The Truth About Toads

One midsummer night at the Fauna Club, some of the members fell to boasting, each of his own unique distinction or achievement.

“I am the real Macaw,” squawked the Macaw proudly.

“O.K., Mac, take it easy,” said the Raven, who was tending bar.

“You should have seen the one I got away from,” said the Marlin. “He must have weighed a good two hundred and thirty-five pounds.”

“If it weren’t for me, the sun would never rise,” bragged the Rooster, “and the desire of the night for the morrow would never be gratified.” He wiped a tear away. “If it weren’t for me, nobody would get up.”

“If it weren’t for me, there wouldn’t be anybody,” the Stork reminded him proudly.

“I tell them when spring is coming,” the Robin chirped.

“I tell them when winter will end,” the Groundhog said.

“I tell them how deep the winter will be,” said the Woolly Bear.

“I swing low when a storm is coming,” said the Spider. “Otherwise it wouldn’t come, and the people would die of a drought.”

The Mouse got into the act. “You know where it says, ‘Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’?” he hiccuped. “Well, gentlemen, that little old mouse was little old me.”

“Quiet!” said the Raven, who had been lettering a sign and now hung it prominently above the bar: “Open most hearts and you will see graven upon them Vanity.”

The members of the Fauna Club stared at the sign. “Probably means the Wolf, who thinks he founded Rome,” said the Cat.

“Or the great Bear, who thinks he is made of stars,” said the Mouse.

“Or the golden Eagle, who thinks he’s made of gold,” said the Rooster.

“Or the Sheep, who thinks men couldn’t sleep unless they counted sheep,” said the Marlin.

The Toad came up to the bar and ordered a green mint frappé with a firefly in it.

“Fireflies will make you lightheaded,” warned the bartender.

“Not me,” said the Toad. “Nothing can make me lightheaded. I have a precious jewel in my head.” The other members of the club looked at him with mingled disbelief.

“Sure, sure,” grinned the bartender, “It’s a toadpaz, ain’t it, Hoppy?”

“It is an extremely beautiful emerald,” said the Toad coldly, removing the firefly from his frappé and swallowing it. “Absolutely priceless emerald. More than priceless. Keep ’em comin’.”

The bartender mixed another green mint frappé, but he put a slug in it this time instead of a firefly.

“I don’t think the Toad has a precious jewel in his head,” said the Macaw.

“I do,” said the Cat. “Nobody could be that ugly and live unless he had an emerald in his head.”

“I’ll bet you a hundred fish he hasn’t,” said the Pelican.

“I’ll bet you a hundred clams he has,” said the Sandpiper.

The Toad, who was pretty well frappéd by this time, fell asleep, and the members of the club debated how to find out whether his head held an emerald, or some other precious stone. They summoned the Woodpecker from the back room and explained what was up. “If he hasn’t got a hole in his head, I’ll make one,” said the Woodpecker.

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There wasn’t anything there, gleaming or lovely or precious. The bartender turned out the lights, the Rooster crowed, the sun came up, and the members of the Fauna Club went silently home to bed.

MORAL: Open most heads and you will find nothing shining, not even a mind.

The Truth About Toads

James Thurber

James Grover Thurber (December 8, 1894 – November 2, 1961) was an American cartoonist, author, humorist, journalist, playwright, and celebrated wit. He was best known for his cartoons and short stories published mainly in The New Yorker magazine, such as "The Catbird Seat", and collected in his numerous books. He was one of the most popular humorists of his time, as he celebrated the comic frustrations and eccentricities of ordinary people.

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