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- The Tale of Freddie Firefly - 2/10 -
FREDDIE AGREES TO HELP
Never in all his life had Freddie Firefly heard of a torchlight procession--nor of any other sort of procession, either. So when Chirpy Cricket first mentioned his plan it was no wonder that Freddie looked somewhat blank.
But when Chirpy explained that a procession was a parade, which meant that you followed a leader--and a good many others--in a long line, Freddie Firefly began to understand.
"I need you and a few hundred of your nearest relations to furnish the lights," Chirpy Cricket continued. "And I wish you'd ask your whole family to take part in the procession, for we really can't have too many of you."
"When will the procession take place?" Freddie Firefly wanted to know.
"To-night, as soon as it's dark enough!" Chirpy told him.
"And where are we going to march?"
"Oh, all around the meadow!" said Chirpy Cricket. "The line will form along the stone wall by the roadside. ... Do you think you'll be there?" he inquired somewhat anxiously.
"You certainly can count on me," Freddie Firefly promised. "Of course, I can't very well accept your invitation for more than about fifty-five of my brothers--and maybe six dozen of my cousins. But I HOPE there'll be more of us than that."
"Well, I hope so, too," Chirpy Cricket said. "But even if there were no more than you can promise, we ought to have enough. Fifty-five and six dozen make one hundred and twenty-seven; and you make one hundred and twenty-eight."
"Yes," replied Freddie Firefly, though he thought it would have been more polite had Chirpy Cricket counted him first instead of last, since he was the first of his family to be invited. But he really couldn't be angry with anyone so cheerful as Chirpy Cricket.
"I'll have to leave you now," Chirpy announced, "for I must be on my way. I shall have to make a great many calls before sunset, because I want to invite all my friends to join the procession. ... I'll see you later," he said, as he turned away.
He had not gone far before he stopped and called to Freddie Firefly.
"Don't forget to bring your light with you to-night!" he cautioned him.
"I'll try not to!" Freddie shouted. But if the truth was known, he couldn't have forgotten his light, even if he had wanted to! It was just as much a part of him as his eyes or his six legs. But Chirpy Cricket didn't seem to know that. And Freddie Firefly didn't choose to enlighten him.
Then Chirpy Cricket hurried away. He went straight to the clover field, because he wanted to ask Buster Bumblebee to take part in the torchlight procession. And Chirpy knew that the clover field was the best place to look for him, on account of Buster's being so fond of clover juice.
Reaching the field where the red clover grew, Chirpy began to hunt for the biggest blossom of them all. And when he found it, there was Buster Bumblebee, sitting on top of it and enjoying a hearty meal.
He listened, between sucks at the sweet juice, to Chirpy Cricket's invitation. He seemed interested, too.
"What music are you going to have at your parade?" he inquired, for Buster was very fond of music.
Chirpy Cricket replied that he hadn't thought much about that, but he said he expected to sing.
Buster Bumblebee grunted when he heard that. To tell the truth, he didn't care much for Chirpy's voice, which he considered altogether too shrill.
"Are you going to take part in the procession?" Chirpy asked him.
"I'll let you know to-morrow," said Buster Bumblebee. "Ah, but that will be too late!" Chirpy cried. "We're going to have the procession to- night."
"To-night!" Buster exclaimed. "Then I can't come. For I shall be sound asleep right after sunset."
Buster Bumblemee's mind was made up. Although Chirpy Cricket told him it would be a shame for him to miss the torchlight procession, which was sure to be a great success, because Freddie Firefly had promised to be there with one hundred and twenty-seven of his relations, Buster still shook his head.
"I wouldn't think of such a thing as staying out after dark!" he declared with much firmness.
"But you ought to see the Firefly family when they're all lighted up!" Chirpy Cricket cried.
"Are they as bright as the sun?" Buster asked.
"N-no--but they're brighter than some of the stars," Chirpy replied.
"Well, I don't care if they are," said Buster. "I need my rest at night. And you'll have to get along without me, though of course, I'm much obliged for the invitation."
Seeing that further urging was useless, Chirpy Cricket left Buster and hurried away to find Jennie Junebug. And to his delight, she said at once that she would be much pleased to attend the torchlight procession. She did wish, however, that he had invited her earlier, because she would have liked a new gown for the occasion.
"Oh, come just as you are!" said Chirpy Cricket.
"What! With my apron on?" Jennie Junebug exclaimed.
Chirpy Cricket went off laughing. Buster Bumblebee had caused him some disappointment. But now he was feeling quite cheerful again.
As he went from place to place inviting his friends to come to the torchlight procession that night, he found that a good many felt as Buster Bumblebee did. They declined to break their life-long rule of going early to bed. But there were others, such as Mr. Moses Mosquito, Kiddie Katydid, and Mehitable Moth, who said at once that they were glad he asked them and that they wouldn't miss the fun for anything.
Meanwhile Freddie Firefly was just as busy as Chirpy Cricket. And he had somewhat better luck. For not only did fifty-five of his brothers and six dozen of his cousins promise to take part in the procession--and bring their lights, too--but at least three hundred others, including some of Freddie's second and third cousins, agreed gladly to join in the evening's sport.
So before dark Freddie sent a message to Chirpy Cricket by Greenie Grasshopper, telling him that he might count on a big turnout of the Firefly family.
That was good news. And Chirpy Cricket felt so happy that he began to sing earlier in the evening than was his custom.
While it was still dusk he went to the stone wall where the procession was to form. And of course he had to wait there a long time before the first of the Firefly family appeared.
Even for a person as cheerful as Chirpy Cricket, it was hard to wait. But he consoled himself by chirping his loudest.
"I suppose Freddie Firefly and all his relations are very busy getting their lights ready," he thought.
At last, when it was quite dark, Freddie Firefly lighted on a head of timothy grass close beside the stone wall and began to flash his light right in Chirpy Cricket's face.
"Here I am, just as I promised!" he called.
AT THE STONE WALL
"Where's the rest of your crowd?" Chirpy Cricket asked Freddie Firefly, when they met by the stone wall. "It's getting darker every minute. And the torchlight procession ought to start right away."
"They're coming," said Freddie. "If you look sharp you can see them now, crossing the meadow."
Chirpy Cricket tried to see through the blackness of the night. After gazing steadily for a few moments he was able to make out a patch of twinkling lights, which looked a good deal like stars, except that they were too low. Since they kept growing brighter, Chirpy Cricket knew that they must be moving towards him, and that many of the Firefly family had accepted his invitation.
Soon a great host of Freddie's relations surrounded Chirpy Cricket. They flashed their lights in his eyes, so that he was almost blinded by the glare. And it was only with much difficulty that he could see Moses Mosquito, Kiddie Katydid, and Mehitable Moth, who had also arrived by that time.
"What are we going to do?" everybody asked Chirpy Cricket at the same time. So there was nothing he could do but mount the wall and make a speech.
"Friends--" he said, in his loudest voice--"I'm glad to see so many of you present. Our torchlight procession is going to be an even greater
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