Told by Uncle Remus: New Stories of the Old Plantation | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in July 2019 with all known ATU Classifications.

Little Mister Cricket and the Other Creatures

UNCLE Remus was very anxious to know what the child thought about the story of Brother Rabbit and the chicken feathers, but he made no inquiries; he was willing to let the youngster’s preferences show themselves without any urging on his part.

                When the little boy did speak, he made no reference to Brother Rabbit and the chicken feathers: his thoughts were elsewhere. “Uncle Remus,” he said, “I never saw a cricket. What do they look like?”

                “You ain’t never see no cricket!” exclaimed Uncle Remus, with a great display of amazement. “Well, dat bangs my time! What yo’ ma an’ pa--speshually yo’ pa--what dey been doin’ all deze lonesome years dat they ain’t never show’d you no cricket? How dey speck you ter git ’long in de worl’ ef dey ain’t gwine ter tell you ’bout de things you oughter know, an’ show you de things dat you oughter see? You ain’t never see no cricket, an’ here you is mos’ ready ter shave off de down on your face!”

                The child blushed. “Why, I have no down on my face, Uncle Remus,” he protested.

                “Well, you will have some er deze days, an’ den what will folks think uv a great big man what ain’t never seed no cricket?”

                “Mother has never seen one,” replied the little boy, somewhat triumphantly.

                “She’s a lady,” Uncle Remus explained, “an’ dat’s diffunt. She been brung up in ’Lantamatantarum, an’ I speck she’d fall down an’ faint ef she wuz ter see one. Folks ain’t like dey use ter be; in my day an’ time, ef man er boy wuz ter say dat he ain’t never seed no cricket, dem what he tol’ de news ter would git up an’ go ’way fum ’im; but deze days I boun’ you dey’d huddle up close ’roun’ ’im, an’ j’ine in wid ’im, an’ say dey ain’t never is seed one nudder.”

                “If you had never seen one, you wouldn’t talk that way, Uncle Remus,” remarked the little boy quite seriously. “How can I help myself, if I have never seen one? It isn’t my fault, is it?”

                “Tooby sho’ it ain’t, honey. Nobody ain’t blamin’ you. Yit when I see a great big boy what ain’t never seed no cricket, I bleeze ter ax myse’f whar he come fum an’ what he been doin’. I boun’ ef you’d ’a’ been wid yo’ gran’mammy an me you’d ’a’ seed crickets twel you got tired er seein’ um. Dat’s de kinder folks we-all is. ’Tain’t no trouble ter we-all ter show chillun what dey oughter see. I bet you, you’ pa know’d what a cricket wuz long ’fo’ he wuz ol’ ez you is. Dey wa’n’t nothin’ fer ter hender ’im. Miss Sally des turned ’im over ter me, an’ say, ‘Don’t let ’im git hurted,’ an’ dar he wuz. Ef he ain’t seed all dey wuz ter be seed, it ’uz kaze it ’uz in a show, an’ de show in town whar he can’t git at it. Dat’s de way we done wid him, an’ dat’s de way I’d like ter do wid you. It’s a mighty pity you wa’n’t brung up here at home, stidder up dar in ’Lantamatantarum, whar dey ain’t nothin’ ’tall but dust, an’ mud, an’ money. De folks up dar ain’t want de mud an’ dust, an’ de mo’ dey wash it off de mo’ dey gits on um; but dey does want de money, an’ de mo’ dey scuffles fer it, de mo’ dey has ter scuffle.”

                “Is a cricket like a grasshopper, Uncle Remus?” inquired the little boy, who took no interest in the old man’s prejudice against Atlanta.

                “Dey mos’ly is, an’ den ag’in dey mos’ly ain’t. Befo’ de time dat ol’ Grandaddy Cricket kick down de chimbley, dey wa’n’t no mo’ like grasshoppers dan I’m like a steer, but atter dat, when he git his knees on wrongsudouterds, dey sorter look like grasshoppers ’cepin’ when you look at um right close, an’ den dey don’t look like um.

                “Dey got lots mo’ sense dan de yuther crawlin’ an’ hoppin’ creeturs. Dey ought not ter be put wid de hoppin’ creeturs, kaze dey don’t b’long wid ’um, an’ dey wouldn’t be a-hoppin’ in deze days ef ol’ Grandaddy Cricket hadn’t ’a’ got cripple’ when he kick de chimbley down. In de times when ol’ Boss Elephant, an’ Brer Lion, an’ Brer Tiger wuz meanderin’ roun’ in deze parts, little Mr. Cricket wuz on mighty good terms wid um. Ez dey say er folks, he stood mighty well whar dey know’d ’im--mighty well--an’ he wuz ’bout de sharpes’ er de whole caboodle, ef you’ll leave out de name er Brer Rabbit.

                “It come ’bout one time dat de creeturs wuz all sunnin’ deyse’f--it mought er been Sunday fer all I know--an’ dey des stretch out an’ sot an’ sot roun’ lickin’ der chops, an’ blinkin’ der eyes, an’ combin’ der ha’r. Mr. Elephant wuz swingin’ hisse’f backerds an’ forerds, an’ flingin’ de san’ on his back fer ter keep off de flies, an’ all de res’ wuz gwine on ’cordin’ ter der breed an’ need.

                “Ef you’ll watch right close, honey, you’ll fin’ out fer yo’se’f dat when folks ain’t got much ter do, an’ little er nothin’ fer ter talk ’bout, dey’ll soon git ter braggin’, an’ dat’s des de way wid de creeturs. Brer Fox start it up; he say, ‘Gents, ’fo’ I fergit it off ’n my min’, I wanter tell you dat I’m de swiffes’ one in dis bunch.’ Mr. Elephant wink one er his little eyeballs, an’ fling his snout in de a’r an’ whispered--an’ you mought ’a’ hearn dat whisper a mile--‘I’m de strenkiest; I wanter call yo’ ’tention ter dat.’ Mr. Lion shuck his mane an’ showed his tushes. He say, ‘Don’t fergit dat I’m de King er all de creetur tribe.’ Mr. Tiger stretched hisse’f an’ gap’d. He say, ‘I’m de purtiest an’ de mos’ servigrous.’

                “Fum one ter de yuther de braggin’ went roun’. Ef ’twant dis it uz dat, an’ ef ’twant dat, ’twuz de yuther. Dey went on so twel bimeby little Mr. Cricket chirped up an’ say he kin make all un um run dey heads off, fum ol’ Mr. Elephant down ter de las’ one. Dey all laugh like it’s a good joke, an’ Brer Fox he ’low dat he had de idee dat dey wuz all doin’ some monstus tall braggin’, but Mr. Cricket wuz away ahead er de whole gang, an’ den he say, ‘How you gwineter begin fer ter commence fer ter do all deze great deeds an’ didoes?’ Mr. Cricket say, ‘Des gi’ me time; gi’ me time, an’ yo’ll all hear fum me--yo’ll hear, but you won’t stop fer ter lis’n’, an’ den he work his jaws fer all de worl’ like Brer Rabbit does when he’s chawin’ terbacker.

                “Now, ol’ Brer Rabbit know’d dat Mr. Cricket wuz up ter some sharp trick er n’er, an’ so he wait twel he kin have a confab wid ’im. He ain’t had long ter wait, kaze Mr. Crickley Cricket make up his min’ dat Brer Rabbit wuz de one what kin he’p him out. Dey bofe wanter see one an’er, an’ when dat’s de case, dey ain’t much trouble ’bout it. Dey soon got off by deyse’f, an’ Brer Rabbit ’low dat Mr. Cricket got a mighty big job on his han’s, an’ Mr. Cricket, he say it’s sech a big job dat he can’t git thoo wid it less’n Brer Rabbit will he’p ’im out. Mr. Cricket say ’tain’t much he gwine ter ax er Brer Rabbit, but little ez ’tis, he bleeze ter ax it. Brer Rabbit look at ’im right hard an’ twis’ his mustache. ‘Out wid it, Mr. Cricket; out wid it, an’ I’ll see ef I kin he’p you out. But I want you ter take notice dat all de yuthers is got a crow fer ter pick wid me, on account er de way I been doin’.’

                Mr. Cricket chirp up, ‘So I hear, Brer Rabbit--so I hear,’ an’ den he went on fer ter tell Brer Rabbit what he want ’im ter do. Brer Rabbit laugh, he did, an’ say, ‘Ef dat’s all you want, Mr. Cricket, you kin count me in, kaze I laid off fer ter he’p you lot’s mo’ dan dat--lots mo’.’ Mr. Cricket say dat’ll be de greates’ plenty, an’ wid dat dey went off home fer ter kinder res’ deyse’f, but not ’fo’ dey fix on a day when dey’ll have time fer ter work der trick on de yuther creeturs.

                “Dey ’greed on de day, an’ dat day dey met, an’ atter colloguin’ tergedder, off dey put ter de place whar dey ’spected ter fin’ de yuther creeturs. De fust one dey meet wuz ol’ Mr. Elephant. Dey pass de time er day, dey did, an’ Brer Rabbit say he got bad news. Mr. Elephant flung up his snout like he ’stonish’d, an’ swung backerd an’ forerds like he ’bout ter cry. Brer Rabbit ’low dat de win’ blow’d a hick’y-nut down right ’pon top er Mr. Cricket an’ cripple ’im so he can’t go home, an’ he ax ef Mr. Elephant won’t tote ’im ez fur ez he kin. Mr. Elephant say tooby sho’ he will an’ be glad in de bargain, an’ so he kneel down, he did, an’ let Mr. Cricket crawl on his back.

                “But Mr. Cricket crawl furder dan de back; he crawl on Mr. Elephant neck, an’ den inter his y’ear. Dis whar he wanter git, an’ soon ez he got settle, he flutter his wings right fas’ an’ Mr. Elephant think de win’ is blowin’ thoo de trees. Mr. Cricket flutter his wings harder, an’ Mr. Elephant think dey’s a storm cornin’ up. He splunge thoo de bushes, he did, an’ ef Mr. Cricket hadn’t ’a’ been inside his year, he’d ’a’ been knocked off by de lim’s er de trees. Ez ’twuz, he sot back an’ laugh, an’ say ter hisse’f dat Mr. Elephant ain’t hear nothin’ ’tall ter what he will hear.

                “Wid dat, he chune up his whistle, an’ started fer ter blow on it. He blow’d kinder low ter begin wid, an’ den he ’gun ter git louder. An’ de louder he got de mo’ he skeer’d Mr. Elephant, an’ he went splungin’ thoo de woods same ez a harrycane. He went so fas’ dat he come mighty nigh runnin’ over King Lion whiles he wuz talkin’ ter ol’ Brer Tiger. He ain’t hear ’um say, ‘Mr. Elephant, whar you gwine?’ but he stop right whar dey wuz an’ ’gun ter turn roun’ an’ roun’. King Lion ax ’im what de matter, an’ Mr. Elephant say he b’lieve he gwine ravin’ ’stracted. He ’low, ‘I got a singin’ an’ a whistlin’ in one er my years, an’ I dunner which un it’s in. Don’t you-all hear it?’

                “Dey lis’n, dey did, an’ bless gracious, dey kin hear it. Ol’ King Lion look like he ’stonished. He say, ‘It soun’s fer all de worl’, Mr. Elephant, like you des ’bout ter bile over, an’ ef dat’s what yer gwine ter do, I wanter be out’n de way--clean out’n de way.’

                “Mr. Elephant turn roun’ an’ roun’, he did, an’ ef he’d ’a’ been light-headed like some folks I knows, he’d ’a’ drapt right dar. Mr. Cricket watch his chance, an’ when Mr. Elephant got nigh ter King Lion, he tuck a flyin’ jump an’ lit right in King Lion’s mane, an’ ’twant long ’fo’ he made his way ter de year. But while he wuz makin’ his way dar Mr. Elephant stopped whirlin’ roun’; he stop an’ lis’n, he did, an’ he ain’t hear nothin’; he lis’n some mo’ an’ still he ain’t hear nothin’. He say, ‘I b’lieve in my soul dat I’m kyo’d! I’m mighty glad I met you-all, kaze I know one un you is a doctor, an’ ever which un it is, he sho’ has done de work.’

                “By dis time, Mr. Cricket had got in King Lion year, an’ ’twant long ’fo’ he start up his whistlin’. He whistle low fer ter start wid, an’ King Lion hol’ his head sideways an’ lis’n. He say, ‘I still hears it, Mr. Elephant, an’ ef youer kyo’d I done cotch de thing you had.’ Mr. Cricket went a little louder, an’ King Lion ’gun ter back off like he had business ter ten’ ter. Mr. Tiger say, ‘Whar you gwine? I hope you ain’t skeer’d er Brer Elephant, kaze he ain’t gwineter hurt you. Ef you gwine any whar, you better turn ’roun’ an’ go right.’

                “But King Lion ain’t pay no ’tention ter Mr. Tiger; he des back off, he did, an’ wave his tail an’ shake his mane. Mr. Cricket ’gun ter whistle louder an’ flutter his wings, an’ make um zoon like a locus’. King Lion say, ‘I hear de win’ a-blowin’ an’ I better git home ter my wife an’ chillun,’ an’ off he put, runnin’ like he wuz gwine atter de doctor. Mr. Tiger laugh, an’ say dat some folks is so funny he dunner what ter make un um. Dey stayed dar confabbin’, an’ bimeby dey hear a fuss, an’ here come King Lion gwine ez hard ez he kin. Tryin’ fer ter git away fum de fuss in his year, he had run all roun’ twel he come back ag’in ter whar he start fum. He had his tongue out, an’ his tail wuz droopin’; he wuz mighty nigh wo’ out.

                “He say, ‘Heyo! what you-all doin’ here? I had de idee dat I lef’ you back yander whar I come fum.’ Mr. Elephant ’low, ‘We ain’t skacely move out ’n our tracks. You run away an’ lef’ us, an’ here you is back; what de name er goodness is de matter wid you?’ King Lion say, ‘I done got a whistlin’ in my head, an’ look like I can’t ’scape fum it. It’s in dar yit, an’ I dunner what I’m gwine ter do ’bout it.’ Mr. Elephant say, ‘Do like I done--stan’ it de bes’ you kin.’ Brer Tiger ’low, ‘I hear it, an’ it soun’ zactly like you wuz ’bout ter bile over, an’ when you does I wanter be out’n de way.’

                “By dat time little Mr. Cricket had done made a flyin’ jump an’ lit on Mr. Tiger, an’ ’twant long ’fo’ he wuz snug in Mr. Tiger year. Mr. Tiger lis’n, he did, an’ den he ’gun ter back off an’ wave his tail. Mr. Elephant swing his snout, an’ say, ‘What de matter, Mr. Tiger? I hope you ain’t thinkin’ ’bout leavin’ us.’ But Mr. Tiger wuz done gone. He des flit away. Long ’bout dat time, Mr. Rabbit come lopin’ up, laughin’ fit ter kill. He ’low, ‘Brer Cricket say he gwine ter make you-all run an’ dat’s des what he done. Bofe un you been runnin’ kaze I see you pantin’, an’ ef you’ll des wait here, Mr. Cricket will fetch Mr. Tiger back safe an’ soun’,’ an’ dey ain’t had ter wait long, nudder, kaze bimeby, here come Mr. Tiger, tongue out an’ tail a-droopin’. He say, ‘Hello! how come you-all ter outrun me? I got de idee dat you wuz back yander in de woods whar I come fum,’ an’ den dey got ter laughin’ at ’im, an’ dey laugh twel dey can’t laugh no mo’. Mr. Cricket jump outer Mr. Tiger’s year, an’ git in de grass, an’ bimeby he show hisse’f.

                “He come close up wid a ‘Howdy do, gents?’ an’ dey pass de time day wid ’im. Bimeby Mr. Elephant ’low, ‘Mr. Cricket, ain’t you say de yuther day dat you wuz gwineter make we-all run?’ an’ Mr. Cricket, he make answer, ‘Why, I wouldn’t talk ’bout runnin’ ef I’d been runnin’ same ez what you been doin’.’ Mr. Elephant swing his snout kinder slow an’ say, ‘How you know I been runnin’?’ Mr. Cricket ’low, ‘I know bekaze ef I hadn’t er helt on monstus tight, I’d ’a’ fell off; mo’ dan dat, ef I hadn’t er stopped singin’ an’ whistlin’ you’d ’a’ been runnin’ yit.’ Mr. Elephant shot his two little eyes, an’ say, ‘Well, suh!’”

                “What did the others do?” the little boy inquired, when he was sure that the story was ended.

                “Dey mos’ly got ’way fum dem parts, kaze dey wuz skeer’d Mr. Cricket would git on um ag’in. King Lion say he got ter look atter some fresh meat what he got, Mr. Elephant say he bleeze ter go an’ cut some grass, an’ Mr. Tiger ’low dat he got ter hunt up some vittles fer his fambly. An’ ez fer Mr. Cricket, he clomb on Brer Rabbit’s back, an’ dey mosied off somers, I dunner whar. All I know is dat dey giggle ez dey went.”

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Little Mister Cricket and the Other Creatures
Tale Author/Editor: Harris, Joel Chandler
Book Title: Told by Uncle Remus: New Stories of the Old Plantation
Book Author/Editor: Harris, Joel Chandler
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Publication City: New York
Year of Publication: 1903
Country of Origin: United States
Classification: ATU 228: A Little Bird Tries to be Bigger

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