Egbert, Bull Frog by P. G. Wodehouse
"Speaking", said my uncle James, "of dogs, did I ever tell you
about Egbert, my bull-frog? I class Egbert among the dogs, partly
because of his faithfulness and intelligence, and partly because his
deep bay — you know how those bull-frogs bark — always reminded me
of a bloodhound surprised while on a trail of aniseed. He was my
constant companion in Northern Assam, where I was at that time
planting rubber. He finally died of a surfeit of hard-boiled egg, of
which he was passionately fond, and I was as miserable as if I had
lost a brother.
"I think Egbert had been trying to edge into the household for some
time before I really noticed him. Looking back, I can remember
meeting him sometimes in the garden, and, though I did not perceive it
at first, there was a wistful look in his eye when I passed him by
without speaking. It was not till our burglary that I began really to
understand his sterling worth. A couple of natives were breaking in
and would undoubtedly have succeeded in their designs had it not been
for Egbert's frantic barking, which aroused the house and brought me
down with a revolver. It is almost certain that the devoted animal
had made a practice, night after night, of sleeping near the front-
door on the chance of something of the sort happening. He was always
suspicious of natives.
"After that of course his position in the house was established.
He slept every night at the foot of my bed, and very soothing it was
to hear his deep rhythmical breathing in the darkness.
"In the daytime we were inseparable. We would go for walks
together, and I have frequently spent hours throwing sticks into the
pond at the bottom of the garden for him to retrieve. It was this
practice which saved his life at the greatest crisis of his career.
"I happened to have strained my leg, and I was sitting in the
garden, dozing, Egbert by my side, when I was awakened by a hoarse
bark from my faithful companion, and, looking down, I perceived him
hopping rapidly towards the pond, pursued by an enormous oojoobwa
snake, a reptile not dangerous to man, being non-poisonous, but a
great scourge among the minor fauna of Assam, owing to its habit of
pouncing upon them and swallowing them alive. This snake is
particularly addicted to bull-frogs, and, judging from the earnest
manner in which he was making for the pond, Egbert was not blind to
this trait in its character.
"You may imagine my agony of mind. There was I, helpless. My
injured leg made it impossible for me to pursue the snake and
administer one where it would do most good. And meanwhile the unequal
race was already drawing to its inevitable close. Egbert, splendid as
were his other qualities, was not built for speed. He was dignified
rather than mobile.
"What could I do? Nothing beyond throwing my stick in the hope of
stunning the oojoobwa. It was a forlorn hope, but I did it; and it
saved Egbert's life, though not in the way I had intended. The stick
missed the snake and fell immediately in front of Egbert. It was
enough. His grand intellect worked with the speed of lightning. Just
as the snake reached him, he reached the stick; and the next moment
there was Egbert, up to his neck in the reptile's throat, but saved
from complete absorption by the stick, which he was holding firmly in
"I have seldom seen any living thing so completely nonplussed as
was the oojoobwa. Snakes have very little reasoning power. They
cannot weigh cause and effect. Otherwise of course the oojoobwa would
have nipped Egbert till he was forced to leave go of the stick.
Instead of doing this, he regarded the stick and Egbert as being
constructed all in one piece, and imagined that he had happened upon a
new breed of unswallowable frog. He ejected Egbert, and lay thinking
it over, while Egbert, full of pluck, continued his journey to the
"Three times in the next two yards did the snake endeavour to
swallow his victim, and each time he gave it up; and after the last
experiment Egbert, evidently finding this constant semi-disappearance
into the other's interior bad for his nervous system, conceived the
idea of backing towards the pond instead of heading in that direction,
the process, though slower, being less liable to sudden interruption.
"Well, to make the story short, the oojoobwa followed Egbert to the
very edge of the pond, the picture of perplexity; and when my little
friend finally dived in he lay there with his head over the edge of
the bank, staring into the water for quite ten minutes. Then he
turned, shook his head despairingly, and wriggled into the bushes,
still thinking hard. And a little while later I saw Egbert's head
appear cautiously over the side of the pond, the stick still in his
mouth. He looked round to see that the coast was clear, and then came
hopping up to me and laid the stick at my feet. And, strong man as I
was, I broke down and cried like a child."