Sky Island

Page 32

"I'm glad you like your country, but it's a mite too damp for us, an' we'd be glad to get out of it."

"Follow me," said the frog. "I'll lead you to the border. It's only about six jumps." He turned around, made a mighty leap and disappeared in the gray mist. Our friends looked at one another in bewilderment.

"Don't see how we can foller that lead," remarked Cap'n Bill, "but we may as well start in the same direction."

"Brooks and creeks, How it leaks!"

muttered the parrot.

"How can we jog To a frog in the fog?"

The big frog seemed to understand their difficulty, for he kept making noises in his throat to guide them to where he had leaped. When at last they came up to him, he made a second jump--out of sight, as before--and when they attempted to follow, they found a huge lizard lying across the path. Cap'n Bill thought it must be a giant alligator at first, it was so big, but he looked at them sleepily and did not seem at all dangerous.

"O, Liz--you puffy Liz--Get out of our way and mind your biz," cried the parrot.

"Creep-a-mousie, crawl-a-mousie, please move on! We can't move a step till you are gone."

"Don't disturb me," said the lizard. "I'm dreaming about parsnips. Did you ever taste a parsnip?"

"We're in a hurry, if it's the same to you, sir," said Cap'n Bill politely.

"Then climb over me or go around, I don't care which," murmured the lizard. "When they're little, they're juicy; when they're big, there's more of 'em; but either way there's nothing so delicious as a parsnip. There are none here in the Fog Bank, so the best I can do is dream of them. Oh, parsnips, par-snips, p-a-r-snips!" He closed his eyes sleepily and resumed his dreams.

Walking around the lizard, they resumed their journey and soon came to the frog, being guided by its grunts and croaks. Then off it went again, its tremendous leap carrying it far into the fog. Suddenly, Cap'n Bill tripped and would have fallen flat had not Trot and Button-Bright held him up. Then he saw that he had stumbled over the claw of a gigantic land-crab, which lay sprawled out upon the pebbly bottom.

"Oh, beg parding, I'm sure!" exclaimed Cap'n Bill, backing away.

"Don't mention it," replied the crab in a tired tone. "You did not disturb me, so there is no harm done."

"We didn't know you were here," explained Trot.

"Probably not," said the crab. "It's no place for me, anyhow, for I belong in the Constellations, you know, with Taurus and Gemini and the other fellows. But I had the misfortune to tumble out of the Zodiac some time ago. My name is Cancer, but I'm not a disease. Those who examine the heavens in these days, alas! can find no Cancer there."

"Yes we can, sir, Mister Cancer!" said the parrot with a chuckle.

"Once," remarked Cap'n Bill, "I sawr a picter of you in an almanac."

"Ah, the almanacs always did us full justice," the crab replied, "but I'm told they're not fashionable now."

"If you don't mind, we'd like to pass on," said Button-Bright.

"No, I don't mind, but be careful not to step on my legs. They're rheumatic, it's so moist here."

They climbed over some of the huge legs and walked around others. Soon they had left the creature far behind. "Aren't you rather slow?" asked the frog when once more they came up to him.

"It isn't that," said Trot. "You are rather swift, I guess." The frog chuckled and leaped again. They noticed that the fog had caught a soft rose tint and was lighter and less dense than before, for which reason the sailor remarked that they must be getting near to the Pink Country.

On this jump they saw nothing but a monstrous turtle, which lay asleep with its head and legs drawn into its shell. It was not in their way, so they hurried on and rejoined the frog, which said to them, "I'm sorry, but I'm due at the King's Court in a few minutes, and I can't wait for your short, weak legs to make the journey to the Pink Country. But if you will climb upon my back, I think I can carry you to the border in one more leap."

"I'm tired," said Trot, "an' this awful fog's beginnin' to choke me. Let's ride on the frog, Cap'n."

"Right you are, mate," he replied, and although he shook a bit with fear, the old man at once began to climb to the frog's back.

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