The only thing that separated him from dry land was a swampy, muddy, swiftly flowing river. But the river was home to all sorts of slippery, slittering snakes that loved nothing better than a good, plump frog for dinner, so Frog didn't dare try to swim across.
So for many days, the frog stayed put, hopping along the bank, trying to think of a way to get across.
The snakes hissed and jeered at him, daring him to come closer, but he refused. Occasionally they would slither closer, jaws open to attack, but the frog always leaped out of the way. But no matter how far upstream he searched or how far downstream, the frog wasn't able to find a way across the water.
He had felt certain that there would be a bridge, or a place where the banks came together, yet all he found was more reeds and water. After a while, even the snakes stopped teasing him and went off in search of easier prey.
The frog sighed in frustration and sat to sulk in the rushes. Suddenly, he spotted two big eyes staring at him from the water. The giant log-shaped animal opened its mouth and asked him, "What are you doing, Frog? Surely there are enough flies right there for a meal."
The frog croaked in surprise and leaped away from the crocodile. That creature could swallow him whole in a moment without thinking about it! Once he was a satisfied that he was a safe distance away, he answered. "I'm tired of living in swampy waters, and I want to travel to the other side of the river. But if I swim across, the snakes will eat me."
The crocodile harrumphed in agreement and sat, thinking, for a while. "Well, if you're afraid of the snakes, I could give you a ride across," he suggested.
"Oh no, I don't think so," Frog answered quickly. "You'd eat me on the way over, or go underwater so the snakes could get me!"
"Now why would I let the snakes get you? I think they're a terrible nuisance with all their hissing and slithering! The river would be much better off without them altogether! Anyway, if you're so worried that I might eat you, you can ride on my tail."
The frog considered his offer. He did want to get to dry ground very badly, and there didn't seem to be any other way across the river. He looked at the crocodile from his short, squat buggy eyes and wondered about the crocodile's motives. But if he rode on the tail, the croc couldn't eat him anyway. And he was right about the snakes--no self-respecting crocodile would give a meal to the snakes.
"Okay, it sounds like a good plan to me. Turn around so I can hop on your tail."
The crocodile flopped his tail into the marshy mud and let the frog climb on, then he waddled out to the river. But he couldn't stick his tail into the water as a rudder because the frog was on it -- and if he put his tail in the water, the snakes would eat the frog. They clumsily floated downstream for a ways, until the crocodile said, "Hop onto my back so I can steer straight with my tail." The frog moved, and the journey smoothed out.
From where he was sitting, the frog couldn't see much except the back of Crocodile's head. "Why don't you hop up on my head so you can see everything around us?" Crocodile invited.
"But I don't want to see anything else," the frog answered, suddenly feeling nervous.
"Oh, come now. It's a beautiful view! Surely you don't think that I'm going to eat you after we're halfway across. My home is in the marsh-- what would be the point of swimming across the river full of snakes if I didn't leave you on the other bank?"
Frog was curious about what the river looked like, so he climbed on top of Crocodile's head. The river looked almost pretty from this view. He watched dragonflies darting over the water and smiled in anticipation as he saw firm ground beyond the cattails. When the crocodile got close enough, the frog would leap off his head towards freedom. He wouldn't give the croc a chance to eat him.
"My nose tickles," the crocodile complained suddenly, breaking into the frog's train of thought. "I think there might be a fly buzzing around it somewhere, or a piece of cattail fluff swept into it while I was taking you across the river."
"I don't see a fly," the frog said, peering at the crocodile's green snout. It seemed odd that anything could tickle a crocodile through it's thick skin.
"Would you go check my nose for a piece of cattail fluff, then?" the crocodile begged, twitching his nose. "I'm afraid I'll sneeze and send you flying. I don't want to feed you to the snakes." A tear seeped out of his eye, as if he was holding back a mighty sneeze.
The bank isn't too far, the frog thought. And it's the least he could do to repay him for bringing him over. So he hopped onto the crocodile's snout and checked the nostrils. Just a little closer, and he could jump... "I don't see--" he began.
Just then, with a terrific CHOMP! the frog disappeared. The crocodile licked his lips in satisfaction and gave a tiny half-sneeze. "Good, I feel much better already," he smiled, and turned around to go back home.
More Frog Fables.
Back to FROGLAND.