Friday, April 22, 2016

The Jumping Competition...............

The flea, the grasshopper, and the jumping jack decided to hold a competition to see which of them could jump the highest.  They invited the whole world, and anyone else who wanted to come, to look at it.  Each of them felt sure that he would become the champion.
      "I will give my daughter to the one who jumps the highest," declared the king.  "Honor is too paltry a reward."
       The flea was the first to introduce himself.  He had excellent manners; but then he had the blood of young maidens in him and he was accustomed to human society, and that had left its mark on him.
      Then came the grasshopper.  He was stout but not without grace and dressed in a green uniform, which he had acquired at birth.  He said he was of ancient family and that his ancestors came from Egypt.  He claimed that he was so highly esteemed in this country that he had been brought directly from the fields and given a card house.  It was three stories high and all made of picture cards.  It had both doors and windows.
      "I sing so well," he boasted, "that sixteen native crickets, who have been cheeping since birth - but never have been honored with a card house - grew so thin from envy, when they heard me sing, that they almost disappeared."
       Both the flea and the grasshopper gave a full account of their merits.  Each of them thought it only fitting that he should marry a princess.
      Now came the jumping jack.  He was made from the wishbone of a goose, two rubber bands, some sealing wax, and a little stick that was mahogany.   He didn't say a word, which made the whole court certain that he was a genius.  The royal dog sniffed at him and said that he came of a good family.  The old councilor, who had received three decorations as a reward for keeping his mouth shut, declared that the jumping jack was endowed with the gift of prophecy.  One could tell from looking at its back whether we would have a mild winter or not, and that was more than one could tell from the back of the fellow who wrote the almanac.
       The old king merely said, "I don't talk much, but I have my own opinion about everything."
     The competition began.  the flea jumped so high that one could not see him; and then everyone said he hadn't jumped at all, which was most unfair!  The grasshopper only jumped half as high as the flea but landed right in the face of the king and that did not please His Majesty, who said it was repulsive.
      Now it was the jumping jack's turn; he sat so still and appeared so pensive that everyone decided that he wouldn't jump at all.
      "I hope he hasn't got sick," said the royal hound, and sniffed at him; but just at that moment he jumped.  It was a little, slanted jump, but high enough so that he landed in the lap of the princesses, who was sitting on a golden stool.
      "The highest jump is into my daughter's lap," declared the king.  "The jumping jack has shown both intelligence and taste;  she shall  marry him."  And the jumping jack got the princess.
      "I jumped the highest," said the flea.  "But it is of no importance;  she can keep him:  wishbone, rubber bands, sealing wax, mahogany stick, and all!  I don't care!  I know I jumped the highest, but in this world it's only appearance that counts."
      The flea enlisted in a foreign army and it was rumored that he was killed in battle.
   The grasshopper sat down in the ditch and thought about the injustice of the world.  "It's appearance that counts!  It's appearance that counts!" he said.  And then he sang his own sad song.  It's from him that we have the story, which, even though it has been printed, may still be a lie.

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