A super generation of monarchs led by their fearless leader, Beaucup, migrate to Mexico.
As the sun rose, monarchs limbered up their wings under a blanket of crisp cool air. In addition, they chirped like crickets on a summer evening, their chattering scattering far and wide, until everyone knew the way to Orangefield Falls. This network of communication was almost as miraculous as the migration itself and would prove invaluable on the long journey. With wings warmed to what the chill allowed, the butterflies rose up in droves. Shortly thereafter, like great armies in the sky (but peaceful), they descended from every direction into the breathtaking area.
The Orangefield River cascaded over a half-mile treeless ridge in its exact middle. Its soft white chalk was heightened by the morning sunlight. At a ninety degree angle to the ridge, a field of green winter rye stretched out until it met the southern horizon. The Orangeville River divided the field into perfect halves. As one monarch row after another formed on either side, the ground began to resemble two enormous orange carpets. This was no ordinary generation of monarchs. Using their wings like flash cards, they spelled out GO on one side of the field and BEAU on the other. When the young leader appeared atop the ridge near the falls (the ridge was a mere ten feet high but appeared like Niagara Falls to the butterflies), roars ascended from below with some chanting, “Hail the King!” Beau improvised on his speech and addressed the crowd for the first time. “Please … there will be no monarchs … that is … there will be no kings on this continent.”
Three butterflies stood across from Beaucup: one to his left, one to his right, and one directly in front. Each held a page of the speech. An opinionated butterfly named Walter commented to his friend, Ernie, “I hear he's a great orator, but all he does is read from that darn parch-prompter.”
Beaucup continued, “I will begin by introducing our flight crew for the migration. Lenny, please step forward.” As Lenny approached Beau, the crowd applauded with their wings but it made no sound. Maybe the hint of a slight breeze, but certainly not applause. Nevertheless, Lenny interpreted this silent wing movement as a sign of acceptance. Beau had selected Lenny as his Right-Wing Man because he had been born beside him. And even though Lenny would end up questioning many of his ideas along the migration, Beaucup never wavered in his choice, having been born right next to him. “By the power vested in me from those ... who vest powers ... I hereby declare you to be my Right-Wing Man. As Right-Wing Man, I will look to you for guidance on critical decisions. Thank you, Lenny.” The crowd roared its approval and Lenny bowed. Beaucup was ready to introduce the next member of the crew, but Lenny continued bowing. “That will be all, Lenny!” The Right-Wing-Man slowly backed up.
Beau then asked for Catalina to step forward. Initially, she inched her way toward him, but took more assertive steps as she drew nearer. “Catalina, I hereby name you Chief Scout, and request from this moment on you go by the name of Scout. Your duties will consist of flying ahead to report back any danger —”
Murmuring sprung from below: “Danger? ... Who said anything about danger? ... What does he mean by danger?”
Beau continued, “that is, any minor problems —”
“All right then ... we can handle minor problems ... right ... yeah, we're okay with minor problems.”
“and to find appropriate places for nourishment and resting,” he concluded. The audience applauded and Catalina, moved by the ceremony, stepped back.
Next it was Dawner's turn. Dawner, the opposite demeanor of Catalina, boldly stepped to one foot ahead of Beaucup. “Hmm,” mumbled Beaucup, taking note of this. “My good friend, seeing as we've known each other for a day or so now, I appoint you to perhaps the most important position of all: Path Specialist. Even though individually we will sense which way to go, a slight turn here or there may be required of you.” The monarchs were subdued after this pronouncement. They were skeptical of someone telling them which way to go. “Thank you, Dawner,” and the Path Specialist stepped back between Lenny and Scout.
“Now in regards to the migration, the journey is long and our days are short.” Beaucup methodically moved through the speech until he came to its conclusion: “And so my light-winged friends, I end with this: We have been the greatest migratory movement going for thousands of years, yet very few pay us the respect we deserve. I have been thinking on that and have determined we need a new name; a nickname, if you will, that gives credence to our remarkable feat. Henceforth, moving forward, we will be known as —— the Magnificent Monarchs!”
Absolute silence greeted the boldest proposal ever proposed by a monarch leader. That is, until Lenny spoke in a deadpan voice. “Jeez Beau, we’re just butterflies. A good thunderstorm can eliminate a hundred thousand of us.”
Beaucup gave Lenny a perplexed look and gazed back at his troops. “In the past, we have more or less traveled to Mexico as individuals, but this year I would like us to make the journey together. Let us migrate as the Magnificent Monarchs. Are there any questions?” A low buzz began as thousands of butterflies consulted among each other, and the buzz grew louder and louder until it reached a deafening level and stopped.
Then Beaucup heard from below (all at once but slightly out-of-unison), “Why is this place called Orangefield Falls?”
Beaucup looked at the falls which descended into the river which cut across the orange field and turned to his crew. “What have we gotten ourselves into?” Then he exclaimed, “Let the migration to begin!”
“We have a problem with that,” said Scout.
“What do you mean a problem?”
“One butterfly insists she is staying.”
A look of astonishment overcame Beaucup. “Staying? There's no staying! There's no staying in monarch migration!” Then he quietly asked, “What's her name and where is she?”
“Her name is Molly, and I last saw her fishing at Clover Leaf Pond.”
“Do you know her, Scout?”
Beaucup, expecting more than a simple yes, said, “Well?”
“She is very sweet, but very stubborn.”
“I see,” said Beaucup. “Sweet, but stubborn.”
The monarch leader had to make a decision in regards to the timing of the migration. Samuel had explained that three other troops — one to the east and two to the west — would make the journey as well. The groups must merge in Texas, and an early start is necessary for that to happen. He did not want to throw off the merger. But how could he leave behind one lost sheep? Beaucup turned to his flight crew and said, “I'll be back as soon as possible. Hold the troops at bay.” Then he fluttered off the ridge in search of a sweet, stubborn butterfly.