“It had a deep voice for an ordinary frog—betwixt a French horn and a bark-mill. And Mrs. Barnes told me herself that often, when John’d get comfortably fixed in bed and just dropping off into a nap, the frog’d think it was a convenient time for some music; and after hopping about a bit, it’d all at once grind out three or four awful ‘Bloo-oo-ood-a-nouns’ and wake Mrs. Barnes and the baby, and start things up generally all around the house. And—would you believe it?—if that frog felt, maybe, a little frisky, or p’raps had some tune running through its head, it’d keep on that way for hours. It worried Barnes like thunder.
“I dunno whether it was that that killed his wife or not; but anyhow, when she died, Barnes wanted to marry agin, and he went for a while to see Miss Flickers, who lives out yer on the river road, you know. He courted her pretty steady for a while, and we all thought there was goin’ to be a consolidation. But she was telling my wife that one evening Barnes had just taken hold of her hand and told her he loved her, when all of a sudden something said, ‘Bloo-oo-oo-ood-a-nou-ou-oun!’
“‘What on earth’s that?’ asked Miss Flickers, looking sorter scared.
“‘I dunno,’ said Barnes; ’it sounds like somebody making a noise in the cellar.’ Lied, of course, for he knew mighty well what it was.
[Illustration: MR. BARNES PROPOSES]
“’’Pears to me ‘sif it was under the sofa,’ says she.
“‘Maybe it wasn’t anything, after all,’ says Barnes, when just then the frog, he feels like running up the scales again, and he yells out, ‘Bloo-oo-ood-a-nou-ou-ou-oun!’
“‘Upon my word,’ says Miss Flickers, ’I believe you’ve got a frog in your pocket, Mr. Barnes; now, haven’t you?’
“Then he gets down on his knees and owns up to the truth, and swears he’ll do his best to git rid of the frog, and all the time he is talking the frog is singing exercises and scales and oratorios inside of him, and worse than ever, too, because Barnes drank a good deal of ice-water that day, and it made the frog hoarse—ketched cold, you know.
“But Miss Flickers, she refused him. Said she might’ve loved him, only she couldn’t marry any man that had continual music in his interior.
“So Barnes, he was the most disgusted man you ever saw. Perfectly sick about it. And one day he was lying on the bed gaping, and that frog unexpectedly made up its mind to come up to ask Barnes to eat more carefully, maybe, and it jumped out on the counterpane. After looking about a bit it came up and tried three or four times to hop back, but he kept his mouth shut, and killed the frog with the back of a hair-brush. Ever since then he runs his drinking-water through a strainer, and he hates frogs worse than you and me hate pison. Now, that’s the honest truth about Barnes; you ask him if it ain’t.”
Then Keyser bought some tobacco and went home.