Patches was grumpy! Patches was feeling sorry for himself. His tail dragged on the ground. His ears drooped down over his eyes. He was one sad sack of a donkey!
“Mrs. Jones is mad at me because I ate her flowers! Mama Duck said I scared her babies! The lambs jump higher than I can. The horses that pull the wagons and plows told me to stay out of their pasture or they’d step on me! A turtle bit my tail…”
Patches sat down beside the path and looked around. Everyone was busy. No one had time to play with a little donkey. Especially one that always got in trouble!
Suddenly he heard a wee little voice, “Help! Help!” Patches jumped up. He looked around but saw no one. Then he heard it again. “Help! I’m stuck!”
Patches looked down at the path. Right where he had been sitting he saw a cricket. It was tangled up in a clover plant. Patches put his nose down to the plant. “Was that you calling for help?” he asked.
“Well, who did you think it was? You come along and plop your big bottom on my clover plant and don’t even know I’m here!”
“I’m sorry, sir, but you ARE very small,” said Patches in a friendly manner. “Can I help you get unstuck?”
“OK, but you’d better be careful and not bite me in two with those big teeth!” The cricket was rather rude.
When Patches had carefully pulled aside the clover stems and blossoms the cricket hopped out. Patches couldn’t help nibbling on a clover blossom. After all, they were quite sweet. He looked around carefully and sat down again in a spot that looked safe. “Want to talk a while, Mr. Cricket?” he asked. “I’m feeling kind of lonesome today.”
“Aren’t you that kid I see playing with rabbits and pups and chickens? How can you be lonesome?” Mr. Cricket jumped onto a tall stem of wheat where he could be heard better. “Now can you hear me!?” he yelled.
“Yes, thank you,” said Patches. “Now your voice is as big as mine.”
“What did I hear you griping about a while ago?”
“I wasn’t griping!” protested Patches, “I was telling the truth! I’m too little to be of any use and I’m always getting into trouble.”
“Pity, pity, pity!” whined the cricket. “You ought to try living my life! You think YOU are little! How about being so little everybody steps on you! Or SITS on you! And I only get to live while it’s summer time. Then the winter comes along and it’s too cold for bugs! How about that!”
Patches wasn’t feeling quite so sorry for himself now. “Well, you could come live in my barn during the winter. It’s nice and warm there and there’s plenty of straw to keep you warm.”
The cricket sniffed. “Humph, thanks for the offer. But what would I eat? Probably no clover or wheat in there.”
Patches laughed, “Haven’t you ever been in a barn? Why, there are oats, and hay and even molasses bran! I love molasses bran! Course you have to be careful no one catches you eating it between meals!” Patches still remembered the swat he got from Mr. Jones that day!
Mr. Cricket and Patches talked for a long while that sunny afternoon, and by the end of it they were both feeling better about the day. Patches asked Mr. Cricket to tag along with him for the rest of the day and remind him how nice the sunshine felt and what a cozy home he had. And Mr. Cricket found out how nice it was to have a friend. Especially one with a warm barn full of goodies! Yes, it had been a changeful day for two rather small fellows!
c.2010 Donna Swanson, from Granny Tales