Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Flea, the Grasshopper, and the Leap-frog (adapted from "The Leapfrog" by Hans Christian Andersen)

A Flea, a Grasshopper, and a Leap-frog, each from a Jumping School, were forced to see which could jump highest in the latest iteration of the King's common core skills contest. The King amused himself at regular intervals with these contests and invited the whole world, and everybody else besides who chose to come to see the festival.
Three anxious jumpers were the contestants, for it was sometimes the King's pleasure to close the schools of the losers and scatter their pupils asunder.
"I will give to the winner fine employment to amuse my daughter," exclaimed the King, "for it is not so entertaining where there is no prize to jump for."
The Flea was the first to step forward followed by the Grasshopper. Each gave an account of himself, though weary within, for they had endured many such displays. Nevertheless, each gave the account that was expected of him.
The Flea displayed exquisite manners, and bowed to the company on all sides; and he claimed to be of noble blood, and was, in fact, quite accustomed to the society of man; and that makes a great difference.
Then came the Grasshopper. He was considerably heavier, but was well-mannered, and wore a green uniform, which he had by right of birth; he said, moreover, that he belonged to a very ancient Egyptian family, and that in the house where he then was, he was thought much of. The fact was, he had been just brought out of the fields, and put in a pasteboard house, three stories high, all made of court-cards, with the colored side inwards; and doors and windows cut out of the body of the Queen of Hearts. "I sing so well," said he, "that sixteen native grasshoppers who have chirped from infancy, and yet got no house built of cards to live in, grew thinner than they were before for sheer vexation when they heard me."
The Leap-frog said nothing; but people gave it as their opinion, that he therefore thought the more; and when the housedog snuffed at him with his nose, he confessed the Leap-frog was of good family. The old councillor, who had had three orders given him to make him hold his tongue, asserted that the Leap-frog was a prophet; for that one could see on his back, if there would be a severe or mild winter, and that was what one could not see even on the back of the man who writes the almanac. 
"I say nothing, it is true," exclaimed the King; "but I have my own opinion, notwithstanding."
Now the trial was to take place. The Flea jumped so high that nobody could see where he went; so they all asserted he had not jumped at all; and that was dishonorable.
The Grasshopper jumped only half as high; but suddenly pressed to anger, he leaped right into the King's face, who said that was ill-mannered.
The Leap-frog, likewise pressed to anger yet while maintaining his composure, stood still for a long time lost in thought; it was believed at last he would not jump at all.
"I only hope he is not unwell," said the housedog; when, pop! He made a jump all on one side and plopped rudely onto the lap of the Princess. The King's daughter was so startled that she jumped up from the little golden stool on which she sat and tripped on her skirts, tumbling down into a  mud puddle.
Hereupon the King exclaimed, "What! No winner can be announced. There is nothing above my daughter and these fools have offended me. Round them up and bring them to my throne room at once!" Yet the three could not be found.    
After having escaped from the King, the Flea said to Grasshopper and Leap-frog, "It is true I am one of the best jumpers of all known animals; yet I care not for the Princess and have dreams of my own. For this reason I opted out and I shall fight for my school."
Grasshopper said, "Here here! I jump for joy and not for thee, O King. I opted out as well and I shall fight for my school."
Leap-frog, sitting on a lily pad nearby, reflected on worldly things; and he replied, "Yes, performance is everything - performance is what people care about. Yet there is more to life than winning, as you say, and I care not to be a pet of the Princess, no matter how fine the pay." At that he began singing his peculiar melancholy song, from which we have taken this history.

Coming up next!  Perhaps Yertle the Turtle. Or Arne the Blarney.


  1. what is the lesson learned in this story

  2. that sucks no one posted a comment