XXI. All About Trains

"What do you mean?" Freddie Firefly asked little Mrs. Ladybug. "What accident could happen if the wind blew out my light?" And he laughed very hard, because he knew that no gale was strong enough even to dim his greenish-white gleams.

"Why," replied Mrs. Ladybug, "the train would strike you and be wrecked. You see," she continued, "I have everything planned for you. You're going to spend your nights on the railroad tracks, signalling the trains."

Well, Freddie Firefly rather liked Mrs. Ladybug's idea. And though he knew that she was mistaken about some things, he began to think that perhaps she was quite wise, after all.

"Aren't you afraid I might set fire to the trains?" he inquired slyly.

"No, indeed!" she answered. "You'd stop them, you know, before they ran over you."

"But I don't know how to make a train stop," he objected. "I've never worked on a railroad in all my life."

"Why, it's simple enough," said little Mrs. Ladybug. "When a train came along you would stand on the track right in front of it and wave your light." And while she smiled at Freddie Firefly as if to say, "You see how easy it is," she dropped six more stitches out of her knitting--and never found them, either.

Freddie Firefly, however, did not smile at all. On the contrary, he looked somewhat worried.

"Are you sure it's safe?" he asked her. "If the train failed to stop, with me on the track in front of it--"

"Don't worry about that!" cried little Mrs. Ladybug. "You'll never amount to anything if you worry. And if you don't wish to fritter away your time dancing in this meadow, you'll take my advice and begin to work at once."

"I'll think about the matter," said Freddie Firefly. And then he added somewhat doubtfully: "It's a long way to the railroad."

"Pooh!" Mrs. Ladybug exclaimed. "Old Mr. Crow often visits it. And if he can fly that far, at his age, a youngster like you ought not to mind the trip."

"Perhaps you know best," Freddie Firefly told Mrs. Ladybug at last. "I'll take your advice just this once, and I'll see how I like the work. But there's another question I'd like to ask you: What will the trains do after they stop?"

While laughing over Freddie's question Mrs. Ladybug shook so hard that she unravelled sixteen rows of her knitting before she could stop.

"Bless you!" she cried, as soon as she could speak. "I don't know what the trains will do. That's their affair--not yours nor mine. Everybody's aware that trains are made for two purposes--to start and to stop. But I never should think of being so rude as to ask them why, or what, or when, or where."

So Freddie Firefly thanked Mrs. Ladybug most politely. He was sure, now, that she was one of the wisest persons in the whole valley. No doubt, he thought, she knew almost as much as old Mr. Crow, or even Solomon Owl. And he wished he knew half what she did.

"I'll start for the railroad track at once," Freddie told Mrs. Ladybug. And waving his cap at her, while she waved her knitting at him, he set forth towards the village, the lights of which twinkled dimly in the distance.