The Walking Stick, by Jeannette Marks

The Cheerful Cricket and Others

The Walking Stick was soberly walking down the path looking spindly in every way: long, thin legs and a long thin body that were for all the world like a stick. Probably you have seen the Walking Stick many times and thought him just a twig. If you hadn't been in such a hurry you might have seen something interesting. Each time he picked up a leg, he seemed to wave it in the air before he put it down again. That was, I suppose, because he had to, each leg was so very long. The Walking Stick had been given the name of the "Parson" by some naughty little crickets, for no other reason, I am sure, than that he was so exceedingly grave.

Chee and Chirk and Chirp were the naughty crickets who gave him the name, and although Mrs. Cricky said it was unkind, yet other people took it up. Now Chee and Chirk were waiting for the "Parson" when they saw him come out of Grass Cottage, where he had been visiting Mrs. Cricky.

"Ssh!" said Chee, "don't make so much noise, he'll hear us. There! Chirk, take that blade of grass and stretch it across the path. He'll never see it. They say he's always thinking about things that folks don't think about at all."

"Say," said Chirk, tugging at the blade of grass, "if I wind it around this buttercup stalk, will that do?"

"Yes," replied Chee, "here he comes. Oh! I wish Chirp was here!"

Along came the "Parson," gravely swinging one leg after the other in the air and thinking with much pleasure of the kindliness of Mrs. Cricky who was always a very cordial hostess.

"Ssh!" whispered Chirk, "he's thinking of Miss K. T. Did. They say—"

But the sentence was never finished, for with a sprawl, the "Parson" stumbled over the blade of grass and came down on the other side with a clatter.

"Tee-hee! Tee-hee! Tee-hee!" chirruped both Chee and Chirk, so amused at the funny tangle of legs in which the Walking Stick was, that they forgot to run away.

Now the "Parson's" long legs made great strides, and before they knew what had happened Chee was being soundly beaten. "Whack! Whack! Whack!" went the Walking Stick on his little shiny black back.

"O! O! O!" cried Chee, "I'll never do it again!"

"No," said the "Parson," in a high thin voice, "I think you won't, you black imp!"

By this time Mrs. Cricky had come out to see what all the noise was about. When she heard the explanation, she said in a sorrowful tone:

"Chee and Chirk, is this the way I've brought you up? When your father hears of this he will be very angry. Come into the house with me at once." And into Grass Cottage they were marched.

When they were inside Grass Cottage Mrs. Cricky said in a sad way, that the worst thing anybody could do in his own house was to be inhospitable to strangers; that they had been rude to Mr. Walking Stick upon their own grounds. Then Mrs. Cricky went on to say that she feared they would never grow up to be gentle crickets if this was the way they intended to behave.

Both Chee and Chirk were too unhappy for words, and said they would never do it again, and that really they did not want to hurt anybody's feelings.

"Well," said Mrs. Cricky, "I don't see how you could forget so soon after that song your father taught you. We will sing it together again, and perhaps you will remember next time." And this was the song they sang:

_The Cricket Rule

Rather slow_

  Chirp, for chirp is all our song
  Cheerful chirps
  Will help a long.

  Do not say
  What will not cheer
  Try to soothe
  Each tiny fear

  Chirp, for chirp is all our song
  Cheerful chirps
  Will help a long.