Cannery Row: (Centennial Edition) by
My Favorite Steinbeck Story
Adventures of cannery workers living in the run-down waterfront section of
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Just savor it: During the millennia that frogs and men have lived in the
same world, it is probable that men have hunted frogs. And during that
time a pattern of hunt and parry has developed. The man with net or bow
or lance or gun creeps noiselessly, as he thinks, toward the frog. The
pattern requires that the frog sit still, sit very still and wait. The rules of the
game require the frog to wait until the final flicker of a second, when th e
net is descending, when the lance is in the air, when the finger squeezes
the trigger, then the frog jumps, plops into the water, swims to the bottom
and waits until the man goes away. That is the way it is done, the way it
has always been done. Frogs have every right to expect it will always be
done that way. Now and then the net is too quick, the lance pierces, the
gun flicks and that frog is gone, but it is all fair and in the framework.
Frogs dont resent that. But how could they have foreseen the horror that
followed? The sudden flashing of lights, the shouting and squealing of
men, the rush of feet. Every frog leaped, plopped into the pool, and swam
frantically to the bottom. Then into the pool plunged the line of men,
stamping, churning, moving in a crazy line up the pool, flinging their feet
about. Hysterically the frogs displaced from their placid spots swam ahead
of the crazy thrashing feet and the feet came on. Frogs are good
swimmers but they havent much endurance. Down the pool they wen t
until finally they were bunched and crowded against the end. And the feet
and wildly plunging bodies followed them. A few frogs lost their heads and
floundered among the feet and got through and these were saved. But the
majority decided to leave this pool forever, and to find a new home in a
new country where this kind of thing didnt happen. A wave of frantic,
frustrated frogs, big ones, little ones, brown ones, green ones, men frogs
and women frogs, a wave of them broke over the bank, crawled, leaped,
scrambled. They clambered up the grass, they clutched at each other, the
little ones rode on the big ones. And then--horror on horror--the flashlights
found them. Two men gathered them like berries. The line came out of
the water and closed in on their rear and gathered them like potatoes.
Tens and fifties of them were flung into the gunny sacks, and the sacks
filled with tired, frightened, and disillusioned frogs, with dripping,
whimpering frogs. Some got away, of course, and some had been saved
in the pool. But never in frog history had such an execution taken place.
Frogs by the pound, by the fifty pounds. They werent counted but there
must have been six or seven hundred. Then happily Mack tied up the
necks of the sacks. They were soaking, dripping wet and the air was cool.
They had a short one in the grass before they went back to the house so
they wouldnt catch cold.
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