Authors: Kitty Richards
SLIGHT BREEZE BLEW
, and Prilla swayed back and forth in the air. She wondered how in the world she was going to get down. At least no one was around to see her. Thank goodness for that.
“Prilla!” someone shouted.
rassing to be caught like this!
She looked down at the ground. Pluck, a harvesttalent fairy, was staring up at her. Her hands were on her hips. Her mouth formed an O of surprise.
“Prilla! What are you doing up there?” Pluck called up.
“Oh, I’m just scouting for butterflies!” Prilla cried. She cupped her hand over her eyes and scanned the horizon. “Nope! Haven’t spotted any yet! But just give me time! I’ll be herding them here and there before you know it!”
Pluck flew up to hover near Prilla’s branch. Prilla gulped and gave Pluck a big fake smile that was meant to say, “Things may look a bit out of the ordinary to you, but really, everything is perfectly fine.”
But Pluck was having none of that.
She looked closely at Prilla and frowned. “It looks to me like you’re stuck!” she concluded.
Prilla laughed nervously. “Oh, no, this is my special lookout twig,” she explained. “Don’t you worry about me!”
She crossed her arms and smiled, even though her belt was digging into her waist. She decided to change the subject. “So what are you up to today?” she asked, as if she and Pluck were having a pleasant talk over tea.
Pluck gave Prilla an odd look. Then she shrugged and began to explain. “There were reports of a gigantic bush full of plump, juicy blackberries near Flower Field,” she said. “Have you spotted it?”
Prilla shook her head. “But I’ll be sure to let you know if I do.” She frowned at Pluck. Why wasn’t she leaving? “So good luck finding the bush!” Prilla said enthusiastically. “Blackberries, how delicious!”
“Thanks,” said Pluck. She seemed to be thinking about something. “I know! Why don’t you leave your lookout twig for a while and come with me?” she suggested. “Never butterflies love berries, you know. Maybe the herd will be there. Then you can help me harvest the berries. And I can help you herd the butterflies!”
It was a good idea. Herding butterflies would be so much easier with two fairies instead of one. But Prilla couldn’t move without admitting that she was stuck. And then she would have to explain the embarrassing way she had come to be stuck. As far as Prilla was concerned, that was not an option.
“Oh, it’s okay,” said Prilla. “I think I’ll stay right here for the time being.” She smiled as if she hadn’t a care in the world.
“Whatever suits you,” said Pluck. Then she grinned at Prilla. “Those butterflies are something else, aren’t they?” she said. “I have so much respect for the butterfly talents. We were all so happy when you volunteered!”
She leaned over and gave Prilla a playful tap on the shoulder. Prilla swung gently from side to side. “You are one brave fairy!” Pluck said.
Prilla’s eyes widened. Brave? What did Pluck mean? But to ask would be the same as saying, “I have no idea what you are talking about. And that’s because I told a lie to Nettle—and to the queen!” So Prilla just laughed uneasily. She mumbled a farewell. And Pluck, with one backward glance at Prilla, finally took off.
A short while later, Prilla was safely on the ground. She had finally decided to undo the belt and hope that she could start flying before she hit the ground. Luckily, she was quite high up, and this wasn’t a problem.
That was a close one!
She would have to be more careful in the future.
Now she needed to find the butterflies again. Where could they have gone? Prilla decided to visit Lily’s garden. All those fruits and flowers would be certain to attract butterflies—or so she thought.
But as she flew over the garden, Prilla saw that she was wrong. There wasn’t a butterfly to be seen.
Lily saw Prilla hovering overhead. She put down her hoe and waved Prilla over. Prilla cupped her hands around her mouth and called down to her friend, “I can’t stop now! I’ll be back later!”
Lily nodded and went back to work. How Prilla envied Lily. She got to spend her day doing what she loved most!
Prilla took a sharp turn and headed to Marigold Meadow. She saw many fat honeybees but not a single butterfly. Next she went to the spot where the sweetest bunch of clover in all of Pixie Hollow grew. But there were no butterflies there, either.
Puzzled, Prilla landed and began to search more slowly. She peeked inside hollow logs. At one, she startled a chipmunk family. They chattered at her angrily. She lifted cabbage leaves to search underneath them. But she found only snails, which quickly scooted into their shells. She looked inside cool dark caves. She even searched among the long grasses that grew near the shoreline. She saw a crab shell and a piece of pretty blue beach glass. But there wasn’t a single butterfly to be found.
Prilla sat down and leaned against the hollow shell.
It’s almost as if they’re hiding from me,
she thought. Then she laughed. What a silly idea!
She closed her eyes for a split second. Without even thinking about it, Prilla blinked over to the mainland.
What fun! She was in a nursery school class with dozens of children. She flew into a castle that a girl was building out of blocks. Prilla waved to the girl from a turret. Then she flew over to two boys who were each pulling on one end of a teddy bear. Prilla got their attention by doing loop-de-loops in the air. The teddy bear fell to the ground, completely forgotten.
Prilla was heading over to the doll corner when she felt someone shaking her shoulder.
“Prilla, are you okay?” a familiar voice asked.
RILLA LOOKED AROUND
. She was sitting on the ground. Her hands were behind her. And—
Prilla thought— Pluck was back. She was looking at Prilla anxiously.
“Are you okay?” Pluck asked again. Her brow wrinkled in concern. “Oh— were you blinking to the mainland? Did I bother you?”
Prilla shook her head. “It’s fine,” she said.
“I found the blackberries!” Pluck said proudly. She held up a basket filled to the brim with three berries. “Would you like one?”
Prilla nodded. Pluck held out a big juicy berry. But as Prilla tried to reach for it, she discovered something very odd indeed. She couldn’t move her hands. They were stuck together behind her back!
This is strange,
Prilla thought. She struggled mightily. Her hands wouldn’t budge.
Could they be tied together?
But how? And why?
Pluck continued to hold out the berry. An annoyed frown started to form on her face. Prilla couldn’t explain her predicament to Pluck, since she herself had no idea what was going on. But she knew that it would be rude not to take a bite of the berry since she had asked for it. Not knowing what else to do, Prilla opened her mouth like a hungry baby bird.
Pluck’s expression changed from annoyed to puzzled. She held the berry to Prilla’s mouth. Prilla bit into it. The juices dripped down her chin.
“Delicious,” Prilla said, trying to act as if eating like this was completely normal. She took another bite. “Mmmm.”
When Prilla had eaten her fill, Pluck quickly said good-bye. She headed off toward the Home Tree with the remaining berries.
Pluck will have an interesting story to tell when she gets back!
Prilla thought with a giggle.
She must think I am very odd indeed!
After much struggling, Prilla was finally able to slip her wrists free. She discovered that they had been bound with thick threads of spider silk.
How did that happen?
Did some spider mistake me for an extralarge fly? Was I about to become a spider’s next meal?
That was a scary thought! She had never heard of a spider capturing and devouring a Never fairy before. But she guessed that anything was possible.
Well, no use worrying about what could have happened,
Prilla thought. She was safe and sound, at least for the moment. But what an odd day she was having!
Prilla took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and made a quick wish. “Please let me find the butterflies,” she said.
She opened her eyes and looked around. Nothing. If only wishes came true that easily! But they don’t—not even in Pixie Hollow.
She starting walking again, looking in all the usual places that a butterfly might choose to hide in. She looked in knotholes in trees, under dead leaves, in between rocks. Then she spied a flash of color from the corner of her eye.
Prilla ran forward and peeked into the tall grass. There sat a butterfly. It was the tiny silvery yellow creature that she had chased earlier.
Prilla smiled widely. She felt incredible relief.
The butterfly opened and closed its wings slowly. It was so close that Prilla could see every colorful scale on its wings. It was so close that she could reach out and…
Her movement startled the butterfly.
It took off, then landed a couple of inches away.
Prilla sighed in frustration. But then she was surprised to see the butterfly turn around. She quietly crept up to it. But the butterfly wouldn’t stay put. It flew a short distance, then landed, flew a short distance, then landed, over and over again.
They went on like this for quite a while, Prilla following closely. Once, she lost sight of the butterfly. Her heart sank, and her eyes started to fill with tears. But then it reappeared right in front of her. It was almost as if the butterfly had been looking for her.
Suddenly, the butterfly flew away into a thicket. Prilla ran up and parted the leaves. She hadn’t lost it after all this, had she?
To her surprise, she had discovered a small clearing. And there were the butterflies—all fifty of them!
Take it slowly this time,
she told herself.
Try not to make any sudden movements that will startle them. Everything is going to be all right.
Just then, Prilla felt a tickle in her nose.
Oh, no! I can’t sneeze now,
That will scare them away again!
She wrinkled her nose to make the itch go away. She held her nose, but nothing worked. What was wrong with her?
Then she noticed the leaves on the bushes around her. She was standing right in the middle of a patch of sneezewort!
Prilla sneezed so hard, she nearly knocked herself over.
Ah-choo, ah-choo, ah-choo!
Finally, her sneezing fit ended. Prilla was not surprised to find that she had scared the entire butterfly herd away— again. She backed away from the sneeze-wort patch. Noisily, she blew her nose into a leafkerchief.
Prilla shook her head. What bad luck she was having!