XXII. Work on the Railroad

Freddie Firefly did not intend to go into the village itself. He expected to travel only as far as the railroad tracks, where they curved around a bend in the river before stretching straight away towards the town.

Though he spent a much longer time in making the journey than old Mr. Crow ever took, Freddie at last reached the railroad, where he promptly sat himself down between the rails to wait for a train. And there Freddie Firefly stayed all alone, in the dark, with nothing to keep from feeling forlorn except the croaking of a band of noisy frogs in a pool near-by.

After a while Freddie began to grow so weary of his new task that he wished he had never taken Mrs. Ladybug's advice.

"I don't believe I like working," he said with a sigh, as he thought of the good time his family was having at that very moment, dancing in Farmer Green's meadow.

And then all at once he heard a faint whistle, far off down the valley. And a little later a low rumble caught his ear--a rumble which grew louder and louder until at last it turned into a roar, just as a stream of light shot around the curve in the track ahead of him, which followed the bend of the river.

Freddie Firefly was startled. He couldn't think what made that long lane of light. And he was about to jump into the bushes and hide when he saw all at once that it was exactly what he had been waiting for.

"It's a train!" he cried aloud. And he began flashing his light bravely while he swayed from side to side, for Mrs. Ladybug had told him that he must swing his light--if he expected to stop the train.

And all the while the train tore on towards Freddie Firefly. To his great surprise it showed not the slightest sign of stopping. And in spite of what Mrs. Ladybug had said, Freddie Firefly began to be afraid that it wasn't going to pause at all.

He soon saw that if he did not do something quickly the train would run over him. But by the time he had made up his mind to jump off the track, out of harm's way, it was too late for him to escape in that fashion.

So Freddie Firefly crawled hurriedly into a chink beneath the railroad tie on which he had been sitting. And with a horrible scream the train thundered over him. To Freddie's dismay it paid no heed to his flashing light, though he thought it must surely have seen that signal.

Those were terrible moments for Freddie Firefly, while the train was passing above him. The frightful noise, the trembling of the ground, the rush of the air--all those things made him wonder whether he could ever reach home again, alive and unharmed. He was even more scared than he had been when he found himself in the power of that dreadful creature, Jennie Junebug.