The frog stretched out on his sun- dappled rock as if he
were settling into a chaise lounge. She could tell from his body
language - so much more human than frog - there would be
no turning him down. "I don't know anything about you," he
said. "You may begin your story."
It was completely absurd. Absurd that Sunday was in the
middle of the Wood talking to a frog. Absurd that he wanted to
learn about her. Absurd that he would care. It was so absurd
that she opened her journal and started reading from the top of
"'My name is Sunday Woodcutter -'"
"Grumble," croaked the frog.
"If you're going to grumble through the whole thing, why
did you ask me to read it in the first place?"
"You said your name was Sunday Woodcutter," said the
frog. "My name is Grumble."
"Oh." Her face felt hot. Sunday wondered briefly if frogs
could tell that a human was blushing or if they were one of the
many colorblind denizens of the forest. She bowed her head
slightly. "It's very nice to meet you, Grumble."
"At your service," said Grumble. "Please, carry on with
It was awkward, as Sunday had never read her musings
aloud to anyone. She cleared her throat several times. More
than once she had to stop after a sentence she had quickly
stumbled through and start again more slowly. Her voice
seemed overloud and the words felt foreign and sometimes
wrong; she resisted the urge to scratch them out or change
them as she went along. She was worried that this frog-who-used-to-be-a-man would hear her words and think she was silly.
He would want nothing more to do with her. He would thank
her for her time, and she would never see him again. Had her
young life come to this? Was she so desperate for intelligent
conversation that she was willing to bare her soul to a complete
Sunday realized, as she continued to read, that it didn't
matter. She would have Grumble know her for who she was.
For as long as she had sat under the tree writing, she
thought the reading of it would have taken longer, but Sunday
came to the end in no time at all. "I had meant to go on about
my sisters," she apologized, "but..."
The frog was strangely silent. He stared off into the
Sunday turned her face to the sun. She was afraid of his
next words. If he didn't like the writing, then he didn't like her,
and everything she had done in her whole life would be for
nothing. Which was silly, but she was silly, and absurd, and
sometimes ungrateful, but she promised the gods that she
would not be ungrateful now, no matter what the frog said. If
he said anything at all. And then, finally:
"I remember a snowy winter's night. It was so cold outside
that your fingertips burned if you put them on the windowpane.
I tried it only once." He let out a long croak. "I remember
a warm, crackling "re on a hearth so large I could have stood
up in it twice. There was a puppy there, smothering me with
love, as puppies are wont to do. I was his whole world. He
needed me and I felt like... like I had a purpose. I remember
being happy then. Maybe the happiest I've been in my whole
life." The frog closed his eyes and bowed his head. "I don't remember
much of my life before. But now, just now, I remember
that. Thank you."
Sunday clasped her shaking fingers together and swallowed
the lump in her throat. He was definitely a man in a frog's body,
and he was sad. She couldn't think what in her words had moved
him so, but that wasn't the point. She had touched him. Not
just him as a frog but the man he used to be. A more gracious
reply Sunday could never have imagined. "I am honored," she
said, for she was.
"And then I interrupted you." Grumble snapped out of his
dreamlike tone into a more playful one. "Forgive me. As you
can imagine, I don't get many visitors. You honor me by indulging
me with your words, kind lady. Do you write often?"
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...