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TIMOTHY TURTLE made such a noise that the Frog family had to stop singing. "It's not fair!" he cried. "You're peeping!"
"Well, so are you!" Ferdinand Frog retorted.
"I only opened my eyes to make sure that you were doing as I asked you to," Mr. Turtle replied with an injured air.
"And we didn't shut ours, because we wanted to watch you," said Mr. Frog.
"Can't you trust me?" Timothy snapped.
"Certainly!" Ferdinand Frog replied.
"Oh, yes! We can trust you!" And he winked at his friends.
"You don't want to hurt my feelings, do you?" Timothy Turtle went on.
"No, indeed!" everybody exclaimed. And then Ferdinand Frog told Timothy that they would sing a special song in his honor.
"Fire away!" Timothy ordered them. And the whole company knew, when he said that, that if he really cared anything at all for singing he never would have spoken of it in that fashion.
They were just about to begin the song when Timothy Turtle stopped them. "What's this thing called?" he demanded.
"It's known," Ferdinand Frog explained, "as 'A Merry Song.'"
And then the whole Frog family began to bellow their loudest:
A MERRY SONGCome let us sing a merry song!
To you it may sound sad.
And if you think it loud and long
We think that it's not bad.
We'll sing about a grumpy one
Who snaps and bites all day.
And if you call that "having fun"
We make reply, "Go 'way!"
He has a glittering, wicked eye
And also cruel jaws.
And if you ask the reason why,
We'll answer you, "Because!"
He'll stretch his neck and grab you quick –
Don't let him come too near!
And if you poke him with a stick
He'll seize that too – oh, dear!
Now, we'll admit he swims quite well
And that he's slow ashore.
Don't ask us if he wears a shell
Until we tell you more.
Don't ask us if he's fond of fish
Nor seek to learn his age.
And kindly don't express a wish
To see him in a rage!
Don't ask us if his claws are strong
And if he has a tail.
It might be short and blunt, or long
And pointed like a nail.
We do not want to cause you pain.
We would not give offense –
But, sir, you'll not come here again
If you have any sense.
After the last echo of the song had lost itself in the depths of Cedar Swamp, the singers all turned, smiling, to their listener.
But his face wore no smile. On the contrary, Timothy Turtle frowned darkly. "You can't fool me!" he cried. "You don't like me! You don't want me here!"
Ferdinand Frog swallowed a few times.
"Well," said he, "of course my manners are so elegant that I simply couldn't dispute one of my elders. And anyhow, Mr. Turtle, you'd find that our singing sounded twice as well if you were half a mile away."
"It certainly couldn't sound any worse than it does here," Timothy Turtle declared – a remark which made the Frog family grin broadly.
He said no more, but slipped into the water and struck out towards home. There was a lively scattering of those who found themselves in Timothy Turtle's path. And for a time it looked as if the singing party had broken up in disorder.
But after a while everybody came back again – that is, everybody but Timothy Turtle. He hurried away and spent most of the whole night buried in the mud at the bottom of Black Creek. For even until daybreak that merry song came floating now and then across Pleasant Valley.
And Timothy Turtle did not like it. He thought it not only loud and long, but most unpleasant as well.THE END