thumbnail of Stories by Edgar Allan Poe; 1; Hop Frog
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I never knew anyone so keenly alive to a joke as the king was. He seemed to live only for joking. To tell a good story of the joke-kind and to tell it well was the surest road to his favor. Does it happen that his seven ministers were all noted for their accomplishments as jokers. They all took after the king too, in being large, corpulent, oily men, as well as inimitable jokers. Whether people grow fat by joking, or whether there is something in fat itself which predisposes to a joke, I have never been quite able to determine, but certain it is that a lean joker is a rara avis in terris. About the refinements, or as he called them the ghosts of wit, the king troubled himself very little. He had an especial admiration for breadth in a jest and would often put up with length for the sake of it. Over-niceties wearied him. He would've preferred Rabelais' Gargantua to the Zadig of Voltaire, and upon the whole, practical jokes suited his tastes far better than verbal ones. At the date of my
narrative, professing jesters had not altogether gone out of fashion at court. Several of the great continental powers still retained their fools, who were motley with caps and bells and who were expected be always ready with sharp witticisms at a moment's notice in consideration of the crumbs that fell from the royal table. Our king, as a matter of course, retained his fool. The fact is he required something in the way of folly if only to counterbalance the heavy wisdom of the seven wise men who were his ministers, not to mention himself. His fool or professional jester was not only a fool however. His value was troubled in the eyes of the king by the fact of his being also a dwarf and a cripple. A dwarf was common at court in those days as fools, and many monarchs would have found it difficult to get through their days (days are rather longer at court than elsewhere) without both a jester to laugh with and a dwarf to laugh at, but as I have already observed your jesters in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred are fat, round and unwieldy
so that it was no small source of self-gratulation with our king that in Hop Frog (this was the fool's name) he possessed a triplicate treasure in one person. I believe the name Hop Frog was not the name given to the dwarf by his sponsors at baptism, but it was conferred upon him by general consent of the seven ministers on account of his inability to walk as other men do. In fact, Hop Frog could only get along by sort of interjectional gate, something between a leap and a wriggle, a movement that afforded illimitable amusement and of course consolation to the king for, notwithstanding the protuberance of his stomach and a constitutional swelling of the head, the king by his home court was accounted a capital figure. But although Hop Frog, through the distortion of his legs, could move only with great pain and difficulty along the road or flora, the prodigious muscular power which nature seemed to have bestowed upon his arms by way of compensation for deficiency in the lower limbs enabled him to perform many feats of wonderful dexterity where trees or ropes were in
question or anything else to climb. At such exercises he certainly much more resembled a squirrel or a small monkey than a frog. I am not able to say with precision from what country Hop Frog originally came. It was from some barbarous region however that no person ever heard of, a vast distance from the court of our king. Hop Frog and a young girl, very little less dwarfish than himself although of exquisite portions and a marvelous dancer, had been forcibly carried off from their respective homes in adjoining provinces and sent as presents to the king by one of his ever-victorious generals. Under these circumstances, it is not to be wondered at that a close intimacy arose between the two little captives. Indeed they soon became sworn friends. Hop Frog, who although he made a great deal of sport was by no means popular, had it not in his power to render Trippetta many services. But she, on account of her grace and exquisite beauty although a dwarf, was universally admired and petted. So she
possessed much influence and never failed to use it whenever she could for the benefit of Hop Frog. On some grand state occasion, I forget what, the king determined to have a masquerade, and whenever a masquerade or anything of that kind occurred at court, then the talents of both Hop Frog and Trippetta were sure to be called into play. Hop Frog in especial was so inventive in the way of getting up pageants, suggesting novel characters and arranging costume for masked balls, that nothing could be done it seems without his assistance. The night appointed for the fete had arrived. A gorgeous hall had been fitted up under Trippetta's eye with every kind of device which could possibly give eclat to a masquerade. The whole court was in a fever of expectation. As for costumes and characters, it might well be supposed that everybody had come to a decision on such points. Many had made up their minds as to what roles they should assume a week or even a month in advance and in fact there was not a
particle of indecision anywhere except in the case of the king and his seven ministers. Why they hesitated I never could tell unless they did by way of a joke. More probably they found it difficult on account of being so fat to make up their minds. At all events time flew and as a last resort they sent for a Trippetta and Hop Frog. When the two little friends obeyed the summons of the king, they found him sitting at his wine with the seven ministers of his cabinet council, but the monarch appeared to be in a very ill humor. He knew that Hop Frog was not fond of wine, for it excited the poor cripple almost to madness and madness is no comfortable feeling. But the king loved his practical jokes and took pleasure in forcing Hop Frog to drink and, as the king called it, to be merry. "Come here Hop Frog" said he, as the jester and his friend enter the room. "Swallow this bumper to the health of your absent friends" and here Hop Frog sighed. "And then let us have the benefit of your invention.
"We want characters, characters man, something novel, out of the way. We are weary of this everlasting sameness. Come drink. The wine will brighten your wits." Hop Frog endeavored as usual usual to get up a jest in reply to these advances from the king, but the effort was too much. It happened to be the poor dwarf's birthday, and command to drink to his absent friends forced the tears to his eyes. Many large bitter drops fell into the goblet as he took it humbly from the hand of the tyrant. "Ho ho" roared the latter as the dwarf reluctantly drained the beaker. "See what a glass of good wine can do. Why your eyes are shining already." Poor fellow. His large eyes gleamed rather than shown for the effect of wine on his excitable brain. It was not more powerful and instantaneous. He placed the goblet nervously on the table and looked round upon the company with a half insane stare. They all seemed highly amused of the success of the king's joke. "And now to business," said the
prime minister, a very fat man. "Yes" said the king. "Come Hop Frog, lend us your assistance. Characters, my fine fellow. We stand in need of characters, all of us. Ha, ha!" And as this was seriously meant for a joke his laugh was chorused by the seven. Hop Frog also laughed although feebly and somewhat vacantly. "Oh come, come," said the king impatiently. "Have you nothing to suggest?" "I am endeavoring to think of something novel," replied the dwarf abstractedly for he was quite bewildered by the wine. "Endeavoring," said the tyrant fiercely. What do you mean by that?" I perceive you are sulky and want more wine. Here, drink this!" and he poured out another goblet full and offered it to the cripple who merely gazed at it, gasping for breath. "Drink I say," shouted the monster, "or by the fiends but what hasn't had a king group proposed rage the court is smart to pass a tale as a corpse advance to them on exceed and for nominees before him implored him to spare her friend the tyrant regarded over
some moments in evident wondered audacity he seemed quite at a loss as to what to do or say how most becoming way to express is indignation at last without uttering a syllable he pushed a violently from him and through the contents of the burning goblet in her face, and the poor girl got up as best she could. And not daring even to sigh, resumed her position at the foot of the table. There was a dead silence for about half a minute during which the falling of a leaf or of a feather might have been heard. It was interrupted by a low but harsh and protracted grating sound which seemed to come at once from every corner of the room. "What what what are you making that noise for" demanded the king turning furiously to the dwarf, the latter seemed to have recovered in some measure from his intoxication and looking fixedly but quietly into the tyrant's face merely ejaculated "I, I? How could it have been me?" The sound appeared to come from without
observed one of the courtiers. "I fancy it was the parrot at the window, wetting his bill upon the cage wires." "True," replied the monarch as if much relieved by the suggestion, "but on the honor of a knight I could have sworn that it was the gritting of this vagabond's teeth." Here upon the dwarf laughed. The king was too confirmed a joker to object to anyone's laughing and displayed set of large, powerful and very repulsive teeth. Moreover he avowed his perfect willingness to swallow as much wine as desired. The monarch was pacified and having drained another bumper with no perceptible ill effect, Hop Frog entered at once and with spirit into the plans for the masquerade. "I cannot tell what was the association of idea," observed he very tranquilly and as if he had never tasted wine in his life, "but just after your majesty had struck the girl and thrown the wine in her face, just after your majesty had done this and while the parrot was making that odd noise outside the window, there came into my mind a capital diversion,
one of my own country frolics, often enacted among us at our masquerades. But here it will be new altogether. Unfortunately however it requires a company of eight persons, and..." "Well here we are," cried the king, laughing at his acute discovery of the coincidence. "Eight to a fraction, I and my seven ministers. Come, what is the diversion?" "We call it," replied the cripple "the eight shamed orangutans and it really is excellent sport if well enacted." "We will enact it," remarked the king, drawing himself up and lowering his eyelids. "The beauty of the game," continued Hop Frog "lies in the fright it occasions among the women." "Capital," roared in chorus the monarch and his ministry. "I will equip you with orangutans," proceeded the dwarf. "Leave all that to me. The resemblance shall be so striking that the company of masqueraders will take you for real beasts, and of course they will be as much terrified as astonished." "Oh this is exquisite," explained the king. "Hop Frog, I will make a man of you." "The chains are for the purpose of increasing the confusion by their jangling," said
Hop Frog. "You are supposed to have escaped en masse from your keepers. Your majesty cannot conceive the effect produce, had a masquerade by eight chained orangutans imagined to be real ones by most the company and rushing in with savage prize among the crowd of delicately and gorgeously habited men and women. The contrast is inimitable." "It must be," said the king and the council arose hurridly as it was growing late, to put into execution the scheme of Hop Frog. His mode of equipping the party's orangutans was very simple but effective enough for his purposes. The animals in question had, at the epoch of my story, very rarely been seen in any part of the civilized world and as the imitations made by the dwarf were sufficiently beast-like and more than sufficiently hideous, their truthfulness to nature was thus thought to be secured. The king and his ministers were first encased in tight fitting stockinette shirts and drawers. They were then saturated with tar. At this stage of the process someone of the party suggested feathers, but the suggestion
was that one's over move by that wall of hussein convinced the eight by ocular demonstration that the hair of such a brooch as the orangutan was much more efficiently represented by flax a thick coating of the latter was accordingly plastered upon the coating of talk a long chain was now put your first it was passed about the waste of the king and tie then about another of the company and also tied and about all successively in the same manner when this training arrangement was complete and the party stood is far apart from each other as possible they formed a circle and make all things appear natural hop from past the residue of the chain into diameter is at right angles across the circle after the fashion adopted a present day by those who kept or chimpanzees or other large eggs in borneo the grand saloon in which the masquerade was to take place was a circular room very lofty and receiving the light of the sun only through a single window a top at night the season for which they fought and is especially designed it was illuminated principally by a large
chandelier depending by chain from the center of the skylight and lowered are elevated by means of a counterbalance as usual but in order not to look unsightly this latter past outside the cuba and over the roof the arrangements of the roma been left adrift lettuce superintendents and some particulars it seems she had been guided by the collar judgment of a friend that was at his suggested was that on this occasion the chandelier was removed its wax and groupings which whoever's a warm it was quite impossible to prevent would've been seriously detrimental to the rich dresses of the guests who on account of the crowded stage of the saloon could not all be expected to keep from its center that is to say from under the chandelier addition those cancers was set in various parts of the whole out of the way and the flambeau amazing sweet odor was placed in the right handed each of the carrier tubes that stood against the wall some fifty or sixty altogether the age orangutans taking upfront advise waited patiently until midnight it's when the room
was thoroughly filled with masquerade as before making their appearance know so that the proxy striking however then they rushed or rather rodin altogether over the impediments are there james cause most of the party to fall into stumble as they and the excitement among the masquerade as his prodigious until the heart of the king with glee as had been anticipated though another view of the guest who's opposed the ferocious looking creatures to be beasts of some kind in reality it's not precisely around objects many of the women swooned with a fright and about the king taking the precaution to exclude all weapons from the saloon his body might assume expiated of frolic in their blood as it was a general rush was made for the daughters of the king had ordered them to be locked immediately upon his entrance and a good word suggestion the keys have been deposited with him while the tumult was at its height and each masquerade returned only to his own safety for that there was much real danger from the pressure of the excited crowd the chain by which the
chandelier ordinarily on and which had been drawn up on its removal might've been seeing very gradually to descend until it's hoped extremity came within three feet of the floor soon after this the king in his seven friends having real about the hall in all directions found themselves at length in its center and of course an immediate contact with the chain whether the situation of the block what followed noiselessly at their heels inciting them to keep up the commotion took hold of their own chain at the intersection of the two portions which cross the circle diametrically and right angles here with a repetitive thought he inserted the book from which the chandelier didn't want to depend and in an instant by some unseen agency the chandelier chain was drawn so far upward as to take a book out of reach and as an inevitable consequence to drag the arrival times together in close connection and face to face the respirators mother started recovered in some measure from their alarm and beginning to regard the
whole matter is a welcome dr pleasantries set up a loud shouted laughter the predicament of the apes leave them to leave now screen popped a frog a shrill voice making itself easily heard throughout all that then leave them to me i fancy i know that if i could only get a good look at them i consume tell you who they are is scrambling over the heads of the crowd he managed to get to the wall when seizing upon both from under the carriages he returned as he went to the center of the room leaps with the agility of a monkey upon the king's head and tense climate a few feet up the chain holding down the torch to examine the group of orangutans and still screening i shall soon find out who they are and now while the whole assembly the apes included work involved with laughter with justice subtly under the shrill whistle on the chain to violently up for about thirty feet dragging with it that dismayed and struggling writer times and leaving them suspended in midair between the sky light on the floor up frog clinging to the chain as it rose still maintain his relative position and respect to be a damascus and still as if nothing were the matter
continued to thrust his torch down toward them as though endeavoring to discover who they were so thoroughly astonished was the whole company at this a scent that a dead silence of about a minutes duration and sued it was broken by just such a low harsh grating sound as had before attracted the attention of the king as counselors when the former through the wind in the face of cricket that on the present occasion there could be no question as to when ste the sound issue it came from the fang like teeth of the dwarf who ground them and mash them as he phoned of the mouth and lead with an expression of maniacal rage into the upturned countenances of the king and his seven companion i said a blink the infuriated gesture i begin to see who these people are now here pretending to scrutinize the king more closely he held the flambeau to the flax and coke which envelop him and which instantly burst into a sheet of the flame in less than half a minute the whole it the right time for a blazing fiercely amid the shrieks of a multitude of days of them from
below for a stricken and without the power to render them the slightest assistants at like the flame suddenly increasing in virulence force the gesture to climb higher up the chain to be out of the region is he made this movement the crowd again sang for a brief moment into silence that was seized his opportunity and once more spoke i say no distinctly he said what manner of people these masters are they are a great king and his seven privy council is a guy who does not struggle to strike a defenseless go and his seven counselors were best him in the outrage as well myself i am so hot rod but just oh and this is my last yes owing to the high combust ability of both the flax and the toddler which it appeared that was had scarcely made an end to his brief speech before the work of vengeance was complete we ate corpses swung in their chains affected black and hideous and indistinguishable mass the cripple of those parts of them why would literally to the ceiling and disappeared through the skylight and i
suppose the trip was stationed on the roof of the saloon had been the accomplice of a friend and his fiery revenge and that together they affected their escape to their own country far neither was seen again
Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
Episode Number
Hop Frog
Producing Organization
WRVR (Radio station: New York, N.Y.)
Contributing Organization
The Riverside Church (New York, New York)
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Program Description
A narration of Edgar Allan Poe's short story Hop Frog.
Recorded at WRVR
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Male authors, American; Short story
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Producing Organization: WRVR (Radio station: New York, N.Y.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Riverside Church
Identifier: cpb-aacip-cfab808a40e (Filename)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Generation: Master
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Chicago: “Stories by Edgar Allan Poe; 1; Hop Frog,” 1966-05-31, The Riverside Church , American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 16, 2024,
MLA: “Stories by Edgar Allan Poe; 1; Hop Frog.” 1966-05-31. The Riverside Church , American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 16, 2024. <>.
APA: Stories by Edgar Allan Poe; 1; Hop Frog. Boston, MA: The Riverside Church , American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from