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.