Friday, June 21, 2013

Ashley Sterne Terence My Pet Tadpole


Here is another breezy little Ashley Sterne comic article, republished in The Urana Independent and Clear Hills Standard, NSW, Australia on November 21, 1919.


TERENCE, MY PET TADPOLE.

Was It the Frog's Fault?

By Ashley Sterne.

I first met Terence when he was an egg, though he didn't look so much like an egg as a bubble out of a tapioca pudding.

I got it from a nest in one o£ those nice green ponds that you can smell half a mile away through a box respirator. I carried it home on the end of my finger, and placed it in a glass jar which had once contained a now obsolete confection called strawberry jam, which some of my more aged readers may possibly remember.

Every day I visited my egg, and brought it some little nourishing delicacy in order to stimulate it into becoming a tadpole with as little delay as possible.

Every day, too, I was pleased to notice that the little dark speck in the egg which (a naturalist fiend informed me) indicates its centre of gravity became a trifle larger. At first it was no bigger than a tiny dot. Then it grew as big as a diminutive spot. In a third stage it attained the dimensions of a small blob.

Thus it fattened day by day, until at length one morning I heard a noise like a tadpole being hatched, and rushing into the conservatory, I found that that was precisely what had happened. Imagine my joy when I saw that Terence had been born!

To celebrate the event I got him a little birthday-cake. At least, it wasn't exactly a birthday-cake, and I didn't actually give it to Terence. What I really did was to go out and have a gin-and-bitters.

The first thing that Terence did on emerging from the egg was to eat the shell, which I thought was most ungrateful of him. In my annoyance I nearly slapped him, but I remembered in time that one can't put an old head on young shoulders, and even if one could, Terence hadn't got any shoulders. My head, too, is not precisely what you would call an old one, though it's got the moth pretty badly in places. So that's that.

But what I really wanted to emphasise was that Terence was gifted with a voracious appetite. He might have been a City alderman.

Of course he grew at an enormous rate. Much to my satisfaction. My idea was to feed him up and exhibit him at the Royal Tadpole Society Show. I had read somewhere that tadpoles in the Mexican rivers often attain the size of footballs, and if I had only had a disused Mexican river, or even a secondhand one, I should have insisted on Terence drinking the lot. Unfortunately I couldn't obtain one, although I advertised in our Parish Magazine and wrote to the papers about it.

However, I managed to collect quite a lot of nourishment from our local duck-pond, with the result that Terence grew up so rapidly that at one time I thought I should have to have his glass jar re-blown.

And then, a week or so ago, a dreadful tragedy occurred. I had gone out to have a – that is, to get Terence another birthday-cake, leaving him alive and well and amusing himself with a nice water-lily I had procured for him. When I returned, Terence had disappeared. Instead, I found sitting on the water-lily a small but ferocious frog. It was clear what had happened. On going out I had foolishly left the front-garden gate open, the frog had broken in, found poor Terence, and eaten him. All that was left of him was his beautiful long silky tail. This I carefully retrieved, and now use it as a book-marker.

My naturalist friend, however, explains Terence's disappearance in a most ridiculous way. He maintains that the frog is a reincarnation of Terence the tadpole, which is absurd. If I accept this theory he will tell me next that Felix the frog will reincarnate successively  into Cuthbert the cocoon, Christopher the chrysalis, Basil the butterfly, Ezra the egg, Terence the tadpole once again, and so on ad infinitum until one of them turns giddy and really and truly dies.

There are limits even to my credulity.


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