Chip was a very proud cricket, for he had much to be proud of. He could jump higher than any of the other crickets that he knew. He was also much shinier than any of the other crickets. He also had the nicest chirp. However, his chirp, even though it was very nice, wasn’t very loud. This made Chip sad, for he wanted everyone to be able to hear how nice his chirp was. So he decided to fix his chirp, even though he didn’t really know how to go about doing so.
Chip’s first move was to find a nice quiet spot where he could work on his chirp, because he wanted to surprise everyone when he showed up with a nice loud chirp. After all, he was sure that he could fix his little problem, and without any help. Next he tried rubbing his legs together really hard, since that was what made his chirping sound in the first place. No luck. All he got was a deeper chirp, and it was even quieter than before. So next he tried to rub his legs together softly, but even though the sound was very sweet to listen to, it wasn’t very loud at all. Chip was confused as to why neither of these things worked so he sat down to think for a few minutes.
The first thing Chip thought of was the loudest cricket that he knew. That would be Janet. She was so loud that you could hear her all across the valley that was their home. He tried to figure out why her chirp was so loud, and yet his own was so soft. They were both the same age. They had both practiced the same amount growing up. They had even discussed the matter at one point, but neither knew why she was loud and he was not. Then the difference came to Chip. The hairs that were on her legs were arranged differently than the hairs on his. He had always thought that this was just her way to wear her hair, but it just may be the difference that he was looking for.
So Chip set about rearranging the hairs on his legs, but he couldn’t remember quite how hers were, so he just tried to do the best that he could. After ten minutes of shifting the hairs, he had them in what he thought were roughly the right order. Now was the moment of truth. He rubbed his legs together and heard….. Nothing. Upon receiving silence for his efforts, Chip began to panic. No matter how hard or how soft he rubbed his legs, no sound could be heard. After twenty minutes of frantic rubbing, panic began to set in, and Chip started to imagine what life would be like without a chirp. He could imagine his friends making fun of him. He could almost hear them saying that a cricket without a chirp might as well be a grasshopper. Or an ant. Or anything but a cricket, because who ever heard of a cricket without a chirp?
This made Chip very sad, because he didn’t want to be thought of as a grasshopper. Nor did he want to be thought of as an ant. He knew that before he went back around his friends, he would have to fix his chirp. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath to calm himself before beginning his work. He knew that his next step would have to be undoing all the work that he had already done to the hairs on his legs. So he set about straightening all the hairs on his legs so he could start fresh. After another ten minutes of work, the task was done, and Chip knew that he could now go about fixing his chirp. He tried to remember how the hairs had looked before, but he couldn’t quite come up with it. He knew that certain areas of hairs were pushed together, and others were spread apart, but he just couldn’t remember which were which.
So Chip did the only thing he could. He guessed. He started moving pieces of hairs together, and other pieces apart. When he felt that he had them in close order to what they had been he rubbed his legs together. All of a sudden Chip heard the caw of a crow, and it sounded close! Chip was very afraid of crows because they had a certain taste for crickets, broken chirp or no. But no matter where Chip looked, he just couldn’t see where the crow was. He was sure that he had heard the crow, and it sounded very close, but it just wasn’t there. After a few minutes of looking around, Chip decided that it was safe to get back to fixing his chirp. When he rubbed his legs together this time, he did so much softer, in case the crow was hiding somewhere close-by. What he heard was the crow’s caw, but much softer. It was then that he realized that there was no crow, just the hairs on his legs. He was slightly embarrassed that he had been afraid of his own chirp, but it had sounded just like a crow. Even though Chip could think of many pranks that he could pull with a crow chirp, he decided to keep working until he got his own chirp back.
Next, he tried moving a few hairs away from certain clumps and other hairs towards other clumps in order to see what effect this would have on his chirp. The next time he rubbed his legs together he was rewarded by the mooing of a cow. This struck Chip as quite funny and he amused himself with this sound for almost half an hour before he got back to the job at hand. However, no matter how many different patterns he tried, he just couldn’t quite get it right. Actually, the sounds were getting stranger.
All through the evening, Chip ended up with many different sounds, including a cat’s meow, a dog’s bark, a rooster’s crow, and even a goose’s honk. But the strangest one he heard was when he got frustrated and just messed up all of his hairs and then rubbed his legs together in frustration. What he heard was, “Reporting the local news tonight, we have…”. This left Chip feeling rather confused and a little scared, so he got back to the task at hand with few results. So finally Chip decided that the only thing he could do is go see the local doctor and see if there was anything that could be done.
First though, Chip had worked up quite a sweat, so he needed a bath before he could visit anyone. After all, his mother had always told him that it was bad manners to go visiting when you were dirty. Chip agreed, so he went home and climbed in the bath. While he was in the bath, he kept running over what he was going to tell the doctor about his chirp, but nothing that he could think of would sound good. Every story left him feeling ashamed and he imagined the doctor laughing him right out of the office, but Chip knew that he must still go, because there was still a chance of getting his chirp back. This decided, he got out of the bath and began to dry off.
As Chip was drying off, he instinctively rubbed his legs together in order to get the stray water droplets out of his hair when he heard something familiar. His chirp had returned! As soon as Chip realized this, he remembered something else that his mother had said. Long ago, when he was just beginning to learn how to chirp, she had told him that since he was a cricket, his chirp would never be far off. That no matter what he did to it, his chirp would always come back to him. He now knew what she meant, even though he hadn’t at the time.
The water had fixed the hairs on his legs. After so long, the hairs knew where they belonged, even if Chip didn’t. The bath had allowed the hairs to reform in the pattern that they knew best, and thus Chip was back with his chirp. Chip thought about keeping the story to himself, but finally decided that he should tell others so that no one else went through the same situation that he had just found himself in. He could even tell others that they could make other sounds with their chirps, as long as they were willing to work at rearranging their hairs.
Chip became a very popular cricket with his story, and others did begin making other noises with their chirps. So whenever you hear an animal in the dark, but can’t seem to find it, remember that it may just be Chip and his friends playing with their chirps.
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