The puffed frog
At the beginning of spring, when the snow up in the mountains melts, the water trickles between the cracks in the ground forming streams that finally join the river down in the valley below. The river overflows its banks and floods the surrounding meadows. Later, as sunshine licks the last remnants of snow from the slopes, the river finds its level again. The water seeps away leaving small pools and ponds on the meadows. It’s here that a plenty of wild flowers adorn the meadows, But as pretty as they may be, there is no way for you to pick them, as the ground is so soggy that your feet would sink into the mud. Around the ponds you can see all kinds of life, dragonflies sweep over the surface of the water and swarms of mosquitoes and gnats dance in the sunshine.
But the real masters of the ponds are the frogs. All evening in moonlight and through half the night their croaking competes with the chirping of the crickets. It sounds like high-pitched laughter but the frogs look at their noise as a melodious singing. In the midst of them there was a frog, who seemed to be convinced to be a gifted singer, famous and honoured thereabouts. In fact he thought to be the King of the ponds or at very least a bewitched Prince. Each night when the moon appeared, he took a deep breath, raised his voice, and tried his best to drown out the chorus of the others. But his miserable croaking was just that of a bumptious frog. So it was that he earned the nickname of "Croakaloud".
On the church spire of the little village near the frog’s pond a couple of storks have built a nest. Every year in autumn when the young storks have grown up, they prepare their long journey in order to spend the cold season in warmer regions. Their flight brings them as far as to South Africa. But in spring, when ice and snow have withdrawn to the summits of the mountains, the storks return home to their old nest, and so they did that year.
Our storks had chosen the nesting place close to the pond with care, for the legs of a frog rank on their menu as a great delicacy. Of course this preference is also known to the frogs, and the inhabitants of the pond are watchful, especially when they hear the storks out, hunting for their supper. But Croakaloud used to laugh at his fellow frogs. "What cowards you are", he cried, "you’re afraid of a foolish stork. If he would come I’ll tear out all his feathers and push him into deep water, where he’ll drown pitifully”. - However, during his boastful speech he hadn’t noticed that the other frogs were no longer listening. They had jumped into the water and dived to the bottom of the pond to hide. Meanwhile, Croakaloud continued sitting on his stone, making his heroic speech. But directing his eyes upwards in order to summon heaven for witness of his courage, he saw a shadow fall over him and found himself looking directly in the eyes of a stork. He was struck dumb, becoming frozen on the spot with terror. But as luck would have it, just at the moment when the stork jabbed at him with his long beak, the bumptious frog lost his balance and fell backwards into the water. The shock of plunging into the cold water brought him to his senses, and he quickly hid under a large leaf. In this way he escaped from certain death.
This time, the stork was unhappy and waited in vain for his prey. The frogs remained quite still in their hiding places until the enemy had stalked away. Then they finally reappeared on the surface. Croakaloud was the last one who appeared, and he was still pale with fright whilst the others had already recovered their poise. Since that day all the frogs laugh whenever Croakaloud starts to boast about his pluck. One thing is for sure: Croakaloud has taken the mockery of his friends to heart and his voice no longer drowns out the chorus of the others.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Karl Wiener.
Published on e-Stories.org on 17.01.2008.