II. A Fine Plan

Chirpy Cricket was one of Freddie Firefly's neighbors. He was a good neighbor for anybody to have, too, because he was one of the most cheerful of all the field and forest-folk that lived in Pleasant Valley. Freddie Firefly liked him. And he often remarked that he would rather hear Chirpy Cricket sing than sing himself.

Since he was so fond of hearing Chirpy's songs, it was lucky for Freddie that his sprightly neighbor usually chose to sing at night, when Freddie could better enjoy his shrill ditty. And Freddie frequently went out of his way on a fine, dark, summer's night to find Chirpy Cricket and thank him for his kindness.

At such times Chirpy Cricket always smiled mysteriously, saying "I'm glad my voice pleases you." But it must be confessed that he was not singing for Freddie Firefly's benefit at all. He was singing for his own entertainment--and maybe to please some lady of his acquaintance as well. And he chose night time for his chirping because he didn't dare sing during the day. He knew that after sunset almost all the birds were asleep--except for Solomon Owl and Willie Whip-poor-will and a few other feathered folk who preferred the dark to the daylight. They were not so numerous that they worried Chirpy very much. But between dawn and sunset there were altogether too many birds awake to please him. Then Chirpy Cricket kept quite silent. He didn't wish to draw attention to himself by singing, because he didn't care to be gobbled up by any bird, no matter how handsome or hungry the bird might be.

Perhaps it is a wonder that Chirpy could be so cheerful as he was, living under such difficulties as he did. But on the other hand, maybe he felt so carefree at night that he couldn't help being jolly.

Anyhow, he was always ready for a good time. And if there was no good time at hand, usually Chirpy Cricket could think of some sort of frolic.

And so, at last, he hit upon the idea of a torchlight procession. Somebody had told him that Farmer Green's family had seen such a parade in the village one evening. And Chirpy Cricket saw no reason why he and his friends should not enjoy one too, right there in the shadow of Blue Mountain.

"What they can do in the village, we can do here!" he exclaimed. And though it was still broad daylight--being not later than the middle of the afternoon--Chirpy set out at once to find Freddie Firefly, because he simply had to get Freddie to help him.

He found Freddie in the swampy part of the meadow, near the place where the cat-tails grew. And though Freddie was a bit sleepy, he became wide awake the moment he heard Chirpy Cricket's voice.

"I've thought of a fine plan!" Chirpy Cricket cried. "I'm going to have a torchlight procession and I want you and all your family to take part in it."