FictionForest

Chapter 13 – Truth Pond

L. Frank BaumOct 05, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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It seems a long time since we have heard anything of the Frogman and
Cayke the Cookie Cook, who had left the Yip Country in search of the
diamond-studded dishpan which had been mysteriously stolen the same
night that Ozma had disappeared from the Emerald City.
But you must remember that while the Frogman and the Cookie
Cook were preparing to descend from their mountaintop, and
even while on their way to the farmhouse of Wiljon the Winkie,
Dorothy and the Wizard and their friends were encountering
the adventures we have just related.

So it was that on the very morning when the travelers from the Emerald
City bade farewell to the Czarover of the City of Herku, Cayke and the
Frogman awoke in a grove in which they had passed the night sleeping
on beds of leaves. There were plenty of farmhouses in the
neighborhood, but no one seemed to welcome the puffy, haughty Frogman
or the little dried-up Cookie Cook, and so they slept comfortably
enough underneath the trees of the grove. The Frogman wakened first
on this morning, and after going to the tree where Cayke slept and
finding her still wrapped in slumber, he decided to take a little walk
and seek some breakfast. Coming to the edge of the grove, he observed
half a mile away a pretty yellow house that was surrounded by a yellow
picket fence, so he walked toward this house and on entering the yard
found a Winkie woman picking up sticks with which to build a fire to
cook her morning meal.

“For goodness sake!” she exclaimed on seeing the Frogman. “What are
you doing out of your frog-pond?”

“I am traveling in search of a jeweled gold dishpan, my good woman,”
he replied with an air of great dignity.

“You won’t find it here, then,” said she.”Our dishpans are tin, and
they’re good enough for anybody. So go back to your pond and leave me
alone.” She spoke rather crossly and with a lack of respect that
greatly annoyed the Frogman.

“Allow me to tell you, madam,” said he, “that although I am a frog, I
am the Greatest and Wisest Frog in all the world. I may add that I
possess much more wisdom than any Winkie–man or woman–in this land.
Wherever I go, people fall on their knees before me and render homage
to the Great Frogman! No one else knows so much as I; no one else is
so grand, so magnificent!”

“If you know so much,” she retorted, “why don’t you know where your
dishpan is instead of chasing around the country after it?”

“Presently,” he answered, “I am going where it is, but just now I am
traveling and have had no breakfast. Therefore I honor you by asking
you for something to eat.”

“Oho! The Great Frogman is hungry as any tramp, is he? Then pick up
these sticks and help me to build the fire,” said the woman
contemptuously.

“Me! The Great Frogman pick up sticks?” he exclaimed in horror. “In
the Yip Country where I am more honored and powerful than any King
could be, people weep with joy when I ask them to feed me.”

“Then that’s the place to go for your breakfast,” declared the woman.

“I fear you do not realize my importance,” urged the Frogman.
“Exceeding wisdom renders me superior to menial duties.”

“It’s a great wonder to me,” remarked the woman, carrying her sticks
to the house, “that your wisdom doesn’t inform you that you’ll get no
breakfast here.” And she went in and slammed the door behind her.

The Frogman felt he had been insulted, so he gave a loud croak of
indignation and turned away. After going a short distance, he came
upon a faint path which led across a meadow in the direction of a
grove of pretty trees, and thinking this circle of evergreens must
surround a house where perhaps he would be kindly received, he decided
to follow the path. And by and by he came to the trees, which were
set close together, and pushing aside some branches he found no house
inside the circle, but instead a very beautiful pond of clear water.

Now the Frogman, although he was so big and well educated and now aped
the ways and customs of human beings, was still a frog. As he gazed
at this solitary, deserted pond, his love for water returned to him
with irresistible force. “If I cannot get a breakfast, I may at least
have a fine swim,” said he, and pushing his way between the trees, he
reached the bank. There he took off his fine clothing, laying his
shiny purple hat and his gold-headed cane beside it. A moment later,
he sprang with one leap into the water and dived to the very bottom of
the pond.

The water was deliciously cool and grateful to his thick, rough skin,
and the Frogman swam around the pond several times before he stopped
to rest. Then he floated upon the surface and examined the pond with
The bottom and sides were all lined with glossy tiles of a light pink
color; just one place in the bottom where the water bubbled up from
a hidden spring had been left free. On the banks, the green grass
grew to the edge of the pink tiling. And now, as the Frogman examined
the place, he found that on one side of the pool, just above the water
line, had been set a golden plate on which some words were deeply
engraved. He swam toward this plate, and on reaching it read the
following inscription:

This is

THE TRUTH POND

$$Whoever bathes in this

water must always afterward tell

THE TRUTH.&&

This statement startled the Frogman. It even worried him, so that he
leaped upon the bank and hurriedly began to dress himself. “A great
misfortune has befallen me,” he told himself, “for hereafter I cannot
tell people I am wise, since it is not the truth. The truth is that
my boasted wisdom is all a sham, assumed by me to deceive people and
make them defer to me. In truth, no living creature can know much
more than his fellows, for one may know one thing, and another know
another thing, so that wisdom is evenly scattered throughout the
world. But–ah me!–what a terrible fate will now be mine. Even
Cayke the Cookie Cook will soon discover that my knowledge is no
greater than her own, for having bathed in the enchanted water of the
Truth Pond, I can no longer deceive her or tell a lie.”

More humbled than he had been for many years, the Frogman went back to
the grove where he had left Cayke and found the woman now awake and
washing her face in a tiny brook. “Where has Your Honor been?” she
asked.

“To a farmhouse to ask for something to eat,” said he, “but the woman
refused me.”

“How dreadful!” she exclaimed. “But never mind, there are other
houses where the people will be glad to feed the Wisest Creature in
all the World.”

“Do you mean yourself?” he asked.

“No, I mean you.”

The Frogman felt strongly impelled to tell the truth, but struggled
hard against it. His reason told him there was no use in letting
Cayke know he was not wise, for then she would lose much respect for
him, but each time he opened his mouth to speak, he realized he was
about to tell the truth and shut it again as quickly as possible. He
tried to talk about something else, but the words necessary to
undeceive the woman would force themselves to his lips in spite of all
his struggles. Finally, knowing that he must either remain dumb or
let the truth prevail, he gave a low groan of despair and said,
“Cayke, I am NOT the Wisest Creature in all the World; I am not wise
at all.”

“Oh, you must be!” she protested. “You told me so yourself, only last evening.”

“Then last evening I failed to tell you the truth,” he admitted,
looking very shamefaced for a frog. “I am sorry I told you this lie,
my good Cayke, but if you must know the truth, the whole truth and
nothing but the truth, I am not really as wise as you are.”

The Cookie Cook was greatly shocked to hear this, for it shattered one
of her most pleasing illusions. She looked at the gorgeously dressed
Frogman in amazement. “What has caused you to change your mind so
suddenly?” she inquired.

“I have bathed in the Truth Pond,” he said, “and whoever bathes in
that water is ever afterward obliged to tell the truth.”

“You were foolish to do that,” declared the woman.

“It is often very embarrassing to tell the truth. I’m glad I didn’t
bathe in that dreadful water!”

The Frogman looked at his companion thoughtfully. “Cayke,” said he,
“I want you to go to the Truth Pond and take a bath in its water. For
if we are to travel together and encounter unknown adventures, it
would not be fair that I alone must always tell you the truth, while
you could tell me whatever you pleased. If we both dip in the
enchanted water, there will be no chance in the future of our
deceiving one another.”

“No,” she asserted, shaking her head positively, “I won’t do it, Your
Honor. For if I told you the truth, I’m sure you wouldn’t like me.
No Truth Pond for me.

I’ll be just as I am, an honest woman who can
say what she wants to without hurting anyone’s feelings.”

With this decision the Frogman was forced to be content, although he
was sorry the Cookie Cook would not listen to his advice.

 

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