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Stock Market Cricket

"What's that?" Karen thought. Something was moving over in the corner. She laid down her book and walked toward it. She crouched down for a closer look. It was a cricket.

Karen reached out a hand to catch it. But it jumped away. Karen thought a moment, then raced out of the room. Soon she was back, carrying a jar with a lid. The cricket was in the middle of the floor, ready to leap again. Karen swooped down and clapped the jar over him.

For the next few days Karen carried her new pet cricket around with her wherever she went. She fed it with scraps of leftovers and even took it to school.

"Hmmm, that's a strange cricket," said Mr. Bradley, her science teacher. "He's a full-grown male, and he looks healthy. But he isn't chirping."

"That's right," said Karen. "He hasn't made a sound the whole time I've had him."

That evening Karen was doing her homework on the dining room table. As usual her cricket was right there, in his jar. She closed her book for a moment and took off the cap of the jar to play with him. He leaped out of the jar and hopped along the table. He hopped onto an open newspaper that Karen's father had left spread out there. Karen's father was a stock broker and had been checking some of the stocks after dinner.

Suddenly the cricket started to chirp. Karen was surprised. This was the first time her cricket had ever made a sound. She leaned over to look at him. He was nodding his head up and down, and his feelers kept touching one of the names.

Karen giggled. "I guess you want to buy some shares of Standard Paper?" She picked Cricket up and put him back into his jar. Now he was silent again.

The next evening at dinner, her father was telling her mother about the day's stock trading. "When Standard Paper came out with that announcement of an oil discovery, you should have seen their stock go up and up and up," he said.

"Standard Paper?" Karen exclaimed. "That's the stock Cricket picked yesterday."

Her father laughed.

"He did, Dad! I'll show you." Karen ran to her room to get her pet. She spread out the paper on the floor and opened it to the stock page.

Then she took the lid off Cricket's jar. Sure enough, he hopped right out and began to chirp. But this time he was not pointing to Standard Paper.

"Look, Dad, he wants to buy Research Unlimited this time!" Karen's father laughed again. But the next evening he burst through the door. "Hey, Karen! What's going on? Research Unlimited just came out with a new product, and their stock went up ten points today! Let's see what your cricket says this time."

When Cricket was out of his jar, he went right to Continental Foods. And sure enough, Continental Foods was the star of the market the next day. That was a Friday. Over the weekend Karen's father made plans.

The next week Karen's father and his clients made a lot of money from Cricket's stock tips. The newspapers soon found out about it. Front page stories about Cricket and Karen appeared all over the country. Letters and gifts began to come in from all over the world. There was even a special bamboo cricket cage from China.

Cricket continued to pick winners in the stock market. Then one evening Karen and Cricket were on a TV Special.

"Can Cricket pick tomorrow's best stock for our audience now?" the M.C. asked Karen.

Karen nodded and opened the door of Cricket's cage. Millions of people across the country watched while Cricket hopped across the spread-out newspaper. Satellite relays carried the program throughout the world. Finally Cricket stopped and began to chirp.

"It's National Sugar!" the M.C. shouted. But as millions of viewers were hurriedly scribbling down the name, he called out, "Wait!" For Cricket had begun to hop across the newspaper again.

"It's United Transportation!" The chirping cricket began to move again. "No! It's Solar Chemical!" But Cricket was moving again. Faster and faster he hopped, back and forth across the page, chirping all the while.

Suddenly another cricket jumped up onto the table and appeared beside him. For a moment they stood close together. Then, before anyone could move, the two crickets leaped off the table, hopped across the floor, and disappeared into a crack in the woodwork.

Later that night, on the moonlit grass outside the TV station, Cricket sang a love song to his new mate.




©1973, 2013 The Silversteins