The Three Frogs by Louisa M. Alcott
Hop, Croak, and Splash were three little
frogs who lived in a pleasant river, and
had merry times swimming about or hopping
on the green grass. At night they sat on the
bank and sung together, very sweetly they
thought; and if boats came by they skipped
into the water, heels over head, with a great
splashing and noise.
Hop was not contented with this quiet life;
he wanted to see the world, and kept asking his
brother Croak to go and travel with him.
"I 'm tired of poking about in this stupid
river, with no fun but leap-frog and singing. I
want to know what is over that hill, and I 'm
going to find out. You can stay and doze in
the mud if you please. I 've got more spirit
than that, and I 'm off."
So away went Hop, singing gayly,--
"A frog he would a-wooing go,
Whether his mammy would let him or no,
With a roly-poly, gammon and spinach,
Heigh-ho, said Anthony Rowley."
His good little sister Splash begged him to
stay, for the world was full of danger and he
was too young to go alone. But Hop told her
not to worry. Girls ought to keep at home, for
they could n't take care of themselves; but fine
young fellows should see something of life
before they settled down. His friend Turtle had
invited him to go; and if such a slow chap as
Creeper could start on a journey, of course the
best jumper in the river would get on all right.
While he was saying good-by, the turtle had
crept up the bank and was well on his way to
the road beyond. Hop skipped after him; and
when they had got to the hill-top they stopped
to rest,--Creeper in the road on the warm sand,
and Hop among some daisies close by.
"How big the world is!" he said, staring with
his great eyes; for he had never seen houses
before, and the village looked as grand to him
as London would to us. "I like it, and I
know I shall have a splendid time. Come on,
slow coach! I see fountains over there, and
want a good drink."
Just as he spoke a cart came by; and before
poor Creeper could get out of the way, a wheel
crushed him to death.
"Mercy on us! what horrid monsters those
are!" cried Hop, leaping as fast as his legs could
take him into a garden near by, where he lay
trembling and scared half out of his wits. He
thought the cart was a creature; and every time
he heard the rumble of wheels his heart beat
and he clasped his hands in fear as he sat under
the burdock leaves. At last it seemed so quiet
he ventured out, and had a lovely time in the
nasturtium-bed, catching flies and playing
bo-peep with a little bird. Then he hopped to the
grass-plot, where the sprinkler was whizzing
round, and took a refreshing bath. He was
just puffing his skin out and winking with
pleasure when a fat toad, who lived under the piazza,
told him very crossly to "clear out."
"You are a very rude old person, and I shall
do as I like. This is not your garden; so you
need n't goggle at me," answered saucy Hop,
opening his wide mouth to laugh at the toad,
who was so fat he could n't take long leaps like
the lively frog.
"Very well, dandiprat, I shall call the cat; and
she will make you skip, unless you want that
fine green jacket torn off your back by her
sharp claws," said the toad, hopping slowly
away to the sunny corner where a gray cat lay
"Pooh'! I 'm not afraid," said Hop; for he
had never seen a cat, and thought the toad made
it all up.
So he took a leisurely stroll down the walk,
looking about him as if he owned the whole
garden. Presently he saw a pretty little
creature playing with leaves, and hurried on to
speak to it, being eager to find friends in this
pleasant place. You see, when the toad told the
cat about the stranger, pussy only gaped and
went to sleep again, not caring to play with any
one. But the kitten who lay beside her was
curious to see a frog, and ran off at once to find
him. Hop did not know that this was the cat's
daughter, till kitty pounced on him as if he had
been a mouse, and instead of playing some nice
game and telling all about the new world, as
Hop expected, she clawed and bit him, tossed
him up, and let him bump down again on the
hard ground. He tried to get away, but she
let him hop a little and then pounced again,
cuffing him with her paws, and dragging him
about till he was half dead.
He believed the old toad now, and thought
the end of the world had come. It would have
been the end of the world for him, if a dog had
not bounced into the garden and made kitty fly
up a tree, spitting and glaring like a little dragon.
Poor Hop crept under a gooseberry bush, and
lay there longing for gentle Splash to tie up his
wounds and comfort his pain with spearmint
from the river side and a cool lily-pad for a wet
sheet to pack him in.
"It is an awful world, and I wish I was safe
at home," he sighed, as the sun grew hot, the
water was turned off, and the wind stopped
But he was too feeble to hop away, and lay
there panting till night, when a shower saved
his life; and early in the morning he started
to find the river before he got into any more
He went very slowly, being lame and sore;
but got out of the garden and was just planning
to give one tremendous leap over the road, for
fear he should get crushed as Creeper did, when
he heard a soft rustling behind him, and saw a
long, slender gray thing, with very bright eyes
and a little tongue that darted out and in like a
"I see no cruel claws; so it can't be a cat,"
thought Hop, feeling timid now about making
"Pretty fellow, come here and talk to me,"
hissed the snake, longing to eat the nice little
Hop felt rather nervous, but wished to be
polite; so he let the stranger coil lovingly round
him and look right into his face while listening
to the tale of woe he gladly told. Presently he
found he could not stir at all, nor move his eyes
from the fiery eyes before him, and the darting
tongue seemed ready to sting. Then he was
frightened, and tried to escape; but he only
gave one leap, for the snake caught him by the
hind legs and held him fast, while swallowing
him slowly down.
"Help, help!" cried Hop, in despair. "Croak!
Splash! oh, come and save me, save me!"
But there was no help; and in a few moments
there was no frog, for the last leg had vanished
down the snake's throat. Poor little Hop!
Croak was a noisy fellow, and kept up a great
racket trying to sing louder than any of the
other frogs; for he was very proud of his voice,
and sat on a log at night saying, "Ker honk! ker
honk!" till every one was tired of hearing him.
The old ones told him not to wear his throat
out till his voice was stronger; but he thought
they envied him its power and sweetness, and
croaked away louder than ever.
The boys who came to the river to bathe used
to mock him, and try to see which frog sung so
loud. This pleased him; and instead of
keeping still and staying among his friends, silly
Croak went and sat on a rock alone, that all
might see and hear the great singer.
"Now," said the boys, "we can catch him and
keep him in a tub; and when we are tired of his
noise we can rap him on the head and make
him be still."
So while the vain frog sat croaking at the top
of his voice, two of the boys swam up to the
rock and threw a net over him. He kicked
and struggled; but they had him fast, and tied
him up in a bundle till they got to the tub, and
there they left him with a little grass, saying,--
"Now sing away, old fellow, and make yourself
But Croak could not sing, he was so frightened
and unhappy; for he was hungry and
tired, and they did n't give him the right things
to eat, nor any mossy log to rest on. They
poked him with sticks, took him up to look at
his funny toes, opened his big mouth, and held
him by one leg to see him kick. He tried to
climb out; but the sides of the tub were slippery,
and he had to give it up. He kept swimming
and floating till he was tired out, and ate
bread-crumbs and grass to keep from starving; but he
was very miserable, though children came to
hear him sing, and he had nothing else to do.
"This is n't what I meant," sighed Croak, "and
if ever I get out of this old tub, I 'll keep very
still and never try to make a noise in the world
Among the children was one kind little girl
who pitied the poor frog, and one day when
she was alone took him up carefully and put
him on the grass, saying,--
"Run away, froggie, home to your mamma,
and don't tell the boys I set you free."
"Thank you, my dear; those bad boys will
never see or hear me again," answered Croak,
hopping off as fast as he could go, never
minding in his hurry that he was not taking the road
to the river.
After he had gone a long way he came to a
tank where a great many frogs seemed to be
having a very nice time; for there was plenty of
food, stones to sit on, and fresh water flowing in
all the time.
"Ah! these must be very elegant people to
live in this luxurious way. They sing pretty
well, but not one has a splendid deep voice like
mine. I 'll jump in and astonish them with my
best song," said Croak, after he had watched and
listened for a while.
If he had only known that these frogs were
kept there to be fattened for an old French
gentleman to eat, he would have skipped away and
saved his life; but he was so anxious to show
off his voice, that he gave a jump and went
splash into the tank, startling the others and
making a great commotion. He liked that; and
getting up on the highest stone, gave them his
favorite "Ker honk" song, till the air rang with
The other frogs were much impressed, for
they thought it fine music; so they gathered
round, and shook hands and welcomed the
stranger, sure that he must be a distinguished
musician, he put on such airs. Now Croak was
in his glory, and puffed himself out, and goggled
at the lady-frogs till they put up their fans of
green flag to hide their smiles. The young
fellows tried to imitate him, till the tank was such
a noisy place the old gentleman said to his cook,--
"Kill off a dozen of the fattest for dinner, and
stop that din out there."
The frogs had told Croak that every now and
then some of them were chosen to go and live
in the great house; and all were eager to find
out what good fortune had happened to their
friends, for none ever came back to tell the sad
truth. So when they saw the man in the white
cap and apron come to the tank and look down
at them, they all began to skip and prance,
hoping to be chosen.
With a long-handled net the cook picked out
the fattest and put them in a covered pail till he
had his dozen. Croak had not been there long
enough to get very plump, so he would have
escaped that time if he had held his tongue.
But he could n't keep still, and made such a
terrible noise the cook said,--
"I must catch and quiet that rascal, or my
master will go distracted." So he held the net
open; and that silly frog hopped in, little
dreaming that he had sung his last song.
"Now we shall see fine things. Good-by,
you poor dears! Be patient till your turn
comes," he cried, as the bucket was carried
away to the kitchen.
Croak was disappointed when he saw nothing
but pots and pans and a great fire; for the vain
fellow really thought he was chosen to sing
before some fine people. But his disappointment
turned to horror when he saw his friends taken
out one by one and their poor little legs cut off
to fry for dinner. That was the only part the
cook used, and the rest he threw away. Croak
was left to the last, as he was not to be eaten;
and while he waited his turn, he dashed
distractedly round and round the pail, trying to get
away, and croaking so dismally it was a wonder
the cook did not take pity on him. But he did
not, and was just going toward the pail with the
big knife in his hand, when the old gentleman
came down to see if his orders were obeyed, for
he thought a great deal of his dinner. All the
poor little legs lay in the pan ready to cook;
and he was so pleased that he said, looking
at the thin frog swimming about in that lively
"Ah! this is a very brisk fellow. I will put
him in my aquarium; the gold-fish and the crab
will like a little society, I think."
Then, catching Croak by one leg, he carried
him upstairs and threw him into the great glass
box where several pretty gold-fish and one cross
crab lived together. Croak was so glad to
escape frying that he was very quiet, humble, and
good; and though his new home was a prison,
he tried to be contented, and never complained
when the lovely fish called him ugly and the
cross crab nipped his toes. He was homesick,
and longed sadly for the pleasant river, the jolly
games he used to have, and his dear little sister.
He never sang now, fearing to be killed if he did;
but when the windows stood open through the
summer night and he heard the music of his
friends, he put his hands before his face and
cried such bitter tears that the water grew quite
salt. He bore it as long as he could; but his
heart broke at last, and one day poor Croak
was found floating on the top of the tank quite
dead. So that was the end of him.
Good little Splash lived at home all safe and
happy, and was so kind to every one that her
neighbors loved her dearly and sung her praises
at their evening concerts.
Now, the Frog Prince wished to marry, and
was looking about for a wife, as he was very
particular. So he wrapped himself up in a
dead-leaf cloak, put an empty nut-shell on his
head for a hood, and leaning on a bulrush staff,
went hobbling along by the river like a poor old
woman, begging at the different houses, that
he might see how the lady-frogs behaved at home.
When he rode out as the Prince on a field-mouse,
with flags flying, and all his court about
him, the young lady-frogs stood modestly by
their mammas, all in their best, and curtsied
sweetly as he went by. But now he came to
the back doors, a poor beggar, and it was very
different. Some were lazy and lay late in their
beds of river weeds, while the mothers did the
work; some were greedy and ate all the best
flies themselves; others slapped and scolded
their little brothers and sisters instead of taking
care of them; and nearly all were vain. The
Prince caught many looking at their bright
eyes in still pools, or putting on crowns of
water flowers, or bathing in dew to keep the
freckles from their faces. They were always
ready to dance at balls, to go boating, or sing
at the concerts where all could hear them; but
few were busy, sweet, and dutiful at home, and
the Prince nowhere found the bride he wanted.
He was very fond of music; so he listened to
the concerts, and soon began to wonder why
they all sang a song with this chorus,--
"Who is the fairest that swims in our river?
Who is the dearest frog under the sun?
Whose life is full of the sweetest endeavor?
Who is our busiest, happiest one?
Splash, Splash, darling thing!
All delight her praise to sing."
"I must find this lovely creature and see if
she is all they say, because if she is I 'll make a
Princess of her in the twinkling of an eye," said
the Prince; and he set off to look for Splash, for
he was a very energetic frog.
He soon found her, for she was always busy
doing something for her neighbors; and he
watched her teaching the little tadpoles to swim,
helping the old frogs out to sit in the sun when
damp weather gave them rheumatism, or taking
care of the sick ones, or feeding the poor, or
running errands for busy mammas with large
families and lazy daughters.
In her own little home all was as neat as wax,
but so lonely she did not like to stay there much.
All day she helped others, and at evening sat at
her door and thought sadly of her lost brothers.
She was very pretty in her neat, gray gown and
white apron, with her bright eyes, gentle face, and
sweet voice; though she seldom sung, except
lullabies to the little frogs and the sick folks.
She was rocking a small tadpole to sleep in
this way one day, when the disguised Prince
came hobbling along, and asked for a bit to eat.
Putting little Wiggle in his cobweb hammock,
Splash said kindly,--
"Yes, old mother, come in and rest while I
get you some dinner. Here 's a soft cushion
of moss, and a leaf of water fresh from the spring."
The Prince sat a long time talking with her,
and hearing about her brothers, and seeing how
sweet she was. He made up his mind to marry
at once; for frogs don't spend a long time and
much money getting ready,--they just wash up
their green and gray suits, and invite their friends
to the wedding. The bride can always find a
delicate cobweb on the grass for a veil, and that
is all she needs.
The Prince thought he would try one thing
more; so he said to her,--
"I 'm very lame; will you take me to the palace?
I want to see the Prince. Do you know him?"
"No; I 'm only a humble creature, and he
would n't care to know me," said Splash,
modestly. "But I admire him very much, he is so
brave and just and good. I love to see him go
by, and always peep behind my curtain, he is
such a splendid sight."
The Prince blushed under the nut-shell cap at
such praise, and was sure, from the way Splash
spoke, that she loved him a little bit. So he was
very happy and wanted to dance, but kept quiet
and leaned on her arm as she led him down the
bank, put him nicely on a lily-pad, and rowed
away, smiling at him and talking so sweetly he
got fonder and fonder of her every moment.
At last they came to the palace, all made of
white water-lilies, with red cardinal-flowers for
flags, floors of green moss, and pink toadstool
tables spread with acorn cups of honey, berries,
and all the dainties frogs love; for the Prince
had sent a telegram by the wind to have a feast
"Come in. I have something for you in return
for your kindness to me. I 'm not what I seem,
and in a moment you shall see who your new
friend is," said the Prince, leading her into the
great hall where the throne was.
Then he left her, wondering what was to happen,
while he hurried to throw off his old things
and to put on his green velvet suit, his crown of
cowslip, and the tall rush that was his sceptre.
He looked very splendid, with white silk stockings
on his long legs, his fine eyes shining, and
his speckled waistcoat puffed out with the joy
of his heart.
The trumpets sounded; all the frogs of the
court came marching in, with the Prince at the
head; and when they were seated at the tables,
he took astonished Splash by the hand, and said
in a loud voice,--
"This is your Queen,--the best, the loveliest
in the land! Bring the wedding veil; let the
bells ring, and shout with me, 'Hurrah! hurrah
for Queen Splash!'"