpillars ate the lettuce and the gardener José was thinking about how to suppress them in one fell swoop, he saw, in the outskirts of the orchard, an old beggar. He was a very poor man, who had absolutely nothing except the rags he wore. He was homeless, he had no money, he had no personal belongings, not even a razor to remove his beard, and he had no means of getting around, not even a bicycle. It only had a name: Rosemary.
Romero looked at José, then looked at the caterpillars and understood the gardener’s intention. He could not have said why, but suddenly he felt infinite compassion for those poor creatures, poor like himself, on whom the gardener’s wrath was about to fall. She steeled herself, approached the man and said: “I am a beggar and I ask you for a handout. Give me these caterpillars. Give them to me because I have nothing ”. At first, José looked at him, listened in surprise, and when he heard the modest request, he decided to please the beggar. He had killed two birds with one stone: he had gotten rid of the caterpillars, without even bothering to kill them, and he had made a gesture of generosity. And gestures of generosity, he knew it well, sooner or later, would pay him with interest. “Very good,” José said to Romero. “Take them all.”
Romero, with great delicacy, took the whole family of caterpillars between his dirty fingers and left the garden, thanking the gardener. He was hungry and his throat was dry, but it had never crossed her mind to ask for anything for him. All he wanted at that moment was to save the caterpillars. She shoved her new and unusual friends into one of the many pockets on her battered shirt and headed toward town. It was market day and Romero had to take advantage of that opportunity to get some money. He held out his hand to the people who passed between the market stalls to buy pots, scraps, fruit or sweets. Nothing at all. Nobody opened his pocket to help him. Then, desperate, thinking that even that day he would not be able to appease his hunger, he decided to do a horrible action: steal a piece of colored silk from one of the market stalls. And so he did. He reached out, quickly grabbed a large piece of cloth, shiny and precious, and ran away. However, the owner of the store realized the maneuver and shouting with great anger began to chase him.
Romero ran a lot, ran with all his might and managed to reach the forest that was on the outskirts of the town. He walked into the trees, feeling his legs buckle with the effort. He threw himself on the ground, clutching the piece of silk in exchange for which he hoped to get a good meal, and then, overcome by exhaustion, he fell asleep. But the merchant had decided not to abandon his garment so easily: he wanted to catch up with the thief, hand him over to justice, and retrieve the cloth. While Romero slept exhausted, the merchant reached the forest and, screaming from the rage in his body, continued looking for him. Then, the caterpillars came out of the pocket of their savior (he had stolen, it is true, but he had also saved their lives) and they thought about paying him their debt. If they could hide the cloth, Romero would be saved. The merchant would not find the garment and could not accuse him of anything. But how could they do it? The older caterpillar came up with an idea, which convinced the others. All together, feverishly, they began to bite into the fabric, reducing it to many tiny bits of fabric.
Afterwards, each of them put a couple of pieces on their back, to take them away from Romero, in a place where the merchant could not find them, nor could they relate them to the piece of cloth that had been stolen from him. They began to crawl with the pieces of cloth on their backs, but soon realized that they could not make such a long way. They were very small and weak, and the silk, though light, was too heavy for them. An infinite sadness invaded their hearts: they could not pay off their debt, they could not save their friend. The older caterpillar looked up and invoked:
“Wind, kind wind, help us!”
The wind took pity on the generous and goodwill caterpillars. He blew gently but vigorously up from the ground, to push them away. The bodies of the caterpillars moved in the air and on their backs the pieces of cloth were spread out. It was a beautiful sight. The wind was enthusiastic about this wonderful flutter. He liked it so much that he melted the bits of cloth onto the backs of the tracks. Thus, the butterflies were born. And Romero, of course, was safe.