Cut a chrysalis open, and you will find a rotting caterpillar. What you will never find is that mythical creature, half caterpillar, half butterfly, a fit emblem for the human soul, for those whose cast of mind leads them to seek such emblems. No, the process of transformation consists almost entirely of decay.
The library was a great sprawling complex with rolls and rolls of paper tucked into many shelves. Between the reading rooms were courtyards with living fountains and singing birds and butterflies that would transform into handsome young women to guide or entertain anyone who stayed there any length of time. I saw one among the stacks, explaining an older style of calligraphy to the newly appointed Heavenly Marine Official of the South China Sea. In another wing, a librarian stepped from her chrysalis for the first time, reciting T’ang Dynasty poetry to the flowers. That’s how I knew I was in the right section.