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p. 120

The Cricket and the Lion

EARLY one morning a young lion was out taking a walk through the fresh monte when suddenly he came upon a large plain and a big lagoon full of fresh, crystal water. After looking for a while, he went on his way. He stopped and grubbed in a little hill of dry trash, and out of it jumped a cricket. The lion wanted to crush him with his heavy hand, but the lively cricket jumped from one side to the other and sang thus: "chik chik chik."

The lion said to him, "Who are you?"

"I am the chief of a tribe more valiant than you or your tribe, answered the cricket. And he kept on singing "chik chik chik."

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The lion replied, "You want to make fun of me, but you are mistaken. I am the king of the forest, of all of the big and the brave animals. They are good soldiers, and strong."

"My soldiers are not very big in stature, but in valor, they are immense, braver than all the tigers, wolves, and lions!" said the cricket.

"I am displeased," said the lion. "Today I declare war on you."

"My troops are ready," said the cricket, "chik chik chik chik."

"Here, close to this lagoon, we will meet tomorrow," said the lion, shaking his head.

It was winter-time. The lion went into the forest and gathered together the animals of the claw, lions, tigers, wolves, coyotes, and many other felines.

The cricket went to some bee-hives. To the bees he said, "Go and advise all of your companions of the wing that we will fight the people of the claw." So the bees called up all the insects that fly and sting, and also the scorpions and ants. All met on the plain where the battle was to take place so that all the ground was covered with them. The insects hid among the stalks and among the branches. There, they awaited the day.

Early in the morning, the cricket and the lion met. The cricket was accompanied by four cockroaches and six Granddaddy-long-leg spiders. The lion was accompanied by four coyotes, seven wolves, and many other animals of the claw.

"Where are your soldiers?" asked the lion of the cricket.

"Don't ask me any questions. Let us battle!" said the cricket.

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"Come on, boys!" shouted the lion. And all of the animals entered upon the plain.

The ants and scorpions broke up out of the earth and commenced to bite the paws of the soldiers of the lion. Wherever one might look came the tiny animals with their tails pointed. The bees and hornets came in like a cloud, and they began to bite the mouths, tails, and eyes of the enemy. The cats found no way to defend themselves and howled with pain and leapt high in the air. And the insects attacked more violently, covering the entire bodies of the animals, climbing over them and biting them many times. The big animals cried from pain and fear. Desperately they ran and threw themselves into the water.

The insects retired to the branches, and the lion ordered the coyote to go out and scout to see if those little birds of the devil were still somewhere about.

The coyote walked out a little way and shouted, "Do you give in?" Then to the lion he said, "They are finished." He had no sooner said this than a troop of hornets descended on him. He ran and fell again into the lagoon.

The animals stayed in the water all day until night arrived. At last they came out, the lions, tigers, bears, and wolves, all the people of the claw. They stepped very softly and quickly, going to the forest with no desires ever again to battle with the insects.

Yaquis say that there is no small enemy. Everyone can defend himself. The cricket continues to sing, "chik chik chik." He is not afraid.

Next: Grasshopper and Cricket