“Then you’ll have to draw lots,” the Queen told them severely.
When the honey-makers heard that, one of them tried to slip away. But the Queen saw her and called her back.
Then they drew lots. And strange to say, the worker who had tried to escape proved to be the unlucky one who was doomed to go to the clover field with Freddie Firefly and gather clover nectar until midnight.
Unluckily for Freddie, she was the worst-tempered person in the whole Bumblebee household. And when she saw that she alone of the whole family was going to lose half her night’s sleep you may be sure she felt very surly.
Freddie noticed a wicked gleam in her eyes. And he began to wish he had gone to the dance over near the swamp.
Freddie Firefly felt quite uncomfortable as he started off toward the clover field, together with the angry honey-maker. It had not made him feel any more at ease when the Queen of the Bumblebees told him the worker’s name. It was Peppery Polly.
“Don’t go too fast!” Peppery Polly told Freddie Firefly. “And I’ll tell you now that I’ll make it warm for you if you try to play any tricks on me to-night.”
As a matter of fact, Freddie hadn’t thought of such a thing as playing a single trick on her. But Peppery Polly’s warning at once put that very idea into his head. So he began to try to think of a good joke that would bother her. And before they had crossed the meadow Freddie Firefly turned to Peppery Polly Bumblebee and said:
“That light off there must be in the farmhouse.”
Now, never having been out at night before, his companion wanted to see all the strange sights. So she stopped at once and looked around.
“How bright the light is!” she said. “Are you sure the farmhouse isn’t on fire?”
Not receiving any answer, she turned her head. And to her dismay, she couldn’t see Freddie Firefly anywhere.
“Oh! Oh! Where are you?” she cried. She was terribly frightened to be left alone in the dark. “Come back—please come back!” she begged.
“Why, here I am!” said Freddie Firefly.
And wheeling about quickly, Peppery Polly found him clinging to a blade of grass right behind her.
Freddie had been hiding under a plantain leaf, so that she couldn’t see his light. But Peppery Polly didn’t know what had happened.
“Did your light go out?” she inquired anxiously.
“If it did, I never noticed it,” he replied.
“Well, don’t you dare to leave me alone, no matter what happens!” Peppery Polly Bumblebee cried. “If you did, I’d never be able to find my way home in the dark.”
“Don’t worry!” Freddie said. “You’re perfectly safe with me. ... What I’m wondering is whether I’m perfectly safe with you.”
“You are—so long as you behave yourself,” she declared. “But remember! I’ll make it hot for you if you try any tricks on me! Don’t forget that I carry a sting! And what’s more, I know how to use it.”