Where Beaucup selects his flight crew.
Later in the afternoon, having seen the banner that morning, Beaucup asked a thousand monarchs to line up along a seldom used country road. Standing wing to wing on the raised strip of grass between the two dirt ruts, the line stretched a little over the length of a football field. Beaucup landed atop a bright white boulder across from the middle of the line. As he was to begin his address, Eddie the Prankster — dubbed the Prankster after pulling seven pranks in his first three hours — approached low to the ground and mimicked an old World War II plane, the P-51 Mustang, otherwise known as the Cadillac of the sky. Four of his six legs spun like a propeller, and he had converted his antennae into stick controls. He wore a pair of goggles (no one knew how Eddie acquired them) the exact shape of his bug eyes. As the Prankster buzzed the long row of butterflies, a devious smile spread across his face.
“War's over Eddie, quite some time ago!” Beaucup hollered up to him. Eddie saluted with his wing and made a ninety-degree turn toward the sky.
Two monarchs, Edith and Ellie, waited in the line. They were always together and usually gossiping.
“Hey, makes you feel a little special, right?” said Edith.
“What do you mean?”
“Being in a line of monarchs.”
Ellie, a second or two behind on any joke, replied, “Oh, I get it,” and started laughing.
“Hush,” said Edith, “he's ready to speak.”
After surveying the long row of butterflies, Beaucup raised his little bullhorn fashioned from an acorn and began. “Good afternoon. As you all know, the great journey is upon us, and it is time to assemble our flight crew.” Everyone stood a little more at attention. Only the Chief Scout and Path Specialist positions needed to be filled. Beaucup had already chosen Lenny for the Right-Wing-Man position. He began with Chief Scout.
“Well, then, who can tell me where the nearest field of nectar is located?”
Not a single monarch raised a wing.
“This is not a trick question!” said Beaucup.
One butterfly slowly lifted her wing.
“Please step forward.”
She cautiously moved forward but did not answer.
“Two hundred yards southwest of Meade Meadow, sir.”
“Very good, and your name?”
“Catalina,” she answered softly.
“Very well, Catalina, thank you.”
Catalina bowed slightly and stepped back in line. Beaucup had asked this question because their nourishment no longer came from milkweed; it was now all about nectar.
“Well, then, who can tell me the direction to Mexico?”
Wings began pointing every which way as everyone wanted to be Path Specialist and so everyone guessed. But only one butterfly said, “Thirty degrees south-southwest, sir.”
“And your name?”
“Thank you, Dawner. Now, everyone at ease, and listen closely. I have a task for you and for thousands of your colleagues across the woodlands.”
After Beaucup went over the various steps to accomplish this task, the monarchs proceeded to carry them out. First, hundreds flew far and wide over the countryside and recruited volunteers. Not long after, thousands upon thousands of monarchs landed alongside the seldom used country road. As Right-Wing-Man, Lenny assisted with the next step. Giving orders through Beau's bullhorn, a massive coordination of butterflies ensued. Slowly, the monarchs transformed themselves into a bright orange single engine prop plane. A second and smaller group became a banner attached to the tail of the plane. The pilot, who referred to himself as the O & B Baron, ascended a ladder comprised solely of monarchs and settled into the cockpit. He wore goggles (the Prankster had customized a pair for him) and a scarf (a tiny piece of red fabric he found on the ground) around his neck. His co-pilot stepped up the ladder and eased into the seat behind the O & B Baron. Then they assumed a holding pattern. No one could spin the propeller-made-of-monarchs.
But Beaucup was one step ahead of them. Along the journey, he would often be one step ahead of the others. The great white swan descended through a cloudless sky and, making sure not to land on any monarchs, cautiously touched down beside the road.
“Samuel,” said Beaucup, “right on time.”
“Yes, right on time, yes … right on time. Right on time for what?”
Beaucup pointed to the propeller.
When Beaucup asked earlier if he would spin the propeller, Samuel did not hesitate in his agreement, thinking it a rather simple task. Now, as he walked toward the propeller and stood below it and looked up at it, he turned to Beaucup and said, “We might have one problem.”
“You will be fine, Samuel. Jump up and use that magnificent wingspan.”
“But my wings will be up there and … well … the propeller will be spinning … and ….”
“Jump!” Beaucup shouted at the top of his voice.
Samuel leaped high into the air and, at the top of his jump, swatted his wing on top of the blade. “Contact,” said Beaucup. As the propeller started to spin, Samuel dropped to the ground and waddled off. The propeller-monarchs flapped their wings faster and faster and in voices that rose higher and higher exclaimed, “Wooooooooh!” When all voices hummed steadily at the same pitch, the engine was running.
The co-pilot's wings quivered and in a trembling voice he said to the Baron, “Are ya sure this is gonna work? I don't see it happenin'. I tell ya, I don't see it happenin' at all. Ya even know the first thing about flyin' this machine?”
“Well, someone's never been to a Rose Bowl parade. Not gonna work. You're talkin' to the O & B Baron here. Besides, if it cracks up, we just fly away.” As the plane rolled down the makeshift runway, the co-pilot looked more at ease until the O & B Baron put his hand on one of the controls and said, “I can't remember what this one's for?”
“Cut it out, Baron! Not funny. No kiddin' around here!”
As the Baron let out an enormous laugh, his red scarf flowing in the breeze, the plane ascended into the sky.
From woodland trees, babbling brooks, and wildflowers in open fields, millions of monarchs looked to the sky. The banner behind the orange plane read:
MEET TOMORROW ORANGEFIELD FALLS SUNRISE
Beaucup had skillfully delegated a communication to monarchs far and wide. They would all gather at Orangeville Falls in the morning for the Speech of Departure.