Toad was a fat old fellow who wore nothing but a belt. He slept all day so that he could eat worms, flies, mosquitoes, moths and slugs at night. Sammy would have to be careful.
"Watch out for Mr. Toad," Sammy's mother warned, "and don't drink beer out of jar lids, don't hide under shingles or boards and don't eat anything that smells like bran. They're all traps Mr. Diggins sets out.
"I'll be careful, Momma," Sammy promised.
"And whatever you do, Sammy, make sure you're in the shade before the sun rises or you'll shrivel up like a little raisin."
The thought of frying in the hot sun made Sammy's eyestalks shiver.
Sammy finally spotted Mr. Toad sitting on a rock at the edge of the garden.
Toad was catching mosquitoes. Sammy headed toward the lettuce patch.
Lucy slug was sitting on a tender lettuce leaf. "Hi, Sammy," said Lucy, "Have you seen Mr. Toad?"
"He's catching mosquitoes on big flat rock. Do you want to slide onions for a while?" Sammy asked.
On their way to the onions Sammy and Lucy encountered some jar lids filled with beer. Sammy peered into one lid and saw a dead slug floating in the brew. "Oh, no! There's George Hodgskins. He should have listened to his mother."
Let's get out of here." said Lucy.
When they reached the onion rows, the slugs cheered up. "I'll race you to the top, Lucy," Sammy challenged.
"I win," yelled Lucy as she reached the top of her stalk.
"No, it was a tie," said Sammy. "I'll see if I can spot Mr.Toad."
Sammy searched from his lookout. He couldn't see Mr. Toad, but Sammy did see the biggest, reddest strawberry he had ever seen.
Strawberries, courtesy of Tim Dyson, copyright
Suddenly the onion stalks began to tremble. "Sshh," whispered Sammy. "Be still."
Lucy and Sammy crossed their eyestalks and hoped Mr. Toad wouldn't spot them. For there he was, fat as could be, just below their stalks. Toad loosened his belt one notch, belched loudly and hopped on his way.
Bufo americanus, Peterborough, Ontario, courtesy of Tim Dyson; belt added by B. Oehlke
The strawberry was bigger and redder than Sammy had thought. He quickly climbed up the stem and slid down to the hanging fruit. Sammy closed his eyes and sniffed. The sweet smell made his mouth water. He munched into the red, round, juicy shoulder and soon had eaten a tunnel right into the core of the strawberry.
The fruit was so big that the bright red sides had grown away from its silvery, pink-white center core. All around Sammy, little droplets of strawberry dew glistened in the starlight. It was like being in a palace made of red sugar.
Strawberry starlight, courtesy of Sammy the Slug, copyright
Sammy ate and ate and ate until he could eat no more. Then the young slug fell fast asleep. When Sammy woke, the inside of the strawberry was brighter than before, and Sammy felt warmer.
Suddenly the strawberry began to shake and Sammy felt himself being lifted high into the air. A flash of sunlight momentarily blinded Sammy's eyes. Up, up he looked into the big, round, freckled face of Darla Diggins, the farmer's daughter. Her eyes were closed, and a wide smile graced her happy mug. A drop of strawberry juice about the size and shape of Sammy hung at the corner of her mouth. Sammy shuddered as Darla's pink tongue slipped out and slurped up the juice.
"Oh, no!" thought Sammy as Darla opened her mouth. Then she opened her eyes and saw Sammy.
"Aaaagghhh!" screamed Darla "Aaaagghhh!"
Round and round Sammy and the half eaten strawberry twirled as they sailed through the air. Sammy hung on for dear life. Plop! The strawberry landed in the tall grass. Sammy could still hear Darla screaming. He was dizzy and his eyestalks felt funny.
Sammy unwound his tangled eyestalks and waited until evening under the shade of the half eaten strawberry. When he got home that night, Momma slug gave him a big slug-hug and said, "My what big eyes you have!"
And so, if you ever encounter a slug with extra long eyestalks, you'll know it's Sammy or one of his offspring.
Sammy is much bigger and wiser now. He doesn't visit Mr. Diggins' strawberry patch any more. Sometimes he and Lucy go out elsewhere together. Sometimes he goes out alone.
Sammy the slug on moth bait (fermenting fruit juice); Tim Dyson image
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