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by bkies
Rated: E · Chapter · Children's · #2182200
A super generation of monarchs led by their first born, Beaucup, migrate to Mexico.
The Magnificent Monarchs
by Brian Kies

Chapter 1
A Leader Is Born

On a late summer morning outside Orangeville, Ontario, the red and yellow tinged trees, if viewed from a distance, stood motionless and resembled a magnificent oil painting. Only one movement interrupted the otherwise tranquil scene: Samuel, the resident trumpeter swan. The pure white bird with black bill glided across his glass pond and pierced the air with the timbre of a French horn. His spirits were high, certain the first of two miracles was about to occur. After all, he had lived in the wood many a year and witnessed many wonders. The swan gracefully lifted off and flew low to the ground until he landed beneath a certain maple tree. There, he looked up and waited.
         Across the open woodlands that morning, delicate emerald-green chrysalises clung from branches. Not thousands, not hundreds of thousands, but millions. Now, from one, as orange light filtered through the leaves, the leader of a new monarch generation would emerge.
                                                                                                             * * * * * *
         Actually, Samuel first met him five weeks earlier while waddling in the wood. The swan loved to explore nature, and not only the big movements and sounds, but the smaller ones too. Just off the path, he noticed movement on a milkweed leaf. “My, my, so little,” he said, delighted to see the caterpillar hatching from his egg. The baby crawled out on his three pairs of legs and began to consume the very leaf he walked upon. Samuel marked the time and place; his arrival was early.
         “Do you know why you eat those leaves?”
         “Excuse me?”
         “I'm sorry, let me introduce myself. I am Samuel, the Trumpeter Swan.”
         The caterpillar was unsure how to respond; his parents had not named him yet. Once they did, it would remain his name as a butterfly. “Pleased to meet you,” he replied.
         “So do you know why you eat those leaves?” repeated the swan.
         “Because I'm hungry.”
         “Well, yes, but also because they are poisonous.”
         “Excuse me?”
         “I'm sorry, let me introduce myself. I am Samuel, the Trumpeter Swan.”
         “You've already said that!”
         “I have? Oh dear, I have. I must stop repeating myself. I must stop repeating myself.”
         Then the swan said nothing. Speaking had always been difficult for him when meeting someone. He stumbled over his words and became forgetful until he began to know with whom he spoke. Then speaking became easier.
         “Well, go on,” said the caterpillar.
         “Go on?”
         “Poisonous leaves! Why would I eat poisonous leaves?”
         “Oh, yes, poisonous leaves.” Samuel straightened up as if to confidently give a speech. He wanted to state it right. “When you are reborn as the orange and black creature, you will be very fragile, unable to defend yourself, but predators will not harm you; that is, they will not make you a part of their breakfast, lunch, or dinner because they will fear becoming ill.”
         “What do you mean orange and black creature? And I've just been born. How could I know to eat poisonous leaves?”
         Certain of the point the swan stated, “Because it is the way you are made.”
         “May I ask how you know so much, Samuel?”
         “I have lived in the wood many a year and witnessed many wonders.”
         The tiny caterpillar could not make heads or tails of it and so continued consuming milkweed. In fact, that is all he did for three weeks. He grew so fast he shed his skin four times like a boy who outgrows his clothes. Each time the old skin came off — there underneath — a new yellow, black, and white striped coat adorned him. After the final molt though, all traces of caterpillar were gone.
                                                                                                   * * * * * *
         Instead, an emerald-green chrysalis clung from the branch, the branch Samuel now waited below, and the chrysalis might just have been a magician's handkerchief. Ten days later, after Mother Nature completed the illusion, the caterpillar reemerged a delicate butterfly with bright-orange wings of symmetrical black veins and white patterns along their edges.
         “How does he do that?” Samuel thought, not knowing exactly who he might be.
         The newborn butterfly, dazed from a second birth, stumbled to the top of the branch and looked below.
         “Do you believe me now?” said the swan.
         He looked at his wings. “Yes, I do.”
         “And your name?”
         “What did your parents name you?”
         “Oh ... Beaucup ... but please call me Beau.”
         “Then believe this, Beau. You are first!”
         “First? How could you possibly know that?”
         “Because I have lived in the wood many a year and witnessed many wonders.”
         “Oh, that one again!”
         “And second, understand what first means, that is second after what I said first, that you are first, and now what first means which I said second, that is about being born first. Make sense?"
         “Maybe,” Beaucup answered, utterly confused by the statement.
         Samuel was feeling more and more comfortable around this important monarch. He continued. “You will lead your generation across America into the heart of Mexico and roost there until spring before you begin your journey home. Your children and grandchildren will complete the return to Orangeville; however, they will live for only three to four weeks. Your generation has been blessed with time. Your generation will live to the ripe old age of nine months.”
         “Mexico? Where is Mexico?”
         “Fly south young monarch and be amazed what you know!” Samuel stated boldly.
         “I thought young monarchs were supposed to go west.”
         “Do not go west,” implored the swan, “that would be disastrous!”
         Above, a flock of Canada geese moved effortlessly through the sky in V-formation.
         “Everyone knows about them!” Samuel explained, pointing up. “How they migrate each fall in that famous formation. You need to shake things up a bit, Beau.”
         “What do you mean?”
         “Well, many of those geese are heading south for the ninth, tenth time. On the other hand, you and your cohorts will leave here for the first time and not only find your way to Mexico, but return to the same trees where your great-grandparents stayed. Pretty remarkable, eh? Yours is the magnificent migration, my friend!”
         “But what do mean ... shake things up?”
         “I don't know, choose a name for yourselves. Maybe, start there. You'd be amazed how many people know about the geese and their V-formation but little of the monarch migration.”
         Then the swan flew away leaving Beaucup to consider many things. He thought about the swan's suggestion for a name, how he had referred to their migration as magnificent. And he pondered leading millions of monarchs not only to Mexico, but to the same trees where their great-grandparents stayed. It all seemed utterly impossible. Of course, Beaucup had no way of knowing it would only be possible by overcoming several obstacles along the way and, that by doing so, completing the second miracle.
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