Henry was a frog. He lived in a pond at the bottom of a field on the farm of Farmer David brown. It was not a large pond. But it was big enough for Henry. In the centre of the pond was a large lily-pad. During summer, Henry would swim out to the lily-pad and sit on it all day long. He liked to warm himself in the sunshine and watch Farmer Brown’s cows grazing in the field. Sometimes the cows would come and graze by the pond. Henry would always greet them by saying, ‘Nee-deep’. But the cows took no notice of Henry. Although he was not a lonely frog he would have liked someone to talk to occasionally.
There was a little boy who also lived on the farm. His name was Joey and he was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Brown.
Sometimes he would come by the pond. He would pick wild flowers or rushes for his mother. But he never stayed very long. Farmer Brown had warned Joey never to go too close to the edge of the pond just in case he fell into the water.
One day, during the summer Joey came by the pond with farmer Brown. He had brought something with him. It was a toy sailing boat with a large white sail.
Farmer Brown had made the boat out of wood. He had fixed a metal keel to the bottom of the boat to keep it upright in the water. The boat was painted bright red. Mrs. Brown had made the sail out of an old pillowcase.
Farmer Brown had attached a long piece of string to the back of the boat so Joey would be able to pull it back if it sailed too far away.
Henry thought that the boat looked wonderful.
He said ‘Nee-deep.’
This was all very exciting for Henry. He watched as Joey knelt down and put the boat into the water. Joey gave the boat a little push and as a small gust of wind filled the little sail it sailed out onto the pond.
Joey cheered with delight. Farmer Brown smiled and Henry said, ‘Nee-deep.’
Joey noticed Henry sitting on the lily-pad.
‘Hello, frog,’ he said.
Henry was surprised. Nobody had ever spoken to him before. Henry smiled to himself. He felt very happy. Henry was a well-mannered frog so he replied, ‘Nee-deep.’
The bright red boat with the large white sail floated right past and continued until it had reached the far side of the pond. The boat bumped into the bank and stopped.
Joey had kept hold of the long piece of string and began to slowly pull the boat back across the pond. But when the boat was halfway across the string became tangled in some reeds that were poking out of the water.
Joey tugged and tugged but the boat would not come free. Farmer Brown also tugged but he too could not free the boat. Joey was upset. Henry was upset too. He gave a sad ‘Neee-deeep.’
But Farmer Brown had a plan.
‘Joey, you wait here. I will go back to the house and fetch my wading boots. Then I will wade out to the middle of the pond and untangle the string.’
Joey thought this was a good idea and he was soon smiling once more.
Henry also thought it was a good idea. ‘Nee-deep,’ he said cheerily.
‘Don’t go too close to the water’s edge, Joey,’ Farmer Brown reminded him.
‘I won’t, daddy,’ Joey promised his father.
While Farmer Brown was gone Joey picked some flowers to take home for his mother. Some of the cows came to graze by the pond and Joey patted and stroked them. The cows tried to nibble the flowers he had picked so he had to hide them behind his back.
Henry was so happy. He had never had so many visitors to his pond in one day.
He called out, ‘Nee-deep.’
Joey smiled and said, ‘Hello frog,’ again. Even the cows ‘mooed’ at him.
A short while later Farmer Brown returned with his big black wading boots. He sat down on the grass, took off his shoes and pulled on the boots. Then, very carefully, he stepped into the water and slowly waded out to where the boat was. He untangled the string and Joey was able to pull the boat back across the pond. As Farmer Brown turned around in the water he noticed Henry.
‘Hello, frog,’ he said.
‘Nee-deep,’ Henry replied.
Farmer Brown waded back across the pond and climbed out on to the bank. Joey was very pleased to have his boat back.
‘Thank you, daddy,’ he said, gratefully.
‘You are very welcome, Joey,’ Farmer Brown replied.
And Henry said, ‘Nee-deep.’
Just then Mrs. Brown called from the farmhouse.
‘David, Joey, time for lunch.’
They both waved at Mrs. Brown to show that they had heard her call then began to gather their things before going home.
Joey asked his father.
‘How deep is the pond, daddy?’
‘I’m not sure, really. Not very deep,’ Farmer Brown replied.
Farmer Brown thought for a moment.
‘Hmm,’ he said.
Henry said. ‘Nee-deep.’
‘That’s it!’ exclaimed Farmer Brown.
‘What is, daddy?’ Joey asked a little confused.
‘That is how deep the pond is. It is knee deep. The water came up to my knees.’ He pointed to the mark the water had made on his boots.
Farmer Brown turned to Henry and said,
‘Thank you, frog for telling me how deep the pond is.’
Henry smiled to himself and thought, ‘You’re welcome.’ Then he said,
Joey and his father laughed. Joey picked up his boat and the flowers for his mother. Farmer Brown picked up his shoes and they both went home for lunch.
Copyright©Douglas Pearce 1996