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Chapter 4

WHAT JOLLY DID BEST



Jolly Robin had something on his mind. For several days he had been turning a certain matter over in his head. But in spite of all his thinking, he seemed unable to find any answer to the question that was troubling him. So at last he decided he would have to ask somebody to help him.

And that was why Jolly stopped Jimmy Rabbit near the garden one day.

“I want your advice,” he told Jimmy Rabbit.

“Certainly!” that young gentleman replied. And he sat himself down upon his wheelbarrow and looked very earnest. “If it’s anything about gardening,” he said, “I should advise you to raise cabbages, by all means.”

But Jolly Robin said he wasn’t thinking of planting a garden.

“In fact,” he explained, “the trouble is, I don’t know what to do. I’d like to have some regular work, you know. And since you’ve had a good deal of experience, having run a tooth-pulling parlor, a barber-shop, and a shoe-store, I thought you might be able to tell me what would be a good business for me to take up.”

For a few minutes Jimmy Rabbit did not speak. But he nodded his head wisely.

“Let me see!” he said at last. “What’s the thing you do best?”

Jolly Robin replied at once that he thought he could fly better than he could do anything else. And he felt so happy, because he was sure Jimmy Rabbit was going to help him, that he began to laugh gaily. And he couldn’t help singing a snatch of a new song he had heard that morning. And then he laughed again.

“You’re mistaken,” Jimmy Rabbit said to him. “You fly well enough, I dare say. But there are others who can beat you at flying.... No!” he declared. “What you can do better than anybody I know is to laugh. And if I were you I should make laughing my regular business.”

That idea struck Jolly Robin as being so funny that he laughed harder than ever. And Jimmy Rabbit nodded his head again, as if to say, “I’m right and I know it!”

At last Jolly Robin stopped laughing long enough to ask Jimmy to explain how anyone could make a business of laughing. “I don’t see how it could be done,” said Jolly Robin.

“Why—it’s simple enough!” Jimmy told him. “All you need do is to find somebody who will hire you to laugh for him. There are people, you know, who find it very difficult to laugh. I should think they’d be glad to pay somebody to do their laughing for them.”

“Name someone!” Jolly Robin urged him.

And Jimmy Rabbit did.

“There’s old Mr. Crow!” he said. “You know how solemn he is. It’s positively painful to hear him try to laugh at a joke. I’m sure he would be delighted with this idea. And if I were you I’d see him before somebody else does.”

Jolly Robin looked puzzled.

“Who would ever think of such a thing but you?” he asked.

“Nobody!” Jimmy Rabbit replied. “But I like the scheme so well that I almost wish I hadn’t mentioned it. And unless you make your bargain with old Mr. Crow at once I may decide to go into the laughing business myself.... My advice to you,” he said, “is to hurry!”

So Jolly Robin thanked him. And then he flew away to find old Mr. Crow.

Of course, he went to the cornfield first.





Arthur Scott Bailey

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