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The Frog Who Couldnt Ribbit
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Charlie the frog sat on the grass near his pond. Everyone was ignoring him again and he felt so left out and alone.
The sun was setting and all the frogs were gathering at the pond for their evening song.
Slowly the croaking started and 'ribbit, ribbit' could be heard for miles around, from high pitched tones to deep throaty ones. They all joined in except for Charlie.
Charlie wondered why he was the only frog who couldn't sing 'ribbit.'
No matter how much he tried and practiced, the only sound that came out was a high note that sounded more like a squeaky gate opening and closing.
Not only was Charlie banned from joining the other frogs in evening song but he also had to put up with the rude and hurtful comments from all of them.
One evening the frogs were having such fun singing and leaping from rock to rock that Charlie found himself caught up in the excitement and leaped onto a lily pad and joined in.
In the middle of the song his high pitched voice rang out clearly in the evening air.
Suddenly there was a deathly silence as everyone turned to glare at him.
Boris the bullfrog, who had made himself leader of the army of frogs because he was too big to argue with, leapt onto the lily pad next to Charlie and in his menacing voice croaked, "You are a disgrace to the frog community. Be gone and never show your face around here again."
"But where shall I go?" Charlie whispered in a quivering voice.
"I neither know nor care." proclaimed Boris nastily.
As Charlie left the pond he heard the other frogs jeering and laughing and he felt so ashamed.
All these questions ran around in his head. "What is wrong with me? Why aren't I like normal frogs?"
"Phst," Alfred, an old frog called out to Charlie. "Wait, where will you go?"
"Does it matter? As long as no one has to hear or see me again" Charlie replied forlornly.
"Listen, young un. I don't know if it's true but legend has it that frogs who are different go to a place called 'The Golden Valley'. Not sure if it's real or just a story but maybe you can find out?" suggested Alfred kindly.
"Sorry Charlie, I have to go. I can't be seen talking to you now you've been exiled."
And with a leap he was gone.
Charlie had never heard of 'The Golden Valley' and thought Alfred was just trying to be kind.
"Even if it does exist" he thought, "where would I look?"
Suddenly Charlie remembered an old female frog who lived in the marsh lands not far away.
Rumour had it that she was mad, while others said she had special powers but whatever was true, he knew he needed someone's help.
Charlie hopped all evening and arrived exhausted, hungry and just a little bit afraid.
He jumped into the marshes and swam around for ages but there was no sign of any living creature.
He was just about to give up when he heard the most awful croaking sound.
He wasn't sure whether it was a frog coughing or trying to sing.
It was even worse than his own singing, if that was possible!
Charlie saw a gap in the reeds and swam towards it. The croaking was definitely getting louder so he carried on until he reached a step which brought him out onto a ledge.
In the moonlight Charlie saw the fattest, ugliest frog you could possibly imagine.
"What do you want?" she croaked rudely. "Go away, I don't want visitors."
Without thinking Charlie blurted out, "Are you the mad frog?"
The frog puffed out her chest until Charlie thought she was going to explode.
Charlie could feel his knees shaking but the frog suddenly burst out laughing. She laughed and spluttered until Charlie thought she might choke.
Wiping a tear from her eye, the fat frog looked at Charlie with interest and asked, "now why would a young, handsome frog like you be looking for me?" Charlie realised that to address the frog as 'fat' or 'mad' was very rude so he just kept quiet.
"Not going to call me mad again, are you young lad?" the frog said wickedly.
"OK, just call me Mazy. It rhymes with crazy, lazy and slightly hazy."
The frog calling herself Mazy then went into a fit of the giggles until tears of mirth were streaming down her cheeks again.
Charlie didn't know whether to join in the laughter or run for his life.
Mazy finally stopped laughing and looked curiously at the young frog.
"For you to try and find me you must either be as mad as you think I am, or desperate.
Now which one is it?" she quizzed Charlie.
Charlie looked at Mazy with unhappy eyes and she knew which one it was.
"Been cast out my little friend eh?" suggested Mazy in a softer voice.
With a gulp, Charlie nodded that she was right.
In a voice barely above a whisper Charlie asked, "Is there really such a place as 'The Golden Valley'?"
Mazy decided not to tease the young frog as he really did look sad and lost.
She replied gently, "Yes lad, there is."
Charlie felt his spirits lift and for the first time in ages a spark of hope ignited in his heart.
"It's a long, hard journey and not for the faint hearted" she explained. "You look tired and hungry, you had better come inside."
Charlie followed Mazy into a mud lined hole where he gratefully rested for the night.
Bright and early the next morning, just as the sun was rising Mazy gave Charlie the directions to 'The Golden Valley.'
In a state of half fear and half excitement he set off on his journey. It took him four days to reach the valley on Mazy's map and it was pitch dark when he arrived. Dark clouds covered the moon so Charlie settled down for the night in a nearby pond.
He awoke to bright sunshine and after feeding in the pond he hopped to the top of the hill.
There spread out before him was the most beautiful place Charlie had ever seen.
The grass was covered in early morning dew which glistened in the sun like thousands of tiny diamonds.
There were several large ponds covered in every colour lily you could imagine and the whole place was a riot of colour.
Tall trees gave shade to the grassy areas and even from the top of the hill, Charlie could hear the croaking sounds of thousands of frogs.
Slowly making his way down the hill into the valley, Charlie could see why it was called 'The Golden Valley'.
The whole place was bathed in golden sunlight.
Any minute Charlie expected to be asked what he wanted but all he heard was "Morning, hi ya, wotcha and 'ello mate."
It didn't take long for Charlie to realise that they didn't have a bossy leader.
Everyone did what they wanted and Charlie realised that he had just found his new home.
Charlie met a female frog called Tweeny and they spent the rest of the day together.
That evening as the sun set, the valley was immersed in a beautiful pink haze.
Slowly the frogs started to sing and Charlie didn't care if his voice was too high pitched as the sounds that rose up into the night air were like nothing he had ever heard before.
Charlie started to smile to himself as Tweeny's singing sounded more like a series of hiccups.
It didn't matter. It really didn't matter what they sounded like.
All the frogs had found a home here and Charlie knew there was nowhere else on earth that he would rather be.
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