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Dame Cricket's Story

"Come, children, it is time to get up," said Dame Cricket to her ten
little crickets.

"Hurry, now, and take your bath and put on your little black caps and
your little brown suits. The sun has almost gone down over the hill
and the birds will soon be asleep."

But the little crickets snuggled under the bedclothes just as if they
did not hear their mother's words.

"Come, come," she said, a few minutes later, "you will sleep all night
if you don't hurry. Some of our cousins are already singing, and it
will soon be dark."

"Oh dear! why do we have to get up?" said one little cricket, poking
his head over the clothes. "Lots of bugs sleep all night."

"Yes, but they are up all the daytime," answered Dame Cricket, "and
they run a great risk, I can assure you, my dear. Our family used to
sing in the daytime, but if we had kept on there would be no cricket
family. There is a reason for our sleeping days and singing at night."

"Oh, mother, is it a story?" asked all the little crickets, jumping out
of bed with a bound and gathering about their mother.

"Yes, there is a story about our family, and if you will all hurry and
dress I will tell it to you," she said.

Very quietly all the little crickets began to dress, and their mother
began the story:

"Once, long, long ago," she said, "our family sang in the daytime and
slept at night; but one day the Great-grandfather Cricket noticed that
our singing was not as loud as usual, so he called all the children,
big and little, about him and looked at their throats.

"'Strange, strange!' he remarked. 'You all have fine-looking throats,
as fine as ever crickets had, and yet our singing is very faint; there
is not as much volume to it as in the old days. I will call on Doctor
Frog this very day, and see what he thinks about it.'

"Doctor Frog thought awhile and then he asked, 'How many have you in
your family, now, Mr. Cricket?'

"Great-grandfather called us all about him and began to count, and to
his amazement he found our family was only about half the size it
should be.

"'Just as I thought,' said Dr. Frog, 'the voices are as good as ever,
but there are not so many of you, and, of course, the singing is not so
loud as it was once.

"'Shall I tell you the reason for this?' asked Dr. Frog.

"Great-grandfather said that was why he called on him, so Dr. Frog told
him that the birds were eating our family, and if they kept it up we
soon would be out of existence.

"'Horrors! horrors!' chirped Great-grandfather Cricket. 'Whatever will
we do to preserve the family?'

"'Easy enough to do that,' said Dr. Frog. 'Sleep days and sing at
night as our family do; little chance we would have if we came out and
sang in the daytime.'

"So that is the reason we sleep days and sing nights, so the birds and
chickens and bug-eating animals cannot catch us.

"Of course, sometimes they do get a cricket, but it is always one who
has stayed out too late or gotten up too early, usually a very young
cricket who thinks he knows more than his mother or father.

"But the good little crickets who mind and get up when they are called
are pretty sure to live to a good old age."

When Madam Cricket stopped talking all the little crickets stood
looking at her with very curious expressions on their faces.

"We are good little crickets, aren't we, mother?" they asked.

"Of course you are. Here you are all ready to go out and sing and the
sun has just dropped behind the hill," she said.

"Chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp," they sang as they scampered after their
mother out into the night.

Next: The Playroom Wedding

Previous: The Tell-tale Goblin

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