I don't know who is doing this," said Dazel to her friend Swain, the black swan, as they looked at their beloved home, their pond. The pond surface was littered with grain chaff, dried leaves and fruit peels.
"It's a mystery," replied Swain with a shake of his graceful long neck. "Every morning we get up to see our pond littered like this. "Whoever does this, does it at night when everyone is sleeping."
Just then Grandfather Frog, the eldest of all the frogs who lived in the pond, leapt up on a nearby lily pad and quipped in, "I suspect it is one of the pond inhabitants."
"But why would someone litter their own home?" cried out Dazel. That is something I refuse to believe."
"Dazel, you are a kind and innocent creature; that is why you are incapable of believing that someone would do this. But there are many who are irresponsible and do not take care of their surroundings," explained Grandfather Frog wisely.
Just then Wiz Rooster flew towards their pond. "Oh my! What has happened here?" he exclaimed.
Dazel, Swain and Grandfather Frog blushed in embarrassment. Everyone held Wiz Rooster in great esteem and to disappoint him was a matter of utmost shame.
Dazel hesitatingly told Wiz Rooster the story, "Since the last week, every morning we find the pond littered like this. Every morning all of us have to work to weed out the garbage and dispose it properly."
"This is a shame," mused Wiz Rooster.
"We must find out who does this."
After Wiz Rooster had left the three neighbours, Dazel, Swain and Grandfather Frog thought long and hard about the problem.
"Let us call a meeting of all the pond dwellers this evening," suggested Grandfather Frog. The other two agreed.
That evening there was a somber meeting at the pond edge. Grandfather Frog being the eldest presided over it and said in his tremulous voice, "It is a great disgrace that our pond which has always been renowned for being crystal clear is being contaminated every day. We all live in such cohesion and are such a great support to each other. Can it be one of us who is doing this?" Grandfather Frog voiced everyone's greatest suspicions. "If it is one of you who is responsible for this mischief, please confess till tonight and we will speak nothing of it." There was silence. The pond creatures looked at each other with mistrust in their eyes. Soon the meeting was called to an end but without any result.
"I'm afraid this meeting has made all the neighbours wary of each other. I don't know if that is a good thing?" said Dazel to Swain.
No one came to Grandfather Frog to confess that night. The next morning the pond creatures were aghast to find the pond surface floating with litter yet again.
"This is unbelievable," exclaimed Grandfather Frog, as all the creatures worked swiftly to clean the pond surface.
Swain had a suggestion, "I believe the time has come for some of us to keep watch at night to catch the culprit."
"That's a great idea! I'll stay up with you. Tomorrow is a weekend so we don't even have to worry about going to school fresh and early so we can afford to keep awake," said Dazel.
"Make sure no one knows about your plan," advised Grandfather Frog.
That night as the stars twinkled in the dark canopy of the sky and one by one the pond creatures went to sleep, Dazel and Swain pretended to be asleep near the pond's edge.
Swain whispered, "If I doze off, just give me a nudge."
Dazel nodded her head. It was midnight and still nothing queer or suspicious had happened. All the creatures were fast asleep and there was no sound except the gentle, night breeze rustling the flowers and bushes surrounding the pond.
Just as Dazel and Swain were about to give up on finding the culprit, they heard a noise. They waited with bated breath. From under the ground came a group of badgers. Their faces had black and white stripes and they sat and ate roots and fruit and threw the peels and seeds on the pond surface. After they had completed their meal in silence they burrowed back down and disappeared.
Dazel and Swain looked at each other in shock. The next morning they announced to the pond dwellers what they had seen.
"Those badgers have their setts near our pond," confirmed Grandfather Frog. "But they have never bothered us before. Setts are their homes complex, long-lasting networks of tunnels and chambers underground."
"Why haven't I met any of them during the day if they live so nearby?" Dazel asked.
"Badgers are nocturnal, that means they are most active at night. Many live in groups called clans. Maybe that is why you haven't bumped into any of them," said Grandfather Frog. "What do they look like?" Ribbit, the young frog asked his grandfather.
"Badgers range in size from 13-31 inches long and have a short tail 4-7 inches. The badger has brown-gray fur, black legs, long, flat feet with long, strong, curved claws, and a distinctively striped face. It weighs up to 37 pounds," explained Grandfather Frog. "They feed on rodents, frogs, snakes, small mammals, worms, insects and their larvae, fruit, and roots. Badgers burrow for much of their food."
"Oh my! They eat frogs! Maybe that's why they come to the pond," shrieked Ribbit.
Grandfather frog tried to calm him down, "Ribbit dear, don't panic. The creatures in D'Land have always respected each other and have lived in harmony. I will go and speak to the head of the badgers tonight."
"Give them a piece of your mind," cried out a turtle in anger.
"No! That is not the solution; infact that will aggravate things. I will talk about it calmly with the badgers," said Grandfather Frog.
That night none of the pond creatures slept. Instead after nightfall they waited for Grandfather Frog to return from the Badger Clan.
It was midnight when Grandfather Frog returned. With him was an elderly badger. The younger frogs quickly dove under water on seeing the badger but the other pond dwellers including Dazel and Swain came nearer.
"This is Riz, a representative of the badgers," started Grandfather Frog. "He wants to say something."
The badger spoke in a gravelly voice, "I am here to apologize for the inconvenience some young badgers of our clan have caused you. They are young and did not realize that they were trespassing. I assure you this will not happen again," finished Riz the badger solemnly.
The pond dwellers were quick to accept his apology and as soon as Riz departed, they all converged at the pond edge near Grandfather Frog.
"I'm so glad that it was no one from our pond community," said Grandfather Frog with a smile. "Everything can be solved if we discuss things amicably."
Next evening as Dazel flew to the lake to meet his best friends Din Din and Delma, they were all glad that the mystery of the litter bug was solved.
"If we all took care of our surroundings and were considerate of each other's habitats, we would have such a healthy world to live in," said Delma thoughtfully. And her friends nodded in agreement.
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