He wished that he had not allowed himself to become so fond of fiddling. If he had cared less for it, he would have gone home in good season. But there he was in a crack in the garden! And he didn't dare leave it because he had heard that the garden was a famous place for birds. Chirpy Cricket was frightened.
"It would be very unlucky for me if I found that I wasn't spry enough to escape Simon Screecher!" Mr. Meadow Mouse had to admit that there was a good deal of truth in Chirpy's remark. But he said he was ready with another suggestion. "It's a good one, too," he declared. "What is it?" Chirpy asked him. "You'll have to think of some other way" said Mr.
Beaton, whom Providence permitted to attain the unusual age of a hundred years or more, in order that, with unimpaired faculties and unclouded memory, he might transmit to posterity this strange romance of history. It is quite impossible to tell the precise moment at which began what Horace Mann, most light-hearted and chirpy of diplomatists, called the Countess of Albany's martyrdom.
And ever afterward he was fond of repeating Chirpy's remark, in a boasting way, until his neighbors were heartily tired of hearing it. One night when Chirpy Cricket was fiddling his prettiest, not far from the fence between the farmyard and the meadow, he had a queer feeling, as if somebody were gazing at him.
But the moment Chirpy Cricket began fiddling right there in his room he became wide awake. He had had no idea how loudly one of the Cricket family could play his cr-r-r-i! cr-r-r-i! cr-r-r-i! indoors. The high, shrill sound was piercing. It rang in Johnnie's ears and drowned the muffled concert of the fields and swamp which the light breeze bore through the window.
It seemed to him very mournful, a sort of sad, sad air, as if Mr. Mole Cricket were bewailing his dismal life beneath the garden. But of course Chirpy was too polite to tell that to his cousin. And when Mr. Mole Cricket asked him how he liked the tune, Chirpy replied that it was very, very interesting. "Are you sure you're a cousin of mine?" Chirpy Cricket inquired of Mr. Mole Cricket.
For Freddie Firefly had promised to loan Chirpy his light, because Chirpy needed it when he saw Miss Christabel Cricket to her home beyond the barnyard fence. Chirpy was going to see her safely to her door when the night's concert was ended. And he could hardly wait until the time came when he would flash that wonderful light in the eyes of all his friends.
And glancing up quickly, he saw that a plump person sat on a fence-rail, busily engaged in staring at him. "How-dy do!" Chirpy Cricket piped; for the fat, four-legged person looked both cheerful and harmless. "I take it you're fond of music." The stranger, whose name was Mr. Meadow Mouse, smiled. "I won't dispute your statement," he said.
It was no wonder that Chirpy Cricket was always uneasy when Simon screeched his warning that he was awake and looking for his supper. Chirpy knew that he could not depend on Simon to stay long in one place. Though you heard his screech in the orchard one moment, you might see him in the farmyard soon afterward.
He hurts his foot in a rut two thousand years old in exhumed Pompeii, and presently, when staring at one of the cinder-like corpses unearthed in the next square, conceives the idea that maybe it is the remains of the ancient Street Commissioner, and straightway his horror softens down to a sort of chirpy contentment with the condition of things.