Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chapter 21: Dewey's house


Over to Dewey’s house I took the friends, in a jelly-jar, their Frog-feet propped upon the glass, their faces looking very unassuming, and their minds surely confounded by the Impossible Barrier.  Upon examination, Dewey, a man with a bird-beak nose and plumage from his ears, looked wide-eyed at the beasts, and marveled at their origin, and said they were surely related to the European Fire-Bellied Toad, but were certainly brighter, with a defiantly red and impassioned Belly.  He lectured briefly about these toads, saying that in actuality most things called toads are actually Frogs, and giving a brief list of their habits and needs.  He mentioned that amphibians, and especially Frogs, are quite possibly the most interesting creatures in the World, due to their strange skills and their relationship to the water and the earth, which was so intimate that a Frog would sometimes perish if the slightest contamination were incurred into his habitat, even if a man covered in soot bathed in a Frog’s pond.

He asked me if he could take them in order to preserve the specimens, and perhaps present them to the court in London as a new species, bringing both him and me lofty distinctions, for the Frogs in the New World were all thought to be mundane and dull.  He reached for my jar.

“Perhaps,” I said.  I was strangely offended at Dewey’s reach.   I was looking at the Frog friends, my gaze returned by both sets of uncannily conscious eyes.  The Frogs shifted in their jar, propped upon their long hind legs.  The green-and-brown Frog looked at me, or perhaps through me, and I saw in his eye the elongated reflection of my head, and the world behind me, twisted in the eye’s globe, bending the images of the world to fit its shape. 

The green-and-brown Frog looked at me

Dewey gave me a peculiar, bird-twitchy look, and reached again, reiterating the rewards from such a rare find, and postulated that I had no reason for keeping the Frogs, aside from using them for bait, which would surely be a waste of such Plunder.

“No,” I said, and put my free hand in front of me, to block his reach, and promptly put the jar back into my satchel.  I said that I would like to keep them as pets in my new living quarters.  I believed that they would make good companions.

Disappointed, he looked at me as if I was a child entertaining a fanciful trinket or absurd idea.  I turned, stony and cold, to leave.  Dewey snapped at me, mumbling something about a petty and unjust mind.

Walking home, I kept the jar close to my chest to protect my new friends from the night’s chill.  Proud I was, and surprised at my defense of the Frogs, for I had used Frogs so many times to my advantage, and now I seemed to be affected by them for the first time.  I found myself changed, perhaps because of their princely posture, their heads raised high by their stout Frog-feet, or perhaps because of the knowing eye that followed my countenance.  They may have brought out a side of me that was more Human, or maybe more Frog-like.  I seem to have gotten the two confused on this day, while fishing along the Delaware.

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