“Thank you,” said Hugh, “what we have had is very nice indeed.”
“I couldn’t eat minnows’ eggs,” whispered Jeanne, looking rather doubtfully at the succession of leaf trays that continued to appear. She nibbled away at some of the least extraordinary-looking cakes, which the frog informed her were made from the pith of rushes roasted and ground down, and then flavoured with essence of marsh marigold, and found them nearly as nice as macaroons. Then, having eaten quite as much as they wanted, the tadpoles handed to each a leaf of the purest water, which they drank with great satisfaction.
“Now,” said Hugh, “we’re quite ready for the concert. Shall I row out to the middle of the lake, Monsieur Frog?”
“Midway between the shore and the island,” said the frog; “that will be the best position;” and, as by this time all the frogs that had been sitting round the edge of the boat had disappeared, Hugh took the oars and paddled away.
THE SONG OF THE SWAN.
I were on that shore,
I should live there and not die, but sing evermore.”
“About here will do, I should think—eh, Monsieur Frog?” said Hugh, resting on his oars half-way to the island. But there was no answer. The frog had disappeared.
“What a queer way all these creatures behave, don’t they, Jeanne?” he said. “First Dudu, then Houpet and the others. They go off all of a sudden in the oddest way.”
“I suppose they have to go when we don’t need them any more,” said Jeanne. “I daresay they are obliged to.”
“Who obliges them?” said Hugh.
“Oh, I don’t know! The fairies, I suppose,” said Jeanne.
“Was it the fairies you meant when you kept saying ’they’?” asked Hugh.
“I don’t know—perhaps—it’s no use asking me,” said Jeanne. “Fairies, or dream-spirits, or something like that. Never mind who they are if they give us nice things. I am sure the frogs have been very kind, haven’t they?”
“Yes; you won’t be so afraid of them now, will you, Jeanne?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I daresay I shall be, for they’re quite different from our frogs. Ours aren’t so bright green, and their eyes aren’t red, and they can’t talk. Oh no, our frogs are quite different from theirs, Cheri,” she added with profound conviction.
“Just like our trees and everything else, I suppose,” said Hugh. “Certainly this is a funny country. But hush, Jeanne! I believe the concert’s going to begin.”