It was a terrific blow. And Freddie Firefly soon found himself lying flat on the ground. He was so nearly stunned that he scarcely knew what had happened.
“What fun!” the fat lady gurgled right in his ear, with a horrible laugh. “Come! Let’s do it again!”
“Do it again!” Freddie Firefly repeated after her, as a sudden fear gripped him. “Do you mean to tell me that you ran into me on purpose?” “Why, certainly!” she replied. “Running into a light is more than half the fun of flying.”
Her terrible secret was out at last. If Freddie Firefly had been older and wiser he would have known, in the beginning, that his first collision with the fat lady was no accident. The whole Junebug family were alike in one respect: preferring to fly at night, whenever they saw a light anywhere they made straight for it as fast as they could fly. Sometimes they landed with a crash against one of the farmhouse windows. Sometimes they struck the lantern, if Farmer Green happened to be carrying it across the farmyard. It really made little difference to a Junebug what he—or she—hit, so long as it gleamed brightly out of the night.
Well, Freddie Firefly saw at last that he was in a terrible fix. He knew now why Jennie Junebug had asked him to fly with her. It was on account of his flashing light! And the dreadful creature actually expected him to fly for her so that she might have the pleasure of bowling him over every time he rose into the air.
Such a practice was disagreeable, to say the least. Indeed, Freddie Firefly thought it was positively dangerous, for him.
“Come! Come!” Jennie Junebug urged him playfully, even while he lay on the ground trying to get his breath. “If you don’t hurry and fly some more I shall knock you over right where you are!”
Freddie Firefly answered her with a faint moan. He couldn’t run away from her. So he thought of hiding. But he had promised to fly with her. And she was a lady.
What could he do?
There was really nothing Freddie Firefly could do except struggle to his feet and try to think at the same time. Flashing his light upon Jennie Junebug he saw that she was looking at him fondly. And that made him detest her more than ever.
“You seem to be enjoying yourself,” he said spitefully.
“Yes, indeed!” the fat lady exclaimed. “I haven’t had such sport for a whole week. One of your cousins flew with me one night. And we had a fine time. No doubt we’d be enjoying each other’s company yet, if I hadn’t had a bit of bad luck.”
“What was that?” Freddie Firefly asked her quickly. He thought that if he could only keep his dreadful companion talking, perhaps she would forget about flying—and knocking him down. “What was your bad luck?” he repeated impatiently.