The frog and the nightingale
There are some who think their singing
resembles the bell’s melodic ringing
That belief is to be found at the beginning of a children’s song and those who are familiar with that song, will have an idea of how the following tale unfolds.
Peaceful silence greets the lonely hiker deep in the forest, when he comes unexpectedly across a hidden pool. Thick reeds border the muddy banks and water lilies cover the surface that is only disturbed by the occasional fish leaping from the depth. Alder trees let their branches hang down into the water and the few sunbeams that manage to penetrate the foliage spatter the surrounding moss with golden specks. All around the pond there live all kinds of creatures. The muddy ground is an ideal breeding ground for millions of gnats, providing a plentiful supply of food for both frogs and birds alike. So, during the day the forest echoes with the chirping of feathered singers and at sunset the frogs start their own concert at the top of their voices. In this lonely place there happened the incident that I’ll now relate.
Deep in the night, when the water reflected the moonlight, a nightingale unfolded the wings and flew up onto one of the lower branches of an alder tree. Once he had settled, soon struck up a heart-warming song to welcome his bride. On hearing this sound all other creatures grew silent and listened to the wonderful voice. Only a frog down in the mud thought, that he could sing just as well as the bird and would prove it. So, with much effort he climbed up the tree from branch to branch until he reached the place where the nightingale was singing. When the frog had recovered his breath and the bird stopped singing for a moment, the frog raised his voice. But it was no singing, only a miserable croak could be heard. The bird was so startled at this discordant sound that he almost fell off his perch. Fortunately he managed to keep his balance, took flight and ascended to the top of the tree, to continue his song.
The frog didn’t lose courage and tried to follow the nightingale. He took a great leap upwards, straining every nerve, and paddling with his forelegs, just as the bird had done with his wings, but instead of going higher he fell in a steep nosedive down to earth. Luckily for the frog, at the end of his fall he plopped into the water. Had he landed on a stone, he wouldn’t have survived. So, the only damage was that he felt a little dizzy and suffered from stomach-ache. For a little while he remained motionless, listened to his own heart to make sure he was still alive. But when he was sure he had survived, he swam quickly away and hid under a stone. Since that day the frog has stayed in his own surroundings. He has no equal when it comes to swimming and diving, but never again he did try to sing or fly like a nightingale.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Karl Wiener.
Published on e-Stories.org on 13.12.2007.