Mr. Sirin had been in prison four times in a row before.
Mr. Sirin was a lepidopterist, a word which usually means "a person who studies butterflies." In this case, however, the word "lepidopterist" means "a man who was being pursued by angry government officials." Mr. Sirin looked back to see how close they were--four officers in their bright-pink uniforms, with small flashlights in their left hands and large nets in their right--and realized that in a moment they would catch up, and arrest him and his six favorite butterflies, which were frantically flapping alongside him.
Mr. Sirin did not care much if he was captured--he had been in prison four and a half times over the course of his long and complicated life--but he cared very much about the butterflies. He realized that these six delicate insects would undoubtedly perish in bug prison, where poisonous spiders, stinging bees, and other criminals would rip them to shreds. So, as the secret police closed in, Mr. Sirin opened his mouth as wide as he could and swallowed all six butterflies whole, quickly placing them in the dark but safe confines of his empty stomach.
Mr. Sirin kept them there for three years, eating only the lightest foods served in prison so as not to crush the insects with a clump of broccoli or a baked potato. When his prison sentence was over, Mr. Sirin burped up the grateful butterflies and resumed his lepidoptery work in a community that was much more friendly to scientists and their specimens.
Behind the scenes
- He is portrayed by Dave Hartubise in the TV series.
- The Hostile Hospital (mentioned)
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV series)
- "Sirin" was an early pseudonym of Vladimir Nabokov, a Russian-American author and noted lepidopterist.