Jun. 2, 189- This day I notissed
the red and blak buterfly on
He stared at this for a while, and added:
P.S. In futcher watch for this buterfly witch mite be a fary.
Then he went trudging homeward. He was smiling, his own shy, secret smile. He held his head erect and looked ahead of him as if in the far, far distance he had seen something, a beckoning something, toward which he was to strive. Barefooted Peter, poverty-stricken, lonely Peter for the first time glimpsed the purple heights.
It is written in the Live Green Book that one may not stumble upon one of its secrets without at the same discovering something about others quite as fascinating and worth exploring. This is a wise and blessed law, which the angels of the Little Peoples are always trying to have enforced. Peter Champneys suspected the Red Admiral of being a fairy; so when he ran fleet-footed over the fields and through the woods and alongside the worm-fences after the Admiral, the angels of the Little Peoples turned his boyish head aside and made him see birds’ wings, and bees, and the shapes of leaves, and the colors of trees and clouds, and the faces of flowers. It is further written that one may not intimately know the Little Peoples without loving them. When one begins to love, one begins to grow. Peter, then, was growing.
Lying awake in the dark now wasn’t a thing to be dreaded; the dark was no longer filled with shapes of fear, for Peter was beginning to discover in himself a power of whose unique and immense value he was not as yet aware. It was the great power of being able clearly to visualize things, of bringing before his mind’s eye whatever he had seen, with every distinction of shape and size and color sharply present, and accurately to portray it in the absence of the original. If one should ask him, “What’s the shape of the milkweed butterfly’s wing, and the color of the spice-bush swallowtail, Peter Champneys? What does the humming-bird’s nest look like? What’s the color of the rainbow-snake and of the cotton-mouth moccasin? What’s the difference between the ironweed and the aster?”—Ask Peter things like that, and lend him a bit of paper and a pencil, and he literally had the answers at his finger-tips.
But they never asked him what would, to him, have been natural questions; they wished him, instead, to tell them where the Onion River flows, and the latitude of the middle of Kamchatka, and to spell phthisis, and on what date the Battle of Somethingorother was fought, and if a man buys old iron at such a price, and makes it over into stoves weighing so much, and sells his stoves at such another price, what does it profit him, and other such-like illuminating and uplifting problems, warranted to make any school-child wiser than Solomon. It is a beautiful system; only, God, who is no respecter of systems, every now and then delights to flout it by making him a dunce like Peter Champneys, to be the torment of school-teachers—and the delight of the angels of the Little Peoples.