This is a collection of stories and fables, some true, some fictional, and some a mixture of both, that will entertain everyone and anyone who has a little Grit! Retold by me, Lindsay Hodge of Haven Homestead. If you liked this story, head on over to Haven Homestead, or comment here and let me know.
Frank and Fred were good neighbors. They had been together since they were tadpoles swimming around in the duck pond at Haven Homestead. From dusk to dawn the two frogs would hop around the pond, climb the trees and splash and play. There was always plenty of food for the two of them, and all the rest of the frogs that lived in their bit of the forest. The ducks would chase them through the pen, and sometimes a child would come and catch one or both of them, but they always found their way back home. The two neighbors would often go for a quick hop-about, as good neighbors do.
Once, on one of these hop-abouts, a tragedy happened. The frogs had gone to a milk shed nearby. It wasn't far from their pond, and they had been there a few times before. There was an especially good spot in one corner where the frogs would hide and catch some of the tastiest flies. There was something different about the shed this time. Something that gave Fred the chills.
“I can't put my finger on it,” said Fred, “But I've got a bad feeling about this.”
“Oh, Fred! Don't be such a worry wort.”
The frogs took their usual route to their favorite snack corner. A hop onto a stool, followed by a jump to the shelf and a short, but precarious climb up the wall above the buckets of cream and milk. They were almost to the corner when Frank hollered, “WATCH OUT!”
Minnie Mouser, the resident barn cat, had been hiding and waiting for a tasty treat too. Frank saw her just as she was about to pounce! Fred jumped left, Frank hopped right. Minnie pounced on the shelf right where the two had been. She pursued the frogs from one side of the shed to the other. The frogs would jump and hop with Minnie never far behind. Finally, she had them cornered.
“There's only one way out,” whispered Fred.
“Where's that?” asked Frank.
Fred explained, “The buckets. If we can jump over that one right below us, we can sneak behind the one next to it, and hop out through that crack in the wall.”
As Minnie edged closer, Frank looked. There was no way. “We can't jump that far! At least we never have before!”
“We've got to try,” said Fred.
Suddenly there was no time left to talk. Minnie crouched, then her spring-like legs catapulted her forward and the two frogs leaped for their lives... Right INTO the bucket of cream.
Frank and Fred splashed into the cream head first. The bucket was deep and the sides were slick. Minnie tried to get to the frogs, but gave up in favor of some slightly easier prey that had caught her eye. The frogs were left to figure their way out of the bucket in relative peace.
“Whew!” sighed Fred. “I'm so glad that's over.”
“Don't get to cozy just yet. We've still got to get out of this bucket.” Frank looked around. From where he was treading, he couldn't see anyway out.
“Let's find out how deep this bucket is,” said Fred, “Maybe, you can stand on my shoulders and hop out.”
He swam to the bottom and realized that it was much too deep. He tried letting Frank stand on his back to jump while he was swimming, but Fred would sink too quickly for Frank to hop out. They tried using their sticky fingers to climb out of the bucket but the cream was thick and slippery. They couldn't get a good grip.
“This is just great. We've escaped being eaten by a cat to be drowned in a bucket of cream!” complained Frank. “Why don't we just give up now? It'll be easier.”
“Just keep swimming Frank,” said Fred, “We'll figure this out.”
Fred's ever-hopeful attitude was just a little annoying to Frank. It was hard to swim in the cream. Cream was much thicker than water and Frank was getting tired. Frank kept swimming, though he knew there was no hope.
“I swear, this stuff is getting thicker!” Frank bellowed. “I'm done. There's no way out.” Frank stopped kicking and sunk to the bottom.
Fred could not give up. He was sure that an answer would present itself soon enough, but his heart felt heavy. He had just lost a very good neighbor. The cream was thick, and getting thicker, but still Fred kicked his feet.
Suddenly, something about the cream changed. One moment it was so thick he could barely move his feet, and the next he could move more freely and there were chunks of something yellow floating all around him. The cream had turned into butter and whey! As he swam the butter got firmer and the whey got looser. Fred began to work the chunks into a sort of hill in the middle of the bucket, and in no time at all, Fred could stand on it. Fred flopped himself onto the top of the hill and rested for a moment.
Then Fred looked up from his perch on the top of the butter and said, “I think I can just make that.” He got into his best long jump position and with all of his might, he shot right out of the bucket.
The hop home was a bittersweet one for Fred. His neighbor was gone, but he was alive. He thanked God in Heaven for the strength to get through that mess, and he hurried home to take a bath.
“I don't think I'll ever visit that shed again,” thought Fred. He never did, but he never forgot the lesson he learned there either.
The moral of this story is:
Just keep kickin'
the cream will thicken!
When the going get tough just dig in!
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