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Treacherous Butterfly

The male butterfly is the most dangerous member of society. He is generally handsome, amiable, persuasive, and witty. He may be in succession cheerful, light-hearted, poetical, and sentimental.


When he comes to the rose, he says to her in his sweetest voice: 'You are beautiful, and I love you tenderly, ardently. I feel I can devote my whole life to you. If you can love me, I can reward your love with a century of constancy and faithfulness.'

'Oh!' says the rose, with an air of incredulity, 'I know what the faithfulness of the butterfly is.'

'There are all sorts of butterflies,' he gently intimates; 'I know that some of them have committed perjury and deceived roses, but I am not one of them. Of the butterfly I have only the wings, to always bring me back to you. I am a one-rose butterfly; if the others are inconstant, unfaithful, liars, I am innocent of their faults. I swear, if you will not listen to me, I shall die, and in dying for you there will be happiness still.'[Pg 11]

The rose is touched, moved and charmed with this passionate language. 'How he loves me!' she thinks. 'After all, if butterflies are generally perfidious, it is not his fault; he is not one of that sort.'

The rose yields; she gives up to him her whole soul, all her most exquisite perfume. After he is saturated, he takes his flight.

'Where are you going?' asks the rose.

'Where am I going?' he says, with a protecting sneer. 'Why, I am going to visit the other flowers, your rivals.'

'But you swore you would be faithful to me!'

'I know, my dear; a butterfly's oath, nothing more. You should have been wiser, and not allowed yourself to be taken in.'

Then he goes in the neighbourhood of a beautiful, haughty, vain lily. Meantime an ugly bumble comes near the rose and tries to sting her. She calls the butterfly to her help, but he does not even deign to answer. For him the rose is the past and the lily the present. He is no more grateful than he is faithful.


With the lily, whom he understands well, he knows he has to proceed in quite a different manner. He must use flattery.

'Imagine, lovely lily,' he says to her, 'that this silly and vain rose thinks she is the queen of flowers. She is beautiful, no doubt, but what is her beauty compared to yours? What is her perfume? Almost insipid compared to your enchanting, intoxicating fragrance. What is her shape compared to your glorious figure? Why, she looks like a pink cabbage. Is not, after all, pure whiteness incomparable? My dear lady, you are above competition.'

The vain lily listens with attention and pleasure. The wily butterfly sees he is making progress. He goes on flattering, then risks a few words of love.

'Ah!' sighs the lily, 'if you were not a fickle butterfly, I might believe half of what you say!'

'You do not know me!' he exclaims indignantly. 'I have only the shape of a butterfly; I have not the heart of one. How could I be unfaithful to you if you loved me? Are you not the most beautiful of flowers? How could it be possible for me to prefer any other to you? No, no; for the rest of my life there will be but the lily for me.'

The vanity of the lily is flattered, she believes him, and gives herself up to the passionate embrace of the butterfly.

'Oh, beloved one,' she exclaims in ecstasy, 'you will love me for ever; you will always be mine as I am yours!'

'To tell you the truth, my dear lily,' says the butterfly coolly, 'you are very nice, but your perfume is rather strong, a little vulgar, and one gets tired of it quickly. I am not sure that I do not prefer the rose[Pg 13] to you. Now, be good, and let me go quickly. I am a butterfly. I cannot help my nature; I was made like that. Good-bye!'


Then he flies towards a timid violet, modestly hidden in the ivy near the wall. Her sweet odour reveals her presence. So he stops and says to her:

'Sweet, exquisite violet, how I do love you! Other flowers may be beautiful, my darling, but that is all. You, besides, are good and modest; as for your sweet, delicious perfume, it is absolutely beyond competition. I might admire a rose or a lily for a moment, lose my head over them, but not my heart. You alone can inspire sincere and true love. If you will marry me—for you do not imagine that I could ask you to love me without at the same time asking you to be my wife—we will lead a quiet, retired life of eternal bliss, hidden in the ivy, far from the noise and the crowd.'

'This would be beautiful,' says the violet, 'but I am afraid you are too brilliant for me, and I too modest and humble for you. I have been warned against you. People say you are fickle.'

'Who could have slandered me so? Your modesty is the very thing that has attracted me to you. I have crossed the garden without looking at any other flower in order to come to you straight. What I want is a heart like yours—tender, faithful—a heart that I may feel is mine for the rest of my days.'[Pg 14]

And he swears his love, always promising matrimony as soon as a few difficulties, 'over which he has no control,' are surmounted. The poor little violet is fascinated, won; she loves him, and gives herself to him; but it is not long before he goes.

'Surely,' she says, with her eyes filled with tears, 'you are not going to abandon me. You are not going to leave me to fight the great big battle of life alone, with all the other flowers of the garden to sneer at me and despise me! Oh no, dear; I have loved you with my modest soul; I have given you all I have in the world. No, no, you are not going away, never to return again! It would be too cruel! No, the world is not so bad as that; you will return, won't you?'

'I feel very sorry for you, dear—really very sorry; but, you see, I cannot. I am a gentleman, and I have my social position to think of. I am sure you understand that. You say you are fond of me; then you will put yourself in my place, and conclude that I have done the best I could for you. Good-bye! Forget me as quickly as you can.'

The little violet commits suicide; and the butterfly, reading an account of it in the following day's papers, has not even a tear to shed, no remorse, no regret.


Azmiri Sultana Mridul (on this treacherous butterfly):...

So this butterfly species, will it EVER realize what pitiful a creature it is that it gets to redeem its fickle nature, and its cruel history not once, not twice but thrice ..YET it continues being the pathetic dog's tail it is? It keeps on doing the same thing over an over... will there EVER be a mutation of the right kind, which will produce an honest butterfly?