Tell Me a Story

Toad on the Moon (A Salish Indian Tale)

Long ago, to the amazement of all the animals, the wolf fell madly in love with the toad. He loved her so intensely, he could not eat or sleep or think of anything but the toad. He told all the animals of his desire. "I want nothing more than to spend my life with the toad," he said.

The animals listened, but they shook their heads. They knew the toad did not love the wolf in return. In fact, the toad feared the wolf. "I do not trust his love," the toad confided to the rabbit, and the rabbit nodded. Nobody quite trusted the wolf.

"I would fear the wolf's love, too," said the rabbit, and all the small animals agreed.

Weeks passed, and with the help of all the other animals, the toad managed to hide from the wolf.

One night the wolf prayed to the moon. "I love the toad," the wolf cried. "Help me, for I must find the toad and profess my love to her. Please shine brightly down on my search."

That night the moon answered the wolf's prayer, rising full and bright. With a spring in his step and longing in his heart, the wolf set off on his search for the toad.

When the toad saw the bright moonlight shining down, she shivered with fear. "Now it will be difficult to hide," she said to herself, and she hopped into the swamp and hid near the water lilies. The swamp creatures kept watch for her.

Before long the wolf arrived at the swamp. The swamp creatures shrieked and screamed to the toad, who scrambled out of the water and hopped away.

This went on for hours. The wolf sniffed the ground and discovered the toad's hiding place, but the toad hopped away and managed to evade the wolf. She crept from swamp to mossy ground cover. She hid here, and hid there, in spite of the bright moonlight flooding the Earth.

"Why do you shine so brightly?" the toad called to the moon.

"I shine down on all my creatures," the moon answered. "I shine on you as well. I am friend to every creature."

"But how are you my friend?" the toad cried. "You light the wolf's path. I fear the wolf. Please help to protect me," but now the moon fell silent, and the toad heard the wolf's footsteps.

Quietly the wolf stalked her, coming closer and closer. When he spotted her beneath a hanging rock, resting from her long night of escaping, he could not contain his glee. "I've found you," he whispered. When the toad heard this, she hopped into the shadows.

The chase went on. The wolf pursued the toad over hills, across fields and farms, around ponds and through puddles. Each time the wolf would come nearer and nearer, and just in time the toad would hop from his grasp.

But the toad was growing ever more tired. Her legs ached. Her heart pounded. She knew she could not last much longer. "What will I do?" she whispered, and tears came to her eyes and rolled down her bulging cheeks. "I must do something." Once again she looked up at the moon.

Suddenly, she remembered the moon's words, and she had an idea. She sat very still and concentrated. She had little power left in her legs, but she knew she could make one last leap. This would have to be the greatest leap of all, the longest leap a toad had ever made. "I can do this," she whispered, gazing up at the bright, shining moon.

As the wolf came close, she gathered her strength. She squinted her big bulging eyes. She inhaled deeply, and then, with all her might, she called to everyone, "Watch this!"

And she leaped.

"Amazing!" the animals said in unison, and they all stood and stared. The wolf stopped in his tracks, and he stared too. The toad had leaped all the way to the moon. She landed right atop the moon's bright face.

"I've lost her," howled the wolf in despair.

"We've all lost her," said the others, but in truth they were envious of the toad, for now, whenever anyone looks up at the moon, they see the toad. There she is, safe from the wolf's smothering embrace, her dimpled skin shining in the light of the moon.

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