There once lived a curmudgeonly troll. The troll was not entirely bad tempered, for example, he responded well to direct sunshine, to the scent of honeysuckle on a warm breeze, or brewing coffee or frying bacon. But this troll was easily irritated and with a stripe of malevolence he could be a bit lethal. Mostly he kept to himself, and it was better for all that way.
On sunny days the troll
enjoyed a stroll. Up hillocks and down dells he ambled distractedly through wild flower prairies. One dawn, interrupting his musings, speeding along came a frog. Green with brown spots, the frog hopped into view, noisily sucking up and spraying dew with the pads of his spindly toes.
The frog came bounding at the troll, startling him.
Blighted uneducated tadpole! The troll fumed, and like a spark on gasoline he was engulfed, inflamed with spite and he very deliberately stuck out a leg barring the path of the approaching frog. I’ll school you frog, he grumbled and he made as if to trip up the frog and then at the very last moment, as the frog was right up on him, he withdrew his leg.
For his part the frog saw the troll stick his leg out across the path, and being agile he made to adjust for the obstruction. As the frog and the troll passed each other their eyes locked. The troll blazed with self righteousness and the frog was shocked but focused on correcting his course. Confounded by thi
s deliberate wickedness he wished he could stop and demand an explanation; but he was late as it was. Except then he was over-correcting, his speed overpowering his thrust so that the amphibian, usually so nimble, began to spin out. Shocked and angered, the frog could not believe this was happening to him.
From the troll’s peripheral vision he thought he saw the frog was wildly out of control, thought he heard the sounds of a sod-spitting skid. The troll hurried away and refused to permit himself to look back. He was feeling twinges of dread as he acknowledged the frog was, potentially, hurt. There were no grounds to believe the worst, he reasoned as he made wide strides to distance himself from the scene. Dumb frog might have merely spun around and found himself turned right side up and bounded out of harm’s way, the troll muttered aloud, as guiltily, nervously he scarpered.
His thoughts were consumed with the fate of the frog. He wanted very much to go back and spy on whatever had happened, if anything. But he was afraid and cravenly he locked himself up inside his tree house, turned the lights off and hid.
It would be a long time before the troll could so much as think about the episode without conflagrations of remorse. Adding to his manifesto of homegrown dogma he etched a commandment that he would never again play a game of chicken, because even when you won you lost.