St. Nicholas Magazine for Boys and Girls, September 1878
Born in Prison
by Julia P. Ballard
|I am only a day old! I wonder if every butterfly comes
into the world to find such queer things about him? I was born in
prison. I can see right through my walls; but I can't find any door.
Right below me (for I have climbed up the wall) lies a queer-looking,
empty box. It is clear, and a pale green. It is all in one piece, only a
little slit in the top. I wonder what came out of it. Close by it there
is another green box, long and narrow, but not empty, and no slit in the
top. I wonder what is in it. Near it is a smooth, green caterpillar,
crawling on the edge of a bit of cabbage-leaf. I'm afraid that bright
light has hurt my eyes. It was just outside of my prison wall, and
bright as the sun.
The first thing I remember, even before my wings had opened wide, or I
was half through stretching my feet to see if I could use them in
climbing, there was a great eye looking at me. Something round was
before it, with a handle. I suppose it was a quizzing-glass to see what
I was about. I heard somebody say, "Oh! oh!" twice, just as if they
wondered I was here. Then they held the great bright light close to the
wall till my eyes were dazzled. I don't like this prison. It isn't worth
while to fly about. It seems as if I ought to have more room. There must
be something inside that green box. It moves! I saw it half tip over
then, all of itself. I believe that caterpillar is afraid of it. He
creeps off slowly toward the wall. How smooth and green he is! How his
rings move when he crawls! Now he is gone up the wall. He has stopped
near the roof. How he throws his head from side to side! He is growing
broader! He looks just as if he was turning into one of these green
boxes! How that box shakes! There, I see it begin to open! There is a
slit coming in the back! Something peeps out! A butterfly's head, I
declare! Here it comes,two long feelers, two short ones! Four wings,
two round spots on each of the upper pair, and none on the other two.
Dressed just like me. I wonder why it hid away in that box?
First Butterfly."What made you hide in that green box?"
Second Butterfly."What box? I haven't hid anywhere. I don't know what
box you mean?"
First Butterfly."That one. You just crawled out of it. I saw you."
Second Butterfly."That's the first I knew of it. There are two boxes
just alike. Both empty. May be you were hid in the other!"
First Butterfly."Ho! There goes up our prison wall! That's the big hand
that held the bright light. How good the air feels! Now for a chance to
try our wings! Away we go!"