XIV. Jennie Junebug

On the day--or rather, on the night--when he first met Jennie Junebug, Freddie Firefly was ill at ease. In fact it might be truthfully said that he was quite upset.

One beautiful, warm, dark night early in the summer Freddie was hurrying to join a big family party which was already gathering in the hollow beyond the hill.

He was scooting along through the damp air, flashing his light at the rate of about thirty-six times a minute, when a heavy body bumped into him and knocked him head over heels upon the grass-carpeted ground.

It was no wonder that he felt upset. And he felt quite peevish, too, as he picked himself up and looked about him to see what had happened.

The next moment he was flashing his light into the blinking eyes of an enormous fat person, who seemed to be dazed, either by the shock of the collision or by the light--Freddie Firefly couldn't tell which.

"Why don't you look where you're going?" Freddie cried impatiently. "You knocked the breath out of me. And you almost broke one of my legs." The next instant he was heartily ashamed of himself; for he saw, to his surprise, that he was talking to a lady. "Oh! I beg your pardon!" he cried. "Ex--excuse me! I hope you're not seriously injured?"

"Oh, no!" wheezed the fat lady. "I'm all right. It's no matter, I assure you. I'm quite used to running into things after dark."

Freddie Firefly didn't quite like being referred to as a thing. But he was too polite to say so.

"You ought to be careful," he told the strange fat lady. "It's dangerous for one of your weight--"

"Oh, don't!" she exclaimed quickly. "Please don't tell me I'm fat! I've tried every remedy I know and I can't lose a single pound!"

"Don't you think that flying makes you thinner?" Freddie Firefly asked her.

But the stout person shook her head dolefully.

"It only seems to make me bigger," she groaned.

"Then why do you do it?"

"Oh, I just adore flying!" she cried. "Don't you?"

Freddie Firefly admitted that he did like to fly. And he was sorry, the next moment, that he had made such a statement. For the fat lady blinked happily at him. And clasping her hands together, she said:

"Oh, do let's fly together, then!"

Freddie Firefly was so taken aback that at first he couldn't think what to say. But at last he managed to stammer a reply.

"Why--why--I--I'll be glad to, but I don't even know your name!" he told her.

"It's Jennie Junebug," she explained, as she fanned herself with a fan made from a white clover leaf.

"You're a newcomer in these parts, aren't you?" Freddie Firefly inquired.

"I just arrived here this month," she informed him. "This is the month of June, you know. And I'm one of the well-known Junebug family. ... I already know who you are," she continued. "You've been pointed out to me. You are Freddie Firefly; and you can't deny it."