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by bkies
Rated: E · Chapter · Children's · #2182220
Day of Rest.
The Magnificent Monarchs

Chapter 10

Day of Rest

With the horrific thunderstorm now only in their little memories, the monarchs pressed on. However, flying through the soft air of a blue and yellow sky, Beaucup noticed a new behavior in his troops. No one spoke to each other. No one looked at each other. Simply put, the orange and black brigade flew as if a funeral procession in the sky.
         Beaucup turned to Dawner. “How far you think we've traveled?”
         “I'd say we're right at the halfway point.”
         “And would you say we are on schedule?”
         “I'd say a little ahead of schedule, El Capitan.”
         “Good.” Beaucup mixed Dawner's report in with other thoughts on his mind. “Scout, everyone seems a little different this morning. What's your take on it?”
         “Simple, Captain. Shell-shocked from the storm.”
         “So, I'm not the only one to have noticed." After Beaucup considered their heavy loss, momentarily taking on the weight of so many fallen comrades, he said, “All right then, we will take a day off.”
         “A day off?” Scout repeated. None of the monarchs knew such a luxury existed under good flying conditions.
         "Yes, a day off. Is there a nice stopping point up ahead?”
         “We're not far from a mid-sized town.”
         “Perfect. Have Lenny and Dawner help pass the word we're stopping for the day. But make sure everyone understands it can be dangerous down there. Do not let hedges with fragrant flowers and gardens of goldenrods and gurgling gray fountains lure anyone into a sense of security.”
         “Stay on your toes, then?” said Scout.
         “Do you have any?” Beaucup asked.
         “Well, you know, as a figure of speech.”
         “Hey,” said Beau, “we're getting off point here! Just tell them there are dangers down there!”
         “Aye aye, Captain!”

         A half hour later, scattered among hundreds of neighborhood lawns, butterflies sipped nectar from hedge flowers or cautiously rested on fountains or fluttered among gorgeous garden grounds. Beau landed on the leaf of a hibiscus flower that floated on a small circular pond and used his wing-tips to paddle to the concrete side. There, Molly took one of his legs and stepped from the pebbled stone terrace onto the leaf. When Beau flew up it pushed the leaf back toward the middle of the pond. “Be careful of the water!” he said.
         “And if not, will you rescue me?”
         “One rescue per trip, Molly.” As he flew away, she giggled.
         Edith and Ellie listened from the house eave above.
         “Well, isn't she the special butterfly,” said Edith.
         Ellie's dreamy look disregarded Edith's sarcasm. “I'd trade places with her in a heartbeat.”
         Along a hedge that ran the length of the limestone house, monarchs shared bright-petaled flowers with bumblebees and hummingbirds. One bumblebee zeroed in on a purple trumpet vine next to Lenny.
         “On your way to Mexico, again?” asked the bumblebee.
         “Yes, on our way to Mexico but, no, not again. We just make the trip once, pal.”
         “Well, all right, if you have to be so technical!”
         “Technical? I'd call the fact that we live only nine months a major detail.”
         “Why so snippety?” questioned the bumblebee.
         Lenny was irritated. “Look, pal, why don't you mind your nectar and I'll mind mine!” On that note their conversation ended.
         At the end of the hedge, a butterfly by the name of Boudro rested atop a firm green leaf and admired the statue of a large white cat. He had been admiring it for quite some time, pondering how a sculptor could make the statue look so real. Poor Boudro, less observant than most butterflies, learned the hard way why it looked real. When the huge white paw swatted at him, he sprang up into the air, the paw passing just beneath his legs. Then he dropped just as fast, the paw swinging above his antennae and a claw barely nicked his wing. When the cat paused, disappointed in the results of his first two swats, Boudro flew off and escaped just in the nick of time.
         Later that afternoon another monarch, Maggie, would not be so lucky. Earlier in the day, Beau himself had narrowly missed flying into the web she now innocently fluttered toward. He shouted, “Look out, Maggie! Maggie … stop!" The warning was late. With Maggie trapped in the web, nothing could be done. The spider would return at his leisure, roll up his victim, and drag it away. Monarchs who witnessed the tragedy were grief-stricken over the fate of their fallen friend. Beaucup decided they would leave now before witnessing Maggie being rolled up and dragged away. He turned to the mournful monarchs and said, “Let's go ahead and move on.”
         Beaucup flew over to the garden pond and landed on the leaf beside Molly. With barely room for two, it created a bit of an awkward moment as he paddled to the side.
         “Thank you, my Captain,” she said, stepping onto the stone terrace.
         Still at rest on the eave, Edith appeared flustered. “Oh please, she could have just flown off that leaf.”
         “I'd trade places with her in a heartbeat,” said Ellie.
         Everywhere, butterflies lifted off from the lawns and ascended into the sky. Ellie took a slightly different route, first landing on the hibiscus leaf, sighing briefly, and then flying skyward.
         Beaucup wanted to be by himself for a while, and so he found a secluded pocket away from the others. Within minutes though, Molly flew alongside and sensed his mood.
         “Hey, what's bothering you?”
         “Nothin's botherin' me.”
         “So why the long face?”
         “What long face?”
         After a considerable pause, Beau said, “It should have never happened.”
         “You mean Maggie?” asked Molly.
         As if having a conversation with himself, he continued, “I should have marked the area as dangerous. I was almost trapped by that web earlier in the day.”
         “But you warned everyone to be careful. Remember, there are dangers down there!”
         “I suppose.”
         Beaucup flew further ahead of Molly, and she again came to his side.
         “You may not want to hear this right now, Beau, but you are doing an outstanding job as our leader.”
         “Oh really! You think Maggie would agree to that one? That is, if she could still express an opinion!”
         “Yes, I do!”
         “Look, to be frank, I never wanted to be leader. I wish I'd never been born … first.”
         “But you were.”
         This flustered Beaucup; he knew the response left no leeway. So he flew ahead into a cloud where Molly could not find him. She did. As Molly gave her final piece of advice, the two moved from misty fog into open sky. “Beau, no one is perfect; everyone makes mistakes. But some make many more sound decisions than mistakes. These are the ones who should lead us. And when there is a mistake, they own up to it, learn from it, and move on to other decisions for the good of all. This is how a true leader leads. You happen to be one of them.” Then she kissed his cheek and said, “Think about that.” As Molly flew away, Beaucup tried to remain glum, but could not. Her words and kiss had a mysterious effect upon him. Now, he could not stop smiling. Ahead, he saw clear sky.
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