A fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen
The butterfly was looking out for a bride, and naturally he wished to select a nice one among the flowers. He looked at them, sitting so quietly and discreetly upon their stems, as a damsel generally sits when she is not engaged; but there were so many to choose among, that it became quite a difficult matter. The Butterfly did not relish encountering difficulties, so in his perplexity he flew to the Daisy. She is called in France Marguerite. He knew that she could "spae", and that she did so often; for lovers plucked leaf after leaf from her, and with each a question was asked respecting the beloved: - "Is it true love?" "From the heart?" "Love that pines?" "Cold love?" "None at all" - or some such questions. Everyone asks in his own language. The butterfly came too to put his questions; he did not, however, pluck off the leaves but kissed them all one by one, with the hope of getting a good answer.
"Sweet Marguerite Daisy," said he, "you are the wisest wife among all the flowers; you know how to predict events. Tell me, shall I get this one or that? or whom shall I get? When I know, I can fly straight to the fair one, and commence wooing her."
But Marguerite would scarcely answer him; she was vexed at his calling her "wife". He asked a second time, and he asked a third time, but he could not get a word out of her; so he would not take the trouble to ask any more, but flew away without further ado on his matrimonial errand.
It was in the early spring, and there were plenty of snowdrops and crocuses. "They are very nice-looking," said the Butterfly, "charming little things, but somewhat too juvenile." He, like most very young men, preferred elder girls. Thereupon he flew to the anenomes, but they were rather too bashful for him; the violets were to enthusiastic; the tulips were too fond of show; the jonquils were too plebeian; the linden-tree blossoms were too small, and they had too large a family connection; the apple blossoms were certainly as lovely as roses to look at, bt they stood today and fell off tomorrow, as the wind blew. It would not be worthwhile to enter into wedlock for so short a time, he thought. The sweet-pea was the one that pleased him most; she was pink and white, she was pure and delicate, and belonged to that class of notable girls who always look well, yet can make themselves useful in the kitchen. He was on the point of making an offer to her when at that moment he observed a pea-pod hanging close by, with a withered flower at the end of it. "Who is that?" he asked. "My sister," replied the sweet-pea. "Indeed! then you will probably come to look at her, by-and-by," screamed the Butterfly as he flew on.
The honeysuckles hung over the hedge; they were extremely ladylike, but they had long faces and yellow complexions. They were not to his taste. But who was to his taste? Ay! ask him that.
The spring had passed, the summer had passed, and autumn was passing too. The flowers were still clad in brilliant robes, but alas! the fresh fragrance of youth was gone. Fragrance was a great attraction to him, though no longer young himself, and there was none to be found among the dahlias and hollyhocks.
So the Butterfly stooped down to the wild thyme.
"She has scarcely any blossom, but she is altogether a flower herself, and all fragrance - every leaflet is full of it. I shall take her."
So he began to woo forthwith.
But the wild thyme stood stiff and still, and at length she said, "Friendship, but nothing more! I am old, and you are old. We may very well live for each other, but marry - no! Let us not make fools of ourselves in our old age!"
So the Butterfly got no one. He had been too long on the look-out, and that one should not be. The Butterfly became an old bachelor, as it is called.
It was late in the autumn, and there was nothing but drizzling rain and pouring rain; the wind blew coldly on the old willow trees till the leaves shivered and the branches cracked. It was not pleasant to fly about in summer clothing; this is the time, it is said, when domestic love is most needed. But the Butterfly flew about no more. He had accidentally gone within doors, where there was fire in the stove - yes, real summer heat. He could live, but "to live is not enough," said he, "sunshine, freedom, and a little flower, one must have."
And he flew against the window pane, was observed, admired, and stuck upon a needle in a case of curiosities. There they could not do for him.
"Now I am sitting on a stem, like the flowers," said the Butterfly, "very pleasant it is not, however. it is almost like being married, one is tied so fast." And he tried to comfort himself with this reflection.
"That is poor comfort!" exclaimed the plants in the flower pots in the room.
"But one can hardly believe a plant in a flower pot," thought the Butterfly; "they are too much among human beings".
Source: Great Fairy Stories.