Betsy Butterfly in "Butterfly Bill"
Now, a crowd had gathered quickly around Betsy Butterfly and Mrs. Ladybug; for the field people are quick to notice anything unusual. And a sprightly young cousin of Betsy's known as Butterfly Bill said to Mrs. Ladybug, with a wink at everybody else:
"I suppose you'll dust the rest of us, too?"
"Only those that need it!" replied Mrs. Ladybug.
"Then you'll have your hands full," Butterfly Bill told her. "Maybe you haven't noticed that every member of the Butterfly family in Pleasant Valley is covered with dust just as Betsy is."
Mrs. Ladybug looked surprised."Is that so?" she said faintly.
"It certainly is!" Bill cried. "Maybe you never knew that the dust is what gives us our—ahem—our beautiful colors," he added proudly. "And I warn you that if you so much as touch my lovely cousin with that brush you'll have every one of us fellows in your hair."
Of course poor Mrs. Ladybug was quite bald. But she knew what Butterfly Bill meant. And she was so upset that she promptly let the paint-brush fall to the ground.
Then Betsy's cousin nodded approvingly.
"Now you'd better hurry home," he told Mrs. Ladybug. "There's a rumor around the meadow that your house is on fire. And they say your children are in great danger."Little Mrs. Ladybug at once fell to weeping.
"It's that horrid Freddie Firefly!" she shrieked. "I've told him to keep away from my home. I've told him that he would set it to blazing with that light of his. But he's forever sneaking around my house as soon as my back is turned."
"There, there! Don't be frightened!" Betsy Butterfly said to her soothingly. "It's only a rumor, you know."
"That's so," Mrs. Ladybug admitted, drying her eyes. "I hear it almost every day, too. But I never can get used to it.... I suppose this is only a false alarm, after all."
"I wouldn't be so sure about that," Butterfly Bill said wickedly, with a shake of his head. "And if I were you I'd look after my own family a little more carefully, instead of troubling myself with other people's affairs."
Several of Bill's friends applauded his speech. But Betsy Butterfly whispered to him to hush.
"Don't you see that Mrs. Ladybug is not quite herself?" she asked him.But Butterfly Bill was not a person to be easily silenced like that.
"She's a meddling busybody!" he declared. "And it's my opinion that she ought to be put where she'll have to mind her own business."
"Who—me?" called a wheezing voice right in his ear. Turning, Butterfly Bill saw that it was Jennie Junebug who had spoken to him. She had noticed the crowd from a distance. And she had just arrived, quite out of breath.
Before Betsy Butterfly's cousin Bill could answer, Jennie Junebug actually threatened him.
"If you were talking about me I shall have to knock you down," she declared. He had heard that Jennie delighted in flying bang into anybody. But he did not know that she indulged in that unladylike trick only after dark.
"Of course I didn't mean you!" he said hastily.
"And I hope you didn't mean my friend Mrs. Ladybug, either," Jennie Junebug added. "For if you did——"
But Butterfly Bill waited to hear no more. Thoroughly frightened, he sought safety in flight. And as he flew away Mrs. Ladybug couldn't help noticing the dust on his wings.
"They're certainly a peculiar lot—that Butterfly family!" she muttered.