Mr. Toad hadn’t always been this way, but he could appreciate the change.
His valet Gardendale Brown attended his morning toilette, having selected Mr. Toad’s fine suit for the day. He helped Mr. Toad step into his fine pinstriped pants and broad leather belt, fastened with the sterling silver buckle. Held forth Mr. Toad’s ruffled linen dress shirt, and exquisite purple velvet waistcoat. Last of all, Gardendale helped with assorted sundries like cufflinks, pocket-watch, starched collar and stick-pin for Mr. Toad’s finest silken tie.
Brushing the waistcoat with care to be certain no speck of dust or stray thread could ruin the otherwise perfect ensemble, Gardendale asked, “What plan for today then, sir?” Borderline impertinent, but from a lifelong and valued domestic of Brown’s caliber, Mr. Toad had long allowed certain small liberties.
“I believe I shall take a stroll by the pond after breakfast, Brown.”
“Very good, sir.” Brown completed the preparations with Mr. Toad’s favorite tall silk top-hat. “I shall supervise the downstairs domestics preparing sir’s breakfast.”
Mr. Toad stepped back and admired the total effect in the full-length mirror.
He cut an imposing figure, in his own estimation.
A long way from his earliest days as a wild and carefree young gutter-tadpole. The elegant and staid Mr. Frog thought didn’t often think of his misspent youth these days.
In the same pond on the manor grounds he now owned, Mr. Toad’s family had lived for untold generations. Each spring, the latest crop of polliwogs and tadpoles burst free of their eggs, and took their first eager wiggles in the world.
Legless, they were little more than tiny fish when first born, swimming and swimming, hiding amongst the lily pads and milkweed patches to avoid the eager hunger of avian predators.
Safer under the water, but not much. Hungry fish were eager to acquire a tasty tad-morsel, when they could catch one.
Much of his spawn perished before growing enough to have legs at all. But the fastest and the smartest, the seekers of the best hiding spots, made it through the test and their legs grew. Their teeth and bodies grew more toad-like, though they still carried residual tails. At this stage they would be called metamorphs. It is only a matter of a few more weeks until their tails vanished forever, the tads left the water for good, and they became respectable full-fledged Toads.
As Mr. Toad was, indeed. Always most respectable.
After breakfast, Mr. Toad took his constitutional to the pond (ignoring the presence of those awful Otter Twins). He first checked over the mass of eggs for development and was satisfied. And peering deep into the murky pond-water, he noticed the first batch of fresh polliwogs, the earliest hatches from this year’s crop. And paled as one little guy was snatched up by a lurking perch.
He dipped the tip of one flipper, with reluctance, into the water at the outermost limit of the pond. And stepped back with a profound shudder.
Yes, Mr. Toad could appreciate and be thankful for the many changes since the Pond.
Mr. Toad needs his antagonists, the Otter boys, to get something going here. This one sort of started with this post, now we’re going backwards to expand the Toad character…more to come, some day, mebbe.