Rupert Cupp yawned. When a frog yawns, he is truly bored. Rupert Cupp was the biggest frog in the smallest pond in Hohum County. He had lived there all his life. Rupert’s father was so proud of the pond. With a big smile, he would tell his son, “Rupert, someday all this will be yours.” All this meant nothing to Rupert.
“Pop, I’m tired of this pond; I’m tired of these lilypads; I’m tired of flies for lunch everyday. I don’t want to sit here croaking my life away until I finally croak,” Rupert said as a dragonfly buzzed by.
“Son, maybe you should go out and see the world,” he said. He said this because he knew Rupert was going to do this anyway.
Rupert packed his things: his yo-yo, a picture of his family, his violin, and his collection of bottle caps. With his treasures tucked into his backpack, he started off. A little stream of water ran away from the pond. Rupert didn’t know where it would lead, but he began following it anyway because
that's where he wanted to go, too; away from the pond.
“Good-bye, Son; good luck, and don’t forget where you came from,” his father shouted as Rupert hopped away into the morning sun.
Soon the stream grew bigger. This must be the river that Rupert had heard about. He liked it. Not only was it much wider than the little stream, it was also much faster moving as it splashed across rocks and around fallen trees. Maybe Rupert would make his home here. He hopped over to the bank to get himself a drink. Just as he was about to stick his head into the cooling river, a huge catfish popped up and smiled at him.
“Good morning,” said the catfish, grinning from whisker to whisker. “Welcome to my river; I haven’t seen you around here before.”
The frog was startled at first. But then he remembered his manners and gulped a quick “Good morning” back to the big fish. “I’ve never been here before,” Rupert said.
The beady eyes of the huge catfish sparkled as he looked at Rupert.
“You look like lunch,” the smiling fish said. “I mean, you look like you must be hungry for lunch. Hop in, and we’ll go for a little swim before we eat.”
How nice, thought Rupert, as he made a frog’s version of a swan dive into the river. I’ve already made a friend who’s invited me for swimming and lunch.
Rupert flipped over in the water to practice his backstroke. He closed his eyes and swam lazily along, almost falling asleep in the warm sun. When it started to feel cool and dark, Rupert opened his eyes to find the sun being blocked by the huge open mouth of the catfish, who was just about to chomp down on the startled frog. Rupert made a quick dive under the water, then hopped out onto the bank, barely escaping being eaten by the tricky catfish.
Some friend he was, thought Rupert, as he shook himself off.
“Come back,” spluttered the hungry catfish. “We still haven’t had lunch.”
“No thanks,” Rupert said, as he hopped away. “I’ve had my fill of this place.”
The river grew wider and the frog grew more tired as he continued on his way. In the afternoon, Rupert stopped to rest in the shade of a big oak tree. He took out his violin and started playing his favorite song, The Happy Farmer. Rupert got so lost in the music that he almost didn’t notice the two tall skinny trees that were walking toward him.
“Flyin’ fish feathers!” Rupert said out loud. “Trees can’t walk!”
When he cleared his mind and his eyes, he saw that it was really two very long legs attached to a large bird. The bird had a long neck and a long skinny beak.
“Let me guess,” said Rupert. “You’re a heron.” His friend, Jake the kingfisher, back at the pond had told him about herons.
“I like your long legs,” Rupert said. “Why, if a frog had legs like that, he could hop around the world in no time at all.”
“Thank you,” said the heron. “I was just admiring your legs, too. Why, if a heron had legs like that, he could have dinner; I mean, he’d be a winner; I mean I just really like frog legs.” The bird smiled and tried to change the subject.
“You play beautifully,” he said. “How about another song?”
“What would you like to hear?” Rupert asked.
“Oh, just anything that would go well with a good meal,” replied the heron.
How nice, thought Rupert. While I play, the heron is going to fix dinner for us.
The frog adjusted a fine tuner on his violin and began playing Lightly Row. He was swaying gently to the music with his eyes closed. He opened them just in time to see the heron’s big beak about to close down on him.
“Yikes a’mighty!” Rupert shouted as his long legs pushed him and his violin away from the hungry bird.
“Come back,” cried the heron. “It’s time for dinner.”
“No thanks,” Rupert said. “At dinnertime, I want my legs under the table, not on the table!”
Darkness was closing in when Rupert came to a big swamp. He hopped out onto a big log that was floating in the water. This would be a good place to spend the night. Rupert was just about to doze off when he felt the log swimming toward land.
“Jumpin’ June bugs!” Rupert croaked. “Logs can’t swim!”
He hung on as the log moved over to the shore, sprouted legs, and climbed out onto the bank. Rupert was sitting on an alligator’s back!
The big lizard swung his head around and stared eyeball to eyeball at the frog. Rupert jumped back as the alligator was opening his mouth.
“I know what you want,” said the frog. “You want to trick me into being your bedtime snack!”
“Not at all,” the alligator said. “I was just going to ask if you knew of a place to get a good home-cooked meal. I’m so tired of the food here at the swamp, just fish and crawdads all the time.”
“Oh, I guess you’d like soup and a salad and maybe some violin music while you enjoy your meal,” Rupert joked. He was still afraid of being eaten.
“That would be perfect,” the alligator said in a very serious way. “But where in the world would I ever find a place that has all that?”
The light bulb came on in Rupert Cupp’s life.
“Beside a little pond in Hohum County, that’s where,” said Rupert.
The next day, as Papa Cupp was waking from his afternoon nap, he saw his son coming up the road riding on an alligator’s back.
“It’s a funny old world out there, Rupert,” his Papa cried, “but I always knew you’d come out on top.”
Rupert doesn’t travel much anymore, mostly just back and forth between the kitchen and dining room. But he isn’t bored either. Since everybody around him always wants to eat anyway, he figures he’s found his calling. The sign outside his café tells his story, “Rupert’s Home Cooking.”
Nowadays, everybody knows where to get the best dragonfly soup and watercress salad in Hohum County.
They also know to watch out for that big alligator on the front porch!