Weblog of the Sydney Traditionalist Forum
This is the second of a three part narrative by Emile Joseph, who describes it as a story which “contains principles in today’s gratuitous age, where instant self-gratification, inane social isolation through ‘social’ media, and the avoidance of hard work reign supreme.” Contributions of fiction, news and opinion to SydneyTrads are welcome, and should be directed to the Editors. Fiction, when available for publication, will ordinarily be published on Sunday mornings.
Georgina attended the seminar the next day, determined to do all that she could to help her friend Joe. During class, she told her classmates and her teacher about her friend, who was in danger of missing his Calling because he was associating with a “nasty bunch of characters in a dangerous neighbourhood”. The teacher, a graceful elderly butterfly called Vanessa Mariposa, seemed very concerned when she heard that Georgina’s friend frequented the Web. So after class, she approached Georgina in private.
“Georgina, may I have a word with you?”
“Certainly, Mistress Mariposa.”
“Now listen to me, your friend is in great danger.
The Web is not as safe as one would think
Because although no insect would suspect it
The Owner might return to her old home
Now I have heard horrendous things
About this spider. She is very nasty
And she enjoys beholding victims suffer
Before she viciously devours them.”
“Oh no! That’s horrible!” gasped Georgina.
“Indeed it is, ‘tis true, my dear Georgina.
So if your friend will not give heed to reason
We have no choice, we must go altogether
And all the other insects on our staff
To save your friend from danger right away.”
“Thank you so much, Mistress Mariposa. You don’t know how much I appreciate this.”
“You really care about your friend, I see.”
“Yes, I do,” admitted Georgina. “I really do. I don’t know why, but I still respect him.”
The next day, after class, Vanessa Mariposa took five butterfly colleagues and Georgina down to the Web. It was totally deserted, which was unusual, except for Joe, who appeared terrified, and with good reason. Staring at him from a distance and approaching ever closer, a huge spider was setting her sights on him.
“Joe! Joe! Stop struggling!” yelled Georgina in a panic. “It will only make matters worse! Listen to me, please!”
“Please tell your friend to cease his struggling now!” urged Vanessa. “My friends and I, we shall deter this spider.”
“Joe, where are your friends now?” asked Georgina.
“I don’t know. They didn’t feel like coming today. Please! We can talk later. Just get me out of here!”
Vanessa and her colleagues found the biggest pebbles and small stones that they could find, and which were not too heavy to lift. They picked them up and flew slowly above the Web. They hovered above the spider, and at Vanessa’s signal, they dropped their bombs on her head as she was contemplating a tasty caterpillar meal. The spider, now under attack, looked up and saw her aggressors. She was furious, but there was nothing that she could do as they kept dropping pebbles on top of her, injuring her and damaging her web. All the while, thanks to the pebbles and the spider’s frenzied writhing, the Web started coming apart, and Georgina was able to help her friend out. When the butterflies finally ceased fire and left her alone, the spider was enraged even more by the theft of her tasty banquet.
Joe looked at Georgina in gratitude and humility and apologised sincerely for ignoring her.
“You were so right about my so-called friends. I think that they heard about the spider and just deserted me, without even warning me of danger. Some friends!”
“Never mind about them,” said Georgina. “They’re gone now, and you will never see them again. What’s more important is that you sign up for the seminar with me.”
“Yes, I will, I promise.”
Joe was true to his word and started the course straight away. He had a lot of work to catch up, but he managed with Georgina’s help. He learned about the Calling that all caterpillars receive when it is time to build a cocoon; he learned how to create a cocoon and about the processes that take place inside it. But he was not looking forward to it. He wished that there were some other way, he wished that he could avoid the pain and isolation. As a result of his lack of motivation, Joe started missing some classes and neglected his studies. At the same time, he never considered for a second returning to the Web.
Georgina, however, accepted the facts of life and was doing very well. Her results were always above average, and she helped other caterpillars in the class who were having problems, including of course Joe, whose performance was mediocre at best.
It soon became clear that Joe’s motives for enrolling in the class were not all to do with his future as a butterfly. He was grateful towards Georgina for coming with an army of butterflies to save his life. Slowly but surely, during the school term, that gratitude turned into affection and admiration, and finally into desire. One day, just before the end of term, he could not resist any longer and decided finally to approach her to make his intentions known.
“Georgina,” he stammered as he approached her shyly and humbly.
“Georgina, I… I… I… am… I think I am in love with you.”
“Oh Joe, that’s very sweet of you, but…”
“Would you like to be my sweetheart and go out with me for a drink of nectar sometime?”
“Oh Joe, I would love to, but I can’t.”
“Why not?” asked Joe in despair.
Georgina was at a loss for words. How could she tell her friend that she was compelled to say no for a very personal reason?
“I’m already committed now, I’m sorry.”
“Is that all that you can say?” asked Joe sullenly.
“I’m sorry, Joe, I’m so sorry. I respect you as a caterpillar, you’re my good friend, but no more.”
Naturally Joe was very sad. He crawled away from class depressed and anxious. Did she have her eye on someone else, someone more studious than he? Or did she simply wish to avoid him? After all, his behaviour towards her was not exemplary, and his performance at the seminar was so inferior to hers.
The next day, Georgina was no present at the seminar, as with a couple of other students. Yet Vanessa Mariposa did not seem disturbed by their absence. It seemed quite normal to her. Had Georgina told the teacher about Joe’s bothersome proposal? Did she ask her teacher to change her class to avoid him? Joe was anxious to ask but did not dare. But as a result of his sadness and disappointment, his performance in class became even worse, when he even chose to attend.
One day, Vanessa decided to speak to him about his evident poor conduct and poor marks.
“Dear Joseph, what is wrong with you these days?
Your marks are poor, you always seem morose.
You never take an active part in class
The other caterpillars are complaining.
I do not wish to kick you out, so please
Pray tell me what is troubling you so much.”
“Well, Mistress Mariposa, it’s like this…” started Joe, hesitatingly. “I asked Georgina to be my sweetheart, and to go out with me for a drink of nectar, but she refused, because she said that she was already committed. And I don’t know where she went. I would hate myself if she quit the class because of me. So tell me, please, Mistress Mariposa, did Georgina leave the class because of me? I’ve got to know….No! Don’t tell me, I’ll die if the answer is yes…. No, yes, please tell me. I really like Georgina, I really do. She has done so much for me. Please, can you tell me where she went? I won’t bother her again, I promise. I’ll go and apologise and we’ll just be friends. Mistress Mariposa, where did Georgina go?”
– Emile N Joseph
The author teaches the English language to adult migrants and is passionate about all things linguistic. He is also a serious conservative at heart, who treasures the beauty, the poetry and the gallantry of yesteryear. He is happily married with two young children in Sydney.