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Title: A Butterfly Chase
Author: Stahl, P. J.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Butterfly Chase" ***


               in memory of our friend and colleague Emmy
          * * * Mentor extraordinaire, and so much more * * *





  Strasburgh, printed G. Silbermann.


                            BUTTERFLY CHASE.

                     TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF

                              P. J. STAHL.


                            LORENZ FRÖLICH.


                               NEW YORK:
                    D. APPLETON & CO. GRAND STREET.


[Illustration: Bertie and Minnie at desk with tools in hand, looking at
butterfly book.]


Yes, little Minnie and her cousin Bertie have quite made up their minds
to have a splendid collection of butterflies. They have been reading all
about it in a book which their uncle, who is a professor at the Museum,
has sent them. In this beautiful book they have learnt all about it—how
to chase the butterflies, and how to catch them, and how to arrange them
in glass cases when they are caught. Everything they want is ready for
them. Their uncle has sent with the book two butterfly-nets; a pretty
case filled with crooked scissors, tweezers, pincers, and all sorts of
sharp steel instruments; a pretty box, at the bottom of which are little
round pieces of cork, glued in rows, with long large-headed pins to run
through the butterflies; and another little box, with a lot of small
squares of glass, which are to be put over their wings to keep them
open, and prevent them from fluttering and beating about.

In the beautiful book there are pretty coloured pictures of the fine
butterflies that they may meet with in their chases, with the names of
each kind printed underneath, so that they will know them all when they
catch them.

How very interesting butterflies are!


[Illustration: Minnie's mamma seated in a chair, looking at the children
with nets in their hands.]


Minnie’s mamma, who is almost like a mamma to Bertie too, though she is
only his aunt, would be very glad to see her little ones fond of natural
history, but still she does not seem quite pleased with their uncle’s
idea in sending them, not only the pretty book, but the nets and the
sharp, dreadful-looking steel things which they are to use in making
their collection. She shook her head rather sadly when she saw the
pretty nets which were to stop the butterflies from flying about so
happily, and the pins and tweezers which were to turn them into lifeless
specimens in a glass box.

But she did not wish to vex their kind uncle, who was a very learned
man, and was always thinking of collections and museums, and science and
experiments; and she did not like to tell him that she would rather her
little ones should learn about butterflies from the book with its
beautiful pictures, and from watching them flying about, and settling on
the flowers in the fields; and that she did not think it could be a nice
play for children to catch and kill the pretty harmless creatures.


[Illustration: Minnie's mamma at the bottom of the steps as the children
are leaving with nets in hand.]


It is a beautiful day. Minnie and Bertie are all ready to start, with
their light gauze nets in their hands. Bertie’s is green, and Minnie’s
is blue. Bertie has slung the butterfly-box, with the corks and great
pins, over his shoulder. He looks quite like a sportsman.

They are going to the daisy field for their first chase; it is a
beautiful meadow, full of flowers, which the butterflies are very fond

They say good-bye to mamma. She goes with them to the bottom of the
steps. The daisy field is not far off. From the drawing-room window dear
mamma will be able to see the chase. They have promised not to make
themselves too hot.


[Illustration: Bertie and Minnie talking outdoors, nets in their hands.]


Now they are off, armed with their nets. They are sure to have a
splendid chase. Bertie intends to catch a dozen peacock butterflies, and
Minnie a dozen emperors. That will make twenty-four butterflies.
Peacocks and emperors are the finest of all—the only butterflies they
mean to catch. As soon as they reach the field the two hunters hold a
consultation and arrange the plan of proceeding. Bertie will take the
right side of the field, and Minnie the left. They must not come in each
other’s way, only if one should want help, then the other is to fly to
the rescue.


[Illustration: Minnie and Bertie in the field, with the donkey looking
on from the side.]


They walk gently along, each on the proper side, just as they agreed;
for, in the first place, the grass is very high, and that makes it
difficult to run fast; and then, of course, they must not frighten the
butterflies. They must go very cautiously, so as to take them by

There is a donkey in the field. He looks very much astonished at
something. I think he is asking himself if the butterfly-hunters are not
come to hunt him. What an absurd donkey! to think of any one hunting
donkeys with a butterfly-net!


[Illustration: Minnie with her leg bent, one hand holding her calf as
the other holds her net up. The donkey watches her as Bertie walks in
the background.]


Everything is blooming in the meadow, the air is full of soft murmurs,
and the insects make a musical hum.

At the hunters’ approach the grasshoppers hop, the bees fly off, and
thousands of pale-blue or white butterflies seem to come out of the
flowers. But they are too small, and there are so many of them that they
do not know which to catch. Peacocks are what they want, or emperors.

Minnie finds that there are holes in the ground, hidden under the grass,
which make her trip, and there are disagreeable plants growing among the
daisies, which sting her legs, and even some that tear little slits in
her frock—but when one goes a-hunting one must not be particular;
another time she will ask for a pair of gaiters, like Bertie’s, and a
very thick frock. Mr. Donkey is very inquisitive.


[Illustration: Bertie holds his net, watching a butterfly that is
perched on a plant nearby. The donkey is watching him and Minnie stands
in the background.]


Hush!—Bertie stops all on a sudden, and makes signs to Minnie not to
stir. He must have spied a peacock. How cleverly and quietly he steals
up—nearer, nearer, without the slightest noise; he scarcely seems to
breathe. Minnie would like to run across to see the beautiful peacock.
Bertie holds up his net, all ready to catch the butterfly; the wind
puffs the green gauze a little, and Minnie’s heart beats with

The Donkey cannot conceive what the children are doing. They seem to pay
no attention to him.


[Illustration: Bertie on his hands and knees, looking at the net he is
holding on the ground, while the butterfly flies above. The donkey looks
over at him and Minnie stands in the background.]


All on a sudden Bertie brings down the net, and then throws himself on
his hands and knees, to make sure of his success. He must have caught
the butterfly....

No! there is no butterfly—nothing at all in the net but a bit of clover.
Bertie seems rather unhappy about it; but I know who is happy enough—the
beautiful butterfly that has had such a fortunate escape. How he soars
away! However, Bertie calls out to his cousin that it was not a real
peacock after all, which is some comfort.

The Donkey, seeing Bertie on all-fours, wonders whether he is mocking
him, and making fun of him.


[Illustration: Minnie holding her net down.]


Butterflies are very silly. I think the peacock cannot have noticed
Minnie, for he flies very imprudently close to her. Minnie will manage
much better than Bertie; yes, indeed, she is not going to let such a
beautiful butterfly get away, for he is very beautiful though he may not
be a peacock.

Pat! she has got him, and very tight too, so that he cannot possibly get
away under the rim.


[Illustration: Minnie and Bertie looking up at the sky. The donkey is
grazing in the background, facing away from them.]


‘Have you got him?’ cries Bertie.

‘Yes, yes,’ answers Minnie. ‘Oh, come quick!’

Bertie runs up; but, oh, dear, the ill-natured butterfly has made his
escape through a hole in the net, which had been torn by a hedge.

He laughs at Miss Minnie, the good-for-nothing butterfly! He flies up so
high, so high, that the little hunters, gazing up at him, almost tumble
over on their backs.

But the Donkey is not going to waste his time in staring up into the
sky, and very wisely goes back to his browsing.


[Illustration: Bertie and Minnie lying on the grass, the donkey watching
as the butterfly flies over them.]


‘Let us lie down on the grass,’ says Bertie, ‘and be on the watch to
take the peacock by surprise. When he cannot see any more of us, he will
come down. Butterflies are too greedy to stay up in the air very long;
they want to come down to suck the honey out of the flowers.’

The two hunters hide themselves carefully, and wait for their revenge,
with their nets all ready in their hands. It is a long time to wait; but
if one goes a-hunting, one must have patience.

The Donkey is out of all patience, and says to himself, ‘What are they
going to do?’ Really he is a most inquisitive donkey. He wants to know


[Illustration: Minnie lying on the ground with the butterfly perched on
her nose; Bertie sits next to her.]


The butterfly, seeing nothing more of them, comes down by degrees. First
he flies to the right, then he flies to the left, then he flies round
and round.

‘He can’t make up his mind about anything,’ says Bertie.

‘And he doesn’t know a bit where he is going,’ says Minnie. ‘He looks
every minute as if he were going to stop. He seems as if he wanted a
daisy, and then he goes right off to another flower.’

Oh!!! this is cool. The impudent butterfly has popped right down on
Minnie’s nose. At first Bertie could scarcely believe his eyes.


[Illustration: Minnie on her feet and rubbing her nose as Bertie, who is
still sitting, laughs.]


Bertie never laughed so much in his life. Minnie, who certainly was not
expecting anything of the kind, is so taken by surprise that she jumps
up on her feet; and the butterfly, quite as much astonished at what he
has done, flies off again as quickly as before. Minnie cannot leave off
rubbing her nose; the butterfly’s little feet did tickle her so.

‘He is a very rude butterfly,’ said Minnie.

‘Oh! he must have mistaken your little nose for a flower,’ said Bertie.
‘He did not mean to offend you. He meant to be very polite.’


[Illustration: Bertie and Minnie running with nets in hand, the
butterfly flying in front of them.]


But there is no time for laughing; the butterfly has settled on a great
tuft of meadow-sweet all in flower. The two hunters, seeing this, forget
all their plans, and run both together after him with all their might.
But the butterfly is not so silly as to wait for them; every time he
sees his two enemies come near, off he starts again. A dozen times
Minnie thought she had him, and a dozen times Bertie said he had got
him; but a dozen times he got away.

‘What troublesome things to catch butterflies are!’ said the two
hunters. ‘What is to be done? We have tried every possible way.’


[Illustration: Bertie and Minnie standing, Bertie wiping his forehead,
Minnie has one hand on her hair as the other hand holds her hat. The
donkey lies on the grass in the background, watching them.]


Minnie has been running so much that she is quite out of breath, and her
hair has fallen all over her shoulders. Bertie, too, is in a most
uncomfortable state, and as red as a turkey-cock. Oh! how hot it is. But
they cannot lose their time in standing still. They just stop for a few
seconds to take breath, and then set off again. But the butterfly has
got a good start, and is a long way off already.

All this time the Donkey is lying quite coolly on the grass; but he just
takes a look now and then at the hunters.


[Illustration: Bertie and Minnie running with nets in hand, the donkey
running away from them.]


The Donkey, seeing them come quite close to him, is taken by surprise.
He is quite sure now that they are running after him. He must be a most
conceited ass to suppose that two such hunters as Minnie and Bertie have
nothing better to do than to hunt donkeys. He thinks so much of himself,
this Donkey, that he is perfectly silly. So Bertie thinks. As for
Minnie, she does not trouble herself about him at all. She can think of
nothing but her butterfly.


[Illustration: Bertie tripping and about to fall, net in hand, as Minnie
falls to the ground.]


Heigh-ho! what has happened? Bertie and Minnie, who seemed only just now
to be flying over the ground, have disappeared, as if by magic.

This is how it was. Bertie and Minnie, rushing along so eagerly, did not
notice that they had got to the bottom of the field; and at the bottom
of the field was a ditch; and into the ditch they went head over heels,
rolling one over the other.

And at the bottom of the ditch there was some water left by the
rain—nasty yellow water.


[Illustration: Minnie looking down at her dress while Bertie faces her
with arms outstretched.]


Poor Minnie is quite frightened. Bertie has tumbled right upon her; and
Bertie is so heavy. Besides, she has got very wet, and her pretty white
frock is all dirtied with the mud. It is not nice at all. Bertie helps
her up, but she is half inclined to cry.

‘Oh,’ says Bertie, ‘when we go a-hunting we must not mind such little
things; we shall be sure to have plenty more of the same sort.’

Minnie begins to think she has had enough already.


[Illustration: Bertie with net down on the ground, butterfly inside. The
donkey stands in the background.]


‘What has become of the butterfly all this time?’ cries Bertie. Who
would have thought it? he is quietly settled not two yards from the spot
where his enemies fell; so quiet that one would have thought him asleep
or dreaming on the tuft of beautiful blue-bells, where Bertie has just
found him.

He turns his back scornfully on the hunters; just as if he had seen or
heard nothing, and as if all that has happened did not concern him in
the least.

Bertie hopes to have his revenge now. He pops his net down so neatly on
the careless butterfly, that this time Mr. Peacock is safely caught, for
there are no holes in Bertie’s net.

‘How he beats about!’ says Bertie.

‘Oh! he will spoil all his wings!’ says Minnie.


[Illustration: Bertie holds net down while Minnie pulls something out of
a container in her hand. Mamma and the donkey stand on opposite sides in
the background.]


Minnie, however, remembering the directions in her uncle’s book, has
opened the box, while Bertie holds his net tightly down on the ground.
The butterfly cannot escape. Minnie has given her cousin a great long
pin, with a sharp point.

The Donkey, who had run off to some distance, comes back when he sees
the hunters stop. He says to himself that something extraordinary must
have happened, and he is not wrong this time.


[Illustration: Bertie and Minnie kneeling on the ground with the
captured butterfly still in the net, while mamma looks on. The donkey is
in the background.]


Bertie holds the big pin close to the quivering body of the poor
butterfly. He must find the exact spot in the middle of his back, so
that the operation may not fail. He has told Minnie to put her hands
flat down on the net, one on each side of the poor prisoner. The
butterfly, thus pressed, can scarcely stir; a few convulsive struggles
are the only signs of his agony and his helplessness; his head, with its
large eyes, can still move a little. How dreadful his eyes look; they
are full of terror.

Bertie was so proud of his victory; why does he hesitate now?


[Illustration: Bertie and Minnie hugging each other, while the butterfly
flies free above them and mamma looks on.]


Why? Because just when he was going to put his poor prisoner to death,
the child’s heart and hand trembled—because he looked at his cousin and
saw her turn pale—because Minnie turned away her head that she might not
see her cousin do this cruel deed. She felt that death was dreadful,
whether it were a man’s death or a butterfly’s. This pin was just the
same to the poor insect as a sword would be to a man. ‘Oh, Bertie,
Bertie!’ she cried, bursting into tears; ‘no, no! don’t let us kill him!
Only think, Bertie, it said in uncle’s book that butterflies live for
several days with pins run through them. Oh, how dreadful it must be! I
could not bear to see it, and you could not, Bertie. It is not nice play
to kill things; I don’t like chasing butterflies.’

Bertie has lifted up his net.

Oh, the happy, beautiful butterfly! He thought himself just dead, and he
has come back to life. One moment to shake his wings, and away he soars
again in his joyous flight towards the blue sky.

Minnie throws her arms round Bertie’s neck, and says, ‘Oh, thank you,
Bertie!’ They are very happy too—good little Bertie and dear little
Minnie. They know they have done right.

They will never go chasing butterflies again, never, never.


[Illustration: Mamma with her right arm around Bertie and her left arm
around Minnie, giving her a hug. The butterfly flies above them.]


But from the balcony, where she was sitting, Minnie’s mamma had seen
them fall into the ditch, and was hastening to them. The little hunters
were so absorbed that they did not see her coming. But dear mamma
understands it all, and she is very much pleased with her little
children. When they are older she will explain to them that though it is
not wrong for learned men to make painful experiments, in order to gain
useful knowledge, no one else should wantonly destroy even the least of
God’s creatures.

As for the Donkey, I don’t know what has become of him. I think he has
given up trying to understand anything about the matter, and gone home
to his stable.

                   Strasburgh, printed G. Silbermann.


                           Transcriber Notes

 Obvious typos and punctuation errors corrected.
 The Illustrator's last name of FRÖLICH has been left as in the
   original, similar spelling is found in other printed material from
   the same time period. The original spelling of the name in Danish
   appears to be FRØLICH.
 Small capitals have been converted to ALL CAPS.
 Descriptions have been added to the illustrations without captions that
   accompany each short chapter.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Butterfly Chase" ***

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