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The Toad


"You have two already," said the Poet. "Let it stay there in peace and enjoy itself."

"But it's so beautifully ugly!" said the other.

"If we could find the jewel in its head," said the Poet, "then I myself would give you a hand at splitting it open."

"The jewel!" said the other. "How well you know your natural history!"

"But isn't there something very splendid about the old folk legend that the toad, the ugliest of creatures, often has hidden in its head the most precious of jewels? Isn't it much the same with people? Wasn't there a jewel like that hidden in Aesop, and Socrates, too?"

The Toad didn't hear any more, and hadn't understood half of what it had heard. The two friends went on, and it escaped being preserved in alcohol.

"They were talking about that jewel, too," said the Toad. "It's good that I don't have it; otherwise I would have got into trouble."

Then there was a clattering on the farmer's roof. Father Stork was giving a lecture to his family, and they were all looking down askance at the two young men in the cabbage garden.

"A human being is the most conceited of creatures," said the Stork.

"Hear how they go on jabbering, and yet they can't even make as much noise as a rattle! They crow over their eloquence, their language! A fine language that is! It becomes more unintelligible even to them with each day's journey. We can speak our language the whole world over, in Denmark or in Egypt. As for flying, they can't do that at all. They crawl along by means of an invention they call a railway, but there they often get their necks broken. I get the shivers in my bill when I think of it! The world can exist without people. We could well do without them. May we only have frogs and earthworms!"

"My, that was a powerful speech!" thought the little Toad. "What a great man he is, and how high he sits up there! I never saw anyone that high before. And how well he can swim!" it exclaimed, for just then the Stork soared off into the air on outstretched wings.

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