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The Toad

The well was deep, and therefore the rope was long; the wheel went around with difficulty when the waterfilled bucket had to be pulled up over the side of the well. The sun could never mirror itself down in the water, no matter how brightly it shone; but as far down as its rays penetrated, green weeds were growing from between the stones.

There was a family of toads living down there. It was an immigrant family which, as a matter of fact, had come down there headlong in the person of the old toad mother, who was still living. The green frogs that swam in the water had made their homes there for a much longer time, but they acknowledged their cousins and called them "well guests." The latter, however, had no thoughts of ever leaving, they found it very comfortable here on the dry land, as they called the wet stones.

Mamma Frog had once traveled; she'd been in the bucket when it had gone up, but the light above had been too strong for her and given her a frightful pain in the eyes. Luckily she had managed to get out of the bucket. She'd fallen into the water with a tremendous splash and been laid up for three days with a backache. She didn't have much to tell about the world above, but she did know, and so did all the others, that the well wasn't the whole world. Mamma Toad, on the other hand, might have told them a few things about it, but she never answered when anyone inquired, so they stopped inquiring.

"Big and ugly, fat and loathsome, she is!" said the young green frogs. "And her brats are getting to be just like her!"

"Maybe so," said Mamma Toad, "but one of them has a jewel in its head, if I don't have it myself!"

And the green frogs listened and stared at her, and as they didn't like this news, they made faces at her and dived down to the bottom. But the young toads stretched out their hind legs proudly. Each of them thought it was the one which had the jewel, so they all kept their heads quite rigid, but at last they began to ask what it was they had to be proud of and just what a jewel was, anyway.

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