Stumbling through her request with the aid of the Spanish-English dictionary she carried in her shoulder bag, Meg asked the girls to take her on a walk to learn about local plants. Especially the ones that could be used for dying cloth, or as patterns for pretty needlework to decorate the skirts they were making. Armed with canteens and hats with big brims, a notebook to sketch pictures and her camera, they notified the supervisors on duty and headed out through the gates.
Funny, but walking in the center of a crowd of over twenty girls, even with two holding her hands, Meg felt alone. The older ones loved to practice their English skills with her, and loved even more interpreting and showing off for the little ones, so Meg didn't lack for conversation. Still, she felt as if she were more a piece of equipment, something necessary, required to take on their walk, and not their friend or teacher.
Then the bees came. The shrieks of the girls in the front of their straggling, chattering group pulled Meg out of her self-pity mode.
"For heaven's sake, don't swat at them," she snapped, probably too loudly, definitely too angrily, when the older girls made her understand what was happening. "Just stand still and let them fly by. They're probably more scared of you than you are of them."
Privately, Meg thought that bees were the dumbest creatures on the planet. Dumb and angry and prone to sting anything that moved.Wait -- were those killer bees that went on the offensive, even if it happened to be a balloon flying through their airspace, or even rubber balls? She had seen a story posted on the Internet one time, about a bright red rubber ball that landed in a hive. The picture showed hundreds of bees stuck in the rubber ball, or at least their stingers, after they attacked it, the impetus of their bodies keeping the ball moving and jingling, which irritated them more.