上一级

讨论区

本书首页    Previous    Next    Chinese


THE TOAD

 

 THE wen was deepand so the rope was longthe windlass had barely room to turn when one came to liftthe bucket full of water over the edge of the well The suncould never get down to reflect itself in the water however clear it was but so far as it managed to shine downgreen plants grew between the stones

A family of the toad-race lived thereThey were immigrantswho had really come down there head-fore-most with the old mothertoad who still lived The greenfrogs who swarm in the water and had been there muchearlier acknowledged relationship and called them"thewell-guests"These quite intended to remain there theylived very comfortably on the dry labd as they called thewet stones

The motherfrog had once travelledhad been in thebucket when it went up but the light became too strongfor her and she got a pain in her eyes luckily she gotout of the bucketShe fell with a frightful splash into thewater and lay three days afterwards with a pain in herback She could not tell very much about the world upabove but she knew and they all knew that the wellwas not the whole world Mother Toad should have been able to tell one or two things but she never answered when she was asked and so one did not ask

"Thick and ugly horrid and fat she is" said theyoung green frogs"Her children will be just as ugly"

"That may be so"said Mother Toad"but one of them has jewel in its head or I have it myself"

And the green frogs heard and they stared and asthey didn't like itthey made facesand went to the bot-tomBut the young toads stretched their hind legs withsheer prideeach of them believed that he had the jeweland so they sat and kept their heads very stillbut finallythey asked what they were so proud of and what a jewelreally was

" It is something so splendid and precious" saidMother Toad"that I cannot describe itit is something that one goes about with for one's own pleasure and which the others go about and fret over But don't askIwon't answer"

"Well I have not got the jewel"said the smallest toadit was just as ugly as it could be"Why should Ihave such a grand thing And if it vexes othersit cannotgive me pleasure NoI only wish that I might come up to the edge of the well some time to look out It must be charming there"

"Better remain where you are" said the old one

"You know what you are doing thenTake care of thebucketit may squash youand if you get safely into ityou may fall out not all fall so luckily as I did and keeptheir limbs and eggs whole"

"Quack" said the little one and it was just as when we mortals say"Alack "

It had such a desire to get up to the edge of the welland look out it felt sucha longing after the green thingsup thereand when next morning the bucket filled withwaterwas being drawn up and accidentally stopped for a moment just by the stone on which the toad sat the littlecreature quivered and sprang into the full bucket and sankto the bottom of the water which then came up and was emptied out

"Ughconfound it "said the manwho saw it"It isthe ugliest thing I have seen" and he made a kick with hiswooden shoe at the toad which came near to being crip pled but escaped by getting in amongst the high stingingnettles It saw stalk by stalk and it looked upwards tooThe sun shone on the leaves they were quite transparentit was for it as it is for us when we come all at once intoa great woodwhere the sun shines through the leaves andbranches

"It is much lovelier here than down in the wellOne could wish to stay here all one's life" said the littletoad It lay there one hour it lay there two"Now Iwonder what can be outside As I have come so far I may as well go farther"And it crawled as fast as it couldand came out on to the road where the sun shone on it andthe dust powdered it whilst it marched across the high road

"Here one is really on dry land"said the toad"Iam getting almost too much of a good thing it tickles rightinto me"

Now it came to the ditch the forgetmenots grew here and the meadow-sweetthere was a hedge close bywith hawthorn and elder bushes and the whitefloweredconvolvulus climbed over it Here were colours to be seenand yonder flew a butterflythe toad thought it was a flower which had broken loose the better to look about theworldit was such a natural thing to do

"If one could only get along like that" said the toad"AhAh How delightful"

It stayed in the ditch for eight days and nights and had no want of food The ninth day it thought"Farther onnow"but what more beautiful could be found Perhaps alittle toador some green frogs During the past night ithad sounded in the wind as if there were cousins in the neighbourhood"It is lovely to liveTo come up out of thewell to lie among stingingnettlesto crawl along a dustyroad and to rest in the wet ditch But forward still Letus find frogs or a little toadone cannot do without thatnature is not enough for one"And so it set out again onits wanderings It came into the field to a big pond withsedges round it and it made its way into these

"It is too wet for you here isn't it" said the frogs"but you are very welcome!—Are you a he or a sheItdoes not matter you are welcome all the same"

And so it was invited to a concert in the evening afamily concertgreat enthusiasm and thin voices,—we allknow that kindThere were no refreshmentsexcept freedrinks,—the whole pond if they liked

"Now I shall travel farther" said the little toad Itwas always craving after something better It saw the starstwinkle so big and so clearit saw the new moon shineit saw the sun rise higher and higher

"Iam still in the well in a bigger well I must gethigher up Ihave a restlessness and a longing"

And when the moon was full and round the poorcreature thought"Can that be the bucketwhich is letdown and which I can jump into to come higher uporis the sun the big bucket How big it is and how beam-ing it could hold all of us together Imust watch for mychanceOhwhat a brightness there is in my head Idon't believe the jewel can shine better But I haven'tgot it and I don't weep for it No higher up in bright-ness and gladness I have an assuranceand yet afearit is a hard step to take But one must take it ForwardsRight out on the highway"

And it stepped out as well as such a crawling creature can and then it was on the highway where peoplelivedthere were both flower-gardens and Kitchen-gar- dens It rested beside a kitchen-garden

"How many different beings there are which I havenever known and how big and blessed the world is Butone must also look about in it and not remain sitting inone place" and so it hopped into the kitchen-garden"How green it is how lovely it is here"

"I know that well enough" said the caterpillar onthe leaf"My leaf is the biggest one hereit hides halfthe world but I can do without that"

"Cluck cluck was heard and fowls came trippinginto the gardenThe foremost hen was longsightedshe saw the caterpillar on the curly leaf and pecked at it sothat it fell to the ground where it wriggled and twisted itselfThe hen looked first with one eye and then with the other for it did not know what was to be the end of thiswrigglins

"It does not do that with any good intent" thoughtthe hen and lifted its head to peck at it The toad becameso frightenedthat it crawled right up towards the hen

"So it has friends to help it" said the hen"look atthat crawler" and it turned away"I don't care a bitabout the little green mouthful it only tickles one'sthroat" The other fowls were of the same opinionand sothey went away

"I wriggled myself away from it"said the caterpillar"it is a good thing to have presence of mindbut the hard-est task remainsto get back onto my cabbage leaf Whereis it"

And the little toad came and expressed its sympathyIt was glad that it had frightened the hens with its ugliness

"What do you mean by that" asked the caterpillar"I wriggled myself away from them You are very unpleasant to look atMay Ibe allowed to occupy my own placeNow I smell cabbage Now Iam close to my leaf There is nothing so nice as one's own But I must get higher up"

"Yeshigher up said the little toad"higher up itfeels as I do but it is not in a good humour todaythatcomes from the fright We all wish to get higher up" Andit looked up as high as it could

The stork sat in his nest on the farmer's roofhe chattered and the motherstork chattered

"How high up they live"thought the toad"if one could only get up there"

In the farmhouse lived two young students The one was a poet the other a naturalist the one sang and wrotein gladness about all that God had madeand as it was reflected in his heart he sang it out short clearand richin melodious verseThe other took hold of the thing itselfaye split it upif necessaryHe took our Lord's creation as a vast sum in arithmetic subtracted multipliedwanted to know it out and in and to talk with understand-ing about itand it was perfect understandingand hetalked in gladness and with wisdom about itThey weregood happy fellows both of them

"There sits a good specimen of a toad"said thenaturalist"Imust have it in spirit"

"You have two others already said the poet"letit sit in peace and enjoy itself"

"But it is so beautifully ugly "said the other

"Yes if we could find the jewel in its head"saidthe poet"I myself would help to split it up"

"The jewel" said the other"you are goot at natural history"

"But is there not something very beautiful in the common belief that the toad the very ugliest of animalsoften carries hidden in its head the most precious jewelIs it not the same with menWhat a jewel had not Aesopand Socrates "The toad heard no moreand it did notunderstand the half of it The two friends went on and itescaped being put in spirit

"They also talked about the jewel" said the toad"It is a good thing that I have not got it otherwise Ishould have got into trouble"

There was a chattering on the farmer'sroof the father-stork was delivering a lecture to his family and theylooked down askance at the two young men in the kitchengarden

"Man is the most conceited creature" said thestork"Listen how they chatter And yet they can't givea single decent croak They are vain of their oratoricalpowersand their language And it is a rare language Itbecomes unintelligible every day's journey that we doThe one doesn't understand the otherOur language wecan talk over the whole world both in Denmark and inEgypt And men can't fly at all They fly along by meansof an invention which they call a railway but they oftenbreak their necks with that I get shivers in my bill whenI think of it the world can exist without menWe can dowithout them Let us only keep frogs and rain-worms""That was a grand speech" thought the little toad"What abig man he isand how high he sits higher tham "I must go to Egypt"it said"if only the storkwould take me with it or one of the young ones Iwoulddo it a service in return on its weddingdayYesIamsure I shall get to Egypt forI am so lucky All the longing and desire which I have is much better than having ajewel in one's haed"

And it just had the jewel the eternal longing and desiseupwardsalways upwardsIt shone within it shone in gladness and beamed with desire

At that moment came the storkit had seen the toad in the grass and he swooped down and took hold of the little creature not altogether gentlyThe bill pinchedthe wind whistledit was not pleasant but upwards it wentup to Egyptit knew and so its eyes shoneas if a spark flew out of them"Quack ack "

The body was dead the toad was killed But thespark from his eyes what became of it

The sunbeam took it the sunbeam bore the jewelfrom the head of the toad Whither

You must not ask the naturalist rather ask the poet he will tell it you as a storyand the caterpillar is init and the storkfamily is in it Think The caterpillar istransformed and becomes a lovely butterflyThe stork-family flies over mountains and seas to distant Africaand yet finds the shortest way home again to Denmark tothe same placethe same roof Yes it is really almosttoo like a fairy tale and yet it is true You may quitewell ask the naturalist about it he must admit itand youyourself know it too for you have seen it

But the jewel in the head fo the toad

Look for it in the sunsee it there if you can Thesplendour there is too strong We have not yet got theeyes to look into all the glories which God has createdbut some day we shall get themand that will be theloveliest story for we shall be in it ourselves

 


 

Previous    Next    Chinese

 
 
上一级

讨论区