N all the meadow there was nobody who could tell such
interesting stories as the old
When he first came to his home by the elm tree he was very thin, and looked as though he had been sick. The Katydids who stayed near said that he croaked in his sleep, and that, you know, is not what well and happy Frogs should do.
One day when many of the meadow people were gathered around
him, he told them his story. "When I was a little fellow," he
said, "I was strong and well, and could leap farther than
any other Frog of my size. I was hatched in the pond beyond
"Oh, how happy we were then! I remember the day when my hind legs began to grow, and how the other Tadpoles crowded around me in the water and swam close to me to feel the two little bunches that were to be legs. My fore legs did not grow until later, and these bunches came just in front of my tail."
"Your tail!" cried a puzzled young Cricket; "why, you haven't any tail!"
"I did have when I was a Tadpole," said the
"I was a bold young fellow, and when I saw a great white thing among the trees up yonder, I made up my mind to see what it was. There was a great red thing in the yard beside it, but I liked the white one better. I hopped along as fast as I could, for I did not then know enough to be afraid. I got close up to them both, and saw strange, big creatures going in and out of the red thing—the barn, as I afterward found it was called. The largest creatures had four legs, and some of them had horns. The smaller creatures had only two legs on which to walk, and two other limbs of some sort with which they lifted and carried things. The queerest thing about it was, that the smaller creatures seemed to make the larger ones do whatever they wanted them to. They even made some of them help do their work. You may not believe me, but what I tell you is true. I saw two of the larger ones tied to a great load of dried grass and pulling it into the barn.
"As you may guess, I stayed there a long time, watching
these strange creatures work. Then I went over toward the
white thing, and that, I found out, was the
"She put me in a very queer prison. At first, when she put me down on a stone in some water, I did not know that I was in prison. I tried to hop away, and—bump! went my head against something. Yet when I drew back, I could see no wall there. I tried it again and again, and every time I hurt my head. I tell you the truth, my friends, those walls were made of something which one could see through."
"Wonderful!" exclaimed all the meadow people; "wonderful, indeed!"
"And at the top," continued the
"The last time I got out, I hid near the door of the house, and although they hunted and hunted for me, they didn't find me. After they stopped hunting, the wind blew the door open, and I hopped out."
"You don't say!" exclaimed a Grasshopper.
"Yes, I hopped out and scrambled away through the grass as fast as ever I could. You people who have never been in prison cannot think how happy I was. It seemed to me that just stretching my legs was enough to make me wild with joy. Well, I came right here, and you were all kind to me, but for a long time I could not sleep without dreaming that I was back in prison, and I would croak in my sleep at the thought of it."
"I heard you," cried the Katydid, "and I wondered what was the matter."
"Matter enough," said the Tree Frog. "It makes my skin dry
to think of it now. And, friends, the best way I can ever
repay your kindness to me, is to tell you to never, never,
never, never go near the
And they all answered, "We never will."