The Mourning-cloak Butterfly Or The Camberwell Beauty





There was once a lady who dwelt in Camberwell. She was so good to see that people called her "The Camberwell Beauty." She dressed so magnificently that her robe was covered with gold, and spangled with precious stones of most amazing colours. Especially proud was she, of the row of big blue diamonds that formed the border; and she loved to go forth into the world to see and be seen; although she knew that the country was full of robbers who would be sure to steal her jewels if they could. Then she made a clever plan, she kept on the beautiful things that she loved to dress in, but over all she hung a black velvet mourning cloak which nobody could possibly want to steal. Then she went up and down the roads as much as she pleased.






Mourning-cloak Butterfly (3/4 life size) Mourning-cloak Butterfly (3/4 life size)


Well, this story may be not quite true, but it is partly true, and the beautiful lady is known to-day as the Mourning-cloak Butterfly. There it is, plain to be seen, the black mourning cloak, but peeping from under it, you can see the golden border and some of the blue diamonds too, if you look very carefully.



In the North Woods where I spent my young days, the first butterfly to be seen in the springtime was the Mourning-cloak, and the reason we saw it so early in the season, yes, even in the snowtime, was because this is one of the Butterflies that sometimes sleep all winter, and so live in two different seasons.



Its eggs are laid on the willows, elms, or poplars, in early springtime. The young soon hatch, and eat so much, and grow so fast, that five weeks after the eggs are laid, and three after they are hatched, the caterpillar is full grown, and hangs itself up as a chrysalis under some sheltering board or rail. In two weeks more, the wonderful event takes place, the perfect Butterfly comes forth; and there is another Mourning-cloak to liven the roadside, and amaze us with its half-hidden beauty.







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