Mr. Toad was very grumpy indeed. He found his wife, Mrs. Toad, quite the ghastliest creature it had ever been his misfortune to meet. He had never wanted to marry her in the first place, but arranged marriages were the way of the world of toads—and so he married her anyway.
They spent the whole summer together in unhappy wedded frustration, unable to agree on anything—whether it be how to raise the polliwogs or what type of bug to have for dinner. As summer turned into autumn and the polliwogs-now-toads still had yet to find their own burrows in which to overwinter, Mr. Toad found himself dreading spending all his hibernation cramped together with his hideous wife and his deadbeat children.
One day, chilly wind blasted through the creek valley, and Mr. Toad knew he had to start burrowing for his ungrateful family. With an ill-natured croak, he dug backwards into the earth. “At least I shall be asleep the whole time,” he muttered.
A sound like chimes floated through the air. Mr. Toad looked up and saw the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. A glimmering, shapely fairy fluttered in the air above him.
“What are you doing, Toad?” the fairy said, her voice like bells.
“Burrowing down for the winter,” Mr. Toad croaked. “But your beauty would entice me to suffer all the cold of winter, if only you would be mine.”
The fairy giggled. “Flatterer! Surely a toad should want nothing to do with a fairy. What would your wife say?”
“I have no wife. I am alone.”
“And you would suffer winter just to be with me?”
The fairy’s face fell. “Unfaithful Toad!” she bellowed. “You shall suffer winter indeed!” She waved her arms and a surge of magic shot toward Mr. Toad. In seconds, a block of solid ice encased him. “You shall be frozen there ‘til spring—and hopefully you shall learn to appreciate what’s in front of you.” In a cloud of glitter, the fairy turned into Mrs. Toad and hopped away.
Mr. Toad shivered. It would be a long, cold winter—and he was unsure if spring would be any less frigid.
“Autumn and the Unfaithful Toad” copyright 2017 by A.L.S. Vossler.
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Toad image courtesy of openclipart.org.