“Ca’n’t amuse it no more,” Bruno answered, very dolefully, “’cause it
won’t say what it would like to do next! I’ve showed it all the
duck-weeds–and a live caddis-worm— but it won’t say nuffin!
What–would oo like?’ he shouted into the ear of the Frog:
but the little creature sat quite still, and took no notice of him.
“It’s deaf, I think!” Bruno said, turning away with a sigh.
“And it’s time to get the Theatre ready.”
“Who are the audience to be?”
“Only but Frogs,” said Bruno. “But they haven’t comed yet.
They wants to be drove up, like sheep.”
“Would it save time,” I suggested, “if I were to walk round with
Sylvie, to drive up the Frogs, while you get the Theatre ready?”
“That are a good plan!” cried Bruno. “But where are Sylvie?”
“I’m here!” said Sylvie, peeping over the edge of the bank.
“I was just watching two Frogs that were having a race.”
“Which won it? “Bruno eagerly inquired.
Sylvie was puzzled. “He does ask such hard questions!”
she confided to me.
“And what’s to happen in the Theatre?” I asked.
“First they have their Birthday-Feast,” Sylvie said: “then Bruno does
some Bits of Shakespeare; then he tells them a Story.”
“I should think the Frogs like the Feast best. Don’t they?”
“Well, there’s generally very few of them that get any. They will keep
their mouths shut so tight! And it’s just as well they do,” she added,
“because Bruno likes to cook it himself: and he cooks very queerly.”
Now they’re all in. Would you just help me to put them with their
heads the right way?”
We soon managed this part of the business, though the Frogs kept up a
most discontented croaking all the time.
“What are they saying?” I asked Sylvie.
“They’re saying ‘Fork! Fork!’ It’s very silly of them! You’re not
going to have forks!” she announced with some severity. “Those that
want any Feast have just got to open their mouths, and Bruno ‘ll put
some of it in!”
At this moment Bruno appeared, wearing a little white apron to show
that he was a Cook, and carrying a tureen full of very queer-looking
soup. I watched very carefully as he moved about among the Frogs;
but I could not see that any of them opened their mouths to be fed–
except one very young one, and I’m nearly sure it did it accidentally,
in yawning. However Bruno instantly put a large spoonful of soup into
its mouth, and the poor little thing coughed violently for some time.
So Sylvie and I had to share the soup between us, and to pretend to
enjoy it, for it certainly was very queerly cooked.
I only ventured to take one spoonful of it (“Sylvie’s Summer-Soup,”
Bruno said it was), and must candidly confess that it was not at all
nice; and I could not feel surprised that so many of the guests had
kept their mouths shut up tight.
“What’s the soup made of, Bruno?” said Sylvie, who had put a spoonful
of it to her lips, and was making a wry face over it.
And Bruno’s answer was anything but encouraging. “Bits of things!”
The entertainment was to conclude with “Bits of Shakespeare,” as Sylvie
expressed it, which were all to be done by Bruno, Sylvie being fully
engaged in making the Frogs keep their heads towards the stage:
after which Bruno was to appear in his real character, and tell them a
Story of his own invention.
“Will the Story have a Moral to it?” I asked Sylvie, while Bruno was
away behind the hedge, dressing for the first ‘Bit.’
“I think so,” Sylvie replied doubtfully. “There generally is a Moral,
only he puts it in too soon.”
“And will he say all the Bits of Shakespeare?”
“No, he’ll only act them,” said Sylvie. “He knows hardly any of the
words. When I see what he’s dressed like, I’ve to tell the Frogs
what character it is. They’re always in such a hurry to guess!
Don’t you hear them all saying ‘What? What?'” And so indeed they were:
it had only sounded like croaking, till Sylvie explained it, but I could