Falling in Love eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 331 pages of information about Falling in Love.

In short, while it would be difficult in any given case to prove to a certainty either that the particular toad-in-a-hole had or had not access to air and food, the ordinary conditions of toad life are exactly those under which the delusive appearance of venerable antiquity would be almost certain frequently to arise.  The toad is a nocturnal animal; it lives through the daytime in dark and damp places; it shows a decided liking for crannies and crevices; it is wonderfully tenacious of life; it possesses the power of hibernation; it can live on extremely small quantities of food for very long periods of time together; it buries itself in mud or clay; it passes the early part of its life as a water-haunting tadpole; and last, not least, it can swell out its body to nearly double its natural size by inflating itself, which fully accounts for the stories of toads being taken out of holes every bit as big as themselves.  Considering all these things, it would be wonderful indeed if toads were not often found in places and conditions which would naturally give rise to the familiar myth.  Throw in a little allowance for human credulity, human exaggeration, and human love of the marvellous, and you have all the elements of a very excellent toad-in-the-hole in the highest ideal perfection.

At the same time I think it quite possible that some toads, under natural circumstances, do really remain in a torpid or semi-torpid condition for a period far exceeding the twenty-four months allowed as the maximum in Dr. Buckland’s unpleasant experiments.  If the amount of air supplied through a crack or through the texture of the stone were exactly sufficient for keeping the animal alive in the very slightest fashion—­the engine working at the lowest possible pressure, short of absolute cessation—­I see no reason on earth why a toad might not remain dormant, in a moist place, with perhaps a very occasional worm or grub for breakfast, for at least as long a time as the desert snail slept comfortably in the British Museum.  Altogether, while it is impossible to believe the stories about toads that have been buried in a mine for whole centuries, and still more impossible to believe in their being disentombed from marble mantelpieces or very ancient geological formations, it is quite conceivable that some toads-in-a-hole may really be far from mere vulgar impostors, and may have passed the traditional seven years of the Indian philosophers in solitary meditation on the syllable Om, or on the equally significant Ko-ax, Ko-ax of the irreverent Attic dramatist.  “Certainly not a centenarian, but perhaps a good seven-year sleeper for all that,” is the final verdict which the court is disposed to return, after due consideration of all the probabilities in re the toad-in-a-hole.

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Falling in Love from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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