Betsy Butterfly in "The Skipper"
In Farmer Green's meadow there lived a very nervous person called the Skipper. He was a distant cousin of Betsy Butterfly's. And since the two were almost exactly the same age, they quite naturally spent a good deal of time together.The Skipper was of a dark, somber brown shade. And it always seemed to the gaily colored Betsy that he tried to make up for his dull appearance by being extremely lively in his movements. He was forever skipping suddenly from one place to another—a trick which had caused people to call him by so odd a name.
Much as she liked this queer cousin, Betsy often found his uncertain habit somewhat annoying. It was not very pleasant, when talking to him, to discover that he had unexpectedly left her when she supposed he was right beside her, or behind her. If she had anything important to tell him she frequently had to hurry after him. And the worst of it was, once she had overtaken him she never knew when he would dart away again.As the summer lengthened it seemed to Betsy Butterfly that the Skipper grew more flighty than ever. Once she had been able to say a few words to him before he went swooping off.
But now—now she could not even tell him that it was a nice day without following her cousin at least half an hour in order to finish her remark."You're becoming terribly fidgety," Betsy told him at last. "If you don't look out you'll have nervous prostration—or I shall, if you don't stop jumping about like a jack-in-the-box. I advise you," she said, "to see a doctor before you get any worse. "Of course, it must not be supposed that Betsy Butterfly could say all that to her cousin without going to a good deal of trouble. As a matter of fact, she had to follow him about the fields for two whole days and travel several miles before she succeeded in finishing what she wanted to say to him.
"Why, I feel fine!" the Skipper cried. "I don't need a doctor. I——"He started to skip away from the wild morning-glory blossom on which he had perched himself. But Betsy caught him just in time—and held him.
"Now, you listen to me!" she commanded. "You're in a dangerous condition. Some day someone will come to you with an important message. And if you go sailing off the way you do, how's he ever going to tell the whole message until it's too late, perhaps?"
"If it was good news it wouldn't hurt it to keep it a while," the Skipper asserted cheerfully. And he gave a quick spring, with the hope of escaping from Betsy's grasp. But she held him firmly by the coat-tails.
"Suppose I wanted to warn you not to go near the flower garden, because Johnnie Green was waiting there for you with his net, to capture you and put you in his collection? You might be sorry, afterwards, if you didn't sit still and listen to me."
"That's so!" said the Skipper. "I hadn't thought of that. I'd see a doctor at once; but I don't know any."
"Go to Aunt Polly Woodchuck, under the hill," Betsy Butterfly advised him. "She's the best doctor for miles around."So they went, together, to call on Aunt Polly. The old lady looked at the Skipper and shook her head.
"I can't help him," she said.Betsy asked anxiously, "Is his trouble catching?"
"No, indeed!" said Aunt Polly. "He can't stay in one place long enough to give it to anybody."
Well, after that Betsy saw very little of her cousin the Skipper. But she did not mind that, especially since she soon made the acquaintance of a very agreeable young gentleman, who dressed in the height of fashion. He wore a swallowtail coat every day. And the neighbors all said that his manners were delightful. He never went skipping off while Betsy Butterfly was talking to him.