Her grandmother, Jezebel, thought Jessie was ready to take her butterfly harnessing skills to the test and adventure of seeking the creatures that had been creating havoc on the Land. The plan was to drop a giant net over their lair and carry them to a distant place where they could no longer take over the ladybugs or destroy the plants.
The worker ants were busy piecing together the giant net that Jessie would carry on her butterfly to the creatures' home. While they worked, Jessie was getting a pep talk from her grandmother.
Jessie said, "But grandmother, I'm scared."
Her grandmother said, "You wouldn't be a fairy worth your goodness if you weren't a bit scared. But remember, you can turn that fear to excitement with a little oxygen. Just keep taking deep breaths." And Jessie inhaled, filling her chest with air. It was true; she felt better as soon as she started to let the air out of her chest. That felt so good that she took another deep breath. She realized she was no longer scared; in fact, Jessie was becoming a bit excited about the adventure ahead.
After carefully fastening the booby trap of a net to her butterfly, who was called Melanie but who she called "Mel" for short, Jessie went on a trial flight, to see how it felt to work the harness with the added weight of the net and whether she could accurately "bomb" a targeted area with the net. For fun, because she was so excited, she took Mel straight up into the air for a length and then hovered high over the Land. Everything looked so tiny from up above. The flowers were tiny specks of color and most of the insects weren't visible at all. She could make out the ants who'd just made her net, as they were watching her in one big mass, so she saw the splash of black on the ground and figured it was them. Then she shuddered as she imagined the creatures she was meant to capture on this flight who apparently looked smaller than the ants looked from this great height even up close.
For her practice net drop, the fairies had asked the permission of a small group of yellow dandelions if they would be willing to be dropped on. Dandelions were hearty flowers and the fairies thought they'd appreciate offering their strength to the mission. Jessie slowly descended over the meadow where the dandelions were located. She took a wide circle around them, getting her bearings, as she would for the actual drop, and sort of spiraled in to the center, hovering over the small bed of yellow blossoms amongst the sweet green grass of meadow. She pulled the cord on the net and watched it float like a parachute over the dandelions. The weighted edges billowed out and the whole net fell beautifully on top of the group of flowers. At this point, during the real drop, was when Jessie's real courage would be tested. She'd have to fly down to the net and pull the string to tighten it around the tiny creatures. However, no one wanted to damage the flowers any more than they might be by a falling net, so Jessie would have to trust that the ants, fine craftspeople that they were, had done their job and made a functional drawstring.
Another army of ants, on the ready, came and promptly collected the net, folding it back up, while Jessie found a place to land so the net could be re-attached to Mel. "Good job Mel," she said, encouragingly. Mel was a trusty friend, more than a pet, and she couldn't do this important work without Mel feeling her best.
Once the ants had hitched the net back onto Mel, Jessie wasted no time in lofting into the air again to begin the mission. She'd memorized the route to the creatures lair. After passing over the meadow, she flew over the human's flower garden, full of foxgloves and irises. Then, she took a sharp right along the creek and followed it up to the row of cottonwood trees. It was here, under the cottonwood trees, that the tiny evil creatures lived. She lighted on a high branch of one of the cottonwoods, taking a break and several deep breaths to give her courage for the final stretch of her flight. For a moment, she thought about turning back, about telling her grandmother she was too young and scared for work like this, but by the fifth breath, she began to feel her strength return, and she thought of all the ladybugs who could be saved by her work. With this thought, she wasted no time in diving right down to the darkest part of the creatures' lair.
There they were, the tiniest, most hideous beings she'd ever seen, small white eyes popping off the top of their heads could see her coming and they almost looked like they were panicking. She found the center of this mass and hovered very briefly to make sure she was steady before pulling the cord to drop the net. It fell before the creatures knew what had happened, and she swooped down to the bright red cord which had landed on the North side of the lair. This was the cord she had to pull to capture the beings. As she grew closer to the creatures, she saw their little faces looking so scared. But still, she pulled the cord tight, tied it back to the hook below her saddle, and made a long slow loping flight back home, where her grandmother and all the fairies and leaders of all the insects waited for her delivery. The flight was slow because even though the creatures were tiny, there were so many of them that they added a lot of extra weight to Mel.
"Come on, Mel," she said, "You can make it." She worried she was pushing Mel too hard, and she promised herself that Mel could rest for a week or longer and that she'd bring her all kinds of sweet flower treats after this flight.
When she arrived at the center of the Land, and saw the leaders of all the insects and all the fairies, she slowly flew closer to the ground and delivered the package as if she was offering up the most precious thing one could imagine. The fairy knights unhooked the net from Mel's saddle and Jessie flew on a bit father, to put some distance between herself and the tiny evil creatures. Mel and Jessie sat in the grass, Mel slowly flapping her wings, and Jessie breathing and leaning over in relief.
The fairy knights confronted the tiny creatures and asked them what they had to say for themselves.
Their story turned out to be an unexpected one.
"Please!" They all shouted in unison. "We are so small. And we know we are ugly. So please do not look at us! But please listen!"
Everyone grew very still and listened as the creatures continued.
"We know it is wrong, what we are doing. But we are so small and so ugly and we only wanted to be loved like all of you are. This is why we decided to take the form of ladybugs, which are so well loved in the Land and among humans. We only wanted to be noticed and loved."
And with that, Jezebel and her kingdom grew sympathetic, for what creature and flower hadn't been overlooked or even despised by someone at sometime.
Jezebel made a proclamation that all creatures must learn to love these tiny beings, even if they didn't look particularly pretty to everyone. "We must learn a new way of seeing!" she proclaimed. "And! Creatures! You must learn to see yourselves differently. To that end, the ant seamstresses will sew you colored hats, so that you can always feel beautiful and a part of the colorful Land."
The ants, delighted to have a new sewing project to keep them busy, cheered, and got right to work.
And so it is, to this day, that the tiniest of creatures in the Land of flowers and insects now wear the prettiest of hats and walk proudly amongst the ladybugs and roses, without the least bit of shame.
And Jessie continues to ride Mel--but for pleasure's sake. You might see a small brave fairy atop that pink butterfly that's landed on your fencepost this afternoon.