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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
A Hunt in a Horse-Pond
By Francis Trevelyan Buckland (1826–1880)
 
From ‘Curiosities of Natural History’

WELL, let us have a look at the pond-world; choose a dry place at the side, and fix our eyes steadily upon the dirty water: what shall we see? Nothing at first; but wait a minute or two: a little round black knob appears in the middle; gradually it rises higher and higher, till at last you can make out a frog’s head, with his great eyes staring hard at you, like the eyes of the frog in the woodcut facing Æsop’s fable of the frog and the bull. Not a bit of his body do you see: he is much too cunning for that; he does not know who or what you are; you may be a heron, his mortal enemy, for aught he knows. You move your arm: he thinks it is the heron’s bill coming; down he goes again, and you see him not: a few seconds, he regains courage and reappears, having probably communicated the intelligence to the other frogs; for many big heads and many big eyes appear, in all parts of the pond, looking like so many hippopotami on a small scale. Soon a conversational “Wurk; wurk, wurk,” begins: you don’t understand it; luckily, perhaps, as from the swelling in their throats it is evident that the colony is outraged by the intrusion, and the remarks passing are not complimentary to the intruder. These frogs are all respectable, grown-up, well-to-do frogs, and they have in this pond duly deposited their spawn, and then, hard-hearted creatures! left it to its fate; it has, however, taken care of itself, and is now hatched, at least that part of it which has escaped the hands of the gipsies, who not unfrequently prescribe baths of this natural jelly for rheumatism….  1
  In some places, from their making this peculiar noise, frogs have been called “Dutch nightingales.” In Scotland, too, they have a curious name, Paddock or Puddick; but there is poetical authority for it:—
  “The water-snake whom fish and paddocks feed,
With staring scales lies poisoned.”—DRYDEN.
  2
  Returning from the University of Giessen, I brought with me about a dozen green tree-frogs, which I had caught in the woods near the town. The Germans call them laub-frosch, or leaf-frog; they are most difficult things to find, on account of their color so much resembling the leaves on which they live. I have frequently heard one singing in a small bush, and though I have searched carefully, have not been able to find him: the only way is to remain quite quiet till he again begins his song. After much ambush-work, at length I collected a dozen frogs and put them in a bottle. I started at night on my homeward journey by the diligence, and I put the bottle containing the frogs into the pocket inside the diligence. My fellow-passengers were sleepy old smoke-dried Germans: very little conversation took place, and after the first mile every one settled himself to sleep, and soon all were snoring. I suddenly awoke with a start, and found all the sleepers had been roused at the same moment. On their sleepy faces were depicted fear and anger. What had woke us all up so suddenly? The morning was just breaking, and my frogs, though in the dark pocket of the coach, had found it out; and with one accord, all twelve of them had begun their morning song. As if at a given signal, they one and all of them began to croak as loud as ever they could. The noise their united concert made, seemed, in the closed compartment of the coach, quite deafening. Well might the Germans look angry: they wanted to throw the frogs, bottle and all, out of the window; but I gave the bottle a good shaking, and made the frogs keep quiet. The Germans all went to sleep again, but I was obliged to remain awake, to shake the frogs when they began to croak. It was lucky that I did so, for they tried to begin their concert again two or three times. These frogs came safely to Oxford; and the day after their arrival, a stupid housemaid took off the top of the bottle to see what was inside; one of the frogs croaked at that instant, and so frightened her that she dared not put the cover on again. They all got loose in the garden, where I believe the ducks ate them, for I never heard or saw them again.  3
 
 
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