Author of The Royal Book of Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 8, 1918.
There was once a brave frogling named Peter Spottle, which is, I think, a sensible enough name for a frog.
He had applied himself diligently to his studies and knew all the secrets of frogology, the main principles of which are "Look before you leap!" and "Birds have beaks as well as feathers."
His knowledge had not made him vain, but it had aroused in him restless ambitions to see the world.
"What is the use of this continual jumping in if it never gets you anywhere," he remarked to Ezra Bullfrog, the Mayor of the pond.
Ezra used to swallow harder than ever and roll his eyes, but he never seemed to be able to answer Peter's question. "You should settle down!" he would wheeze crossly; "settle down, Pete!"
But Peter did not want to settle down in the mud. He wouldn't give two croaks for such a life, he said; at least not until he had traveled. Peter had a beautiful voice and might have led the Froggie Pond chorus, but he went off by himself instead and stared up at the stars and the trees and wondered what was on the other side of the forest and how one set about adventuring. No one in the pond had ever tried it, so no one could give him any advice. He asked a little sparrow who had come to the pond for a bath what was on the other side of the forest, and the sparrow had told him a house. But as houses were not mentioned on frogology, Peter was no better off than before.
"Perhaps," said Peter, "it is a kind of tree!" The more he thought about it the curiouser and curiouser he became, and one night, in spite of the warnings of his parents, he hopped out of the pond and off through the forest.
On and on all night hopped Peter. By morning he was so dry and dusty he could go no further, and crawling in between the roots of a big tree, he lay the whole day. By night he was a little rested, but only able to hop along weakly. He felt that his strength would give out if he did not soon have some water. The twigs and stones of the forest were not soft and yielding like the mud, and poor Peter was soon bruised and blistered. The pond began to look very fine to the little frog, but he pressed on bravely, for "they will laugh if I return so soon," he thought miserably.
Traveling was very perilous, and once an owl missed Peter by such a breath of space he felt its claws snatching for an hour afterward.
Toward morning the sound of water rippling just ahead sent him hurrying forward. There was water - a long, narrow pond, so Pete thought. Forgetting all about his frogology and "look before you leap," he plunged head first into an icy brook, knocking himself senseless against the hard stones on the bottom. When he finally did come to the cold water (oh, how unlike the warm currents of that once-despised pond) had chilled and stiffened him so he could hardly move.
He crawled sadly out and must have gone to sleep, for the next thing he knew he was flying through the air, or so it seemed to Peter.
"Why, Fred, I never saw frogs here before. Let's take him home for the aquarium!"
Peter decided that traveling was very perilous indeed and wiggled frantically to escape from the little girl's soft finger. But it was no use, and next thing he found himself and some wet leaves firmly buttoned into the little girl's pocket.
"This is the end!" gasped Peter Spottle, and closed his eyes in resignation. Bump, bump, bump, he went bouncing along. He was roused by a familiar word, "I'm going right in the house and put him in with the goldfish!"
House! So he was really going to see a house after all!
More bouncing about and then again he was taken in the small fingers and popped into a glass pond. The water was warm, and after a few minutes, Peter revived and looked about him. To the goldfish who swam curiously around him he paid no attention. They had no legs, poor things, and were not worthy of attention. He jumped to the top of the stone castle and stared and stared. So this was a house! In his interest all the perils of his journey were forgotten.
He stared at the walls and the pictures and books and blinked solemnly at the people. Indeed, for several weeks he was so happy he almost forgot the pond.
But after a while he grew very homesick. After all, what was the use of seeing all these wonderful things if you could not tell it to some one?
He decided to talk to the strange giant creatures who sat in chairs around the table. He made his adventures into a song and croaked away at the top of his voice. Sometimes he sang all night.
"That frog's got to go!" The little girl's father looked crossly over his paper. "It stares me out of countenance and that noise it makes is horrible!" Sadly the little girl imparted the news to Billy, and next day Peter was again popped into the dark pocket. "I'm going to send him home in style!" chuckled Billy, and refused to tell his sister just what he meant. She soon learned, and so did Peter Spottle. The sudden change from the dark pocket to the light dazzled him, but when he came to he was floating swiftly down the brook n a neat little toy boat.
The children waved good-by, and Peter was so proud he almost burst his jacket. But the wonderfulest part of the story is to come. That brook wound straight back to Peter's pond, and two days later the whole frog population was amazed to see him come sailing home. He became straightway the most famous frog in the community, and he never tired of telling his adventures. When he was introduced they always said, "Pray, meet Mr. Peter Spottle, the frog who has seen a house.!"
But, for all that, Peter never went traveling again.
THE FORGETFUL POET
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 9, 1917.
A Handful of Riddles
To what two trees and to what plant would you go for sewing materials?
What part of the telegraph system will give you the nationality of a man?
What bird is used in every construction operation?
Mr. G. Ography has sent us some remarkable sentences. He wonders what you will find in them. So do I.
Al jeeza at hens. That tune is nice. Dela wear your new jersey. Florence stop peeking.
Last week's answers were:
A public official is like a cow because he is bossy. Lid, feet, shoulder blade. An army is like a windmill because it is armed.
[Answers next time]
Copyright © 2005 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.