XI. Peppery Polly
 

Freddie Firefly felt quite uncomfortable as he started off toward the clover field, together with the angry honey-maker. It had not made him feel any more at ease when the Queen of the Bumblebees told him the worker's name. It was Peppery Polly.

"Don't go too fast!" Peppery Polly told Freddie Firefly. "And I'll tell you now that I'll make it warm for you if you try to play any tricks on me to-night."

As a matter of fact, Freddie hadn't thought of such a thing as playing a single trick on her. But Peppery Polly's warning at once put that very idea into his head. So he began to try to think of a good joke that would bother her. And before they had crossed the meadow Freddie Firefly turned to Peppery Polly Bumblebee and said:

"That light off there must be in the farmhouse."

Now, never having been out at night before, his companion wanted to see all the strange sights. So she stopped at once and looked around.

"How bright the light is!" she said. "Are you sure the farmhouse isn't on fire?"

Not receiving any answer, she turned her head. And to her dismay, she couldn't see Freddie Firefly anywhere.

"Oh! Oh! Where are you?" she cried. She was terribly frightened to be left alone in the dark. "Come back--please come back!" she begged.

"Why, here I am!" said Freddie Firefly.

And wheeling about quickly, Peppery Polly found him clinging to a blade of grass right behind her.

Freddie had been hiding under a plantain leaf, so that she couldn't see his light. But Peppery Polly didn't know what had happened.

"Did your light go out?" she inquired anxiously.

"If it did, I never noticed it," he replied.

"Well, don't you dare to leave me alone, no matter what happens!" Peppery Polly Bumblebee cried. "If you did, I'd never be able to find my way home in the dark."

"Don't worry!" Freddie said. "You're perfectly safe with me. ... What I'm wondering is whether I'm perfectly safe with you."

"You are--so long as you behave yourself," she declared. "But remember! I'll make it hot for you if you try any tricks on me! Don't forget that I carry a sting! And what's more, I know how to use it."

Her threat, however, failed to frighten Freddie Firefly. As soon as he saw that his companion was afraid of the dark, he ceased to be afraid of her. So he flashed his light impudently in her eyes.

"Come on!" he urged her with a grin which she could not see. "Let's get to the clover field, for I like to see people work."

"You do, eh? "snapped Peppery Polly.

"Yes! Watching others work is play for me," he remarked cheerfully. "And I hope to have as much fun to-night as I would have had if I'd gone to the dance over near the swamp."

"Are you fond of music?" Peppery Polly asked him suddenly.

"Am I?" he exclaimed. "I should say I was!"

"Then tell me how you like this," she said. And she began to sing the most terrible song that Freddie Firefly had ever heard in all his life.