"Do you mean to say I was ever like that?" asked Mrs. Frog.
"Of course you were. We all were," said Mr. Frog.
"I don't believe you," said Mrs. Frog. "Why, it is nothing but a
little ball of jelly with a spot in it. How can it grow into a frog?"
"Well, I don't know exactly how it does it," said Mr. Frog, "but you
can see it is an egg, and eggs grow into the most wonderful things."
"I am not going to believe this one will grow into a frog till I see
it," said Mrs. Frog; and she swam away.
The egg lay in the water under a lily leaf. It certainly did not look
in the least like a frog; indeed, it did not at first seem alive at
all. But the spot began to spread, and day by day it grew till at last
a tiny tadpole came out of the jelly and hung on to the lily leaf.
Mrs. Frog saw it, and called Mr. Frog to come and look.
"You were wrong," she said. "It is not a frog. It is only a kind of
"Give it time," said Mr. Frog. "We all began like that."
"What nonsense you talk, Mr. Frog! If it's a frog, where is its head?
Where is its mouth? Where are its legs? The thing is nothing but a
jelly-worm stuck on a leaf. And you tell me I was once like that! I
have no patience with you. I shall not stay to hear another word."
Left to herself, the little tadpole dropped from the lily leaf and swam
about in the water. In a day or two the head and mouth appeared, and
funny, frilly breathing gills grew out from her sides. Then these went
away and inside gills grew. A hard little beak grew on her mouth, just
the thing for nibbling leaves and stalks. Now she spent all the day
eating vegetable dinners and growing. How fast she grew, to be sure!
Mrs. Frog came one day to see how she looked. "Do you call that a
frog?" she asked Mr. Frog scornfully. "Whoever saw a frog with a tail?
Or eating leaves? Or breathing like a fish?"
"My dear, think back," said Mr. Frog. "Have you no memory of a time in
your youth when we all swam together in the water, never wishing to go
up on the land? You had a lovely long tail in those days. And do you
not remember how sweet those green things tasted to us?"
A puzzled look came into Mrs. Frog's eyes, and a dim remembrance
flashed across her brain.
"Oh, well, I shall watch," she said.
So every day Mrs. Frog jumped into the pool and swam round the little
tadpole, watching the changes that took place. Soon she saw the
hind-legs begin to grow. Then one day the tadpole left off eating, and
startling changes began to take place. The tail dwindled away, giving
up its strength to feed the body; the horny beak dropped off; the mouth
widened and widened, till it went nearly round the head; the tongue
grew big; the eyes and the front legs came out through the skin. Day
by day the changes went on, and Mrs. Frog was at last convinced that
the little tadpole was really a frog.
When she saw the little creature rise up to the surface and swim to the
shore, breathing as frogs breathe, and when she saw her jump up on the
land and catch a fly and eat it, she went home.
"You were right, after all," she said to Mr. Frog.
"Of course I was," said Mr. Frog.