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Children's Story Garden  >  Publishing the Truth

Girl standing in wild undergrowth, casting milkwood seeds to the breeze.

The Children's Story Garden

Publishing the Truth


PUBLISHING THE TRUTH

"Spring — spring — spree-ee-ing — spring!"

It was late on a dreary afternoon in March. The sun had only succeeded in staining the bank of grey clouds a dull red as it sank behind them. The road that ran along the edge of the swamp was a foot deep with yellow mud; the fields on both sides were brown and lifeless, as though no green thing could ever push its way through the tangle of dead weeds; the winter had been long and cruelly hard, and even the bare trees looked twisted, as though tired of battling with the winds. But now the air was very still, with a curious hint of softness.

"Spring — spring — spree-ee-ing," — very shrill and piercing the sound throbbed up from the edge of the swamp. A big Bullfrog plumped off a log into the water and, with a few kicks of his strong back legs, brought up at the stone from which the noise came. He stuck his eyes out of the mud and glared at a tiny, mottled brown and green frog about an inch long, who squatted innocently on the stone.

"Gr-r-unk — can't you hush that noise!" rumbled the Bullfrog deep in his throat.

For an answer the Spring Peeper (for that, was his name) deliberately puffed out his yellow throat and repeated rapidly five times, "Spring — spring — spring — spring — spree-ee-ee-ing!"

The Bullfrog was furious. He tried clumsily to clamber up on the stone, but was still too heavy and fat with his winter's sleep, so fell back into the mud.

"Not true — not true — not true!" he gurgled in a great passion." You know it — not true!"

The Spring Peeper never blinked an eye. The Bullfrog noticed with helpless rage that the yellow throat was again commencing to puff—

A black Crow flapped low over the swamp on his way to roost in the pines beyond.

"Caw — caw — who said that? It's a lie — winter — winter — caw!" he cried hoarsely.

As he swooped just over the stone, the yellow throat swelled large.

"Spring — spring — spring — it's here — here," thrilled the Voice.

The Crow snapped his beak in anger. "Lie — lie" he screamed, and labored on heavily.

The Spring Peeper never blinked an eye.

A Weasel, sniffing stealthily along the water's edge for a clean place to drink, paused and sneered; it the Spring Peeper.

"Shut up, you little fool," it snarled. "Winter will last for weeks yet, and there's fine killing among the farmer's chickens for a long——"

"Spring — spring — spring ——" the Weasel was interrupted. It could hardly believe its ears. Who dared defy the Weasel — feared by every living thing! Madly it sprang toward the stone. Its feet sank in the treacherous mud and it had to leap back again.

"Fool!" it hissed. "Fool — fool!" and it glided out of sight, defeated.

The Spring Peeper never blinked an eye, and his yellow throat was puffed and full.

"Spring — spring — spring — spree — spree — spree — spring I" he called rapidly, over and over again, and then paused to listen. One star shone out softly over his head. Suddenly, from the silence across the swamp, a weak, uncertain voice answered.

"Spr-ee-ing," it faltered.

The Spring Peeper blinked his eye for the first time, and shifted his spreading toes.

"Spring — spring — spring — spring — spring — spring — spring!" he called, as though pouring out his little soul. The other voice took courage and answered more bravely.

For a while, as the stars grew brighter, they kept it up, first one and then the other. Soon a third voice joined in — and a fourth — and a fifth. They told the whole world that Spring was here. There was not an instant's pause in their happy, excited clamor. The Bullfrog and the Crow and the Weasel heard and held their peace. The trees and the bushes and plants under the ground heard, and the sap in their roots stirred gladly. They knew that the Spring Peeper told the truth.

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In The Children's Story Garden. Stories collected by a committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting — Anna Pettit Broomell, Emily Cooper Johnson, Elizabeth W. Collins, Alice Hall Paxson, Annie Hillborn, and Anna D. White. Illustrated by Katharine Richardson Wireman and Eugénie M. Wireman. Published in 1920 by J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.