XIII. Caught by a Thistle

"You'll have to help me," Peppery Polly Bumblebee said to Freddie Firefly through the darkness. "If you'd been a little less stingy with that light of yours I wouldn't have made the mistake of thinking this thistle was a clover blossom."

"Well, there's nectar in it, isn't there?" he inquired.

"I suppose so," she answered. "But I can't get it. And I'm so daubed with the sticky stuff that's spread right where I put my feet that I can't free myself."

Freddie flew quite close to her and flashed his light upon her. And he saw that she had spoken truly.

"What a pity!" he exclaimed.

"Don't stop to talk!" the honey-maker snapped. "Just help me to get away from this thistle. And then you can talk all you want to. In fact, I'll give you something to talk about."

Freddie Firefly was not so dull-witted but that he knew she intended to punish him for sending her to the thistle blossom.

"I'll go back to your house and bring somebody to help you, if I can," he said. "Don't you see that it wouldn't be safe for me to try to pull you loose? I might get stuck there myself. And we'd be prisoners for the rest of the night."

Peppery Polly hadn't thought of that. And she was inclined to believe that there might be some such danger.

"You may go for help," she said at last. "But please remember that there's no time to lose. The Queen won't like it at all when she hears about this accident, for she expected me to fetch home a good deal of nectar before midnight."

"I'll hurry. And I'll be back as soon as I can bring one of your fellow- workers with me," Freddie Firefly promised.

Since he was a person of his word, he went straight back to the home of the Bumblebee family in the meadow. Being used to finding his way about after dark, Freddie had no trouble reaching the Bumblebees' home. But rousing the household was an entirely different matter. Though he pounded his hardest at their door, none of the Bumblebee family heard him. Having always slept from sunset till dawn without once waking, they were wrapped in such heavy slumber that not one of them knew what was going on.

To be sure, the family trumpeter--who awakened the household each morning and was a somewhat lighter sleeper than the others--the trumpeter claimed afterward that she dreamed that she heard somebody at the door that night. But that was all the good that came of Freddie Firefly's efforts.

After trying his best to rouse Peppery Polly's people, Freddie Firefly at last grew discouraged. He saw that the Bumblebee family was bound to sleep until dawn came, no matter what happened.

He reflected, then, that there were two things he could do. He could go back alone to the clover field and try to set that ill-tempered worker free--and no doubt get stung by her for his pains. Or he could go to the dance of the Fireflies over near the swamp, and have a delightful time.

"Let me see!" Freddie mused aloud. "I promised Peppery Polly that I'd come back with one of her own people--if I could. And since I can't do that, I ought not to go back to the clover-patch at all. For if I did, it would be about the same as breaking a promise. ... No! I'll go to the dance instead!" And away he flew.

Luckily the dance was not half finished when he reached it. And he had such a pleasant time that he forgot all about that Bumblebee worker, stuck fast to the thistle blossom.

But you may be sure that Peppery Polly did not forget him. After her friends set her free the following morning she spent the whole day looking for Freddie Firefly.

But he lay very low. And all the rest of the summer he shunned the clover field--and the flower garden, too.