Chapter 2 All the little toads...
Winky’s story began with both tragedy and blessing. Orphaned soon after the great change (his parents were swept away in a flood, at least that’s what he was later told), Winky was adopted by loving parents along with a number of other orphans. Altogether there were ten: Momma and Papa toad, Winky, Elmer, Sam, Joe, Matilda, Grump, Hump, and Ralph (Rafe). They lived near a simple pond, not unlike most others. Momma and Papa toad were always kind and loving, though they too had experienced tragedy when a sudden drought dried up the little pond where Momma had laid her eggs. They resolved then and there that if they ever had the privilege of raising young ones they would be the best parents in the world.
It wasn’t long after that they heard about a pond in the next town that served as an orphanage. After passing all the qualifying tests with flying colors, Momma and Papa were ready to accept the orphans into their home. There were hundreds to choose from. Oh, how to pick? It was quite distressing to Momma since she wanted them all. Surely they all deserved a good home! Finally Papa said to the toad master:
“We cannot decide on which ones.
Assistance we need from you please.
We promise they’ll get a good home.
Choose for us in line with your needs.”
Now the toad master had never had to choose for someone else, but what could he do? He had everyone line up in a single file and he simply chose every twenty-fifth toad. That’s how they became a family! Grump was the oldest and Matilda, the only girl, was the youngest. Winky was somewhere in the middle. How happy they all were to be together! For the longest time each had dreamed of being adopted into a new home. But now so many questions! Where would they live? What would Momma and Papa be like?
For Winky it was a time to reflect. For two years that felt like forever he had lived at the orphanage. When he first arrived there were many toads without parents like him, yet he still felt all alone. The toad master was a cane toad, large and intimidating. Yet he had a gentleness about him that made Winky feel secure. True, he could only be pushed so far. One day Sam, who was also a cane, got up in the toad master’s face and croaked:
“I’m tired of this tick laden place.
I’m tired of your taking the lead.
Can’t you see by the look on my face,
that I really just need to be freed?”
That was just Sam being Sam, as Winky would later find out. Anyway, the toad master picked up Sam by the hind legs and carried him to the back of the pond, sat him down on a log and looked him straight in the eyes and said:
“You think that my job is so easy.
You think that I really don’t care.
It doesn’t take much, Sam, to please me,
but to get in my face don’t you dare.”
Needless to say no one dared try anything like that again, especially Sam. But most of the time life was pleasant, or at least tolerable. Still, Winky could never stop thinking about his parents. What really had happened to them? How he missed them! He could still remember his real momma’s face as she tucked him into bed at night. She always sang him to sleep. Those were good times. Now here he was, one of hundreds with no one to tuck him in or sing him to sleep. But he got along. And at the orphanage, that’s all one could really expect.
But now things would be different! Winky had a new home. Not only that, he had a momma and a papa and brothers and a sister too. Life was truly looking up. Perhaps now he would find out who he really was and what his purpose was in life. Time would tell.