The great migration begins.
Flying above the red and yellow countryside, Beaucup located Clover Leaf Pond within a short amount of time. It helped that the pond was in the shape of a four-leaf clover. He spotted Molly fishing on one of its banks and descended down to the ground where he landed beside her. “Any luck with the fishing?”
Sensing the purpose of his visit, she replied, “No, but I have plenty of time.”
“Well, actually, you —”
Molly cast out her line.
“I see. Let me try this a different way. My name is Beaucup, and I am leading the migration to Mexico. Now, Molly, you are a monarch —”
“Thank you,” she replied, making fun of the obvious point.
“Ahem … you are a monarch and migration is what monarchs do! It is our past, our present, and our future. There is no choice involved in it.” With grave concern he concluded, “Besides, if you stay here, you will freeze to death!”
“Well, I don't have to go all the way to Mexico to avoid the cold! I understand Florida is nice.”
Her answer surprised him so much he did not immediately answer. Then he said, “Florida, maybe in your eighth or ninth month, but surely not till then.” Molly did not find the remark humorous, and so he continued,“Seriously, there must be a reason why we go to Mexico. Maybe it is something we cannot completely understand.”
Sensing an opening, she replied, “If we don't understand, why do it?”
“Because it's the way we're made!” asserted Beaucup.
Molly stared at the grass beneath her feet as if she had something to say. Beaucup noticed the orange and black bobber wobbling in the pond.
“I think you're getting a nibble.”
She reeled the line in a little and the tugging went away. Her thought did not though.
“I supposed you could be right, Beaucup. Maybe something is out there we have no way to know about yet.”
“Please call me Beau.”
“All right. What do you think is out there, Beau?”
“That, I cannot say. All I know is we have to go south to find out, and we might as well do our best to enjoy it!”
Molly said nothing, but smiled at Beaucup.
“Molly, I like the way you think. I admire your independence. We need monarchs like you on the migration. Please consider what I've said and fly over to Orangeville Falls within the hour."
Again, Molly said nothing and smiled at him.
"Well, I have to get back. Twenty million butterflies are waiting on me.”
Beaucup had spoken somewhat sternly with her for two reasons. First, no monarch had ever skipped a migration, and he certainly did not want that to happen on his watch. Second, during their short visit, he discovered a fondness for Molly, and not just because of her independence. He thought it would be nice to take the journey together. She said nothing as he fluttered across the pond and disappeared over the hills.
After returning to Orangefield Falls, Beaucup paced restlessly across the ridge. Time ticked away as, silently, he waited for Molly.
“What seems to be amiss, El Capitan?” asked Lenny.
Beaucup turned and met Lenny's eyes. “You know, we're not the only outfit preparing to leave. There are four others migrating to Mexico and we're all supposed to merge in Texas. At least, that's what Samuel told me. I don't want our group to throw it off.”
“Well, what are we waiting on?”
“Nothing,” said Beau, irritated by the question.
“Shall I give the command then?” asked Dawner.
Beau walked to the edge of the ridge and used his wings to quiet down the crowd. It did not work. Each time he flapped them, he went up a little ways into the air. Everyone below thought he was practicing his takeoffs. He finally hollered through his acorn bullhorn, “Magnificent Monarchs!”, and had their attention.
“Just a few parting words before we leave. Always remember this: with the wind at your back, fly high; with the wind in your face, fly low.” He glanced up to the sky on his right. “And if the wind is too strong, wait for it to return from the north.” He again looked to the sky. “Always remember that.”
“Give the order now?” asked Dawner, excited to carry out his first duty.
“Settle down jackrabbit,” answered Beaucup, “I'll let you know." Turning back to the crowd he continued, "And be especially cautious near all water: pools, ponds, streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans.”
“Oceans?” said Dawner.
“There will be some who go astray.”
“Not under my watch, sir!”
Beau glanced one final time to the sky and concluded, “Most importantly, remember this. At times, you will have to look out for yourself in order to survive! I repeat, at times you must look out for yourself to survive!” The crowd turned somewhat somber trying to take in this most important advice. Beaucup turned to Dawner and said regrettably, “All right, go ahead.”
Dawner puffed himself up to let out the all-important command for migration commencement, but, with uncanny timing, Molly touched down on the ridge
“Hold up, Dawner.” Dawner deflated from his puffed-up state. Beaucup walked toward Molly with a look of relief on his face.
“Just some parting thoughts,” he said to her.
“First of all, I am … that is ... I mean, we are all delighted you have decided to make the journey. Second, I covered some issues regarding wind and water we can go over later, but one matter of importance needs to be addressed now. There will be times when you need to look out for yourself in order to survive. I repeat, at times you must look out for yourself in order to survive. Do you understand, Molly?”
She nodded in agreement.
“By the way, what changed your mind?”
“Well, someone made me look at the future differently.”
Beaucup, slightly blushing, turned to Dawner to issue the command, but for a second time a landing occurred on the ridge.
“Samuel!” said Beau, walking toward him.
“You didn't think you'd leave without a hug from old Samuel!”
Samuel leaned his long neck toward the ground and Beaucup nuzzled up against its soft, white feathers. Then Beaucup flew up and landed on the swan's coal black beak. As Samuel delivered his final thoughts, the butterfly went up and down. “My aerial friend, the journey will be long and, at times, treacherous, but I know you are up to challenge. Rest when you have to, but try and make good progress each day so that you are on time for the great merger in Texas.” Samuel glanced at Molly, who had been standing by Beau, and then with crossed-eyes at Beaucup and said, “Send me back some strapping grandchildren!”
Beaucup flew off Samuel's beak and landed next to Molly. He turned to Dawner and nodded.
“Are you sure?” asked Dawner, frustrated by two interruptions.
“As sure as sure can be!”
Lenny grinned when he heard Beau say this and thought to himself, “My Lord, the boy's become a leader!"
Dawner reinflated and exclaimed at the top of his voice, “To the South and Beyond!”
Not a single butterfly in the crowd budged.
Lenny leaned over and whispered to him, “Hey ol' buddy, that's sort of been taken.”
Slightly embarrassed, the Path Specialist said in not so loud a voice, “I see ... well then ... to the South and Mexico!”
Dawner lifted off and set a southwestern direction, but after a few minutes he was the only monarch on a path for their destination. Behind him, total chaos ensued as millions of butterflies kept running into each other trying to take off from the green field. Observing from the ridge, Beau repeated, “What have we gotten ourselves into?"
After sorting it out, they were on their way. The long journey had begun. Samuel remained on the ridge and watched in amazement. The butterflies transformed into enormous moving clouds that blocked out the sun and made the day beneath them darker. And in the darkness of that morning, a tear came to Samuel's eye. He would never see Beaucup again. He looked forward to seeing his grandchildren.
A half-hour later, the monarchs were in spectacular flying formation high above the autumn landscape: Dawner in the lead, followed by Lenny and Scout, then Beaucup and Molly, and twenty million butterflies who cast a shadow over Canada the size of Rhode Island.