Leaping Match

The one who leaps the highest will marry the princess!

Once upon a time there was a kingdom. Not very many people visited the kingdom, until they heard about a great Leaping Match. It all started on January 1st because of an argument. The flea, the grasshopper, and the mudskipper were arguing over who could jump the highest. The three of them decided to hold a jumping contest. They called it the Leaping Match.

Everyone for miles around was talking about the Leaping Match, and renting hotel rooms in the kingdom. Soon, the King heard about it. He decreed that the contest would be held that June in the royal courtyard. A contest is always better with a prize, so the King said, "The one who leaps the highest will win my daughter’s hand in marriage." The King loved his daughter, but she was a tired and lazy girl. Perhaps this would wake her up!

When the princess heard she had to marry the winner of the Leaping Match, she said, “Whatever.” The winner would get to march her down the aisle, but she would get to wear a fabulous dress and carry eleven gold roses from the Land of the Golden Roof. The flea boasted to everyone that he would win. The grasshopper boasted that he would win. The mudskipper said nothing. The King said, "That means the mud-skipper is a deep thinker."

The courtyard was packed with people eager to see the match. The flea would be the first to jump. He bowed to the audience and told them about himself. The flea was used to crowds. He was also very polite, as he had the blood of many lords and ladies in him. The flea was born on the ear of a cat on December 25. He spent the first eight months of his youth traveling from her ear to her tail, where he built his home, although it was quite windy there.

Next up was the grasshopper. He told the crowd that he was born to royalty in Egypt, and it may even be true. He loved warm climates, and always wore the fine green suit he was given when he was born. The grasshopper lived in the city in a house made of cards, with all the faces turned in so they could listen to him singing. He sang so wonderfully that the other two crickets living there chirped themselves thin with jealousy.

The mudskipper was very quiet. He had come a long way to participate in the contest. The mudskipper came from the north, and every winter he would hibernate. He would retire to his home beneath the mud and sleep for six months. Usually he didn’t even start waking up until July first! "What a lazy mudskipper," the people said. He couldn’t possibly win the Leaping Match.

The King told the crowd to settle down and the flea prepared to jump. He had been practicing since October 31. Without warning, the flea jumped. He jumped so high, so fast, that no one in the courtyard even saw him! He cried "Ta-Dah!" The crowd couldn’t believe it. They rubbed their eyes, and in that moment he jumped another four times. When they opened their eyes again he was done! The people angrily accused him of not jumping at all. The crowd began to boo the flea.

The grasshopper made an august bow, but he leapt only half as high as the flea. Unfortunately, he also jumped crookedly. He opened his wings to correct his leap (which was really a kind of cheating). The wind caught his wings, and he flew up the king’s nose. “Ugh!” cried the king, and his snort shot the grasshopper out of his nose, across the courtyard, and right smack into the royal chef’s five layer cake. How rude!

The mudskipper did not move. He just lay there. The people in the crowd began to fidget. They thought the contest was even more boring than the day before school every September. After ten minutes, the judge walked over to the mudskipper, to see if perhaps he had fallen asleep. The judge sniffed his back. Suddenly the mudskipper made a little leap. He landed with a wet 'plop' on the lap of the princess. She was mortified!

The King stood up, smiling. “To a father, there is nothing higher in the world than his daughter. Therefore, the mudskipper jumped the highest. I must proclaim him the winner of the Leaping Match! The mudskipper has shown great understanding and cleverness. He is nine times smarter than the other two. His real legs are up here,” said the King, pointing to his brain. “Therefore he shall wed my daughter this February 14.” The crowd cheered.

The princess frowned and said nothing. Then the mudskipper quietly asked her if they could move the wedding back three months, to November 11, so that they could get a head start on the long winter’s nap. Slowly, the princess smiled. She was a very lazy girl, and now she could sleep for seven straight months! She gave the mudskipper a hug. “I will marry you,” she whispered, into where she guessed his ears might be.

The flea was hopping mad. “It’s so unfair! I was higher, faster, and spoke better. Dullness and heaviness win the day!” He hopped out of sight.

The grasshopper was aghast. He cried, “What is the world coming to? Dullness and heaviness win the day! Dullness and heaviness win the day!” He sang this sad song over and over, every hour, twelve times a day, and thirteen times a day every April 1st.

And that is where we heard this story.

But just because it’s written on the internet, doesn’t make it true!