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 Nothing useless is or low.
“To be sure I’ll come out,” answered a croaky voice, as Ruth, holding Belinda tightly, drew close to the edge of the brook2. “How’s that?” and with a splash a big green and brown frog landed on the stone at her feet.
“Now,” he added, swelling4 out his white vest with an air of importance, “I am a frog, of course, but my family name is Rana. Please don’t forget it.”
“Family name?” said Ruth, sitting down on the edge of the stone. “I didn’t know frogs had family names.”
“There’s a great deal you don’t know,” said Mr. Rana, in his decided5 way.
“Maybe there is,” agreed Ruth, “but it isn’t very polite to tell me so.” Then, with a sudden thought, she added quickly, “Why, you are really talking.”
“Of course, I’m talking. Do you suppose it’s the first time?”
“He’s dreadfully snappy,” Ruth whispered to Belinda.
“It isn’t my fault that people can’t understand,” finished Mr. Rana, swallowing very fast.
“I wanted to understand,” declared Ruth meekly6. “I was sure you could tell me such a lot of interesting things, and that nice fat toad7 in the garden too. He is so——”
“You’d better talk to the fat toad, then,” said Mr. Rana, looking very cross.
“Oh, dear,” sighed Ruth, “I didn’t mean I’d rather talk to him. I do want you to tell me things. All about yourself, please.”
“Now you are showing your good sense,” said Mr. Rana, as Ruth settled herself with a ready-to-listen air. “Nothing can be more interesting than my story; but excuse me one second. I see Mrs. Mosquito. This morning I ate her husband, and now——”
His sentence was not finished, but Mrs. Mosquito was; and Mr. Rana folded his hands across his fat stomach and looked at Ruth, while a big smile played about his broad mouth.
“She’s gone,” said Ruth, in a slightly awed8 tone, “and I know you’ve swallowed her, but I wish you would tell me how you did it. I didn’t see you move.”
“I didn’t move, but my tongue did, and it went so quick you couldn’t see it. When you eat, you bring things to your tongue, but when I eat, I send my tongue to my dinner. It’s a simpler way, I think. My tongue is rather wonderful too. It is fastened to my mouth in front, and rolled back; besides, it has a sort of glue on the end that catches whatever there is to catch. The number of pests I eat in a day would astonish you. Slugs, grubs, snails9, mosquitoes, and—well, what’s the matter? You don’t like such things, I suppose. Tastes differ, you see. Now, to tell my story. What do you think I looked like when I was first hatched?”
“A tadpole10, of course,” answered Ruth. “I’ve seen lots of tadpoles11. They are funny, wiggly things.”
“They are lively fellows,” agreed Mr. Rana, swallowing several times, while Ruth silently watched the sides of his neck puff12 out.
“Please tell me why you swallow so much,” she asked at last. “You are not eating, are you?”
Mr. Rana smiled, and this time the smile went all around his mouth.
“I swallow to breathe,” he answered. “I can’t swallow air while my mouth is open, and so I stop talking and shut it. Every time I swallow, the air sac on the side of my neck fills out. That’s why my voice has such a lovely croak1. My poor wife hasn’t any air sac, so her voice is never croaky.”
“But in the water——” began Ruth.
“In the water,” answered Mr. Rana, “I take in air through my skin. It is very porous13. My skin I mean. It is really a pleasure to tell you things. Now to get back to the beginning, being a tadpole, or, I should say, an egg. Looking at me now, could you imagine that I was once a tiny egg? It’s a fact, though. My mother laid her eggs near some water rushes, and, as I said, these eggs were but tiny specks14, black specks enclosed in a gluey case, which the water made swell3, until it looked like a mass of jelly. I came from one of those specks, and I tell you I was a lively fellow when I was first hatched. Some people say tadpoles are all head and tail, but there were other parts to me—places for legs, and I know I had two eyes and a mouth. Of course I made the most of life. A whole pond to circle in seemed a mighty15 big world to me, and I was soon swimming about with a lot of other tads, slapping tails, and having all kinds of fun. Indeed, we were always lively, especially when we were trying to get away from those who wanted us for dinner. There were lots of them too.”
“Ugh!” said Ruth, screwing up her face.
This displeased16 Mr. Rana.
“A tadpole is very delicate eating,” he said. “You have never tasted one, so you cannot judge; but let that pass. I was not eaten, as you can see for yourself.”
“I am glad you were not,” said Ruth as Mr. Rana stopped to swallow some air, “because then I shouldn’t have known you.”
“Well, that’s a fact. Now let me see what comes next. Oh, yes—my legs. Legs, you must know, are very important affairs to a tadpole, because when he gets them he isn’t a tadpole any more; so you may be sure I was happy when I saw mine beginning to grow. At the same time, my tail became shorter and shorter, until at last I had none at all. I was really and truly a frog. After this I was not obliged to stay in the water all the time. I had lungs and could breathe air.”
“But you do go in sometimes,” said Ruth. “I’ve seen you.”
“Of course I do,” agreed Mr. Rana. “I must keep my skin wet, and that reminds me it’s pretty dry now, so I will have to leave 25you. Good-by for the present.” And before Ruth could say a word there was a loud splash and Mr. Rana’s long legs disappeared in the brook.
“Oh, dear, he’s gone!” sighed Ruth.
“Yes, and good riddance,” croaked17 a voice that was not Mr. Rana’s.
Ruth looked around quickly.
“It’s nice having things talk to you,” she said, “but it keeps you jumping.”
“Use your eyes, and you wouldn’t have to jump,” went on the same voice. “I’m right over here in the shade. 26My blood’s cold, and I can’t stand the hot sun.”
It was her friend the garden toad. Ruth could see him plainly now. He looked more puffy than ever, as he sat under the bushes, swelling his leathery throat with importance. “If my cousin can talk to you I guess I can too,” he added. “I’m Mr. Bufo, and I’m quite as interesting as he is.”
Ruth was only too willing to agree to this, though, as she whispered to Belinda, she thought frogs and toads18 had very good opinions of themselves.
“I have a wife,” croaked Mr. Bufo when Ruth had sat herself on the ground close to him, “a worrying wife. Do you know it’s a bad thing to have a worrying wife?”
Ruth didn’t know, but she nodded her head in agreement.
“A bad thing,” repeated Mr. Bufo. “In the Spring, after Mrs. Bufo had laid her eggs, she gave me no peace. Of course, like all toads, she laid them in the water, but, instead 27of being reasonable about it, she was always asking me how she was to know them from the eggs Mrs. Rana and Mrs. Urodillo had laid. Theirs were in the water too.”
“Please, who is Mrs. Urodillo?” asked Ruth. “I know Mrs. Rana is a frog.”
“Mrs. Urodillo is a water salamander,” answered Mr. Bufo, not over pleased at being interrupted. “Now where was I? Oh, yes. Mrs. Bufo was afraid she wouldn’t know her own eggs. Well, I tried to argue with her.”
“‘Didn’t you lay yours in double strings19?’ I asked, ‘and didn’t you with motherly care enclose them in thin but strong tubes?’ Of course she couldn’t deny it. ‘But I won’t know my own tadpoles,’ she kept insisting.”
“No wonder she was worried,” said Ruth. “Any one would want to know their own babies.”
“Mothers in our family never do,” declared Mr. Bufo. “They lay their eggs, and that’s the end of it. Mrs. Bufo knew that as well as I did. She only wanted something to worry about. All tadpoles are pretty much alike to begin with, but they don’t end alike. Toad egg tads always grow into toads; frog egg tads become frogs, and salamander egg tads will be salamanders and nothing else.”
All the while he talked Mr. Bufo had stopped every little while to swallow, not only air, but whatever in the way of insects came within his reach. So of course Ruth saw his tongue.
“Your tongue is just like Mr. Rana’s,” she said, after watching it for a few seconds.
“Our tongues may be alike,” agreed Mr. Bufo, “but there’s a vast difference in our legs. His are too long for any use, and his skin is so horribly smooth it gives me the shivers just to look at it. Of course I know I am not handsome, and that reminds me of some lines that have been written about me. Want to hear them?”
Then without waiting for an answer he swallowed some air and began:
“I’m a clumsy, awkward toad,
And I hop20 along the road;
’Tis the only way we toads can well meander21;
While in yonder marshy22 bog23
Leaps my relative the frog,
Very near my aunt, the water Salamander.
“And if you should ever stray
Near a slimy pool some day,
And along its grassy24 margin25 chance to loiter.
Do not pass it idly by,
For it is the spot where I
Was born a lively tadpole in the water.
“I’m a homely26, harmless thing;
I catch insects on the wing,
And in this I serve you all; it is my duty.
And now tell me which is best,
To be useless and well dressed,
Or useful, even though I am no beauty?”
Mr. Bufo had scarcely finished, when his mate hopped27 out from some nearby bushes.
“I’d be ashamed,” she said, in a very puffy voice, “to sit there repeating that lovely poetry, with such shabby clothes as yours are. How many more times must I tell you to change them?”
“It doesn’t matter about his clothes,” said Ruth. “I think it is so lovely to hear him talk.”
“You haven’t heard him as often as I have,” puffed28 Mrs. Bufo, hopping29 almost into Ruth’s lap. “Besides, his clothes are a disgrace. They are not only faded and dull, but they are actually beginning to split up the back.”
“Are they?” croaked Mr. Bufo meekly.
Then he drew a film over his eyes and pretended to be asleep.
“Now look here,” said Mrs. Bufo, “you can’t deceive me. That is only your third eyelid30. You are not asleep. Now do get off those old clothes.”
“Well, if I must, I must,” croaked Mr. Bufo, hopping away.
“There, I’ve made him do it at last,” puffed Mrs. Bufo, swallowing a passing fly. “It’s a hard job, and I don’t blame him for getting out of it as long as possible. He has to twist and turn, and use first one leg and then another, until he is quite free from his old suit, and then, tired as he is, he must eat it.”
“Eat it?” repeated Ruth, screwing up her face.
“Yes, eat it, and not a tooth to chew with either. I can’t see why we haven’t teeth like those horrid31 frogs, though, to tell the truth, theirs are no good for chewing. They only have them in their upper jaws32, and they point backward, too, like fish teeth. I can’t see that they help much in chewing, but they do help to hold what the frog wishes to swallow, and, after all, we toads and frogs are swallowers rather than chewers.”
As she spoke33, several flies went to prove her words.
“Yes,” she added with a big puff, which Ruth took for a sigh, “we have our troubles and worries from early Spring, when we leave our holes, where we sleep all Winter, to the time when frost drives us into our holes again, and no one seems to think about the work we do. The garden couldn’t have a 32better friend, for the bugs34 and harmful insects we eat can’t be counted. Well, there’s no use talking this way. I must go to Mr. Bufo. He’ll need some cheering up, I’m sure. One good thing, he won’t have to make his new suit. He’ll find it all ready under his old one.”
“Well, she does think of him, anyhow,” thought Ruth as Mrs. Bufo hopped away. “I hope she will talk to me again some day.”


1 croak yYLzJ     
  • Everyone seemed rather out of sorts and inclined to croak.每个人似乎都有点不对劲,想发发牢骚。
  • Frogs began to croak with the rainfall.蛙随着雨落开始哇哇叫。
2 brook PSIyg     
  • In our room we could hear the murmur of a distant brook.在我们房间能听到远处小溪汩汩的流水声。
  • The brook trickled through the valley.小溪涓涓流过峡谷。
3 swell IHnzB     
  • The waves had taken on a deep swell.海浪汹涌。
  • His injured wrist began to swell.他那受伤的手腕开始肿了。
4 swelling OUzzd     
  • Use ice to reduce the swelling. 用冰敷消肿。
  • There is a marked swelling of the lymph nodes. 淋巴结处有明显的肿块。
5 decided lvqzZd     
  • This gave them a decided advantage over their opponents.这使他们比对手具有明显的优势。
  • There is a decided difference between British and Chinese way of greeting.英国人和中国人打招呼的方式有很明显的区别。
6 meekly meekly     
  • He stood aside meekly when the new policy was proposed. 当有人提出新政策时,他唯唯诺诺地站 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He meekly accepted the rebuke. 他顺从地接受了批评。 来自《简明英汉词典》
7 toad oJezr     
  • Both the toad and frog are amphibian.蟾蜍和青蛙都是两栖动物。
  • Many kinds of toad hibernate in winter.许多种蟾蜍在冬天都会冬眠。
8 awed a0ab9008d911a954b6ce264ddc63f5c8     
adj.充满敬畏的,表示敬畏的v.使敬畏,使惊惧( awe的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The audience was awed into silence by her stunning performance. 观众席上鸦雀无声,人们对他出色的表演感到惊叹。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • I was awed by the huge gorilla. 那只大猩猩使我惊惧。 来自《简明英汉词典》
9 snails 23436a8a3f6bf9f3c4a9f6db000bb173     
n.蜗牛;迟钝的人;蜗牛( snail的名词复数 )
  • I think I'll try the snails for lunch—I'm feeling adventurous today. 我想我午餐要尝一下蜗牛——我今天很想冒险。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Most snails have shells on their backs. 大多数蜗牛背上有壳。 来自《简明英汉词典》
10 tadpole GIvzw     
  • As a tadpole changes into a frog,its tail is gradually absorbed.蝌蚪变成蛙,它的尾巴就逐渐被吸收掉。
  • It was a tadpole.Now it is a frog.它过去是蝌蚪,现在是一只青蛙。
11 tadpoles 1abae2c527b80ebae05cd93670639707     
n.蝌蚪( tadpole的名词复数 )
  • The pond teemed with tadpoles. 池子里有很多蝌蚪。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Both fish and tadpoles have gills. 鱼和蝌蚪都有鳃。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
12 puff y0cz8     
  • He took a puff at his cigarette.他吸了一口香烟。
  • They tried their best to puff the book they published.他们尽力吹捧他们出版的书。
13 porous 91szq     
  • He added sand to the soil to make it more porous.他往土里掺沙子以提高渗水性能。
  • The shell has to be slightly porous to enable oxygen to pass in.外壳不得不有些细小的孔以便能使氧气通过。
14 specks 6d64faf449275b5ce146fe2c78100fed     
n.眼镜;斑点,微粒,污点( speck的名词复数 )
  • Minutes later Brown spotted two specks in the ocean. 几分钟后布朗发现海洋中有两个小点。 来自英汉非文学 - 百科语料821
  • Do you ever seem to see specks in front of your eyes? 你眼睛前面曾似乎看见过小点吗? 来自辞典例句
15 mighty YDWxl     
  • A mighty force was about to break loose.一股巨大的力量即将迸发而出。
  • The mighty iceberg came into view.巨大的冰山出现在眼前。
16 displeased 1uFz5L     
  • The old man was displeased and darted an angry look at me. 老人不高兴了,瞪了我一眼。
  • He was displeased about the whole affair. 他对整个事情感到很不高兴。
17 croaked 9a150c9af3075625e0cba4de8da8f6a9     
v.呱呱地叫( croak的过去式和过去分词 );用粗的声音说
  • The crow croaked disaster. 乌鸦呱呱叫预报灾难。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • 'she has a fine head for it," croaked Jacques Three. “她有一个漂亮的脑袋跟着去呢,”雅克三号低沉地说。 来自英汉文学 - 双城记
18 toads 848d4ebf1875eac88fe0765c59ce57d1     
n.蟾蜍,癞蛤蟆( toad的名词复数 )
  • All toads blink when they swallow. 所有的癞蛤蟆吞食东西时都会眨眼皮。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Toads have shorter legs and are generally more clumsy than frogs. 蟾蜍比青蛙脚短,一般说来没有青蛙灵活。 来自辞典例句
19 strings nh0zBe     
  • He sat on the bed,idly plucking the strings of his guitar.他坐在床上,随意地拨着吉他的弦。
  • She swept her fingers over the strings of the harp.她用手指划过竖琴的琴弦。
20 hop vdJzL     
  • The children had a competition to see who could hop the fastest.孩子们举行比赛,看谁单足跳跃最快。
  • How long can you hop on your right foot?你用右脚能跳多远?
21 meander meander     
  • Visitors and locals alike meander along the sidewalks of the Seine River.游客与当地人沿着塞纳河岸漫步聊天。
  • They tumble down mountainsides and meander through flat farmlands.它们滚滚冲下山脊,蜿蜒穿过平坦的农田。
22 marshy YBZx8     
  • In August 1935,we began our march across the marshy grassland. 1935年8月,我们开始过草地。
  • The surrounding land is low and marshy. 周围的地低洼而多沼泽。
23 bog QtfzF     
  • We were able to pass him a rope before the bog sucked him under.我们终于得以在沼泽把他吞没前把绳子扔给他。
  • The path goes across an area of bog.这条小路穿过一片沼泽。
24 grassy DfBxH     
  • They sat and had their lunch on a grassy hillside.他们坐在长满草的山坡上吃午饭。
  • Cattle move freely across the grassy plain.牛群自由自在地走过草原。
25 margin 67Mzp     
  • We allowed a margin of 20 minutes in catching the train.我们有20分钟的余地赶火车。
  • The village is situated at the margin of a forest.村子位于森林的边缘。
26 homely Ecdxo     
  • We had a homely meal of bread and cheese.我们吃了一顿面包加乳酪的家常便餐。
  • Come and have a homely meal with us,will you?来和我们一起吃顿家常便饭,好吗?
27 hopped 91b136feb9c3ae690a1c2672986faa1c     
跳上[下]( hop的过去式和过去分词 ); 单足蹦跳; 齐足(或双足)跳行; 摘葎草花
  • He hopped onto a car and wanted to drive to town. 他跳上汽车想开向市区。
  • He hopped into a car and drove to town. 他跳进汽车,向市区开去。
28 puffed 72b91de7f5a5b3f6bdcac0d30e24f8ca     
adj.疏松的v.使喷出( puff的过去式和过去分词 );喷着汽(或烟)移动;吹嘘;吹捧
  • He lit a cigarette and puffed at it furiously. 他点燃了一支香烟,狂吸了几口。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He felt grown-up, puffed up with self-importance. 他觉得长大了,便自以为了不起。 来自《简明英汉词典》
29 hopping hopping     
n. 跳跃 动词hop的现在分词形式
  • The clubs in town are really hopping. 城里的俱乐部真够热闹的。
  • I'm hopping over to Paris for the weekend. 我要去巴黎度周末。
30 eyelid zlcxj     
  • She lifted one eyelid to see what he was doing.她抬起一只眼皮看看他在做什么。
  • My eyelid has been tumid since yesterday.从昨天起,我的眼皮就肿了。
31 horrid arozZj     
  • I'm not going to the horrid dinner party.我不打算去参加这次讨厌的宴会。
  • The medicine is horrid and she couldn't get it down.这种药很难吃,她咽不下去。
32 jaws cq9zZq     
  • The antelope could not escape the crocodile's gaping jaws. 那只羚羊无法从鱷鱼张开的大口中逃脱。
  • The scored jaws of a vise help it bite the work. 台钳上有刻痕的虎钳牙帮助它紧咬住工件。
33 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
34 bugs e3255bae220613022d67e26d2e4fa689     
adj.疯狂的,发疯的n.窃听器( bug的名词复数 );病菌;虫子;[计算机](制作软件程序所产生的意料不到的)错误
  • All programs have bugs and need endless refinement. 所有的程序都有漏洞,都需要不断改进。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The sacks of rice were swarming with bugs. 一袋袋的米里长满了虫子。 来自《简明英汉词典》


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