Grandfather Frog Jumps Just In Time by Thornton W. Burgess

The pond can be a dangerous place when you’re a frog. Join Grandfather Frog for lunch in this short story for kids.

Back and forth over the Green Meadows sailed Whitetail the Marsh Hawk. Like Longlegs the Blue Heron, he was hungry. His sharp eyes peered down among the grasses, looking for something to eat, but some good fairy seemed to have warned the very little people who live there that Whitetail was out hunting.

Perhaps it was one of Old Mother West Wind’s children, the Merry Little Breezes. You know they are always flitting about trying to do some one a good turn.

They love to dance and romp and play
From dawn to dusk the livelong day,
But more than this they love to find
A chance to do some favor kind.
Anyway, little Mr. Green Snake seemed to know that Whitetail was out hunting and managed to keep out of sight. Danny Meadow Mouse wasn’t to be found. Only a few foolish grasshoppers rewarded his patient search, and these only served to make him feel hungrier than ever. But old Whitetail has a great deal of persistence, and in spite of his bad luck, he kept at his hunting, back and forth, back and forth, until he had been all over the Green Meadows. At last he made up his mind that he was wasting time there.

“I’ll just have a look over at the Smiling Pool, and if there is nothing there, I’ll take a turn or two along the Big River,” thought he and straightway started for the Smiling Pool. Long before he reached it, his keen eyes saw Longlegs the Blue Heron standing motionless on the edge of it, and he knew by the looks of Longlegs that he was watching something which he hoped to catch.

“If it’s a fish,” thought Whitetail, “it will do me no good, for I am no fisherman. But if it’s a Frog—well, Frogs are not as good eating as fat Meadow Mice, but they are very filling.”

With that he hurried a little faster, and then he saw what Longlegs was watching so intently. It was, as you know, Grandfather Frog sitting on his big green

lily-pad. Old Whitetail gave a great sigh of satisfaction. Grandfather Frog certainly would be very filling, very filling, indeed.

Now Longlegs the Blue Heron was so intently watching Grandfather Frog that he saw nothing else, and Grandfather Frog was so busy watching Longlegs that he quite forgot that there might be other dangers. Besides, his back was toward old Whitetail. Of course Whitetail saw this, and it made him almost chuckle aloud. Ever so many times he had tried to catch Grandfather Frog, but always Grandfather Frog had seen him long before he could get near him.

Now, with all his keen sight, old Whitetail had failed to see some one else who was sitting right in plain sight. He had failed because his mind was so full of Grandfather Frog and Longlegs that he forgot to look around, as he usually does. Just skimming the tops of the bulrushes he sailed swiftly out over the Smiling Pool and reached down with his great, cruel claws to clutch Grandfather Frog, who sat there pretending to be asleep, but all the time watching Longlegs and deep down inside chuckling to think how he was fooling Longlegs.

Slap! That was the tail of Jerry Muskrat hitting the water. Grandfather Frog knew what that meant—danger! He didn’t know what the danger was, and he didn’t wait to find out. There would be time enough for that later. When Jerry Muskrat slapped the water with his tail that way, danger was very near indeed. With a frightened “Chugarum!” Grandfather Frog dived head first into the Smiling Pool, and so close was old Whitetail that the water was splashed right in his face.

He clutched frantically with his great claws, but all he got was a piece of the big green lily-pad on which Grandfather Frog had been sitting, and of course this was of no use for an empty stomach.

With a scream of disappointment and anger, he whirled in the air and made straight for Jerry Muskrat. But Jerry just laughed in the most provoking way and ducked under water.