MISTER CRICKET and BRER RABBIT PLAY a TRICK
In the times when old Boss Elephant, and Brer Lion, and Brer Tiger was meandering round in there parts, little Mr. Cricket was on mighty good terms with 'em. As they say of folks, he stood mighty well where they knowed him—mighty well—and he was about the sharpest of the whole caboodle, if you'll leave out the name of Brer Rabbit.
It come about one time that the critters was all sunning theyself—it might've been Sunday for all I know—and they just stretch out and sat and sat round licking their chops, and blinking their eyes, and combing their hair. Mr. Elephant was swinging hisself backwards and forwards, and flinging the sand on his back for to keep off the flies, and all the rest was going on according to their breed and need.
If you'll watch right close, you'll find out for yourself that when folks ain't got much to do, and little or nothing for to talk about, they'll soon get to bragging, and that's just the way with the critters. Brer Fox start it up; he say, "Gents, 'fore I forget it off of my mind, I want to tell you that I'm the swiftest one in this bunch."
Mr. Elephant wink one of his little eyeballs, and fling his snout in the air and whispered—and you might've heard that whisper a mile—"I'm the strengthiest; I want to call your attention to that."
Mr. Lion shook his mane and showed his tooths. He say, "Don't forget that I'm the King of all the critter tribe."
Mr. Tiger stretched hisself and gaped. He say, "I'm the prettiest and the most servigorous."
From one to the other the bragging went round. If it weren't this it was that, and if it weren't that, it was the other. They went on so till by and by little Mr. Cricket chirped up and say he can make all of 'em run they heads off, from old Mr. Elephant down to the last one.
They all laugh like it's a good joke, and Brer Fox he allow that he had the idea that they was all doing some monstrous tall bragging, but Mr. Cricket was away ahead of the whole gang, and then he say, "How you going to begin for to commence for to do all these great deeds and didoes?"
Mr. Cricket say, "Just give me time; give me time, and you'll all hear from me—you'll hear, but you won't stop for to listen," and then he work his jaws for all the world like Brer Rabbit does when he's chewing tobacco.
Now, old Brer Rabbit knowed that Mr. Cricket was up to some sharp trick or another, and so he wait till he can have a confab with him. He ain't had long to wait, 'cause Mr. Crickley Cricket make up his mind that Brer Rabbit was the one what can help him out. They both want to see one another, and when that's the case, there ain't much trouble about it.
They soon got off by theyself, and Brer Rabbit allow that Mr. Cricket got a mighty big job on his hands, and Mr. Cricket, he say it's such a big job that he can't get through with it unless Brer Rabbit will help him out. Mr. Cricket say it ain't much he going to ask of Brer Rabbit, but little as it is, he pleased to ask it.
Brer Rabbit look at him right hard and twist his mustache. "Out with it, Mr. Cricket; out with it, and I'll see if I can help you out. But I want you to take notice that all the others is got a crow for to pick with me, on account of the way I been doing."
Mr. Cricket chirp up, "So I hear, Brer Rabbit—so I hear," and then he went on for to tell Brer Rabbit what he want him to do. Brer Rabbit laugh, he did, and say, "If that's all you want, Mr. Cricket, you can count me in, 'cause I laid off for to help you lots more than that—lots more." Mr. Cricket say that'll be the greatest plenty, and with that they went off home for to kind of rest theyself, but not 'fore they fix on a day when they'll have time for to work their trick on the other critters.
They agreed on the day, and that day they met, and after colloquying together, off they put to the place where they expected to find the other critters. The first one they meet was old Mr. Elephant. They pass the time of day, they did, and Brer Rabbit say he got bad news. Mr. Elephant flung up his snout like he astonished, and swung backward and forwards like he about to cry. Brer Rabbit allow that the wind blowed a hickory-nut down right upon top of Mr. Cricket and cripple him so he can't go home, and he ask if Mr. Elephant won't tote him as far as he can. Mr. Elephant say to be sure he will, and be glad in the bargain, and so he kneel down, he did, and let Mr. Cricket crawl on his back.
But Mr. Cricket crawl further than the back; he crawl on Mr. Elephant neck, and then into his ear. This where he want to get, and soon as he got settle, he flutter his wings right fast and Mr. Elephant think the wind is blowing through the trees. Mr. Cricket flutter his wings harder, and Mr. Elephant think there's a storm corning up. He plunge through the bushes, he did, and if Mr. Cricket hadn't've been inside his ear, he'd've been knocked off by the limbs of the trees. As it was, he sat back and laugh, and say to hisself that Mr. Elephant ain't hear nothing at all to what he will hear.
With that, he tune up his whistle, and started for to blow on it. He blowed kind of low to begin with, and then he begun to get louder. And the louder he got the more he scared Mr. Elephant, and he went plunging through the woods same as a hurricane.
He went so fast that he come mighty nigh running over King Lion whiles he was talking to old Brer Tiger. He ain't hear 'em say, "Mr. Elephant, where you going?" but he stop right where they was and begun to turn round and round.
King Lion ask him what the matter, and Mr. Elephant say he believe he going raving distracted. He allow, "I got a singing and a whistling in one of my ears, and I don't know which one it's in. Don't you all hear it?"
They listen, they did, and bless gracious, they can hear it. Old King Lion look like he astonished. He say, "It sounds for all the world, Mr. Elephant, like you just about to boil over, and if that's what you're going to do, I want to be out of the way—clean out of the way."
Mr. Elephant turn round and round, he did, and if he'd've been light-headed like some folks I knows, he'd've dropped right there. Mr. Cricket watch his chance, and when Mr. Elephant got nigh to King Lion, he took a flying jump and lit right in King Lion's mane, and it weren't long 'fore he made his way to the ear. But while he was making his way there Mr. Elephant stopped whirling round; he stop and listen, he did, and he ain't hear nothing; he listen some more and still he ain't hear nothing. He say, "I believe in my soul that I'm cured! I'm mighty glad I met you all, 'cause I know one of you is a doctor, and ever which one it is, he sure has done the work."
By this time, Mr. Cricket had got in King Lion ear, and it weren't long 'fore he start up his whistling. He whistle low for to start with, and King Lion hold his head sideways and listen. He say, "I still hears it, Mr. Elephant, and if you are cured I done caught the thing you had." Mr. Cricket went a little louder, and King Lion begun to back off like he had business to tend to.
Mr. Tiger say, "Where you going? I hope you ain't scared of Brer Elephant, 'cause he ain't going to hurt you. If you going any where, you better turn 'round and go right."
But King Lion ain't pay no attention to Mr. Tiger; he just back off, he did, and wave his tail and shake his mane. Mr. Cricket begun to whistle louder and flutter his wings, and make 'em zoom like a locust. King Lion say, "I hear the wind a-blowing and I better get home to my wife and chillun," and off he put, running like he was going after the doctor.
Mr. Tiger laugh, and say that some folks is so funny he don't know what to make of 'em. They stayed there confabbing, and by and by they hear a fuss, and here come King Lion going as hard as he can. Trying for to get away from the fuss in his ear, he had run all round till he come back again to where he start from. He had his tongue out, and his tail was drooping; he was mighty nigh wore out.
He say, "Heyo! What you all doing here? I had the idea that I left you back yonder where I come from."
Mr. Elephant allow, "We ain't scarcely move out of our tracks. You run away and left us, and here you is back; what the name of goodness is the matter with you?"
King Lion say, "I done got a whistling in my head, and look like I can't escape from it. It's in there yet, and I don't know what I'm going to do about it."
Mr. Elephant say, "Do like I done—stand it the best you can."
Brer Tiger allow, "I hear it, and it sound exactly like you was about to boil over, and when you does I want to be out of the way."
By that time little Mr. Cricket had done made a flying jump and lit on Mr. Tiger, and it weren't long 'fore he was snug in Mr. Tiger ear. Mr. Tiger listen, he did, and then he begun to back off and wave his tail.
Mr. Elephant swing his snout, and say, "What the matter, Mr. Tiger? I hope you ain't thinking about leaving us." But Mr. Tiger was done gone. He just flit away.
Long about that time, Mr. Rabbit come loping up, laughing fit to kill. He allow, "Brer Cricket say he going to make you all run and that's just what he done. Both of you been running 'cause I see you panting, and if you'll just wait here, Mr. Cricket will fetch Mr. Tiger back safe and sound."
And they ain't had to wait long, neither, 'cause by and by, here come Mr. Tiger, tongue out and tail a-drooping. He say, "Hello! How come you all to outrun me? I got the idea that you was back yonder in the woods where I come from."
And then they got to laughing at him, and they laugh till they can't laugh no more. Mr. Cricket jump out of Mr. Tiger's ear, and get in the grass, and by and by he show hisself. He come close up with a "Howdy do, gents?' and they pass the time of day with him.
By and by Mr. Elephant allow, "Mr. Cricket, ain't you say the other day that you was going to make we all run?"
And Mr. Cricket, he make answer, "Why, I wouldn't talk about running if I'd been running same as what you been doing."
Mr. Elephant swing his snout kind of slow and say, "How you know I been running?"
Mr. Cricket allow, "I know because if I hadn't've held on monstrous tight, I'd've fell off; more than that, if I hadn't've stopped singing and whistling you'd've been running yet."
Mr. Elephant shu his two little eyes, and say, "Well, sir!"
The others mostly got away from them parts, 'cause they was scared Mr. Cricket would get on 'em again. King Lion say he got to look after some fresh meat what he got, Mr. Elephant say he pleased to go and cut some grass, and Mr. Tiger allow that he got to hunt up some vittles for his family. And as for Mr. Cricket, he climb on Brer Rabbit's back, and they mosied off somewheres, I don't know where. All I know is that they giggle as they went.