The Tale of Betsy Butterfly
Category: Children
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Betsy Butterfly was so beautiful she was admired by everyone. However, one of her admirers is a bit different, and Betsy begins to worry. What does this mysterious buzzing stranger want? The Tale of Betsy Butterfly is a children's story perfect for bedtime written by Arthur Scott Bailey. The tale takes place in Pleasant Valley, just like many of his other exciting children's stories.

The Tale of
Betsy Butterfly

Arthur Scott Bailey

The Tale of Betsy Butterfly

Beauty and the Blossoms

Every one of the field people in Pleasant Valley, and the forest folk as well, was different from his neighbors. For instance, there was Jasper Jay. He was the noisiest chap for miles around. And there was Peter Mink. Without doubt he was the rudest and most rascally fellow in the whole district. Then there was Freddie Firefly, who was the brightest youngster on the farm — at least after dark, when his light flashed across the meadow.

So it went. One person was wiser than any of his neighbors; another was stupider; and somebody else was always hungrier. But there was one who was the loveliest. Not only was she beautiful to look upon. She was graceful in flight as well. When one saw her flittering among the flowers it was hard to say which was the daintier — the blossoms or Betsy Butterfly.

For that was her name. Whoever gave it to her might have chosen a prettier one. Betsy herself always said that she would have preferred Violet. In the first place, it was the name of a flower. And in the second, her red-and-brown mottled wings had violet tips.

However, a person as charming as Betsy Butterfly did not need worry about her name. Had she been named after a dozen flowers she could have been no more attractive.

People often said that everybody was happier and better just for having Betsy Butterfly in the neighborhood. And some claimed that even the weather couldn’t help being fine when Betsy went abroad.

“Why, the sun just has to smile on her!” they would exclaim.

But they were really wrong about that. The truth of the matter was that Betsy Butterfly couldn’t abide bad weather — not even a cloudy sky. She said she didn’t enjoy flying except in the sunshine. So no one ever saw her except on pleasant days.

To be sure, a few of the field people turned up their noses at Betsy. They were the jealous ones. And they generally pretended that they did not consider Betsy beautiful at all.

“She has too much color,” Mehitable Moth remarked one day to Mrs. Ladybug. “Between you and me, I’ve an idea that it isn’t natural. I think she paints her wings!”

“I don’t doubt it,” said Mrs. Ladybug. “I should think she’d be ashamed of herself.” And little Mrs. Ladybug pursed up her lips and looked very severe. And then she declared that she didn’t see how people could say Betsy was even good-looking, if they had ever noticed her tongue. “Honestly, her tongue’s as long as she is!” Mrs. Ladybug gossiped. “But she knows enough to carry it curled up like a watch-spring, so it isn’t generally seen…. You just gaze at her closely, some day when she’s sipping nectar from a flower, and you’ll see that I know what I’m talking about.”

Now, some of those spiteful remarks may have reached Betsy Butterfly’s ears. But she never paid the slightest attention to them. When she met Mehitable Moth or Mrs. Ladybug she always said, “How do you do?” and “Isn’t this a lovely day?” in the sweetest tone you could imagine.

And of course there was nothing a body could do except to agree with Betsy Butterfly. For it was bound to be a beautiful, bright day, or she wouldn’t have been out.

So even those that didn’t like Betsy had to give up trying to quarrel with her.

Johnnie Green’s Net

Johnnie Green was never quite happy unless he was collecting something. One year he went about with a hammer, chipping a piece off almost every rock in Pleasant Valley. And of course he gathered birds’ eggs.

After he tired of that he began collecting postage stamps. Next he turned his attention to tobacco tags, even hailing travellers who passed the house, to ask them whether they hadn’t a “hard one,” meaning by that a tag that was hard to get.

When he felt quite sure that he had a sample of every kind of tobacco tag in the whole world, Johnnie Green had to think of something else to collect. And since it was summer, and a good time to find them, he decided to start a collection of butterflies.

News spreads fast among the field people; and almost as soon as Johnnie Green had made up his mind about his new collection, the whole Butterfly family knew of it.

Old Mr. Crow was the one that first learned of Johnnie’s plan. And he was not pleased, either.

“Butterflies!” he scoffed. “I should think Johnnie Green might better spend his time doing something worth while. Butterflies, indeed! Now, if he would only collect Crows there’d be some sense in that!”

But that was before old Mr. Crow and his neighbors understood exactly what a collection was. And the Butterflies felt quite proud because Johnnie Green was going to busy himself with them.

Later, when the field people discovered that collecting Butterflies meant catching them and sticking pins through their heads, the Butterfly family became greatly excited and worried. And as for old Mr. Crow, he was very glad that Johnnie had not decided to collect him and his relations.

Well, if you had been in Pleasant Valley that summer, on almost any fine day you might have seen Johnnie Green running about the fields or the flower garden with a butterfly net in his hand.

He had made the net from a barrel hoop and a piece of mosquito netting, to which he nailed an old broomstick for a handle. And for the first few days when he started making his new collection he didn’t visit the swimming hole once. When his father asked him to do a little work for him — such as feeding the chickens, or leading the old horse Ebenezer to water — Johnnie Green was not so pleasant as he might have been. He complained that he was too busy to bother with the farm chores just then.

But Farmer Green told him to run along and do his work.

“You’ll have plenty of time to play,” said Johnnie’s father.

The Butterfly family was sorry that Farmer Green didn’t keep his boy at work from dawn till dark. They didn’t like to have to watch out for fear that horrid net might swoop down upon them and catch them. They wanted to have a good time among the flowers without being in constant terror of capture at the hands of Johnnie Green.

But, strange to say, Betsy Butterfly was not in the least uneasy. She was so gentle herself that she couldn’t believe anybody would harm her.

Little did Betsy realize that she was really in great danger. Her fatal beauty was sure to catch Johnnie Green’s eye. And though Betsy Butterfly did not know it, only an accident could prevent her being added to Johnnie Green’s collection.

A Mishap

Except for the work that his father made him do now and then, there was only one thing that bothered Johnnie Green in making his collection of butterflies. The weather was not so good as it might have been. He soon found that there was no use hunting for butterflies except in the sunshine. So when a three days’ rain came, Johnnie began to wish he had started a different sort of collection.

But the weather cleared at last. And the sun came out so bright that Johnnie fairly pulled old Ebenezer away from the watering-trough and hustled him back to his stall; for he was in a hurry to get to the flower garden with his butterfly net. As for the chickens, they had very little food that day.

Once in the garden, Johnnie Green found more butterflies than he had ever noticed before. But as soon as he began chasing them, they flew away to the meadow. That is, all but Betsy Butterfly. She said she was sure Johnnie Green wouldn’t annoy her.

And that was where she was wrong. The moment he caught sight of her, with her mottled red-and-brown wings with the violet tips, Johnnie cried: “There’s a beauty!”

But Betsy Butterfly was so used to such remarks that she paid little heed to him. Even when he crept nearer and nearer to her, with old dog Spot at his heels, she did not take fright.

With her tongue deep in a fragrant blossom she was enjoying its delicious sweetness when Johnnie Green, bearing his net aloft, sprang at her.

When Johnnie jumped, Betsy Butterfly started up in alarm. She had really waited until it was too late. And if something unexpected hadn’t happened to Johnnie Green, Betsy would surely have had a place in his collection.

But luckily for her, Johnnie met with a fall. He may have tripped on a vine. Or his foot may have slipped on the wet ground. Anyhow, he fell sprawling among the flowers, dropping his precious net as he stretched out his hands to save himself.

Johnnie’s fall gave Betsy Butterfly her only chance. Coiling her long tongue out of her way, she quickly made her escape.

So Johnnie Green lost her. But she was not all that he lost. A strange accident happened just as he fell, for old dog Spot leaped forward at the same time. And, much to his surprise, Spot found his head inside the butterfly net. The long broomstick handle thumped him sharply on his back. And the silly fellow took fright at once.

With yelps of terror he scurried out of the flower garden. And Johnnie picked himself up just in time to see Spot tearing across the meadow toward the woods.

“Spot! Spot! Come back!” Johnnie Green shouted. But old Spot paid no attention to his young master. Perhaps he was too scared to hear him.

Spot wanted to get rid of that net that covered his head. And he knew of no better place to go than the woods where he hoped to be able to free himself from his odd muzzle by rubbing against a tree or nosing among some bushes.

Johnnie ran a little way after him. But when he saw Spot duck into the woods he turned back sadly towards the house. For all he knew, old Spot might run a mile further before he stopped.

Johnnie would have to make a new net if he wanted to catch any more butterflies for his collection.

And the trouble was, he had no more mosquito netting.

A good many of the field people saw old Spot as he dashed off with the butterfly net over his head. And they enjoyed a hearty laugh at the strange sight.

As for Betsy Butterfly, she had learned to watch out for Johnnie Green. And she knew that another time he would have to be twice as spry as he had shown himself, if he expected to capture her.

Old Spot didn’t come home till afternoon. When he appeared at last he looked very sheepish. He hoped no one had noticed his fright. And he wouldn’t go near the flower garden again for a whole week.


Little Mrs. Ladybug said that she wished Betsy Butterfly no ill luck. But she thought that perhaps it would have been a good thing for her if Johnnie Green had caught her and put her in his collection.

On hearing that strange remark Mehitable Moth turned quite pale. She never wanted Johnnie Green’s name mentioned by anyone, because she lived in constant terror for fear he might mistake her for one of the Butterfly family and capture her.

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