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ONCE UPON A TIME:         
There was a small girl whose name was Jasmine. 
She lived deep in a forest with her mother and father.  Jasmine did not have any brothers or sisters, but she didn't get lonely.  She knew the animals.  They were her friends.  
Sometimes she would run races with the baby deer or rabbits.  It was fun!
She would gather nuts with the squirrels and chipmunks.  The parent birds were teaching their babies to  fly.  Sometimes they would jump from their nests and land in her hair!  They would laugh and scratch their noses 'cause her hair tickled them.
 One day,  they were picking up nuts and acorns.  The leaves lying on the ground  were very thick.   They had to push them out of the way so they could see the nuts.
The squirrels and chipmunks were taking their nuts into their houses.  Jasmine was putting hers into the basket.  Everyone was rushing around trying to find more than the others.
Suddenly, Jasmine heard a cricket chirping.  She looked around for it but couldn't see it.   She wondered who it was, 'cause there weren't many crickets around here.  She didn't recognize the chirp either. 
Well, she couldn't find the cricket so they went back to searching for more nuts.  The chirping grew louder.  Jasmine looked for it again.
"Where are you?  I can't see you."
Jasmine heard a voice saying; " Here I am!  Here!"  Jasmine followed the sound of the voice.
"Say something, I can't see you." she said as she looked through the thick leaves and grass, moving them as gently as she could.
"I am HERE, little girl.  Here on the log."
There, sitting on the hollow log, was the cricket.  It was hopping around and chirping loudly.
"Why are you hopping around so much?  What is the matter?", asked Jasmine.
"Oh, I am so glad to see you! , I have been out in this forest for a hundred years.  I almost gave up hope of ever finding you," said the Cricket.
"A HUNDRED YEARS!" , Exclaimed Jasmine.  "Why were you looking for me?  Do you know me?  I haven't seen you before."
The forest animals that were close by crawled, hopped and leaped  over to see who Jasmine was talking to.
Susie Squirrel said, "Who is this?  We haven't seen him before."
"I don't know," Jasmine replied.  "He said he has been looking for me a HUNDRED YEARS!"
"Yes, a hundred years, more or less.  I don't carry a calendar with me," said the cricket.
"Why?" , asked everybody.
"Well, for one thing, I don't have a pocket.  I can't carry a calendar with my foot."
"No, we didn't mean why don't you carry a calendar with you.  We meant, why have you been looking for Jasmine?"
"I was looking for a child that could understand my speech. One  which can speak to animals and insects, like me.  
 It is a long story.  You better sit down."
Well, everyone found a place to sit.  It's not often they are offered a story you know. 
So, the cricket began his story.
"A hundred years ago, more or less, I was a young man.  A Prince no less.  I had a good life.  A Castle that my father owned.  Horses.  Everything I wanted, I had.  I was going to marry my true love, the Princess who lived next door.
One day, the Wicked Witch, who lives up on Mount Aberration, came sneaking up to the stream where I was watering my faithful steed after a run.  Her name is Nettle Murk.
The witch's' name that is, not my horse.
She said to me, " I want to offer you a deal."
"Well, what could she offer me?  I already had everything.  I told her to go home.  I didn't make deals with witches."
She said, "You better agree to what I  say, or you'll regret it every day!"
So I listened.  What could I do?  She was standing right there, in my face.  It's impossible to ignore a witch.
She said, "I have two daughters.  They are the ugliest girls in the Kingdom.  Their names are Twitch and Twinge.  I want you to marry one of them."  She would even let me choose which one.
"You will have everything you ever wanted.  I will give you power over the whole Kingdom.  None will tell you nay to whatever you ask."
I said,  "no thank you.  I am going to marry my own true love.  The Princess who lives next door."
She warned me.  "If you refuse my generous offer, you will be turned into a Cricket.  You will wander in the forest until you are found by a child who can talk to animals and crickets."
Only that child would be able to turn me into a Prince again.
 She wasn't worried though, she said.  "You will never find a child who can talk to you, so you will be a cricket forever.  It is a very SPECIAL and RARE kind of child who truly speaks to the animals.   Start hopping,   You will get used to it."
I told her I would rather be cricket forever than to marry anyone but my true love, the Princess who lives next door.
But, I will tell you confidentially, the last thirty or forty  years, I began to be a little bit worried."
I thought I had found the child several times.  I would hear them talking to rabbits or dogs.  They weren't really  talking to the animals, though.  They were just pretending.  I watched and listened, and the children didn't understand the animals. 
  I have been watching you for a long time.  I wanted to be sure you were really talking to the animals.  That you really understood when they spoke to you.
I  realized  you could understand and talk with them as I watched you  play.
I knew you were the one.  I became excited and afraid you wouldn't see me.  I had to jump up here on this log when you started  pushing the leaves around so fast.  You almost slung me into the next Kingdom!"
"When you finally heard me, and started looking for me, I was so happy!" 
Well, Jasmine didn't know what she could do.  She wanted to help him, but how could she turn him into a prince again?  He would have to tell her what to do.
"What's your name?" , she asked the cricket.
"My name is Prince Resolve," he said proudly.  He hadn't been able to tell anyone that in a long time.  It felt good.
"What can I do to help you?" , she asked.  "You know I'm just a little girl.  I don't know how to do much magic."
"Sure you do," said the Prince.  "You have much magic inside you.  You can talk to the animals.  You can see the Sprites, which are the fairies and elves you know."

"All you have to do is believe me, and say a few magic words.  I will become a Prince again!  Oh!  I can hardly wait!"
"I don't know any magic words.  Can you tell me what to say?" , said Jasmine, worriedly.
"No," said Prince Resolve, "I can't tell you what to say.  When you are ready, you will know.  The right words will come to you.  I am not worried anymore."
Well, I'm worried, thought Jasmine.  He better not get his hopes up.  He may be a cricket for another hundred years.
So, Jasmine thought about it for a while.  She walked around and thought about what she could do.  She asked the others if they knew what she could do.  Then a thought came to her. 
Words.  As she opened her mouth to speak, out they came:
                         WITH FAITH, HOPE AND INNOCENCE
               YOU WILL AGAIN BECOME A PRINCE!!              
And he did!!!   Right Now!
The forest animals jumped back a few steps when the man popped up.  Jasmine did too.  Oh!  He was so much taller! 
They were startled!
Jasmine looked up at him.  He was real!  Oh, that was fun!  I wonder if there are any more in the forest, she thought.  I would like to do that again!
The Prince was so glad to be a person again, and able to go home. He asked Jasmine what she wanted as a reward.
"Anything in the world.  You just tell me, and you'll have it."
"I don't want anything," she said.  "It was fun.  I wish I could do it again."
The Prince pulled off his ring from his finger and gave it to her.  He was surprised he still had it!
He thought he had lost it long ago.
Jasmine put the ring on her thumb because her finger was too small.
The Prince said goodbye to her and to the forest people, then began the walk home.
Whew!  It was a long walk.  He would have to get used to having only two legs. 
Well, Jasmine and her friends went back to work gathering nuts and acorns.  They talked about crickets and princes.
Jasmine tried to change some frogs into princes, but couldn't.  They kept hopping away.  She looked for another cricket too.
She was disappointed when she couldn't find one. 
Actually, the frogs were warning the crickets to stay away from Jasmine for a while. 
"She is trying to change us into someone else!  If you don't want to end up being people, you better hide for a while!"
After a while it was time to go home.
When she got home, she showed her ring to her  mother and father.  They admired it and enjoyed the story of the cricket and the prince. 
"That girl can surely make up some good stories can't she?" and they laughed softly.
"Someone will be looking for that ring, Jasmine.  Put it in the drawer for safe keeping."
They had work to do and Jasmine had to help.  They had a garden to prepare.
So, for two weeks, Jasmine worked in the garden.  She didn't have time to go to the forest to visit her friends.
One day, she looked up and saw Dee and  Donnie Deer coming down her lane.  Behind them was a very fine carriage, pulled by four strong horses.  Her parents looked up and saw them too.
"Who in the world could that be?", said her father."They must be lost."
"Well, the deer are my  friends from the forest," said Jasmine.
The carriage pulled up in the yard, and guess who got out of it.  Prince Resolve!
Jasmine stood there in the lane looking up at him with her mouth wide open.  Her eyes were round as saucers.  Just look at him!
He was dressed in Princely clothes.  A fine hat on his head.  With Plumes!  He had a scarlet cape trimmed with gold around his shoulders!  Gold chains around his neck.  Rings on his fingers with all kinds of jewels, shining and sparkling!  He glittered all over.  The sun reflecting off him hurt her eyes.
He was so happy to see Jasmine!  He smiled very broadly.
He hugged her and swung her off her feet.
"Hello again!", he said  to Jasmine.  Her parents looked at her disbelievingly.
"HI!", she laughed.  I'm glad to see you too. Mama, Daddy, this is Prince  Resolve.   I told you about him.  'Member?  He was the cricket.  He gave me the beautiful ring. " 
Well, her Mama and Daddy looked at the Prince carefully.  Two legs, Two arms, a cricket?  They thought Jasmine was probably pretending again.  But she did  have a ring!
"I went back to the forest to find you.  Your friends said you hadn't been back for a while.  Some of them came with me to show me the way to your house.  I wanted to bring you something special because of your help."
Upon saying that, he reached into the carriage and pulled out a leather bag.  It was full of Gold and Jewels!  He handed it to Jasmine.  She had to set it on the ground, it was so heavy!
"Thank you!", she said.  Was everything at your home all right when you got there?"
"Oh yes, they gave me a welcome home feast.  It was wonderful to be home again!
The best thing of all though,  I married my  own true love.  The Princess who lived next door!
He turned back to the carriage and reached in to help down a beautiful lady.  She wore jewels in her hair!  Her dress was a magnificent gown.  She was beautiful!      
She hugged Jasmine too, and curtsied to Mama and Daddy! , who were watching speechlessly, with rounded eyes.
She took a beautiful necklace out of her little jeweled bag and put it around Jasmine's neck!  It was pearls and rubies!
She gave one to Mama too!  It was diamonds!  Oh!
 Prince Resolve talked to Daddy for a while, then he and the Princess got into the carriage and left.
Jasmine waved good-bye as long as she could see the carriage.
Mama and Daddy looked at Jasmine, then at each other.  It was so hard to believe.  Jasmine had not been making up stories about the Prince.  Look at this fortune she had brought!   
But they would have to speak to her about keeping all those caterpillars.  Imagine!  Thinking she can change them into butterflies!
Jasmine and the Cricket Prince
Feb. 2, 1997