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The Butterfly
by [?]

The Butterfly wished for a bride; and, as may be imagined, he wanted to select a very pretty one from among the flowers; therefore he threw a critical glance at all the flower-beds, and found that every flower sat quietly and demurely on her stalk, just as a maiden ought to sit, before she is engaged; but there were a great many of them, and the choice threatened to become wearisome. The Butterfly did not care to take much trouble, and consequently he flew off on a visit to the daisies. The French call this floweret “Marguerite,” and they know that Marguerite can prophecy, when lovers pluck off its leaves, and ask of every leaf they pluck some question concerning their lovers. “Heartily? Painfully? Loves me much? A little? Not at all?” and so on. Every one asks in his own language. The Butterfly came to Marguerite too, to inquire; but he did not pluck off her leaves: he kissed each of them, for he considered that most is to be done with kindness.

“Darling Marguerite daisy!” he said to her, “you are the wisest woman among the flowers. Pray, pray tell me, shall I get this one or that? Which will be my bride? When I know that, I will directly fly to her, and propose for her.”

But Marguerite did not answer him. She was angry that he had called her a “woman,” when she was yet a girl; and there is a great difference. He asked for the second and for the third time, and when she remained dumb, and answered him not a word, he would wait no longer, but flew away to begin his wooing at once.

It was in the beginning of spring; the crocus and the snowdrop were blooming around.

“They are very pretty,” thought the Butterfly. “Charming little lasses, but a little too much of the schoolgirl about them.” Like all young lads, he looked out for the elder girls.

Then he flew of to the anemones. These were a little too bitter for his taste; the violet somewhat too sentimental; the lime blossoms were too small, and, moreover, they had too many relations; the apple blossoms–they looked like roses, but they bloomed to-day, to fall off to-morrow, to fall beneath the first wind that blew; and he thought that a marriage with them would last too short a time. The pease blossom pleased him best of all: she was white and red, and graceful and delicate, and belonged to the domestic maidens who look well, and at the same time are useful in the kitchen. He was just about to make his offer, when close by the maiden he saw a pod at whose end hung a withered flower.

“Who is that?” he asked.

“That is my sister,” replied the Pease Blossom.

“Oh, indeed; and you will get to look like her!” he said. And away he flew, for he felt quite shocked.

The honeysuckle hung forth blooming from the hedge, but there was a number of girls like that, with long faces and sallow complexions. No, he did not like her.

But which one did he like?

The spring went by, and the summer drew towards its close; it was autumn, but he was still undecided.

And now the flowers appeared in their most gorgeous robes, but in vain; they had not the fresh fragrant air of youth. But the heart demands fragrance, even when it is no longer young, and there is very little of that to be found among the dahlias and dry chrysanthemums, therefore the Butterfly turned to the mint on the ground.

You see this plant has no blossom; but indeed it is blossom all over, full of fragrance from head to foot, with flower scent in every leaf.

“I shall take her,” said the Butterfly.

And he made an offer for her.

But the mint stood silent and stiff, listening to him. At last she said,

“Friendship, if you please; but nothing more. I am old, and you are old, but we may very well live for one another; but as to marrying–no–don’t let us appear ridiculous at our age.”

And thus it happened that the Butterfly had no wife at all. He had been too long choosing, and that is a bad plan. So the Butterfly became what we call an old bachelor.

It was late in autumn, with rain and cloudy weather. The wind blew cold over the backs of the old willow trees, so that they creaked again. It was no weather to be flying about in summer clothes, nor, indeed, was the Butterfly in the open air. He had got under shelter by chance, where there was fire in the stove and the heat of summer. He could live well enough, but he said,

“It’s not enough merely to live. One must have freedom, sunshine, and a little flower.”

And he flew against the window-frame, and was seen and admired, and then stuck upon a pin and placed in the box of curiosities; they could not do more for him.

“Now I am perched on a stalk, like the flowers,” said the Butterfly. “It certainly is not very pleasant. It must be something like being married, for one is stuck fast.”

And he consoled himself in some measure with the thought.

“That’s very poor comfort,” said the potted Plants in the room.

“But,” thought the Butterfly, “one cannot well trust these potted Plants. They’ve had too much to do with mankind.”