Of all the creatures under the Big Blue Sky, perhaps none
was a better friend to the beautiful garden roses than Ladybug.
Every morning Ladybug would put on her red and
black-spotted coat. After smoothing out her wings in the
mirror, she would fly out her door to go to work
in the rose

Ladybug with a rose

         Once she arrived in the gardens, she would put down her lunchbox and
         go immediately to work.  From morning until mid-day she labored very
         hard, looking for the harmful insect pests known as aphids that like to
         eat the roses. "A-ha!" she would exclaim when she spotted one chewing
         and munching on a tender red petal or stem, "I see you!  And
         you've brought more of your friends with you..."

         Then Ladybug would do a very un-ladylike thing. "Well, take this!" she
         would shout, and as her wings began to flutter with a great
         flurry, "Biff!" and "Bapp!" - the harmful aphids would scurry off
dismay, feeling greatly ashamed.

         And so Ladybug worked from dawn until dusk to protect the beautiful,
         defenseless roses from the hurtful pests.  The roses were very grateful
         to have such a fine friend as Ladybug.  They would nod and sway,
         perfuming the air in a very lovely way to show their appreciation.  If a new
         rose bloomed in the garden and needed attention, Ladybug always
         arose to the occasion and gave it extra-special care to show
that it was welcome.

         This made the roses very happy. Murmuring amongst themselves as
         Ladybug flew by, they would let out a great big sigh and the air would
         be filled with the sweetest fragrance. "Very nice!" Ladybug would
         exclaim. Pulling out her clipboard and pencil, she would cross off the
         words in big capital letters, "MAKE ROSES HAPPY TODAY" from
her list
of things to do.

         But the aphids were still very bad.  No matter how ashamed they would
         feel the day before when Ladybug chased them away, they
         always seemed to have an extremely short-term memory.  If she turned her
         back for a minute, they would resume their naughty tricks without
         a moment's thought.  Ladybug would just sigh to herself, for she knew
         that if a rose was but a rose, then a pest would never be more than a pest.

Aphid Aphid Aphid Aphid

         One evening, at the end of a particularly hard day, Ladybug stopped in at the
Leaf Café to have some nectar and a rest. Traffic had also been bad
  and she was
very tired. To make matters worse, big drops of rain had been falling on
all day. A cold wind blew outside and suddenly Ladybug let out a
sneeze, "Achoo!"

         "Bless you," said a nearby waitress, offering a napkin.

         "Thag you," replied Ladybug, and then she realized that she was coming
         down with a cold!  But Ladybug, like most folks, hated to think that she
         could be getting sick, so she repeated herself - a bit louder this time -
         "THAG YOU!"  Then she felt sheepish, because her nose
         really was stuffy and there was no denying that she was getting sick.

         "You're welcome!" exclaimed the waitress, smiling gently.
         And she gave Ladybug some hot ginger tea to settle her stomach, and
         clear her head.  Feeling refreshed, Ladybug slowly made her way home.

         Hanging up her coat, she went to relax in her enclosed, candle-lit porch
         made of cobbled-stone, deciding to work on her greatest love:  a 5000-piece
         puzzle of Tutankhamun.  Tutankhamun was a great Pharaoh, or king,
         who ruled the land of Egypt many moons ago.  Tutankhamun or "King
         Tut" as his friends called him, had been known as the Boy King
         because he was crowned ruler of all Egypt and the great Nile - the
         mighty river that flows through Egypt - when he was still very young.

         Ladybug thought that he must have been a very smart boy indeed, to rule an
         entire country.  Patiently - piece by piece - Ladybug worked on putting
         together the detailed features of the young pharaoh, but she had a headache and
         her nose was beginning to run.  She became very sad.

         "Between those pesky aphids, two hours on the road just to get to
         work, and now this cold, I'll never be able to finish this puzzle!" she lamented to herself.
The puzzle piece she was
holding began to feel very, very heavy, and no matter how hard
she looked, she just couldn't seem to make it fit anywhere.

         With a soft sigh, and a box of tissues tucked under her arm, Ladybug got up
         from the table and crawled into bed.  For awhile, she lay under the
         covers and thought about King Tut and the beautiful land of Egypt with
         its Valley of Kings and pyramids and the mysterious Sphinx.

         "I'll bet King Tut could have finished that puzzle by now," she said to
         herself, forlornly. Then, closing her eyes, Ladybug fell asleep.

         The next morning it was still raining, but the drops were bigger and
         the temperature was even colder then the day before. "Achoo!"
         sneezed Ladybug upon waking. Her cold was worse and,
         try as she might, Ladybug couldn't get herself up to go to work.
         She ached, and every time she moved it made her sniffle, cough or
         sneeze.  Finally, she gave up and went back to sleep.  A few hours later
         she woke up again, not feeling any better, but she thought maybe she could
at least try to piece together
King Tut's royal nose.
Alas, however, she couldn't get herself out of bed to work on the puzzle.

         Meanwhile, as it rained, the nasty aphids were very happy in the rose
         garden. With no Ladybug around to swat them, they could be naughty
         and "Munch! Munch! Munch!" on the tender leaves and stems of the
roses. Lunch time passed, and the winged Defender of the Roses
still nowhere to be seen.

Rose BushesRose Bushes

         "Yes!" cried out one particularly ornery aphid with joy. "We've finally
been left in
peace to munch!"

         "Pure heaven!" agreed his buggy friend.  But the poor roses were very
         sad, and the blades of grass at their feet looked up at them kindly,
         wishing they could help.  Dinnertime came and went, but no Ladybug.
         And still it rained.

         At last, the very youngest aphid spoke up timidly, "I haven't been
         Biffed! or Baffed! by that Ladybug all day," he said. "Somehow, things just
feel the same around here."  All of the other, older and wiser aphids
that they hadn't heard him, and they munched even louder.

         But then, as they munched, something happened to them. They began
         to really look at the roses for the first time and notice their beautiful, velvet
         petals.  Seeing that the aphids were taking notice, the roses let out a big sigh and
filled the air
with their sweetest smells.  And, as if in a dream, one by
         one the aphids stopped munching.

         "I kind of liked being "Biffed" by that Ladybug lady," volunteered one
         old-timer.  Slowly, each aphid confessed that something was, indeed, wrong. And
         very soon, all of the aphids were in agreement that while it had been a very
         exciting day of eating rose stems without being bothered - almost a holiday of sorts -
         it just wasn't any fun if they weren't going to be yelled at for being
naughty or chased
for doing it.

         Before long, the insects had huddled together for a group
         meeting and, after stopping by the Mint Leaf Café for directions, they were
         soon all gathered inside Ladybug's room as she lay in bed, snoring softly.
         On her blankets were crumpled-up tissues. On her night stand was a
         melting bag of ice. Beside the bag of ice was the doctor's prescription
         for four cups of blackberry tea a day.

         The aphids, then, felt very, very ashamed at being so naughty and they
         began to creep away softly so as not to disturb Ladybug.  But the youngest
         aphid spotted the puzzle of Tutankhamun, and picking up a piece with
         a critical eye, he completed the royal mouth. Then he picked up two more pieces and
completed the king's ear lobe. The other aphids
saw what he had done, and they
became very excited and industrious.  Within hours they
had completed King Tut's cheeks
and eyebrows, and even the rest of the
entire puzzle!

King Tut Puzzle

         At last the gleaming, youthful face of King Tut glimmered and sparkled
         on top of Ladybug's table like it was made of polished gold.  All but
         one piece was left.  Struggling mightily, the youngest aphid crept over with
         the last piece of the royal nose and dropped it from the air.  It landed
         softly on the covers beside the still-snoring Ladybug.

         "Bapp!" he whispered, and then flew back to the rose garden
to enjoy a late-night

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