[Slowly and wonderfully, with the sigh of a soul in every note.] Tio!
Tio! Tio! Tio!
[Turning upon the TOADS.] Scum of the earth!
[Backing away from him.] What—?
THE SAME, the NIGHTINGALE unseen, and little
by little all the
THE NIGHTINGALE [From the tree, in his emotionally throbbing voice.] Tiny bird, lost in the darkness of the tree, I feel myself turning into the heart-beat of the infinite night!
[To the TOADS.] And you have dared—
Hushed lies the ravine beneath the magic of the moon—
CHANTECLER —to compare my rude singing with that divine voice? Scum of the earth! Toads! And I never divined that they were doing to him here what was done to me over yonder!
THE BIG TOAD
[Suddenly swelling to a great size.] Toads! Yes, as it happens, we are
Vapour of pearl wreathes the summits in an ethereal veil—
THE BIG TOAD [Self-appreciatively.] We are Toads, certainly, magnificently embossed with warts! [All rear themselves up, swollen, standing between CHANTECLER and the tree.]
And I perceived not, I who have never known envy, to what venomous feast
I was bidden!
THE NIGHTINGALE What matter? Sooner or later, you, the strong, and I, the tender, we were fated, despite all the Toads in the world, to understand each other!
[With religious fervour.] Sing!
A TOAD [Who has hastily dragged himself to the tree in which the NIGHTINGALE is singing.] Let us clasp the bark with our slimy little arms, and slaver upon the foot of the tree! [All crawl toward the tree.]
CHANTECLER [Trying to stop one of them who is clumsily hopping.] But are you not yourself gifted with a singing voice of exceptional purity?
THE TOAD [In a tone of sincerest suffering.] I am, but when I hear somebody else singing, I can’t help it,—I see green! [He joins his companions.]
THE BIG TOAD [Working his jaws as if chewing something which foamed.] There foam up beneath our tongues I know not what strange soapsuds, and—[To his neighbour.] Are you frothing?
I am frothing.
He is frothing.
We are frothing.
A TOAD [Tenderly laying his arm about the neck of a dilatory TOAD.] Come and froth!
CHANTECLER [To the NIGHTINGALE.] But will they not trouble and prevent your mellifluent song?
In no wise. I will take their refrain into my song—
THE BIG TOAD [Patting a little TOAD on the head to encourage him.] Don’t be afraid, go ahead,—froth!