The following morning Peter was up as soon as he could see the first shimmering's
of daylight in the water. He had lost all sense of time, but he knew that 'yesterday'
was a day he would never forget. He had been a prisoner; had escaped, only to see
Sol, his fellow prisoner and friend, killed. The only good thing to come from that
sorry event was that the sticklebacks were now firmly on the side of the frogs. They
had seen for themselves what ambition and pride can do to a immature mind, and they
could see the same thing happening across the water in newt-land.
They did not want that.
Following the unexpected delay caused by the failed stickleback coup, the day
of the trial dawned. The area in the middle of the western half of the pond, about
half way between the newt and the stickleback areas was the biggest and deepest part
of the lake, and was chosen as the most suitable place for such a monumental event.
It was full of rocks and boulders, and steep sides affording endless viewing positions.
It also had a large flat area at its centre.
It was the same place to where Peter had been lead when first enticed into the
water. The very place where he had discovered the sheer joy of the underwater ballet,
when he and Frederick had swum their duet; and where he had met Giles for the first
It was the perfect place for all the creatures of Paradise Pond to meet, an
historic meeting on which the future of the pond depended.
“How many?” Peter asked, but no one could tell him. There were fish of all
varieties and sizes from Paddy and his few relatives, down to uncountable minnows
amongst whose numbers were the formidable band of sticklebacks with their new leader.
Peter was sure, along with all the other fish in Paradise gave Clarence the respect
and support to which he was due.
Then there was the small life. Millions of insects of every conceivable kind,
from the mud below, between the rocks, in amongst the weeds and the reeds, behind
the leaves, inside the stalks, and all those that simply swam, either in, or on,
After that were the two main protagonists in the dispute. On one side there
were the frogs, while on the other side the newts. Both leaders were now facing each
other at this hurriedly assembled hearing of the high court. In the middle of the
arena stood a single large flat topped rock. A table or work surface maybe, or more
chillingly perhaps, a sacrificial alter?
A little away from this rock two figures were gently levitating. Peter, young,
a little apprehensive yet displaying a sense of responsibility beyond his years.
And Clarence, old and wise; confident, knowledgeable of all matters relating to
Paradise. He would preside.
He was respected by all the inhabitants of their world, except perhaps the
two main protagonists. He had been called on to act by Peter as a one man jury, and
to see that the meeting was conducted properly.
The meeting was indeed just about to start, and Peter was having a crisis of
conscience. From the very outset he had declared his insistence on the democratic
process, yet here he was ready to pass sentence before a word had been said.
"I'm acting like god." he had earlier said to Clarence.
"But they think you are god."
"That's all very well, but what about my beliefs; my upbringing?"
"And what about nature?" countered Clarence, "and don't forget, that is what
this meeting is about."
Peter was at a loss. He knew what had to be done, but he was uneasy. Clarence
had earned his position of prestige and authority. "But what makes me fit to pass
judgment?" he asked himself.
Just before they took their places Clarence quietly asked Peter his name. Somewhat
surprised he answered "You know very well, it's Peter."
"Do you have a middle name?"
"And may I know what it is?"
"Yes if you like; it's John."
"Peter John Crawford." Laurence said it out in full "I thought it might be
something a little different," he paused and said "no matter, I think it is time
When Peter and Clarence had arrived a little earlier at the meeting place they
thought at first glance that they might not find any room, such was the crowd before
them. The flat area was about the size of a supermarket car park. Around its perimeter
lay the piles of rocks, which, as Peter had earlier discovered, were the flattened
remains of a number of buildings, long lost and forgotten remnants of ancient industry,
and what might have been some demolished cottages, sacrificed in the name of progress
as fashions changed and wealthier and more powerful men sought to push forward -
even in this remote little valley - the industrial revolution.
Beyond the ruins, and indeed all around were the high quarry walls, who’s stark angular
shapes told of mans activity many years before.
Peter could not help reflecting on what he saw. Paradise pond was created
as part of that vision, though it is doubtful if those working at the mill which
bore that name, would have found that it lived up to its promise, or indeed the promises
of its first owner, who also built his home at the same time - the nearby Paradise
The mill further down the valley had in time suffered the same fate as the
drowned ruins, and for much the same reasons; 'progress?' Hardly any of this little
bit of history remained to tell its story, apart from the beautiful and secluded
lake; and the manor house on the other side of the wood.
Peter forced himself back to the business at hand. He could see the multitude
waiting to witness the most historic occasion in the lifetime of any of the present
inhabitants of the pond. He smiled when he thought of them all packed like sardines.
Clarence summoned the two contestants, Frederick and Giles to approach the centre.
Behind them were their massed supporters, the frogs and the newts.
It was time, and Peter asked Clarence to open the proceedings.
As he slowly circled the arena Clarence spoke to the assembled gathering in
his cultured and dignified way. So many were they that they stretched out beyond
the flat area, on to the rocks and stones, and on every vantage point to be found
on the craggy quarry face. Just as many it seemed were content to hover, suspended
motionless in the water; levitating; waiting. At the greater distances the defusing
effect of the water made vision, either way, almost impossible, yet even those at
that further distance remained. He did not shout, yet everyone seemed to hear, just
as they all understood his tongue.
There was no agenda. Everyone knew that there was but one topic to be discussed;
only one issue to fight over; one matter to resolve, the one and only matter that
The charge was undisputed, as was the accused, for in the dock proud and boastful
was Giles Clifford Newton, unrepentant and arrogant. He had, as Frederick predicted
he would, recovered from his lack of composure during the storm, and was there to
defend his position as leader of the newts, and to lay claim to the ultimate throne.
His ambition to be the leader of Paradise Pond was not disguised, and he meant to
have his way.
He knew that his only opponent was Frederick, the so called king of the frogs,
who he saw as weak and ineffectual. Granted he seemed to have acquired a powerful
ally, and recently had found his tongue. But Giles no longer believed that the being
from the rest of the world who had befriended the frogs was the god he claimed to
be. That thing with the lightning had been nothing more than a cheap trick, and
was determined to expose him as a fraud.
'What can stop me now?' he thought, as he waited for the big event to begin.
Clarence the carp, the elder statesman, had finished his opening statements,
and now called for the first of the two main adversaries to state his case. That
duty fell to Frederick, who rose nervously and moved to the centre of the arena.
"I am Frederick, leader of the frog community." he said rather quietly.
"A little louder if you please." Clarence was forced to interject.
"And I accuse Giles of inciting the normally peaceful family of newts into
warlike ways," he stopped to catch his breath "so that they could first drive out
us frogs, and who knows who else, and take over Paradise Pond."
That was it in a nutshell.
"What do you say to that charge?" Clarence enquired of Giles.
"Not much dear boy." was Giles's glib answer.
"Do you not defend yourself?"
"Nothing to defend as far as I can see."
"You are accused of incitement. Do you not deny it?"
"It's the natural way."
"Not true." piped up Frederick, looking at the old carp "The newts were never
aggressive until he came."
"They were getting pushed out, I just pushed back a bit, that's all Freddy."
Giles answered the frog mockingly.
"Who was pushing them out? Not us, that's for sure." Frederick ignored the
"Is there not room for you all?" asked Clarence, directing his question to
both sides, but it was Frederick who answered.
"Of course there is, but he wants to rule us all."
"Don't you?" This time Clarence's question was directed at the frog.
"Not at all. I would be happy to lead them, but not to rule them."
"What tosh," cut in Giles "he's just playing with words."
"At least I'm a frog leading frogs. You're not even the same as the other
"Of course I'm not the same; I'm an aristocrat; born to rule."
"Are you saying that you are a different species?" Clarence wanted to know.
"Well not exactly different, but not quite the same either. The ordinary newts
you see, well, they haven't quite got it up here." he tapped his forehead, "not
quite up to scratch in the brain department you see, so they need our help."
There was considerable unrest in the ranks behind as the newt population heard
themselves being described as dumb and dim witted.
"And you feel it appropriate for your kind - the Great Crested newts - to take
over the leadership of a newt colony?"
"Oh yes of course. We have been doing it for years; all over the rest of the
world. Well they can't do it for themselves you see. It's what we are born for."
"Do they ask for your support?"
"Well they don't actually ask, but they don't say no." Giles seemed to be on
top of the world, parrying one question this way and thenext the other. He was having
a good time.
"What do you think they would say if we 'actually' ask them?" Clarence said
rather pointedly, but before he could answer Frederick jumped up. He seemed to have
overcome his nervous start, and spoke now with more passion.
"They were happy before Giles arrived, and there was none of this trouble;
we all got on fine."
"Why don't you ask then now" said Giles, sure of himself and turning, his fore
leg at shoulder height to gesture towards his 'people' "they'll tell you."
"This is not the time, but I intend to do just that." Clarence said. He had
noticed that there was a district lack of response behind Giles to his appeal. Then
he changed his line of questioning.
"Why do you think that Frederick sought outside help in the person of Peter
"I can't imagine, but in any case it's plain to see that he is a fraud."
"A fraud you say?"
"Yes, silly boy, of course. Well, he claims to be God doesn't he, so he must
be a fraud?"
The old carp, feeling that he had got the measure of Giles now turned his attention
once more to Frederick.
"Did Peter ever tell you that he was God?"
"No ... he didn't say he was God ..." the frog was clearly uncomfortable.
"What is it Frederick? Please answer my question."
"He once told me he was not God, but he knew God, and he had the power to destroy
Paradise if he wanted to."
At this there was uproar all around, and every single being in the amphitheatre
came alive. Frederick was sure he had said the wrong thing, but Peter had told him
that he must answer honestly. Then he raised his front legs to try and get everyone's
attention again. "But he told me more that once that he did not want to do that.
Its just that he can if he wants to."
"What did you think when hewas kidnapped?"
"I hoped he would escape"
"Did you mean 'hoped', or did you mean 'prayed'?"
"We don't have a God to pray to, but I wished we did."
"What happened when he was captured?"
"He caused the big storm."
"That was just a cheap trick." shouted Giles
Clarence ignored the newts outburst and continued questioning Frederick.
"How do you think he caused the big storm?"
"I don't know, maybe he has some special power."
"It was a trick I tell you, everyone knows he is a fraud." Giles shouted again,
determined to change the point of interest. Once more he was ignored.
"You think he has special powers; so perhaps he is a God after all."
He waited for Frederick to answer, but Frederick had nothing to say. He could
not tell more than anyone else what powers Peter had, or where they might come from.
"Perhaps we should hear from Peter Crawford himself." Clarence said, and waited
until Peter drifted across the arena until he was close to the big flat stone.
"Are you a God?" Clarence asked directly.
"No I am not."
"Can you explain what Frederick meant when he said that you could destroy us
all, if you wanted to."
"Don't believe a word he says," shouted Giles, a little anxious now "everything
he says is a lie."
Peter took a deep breath before he started, then very nervously he said. "What
you call the rest of the world is much much bigger than you know about, and it is
shared out amongst my kind so we can look after it. So you see, there is a small
'rest of the world' - the part that you know about - and a large 'rest of the world'
- the part that I know about. The piece that I look after is what you call ‘the rest
of the world’; Paradise pond and all the land that surrounds it.”
Once more there was a buzz all around as each being consulted his neighbours,
first on one side and then on the other.
"What does he mean?" they all wanted to know.
"What did I tell you?" Giles burst forward until he was snout to chin with
Peter. The he turned his back on him and addressed the whole congregation. "He's
just a fraud; a liar and a cheat."
He spun round again "If you are so high and mighty; if you have some special
power - the power to destroy us all; let's see some proof."
He turned his back on Peter and held his forelegs aloft, convinced that he
had scored the fatal blow. He was even more sure when he heard Peter say simply
"No, I do not have that power myself; I am not a God."
Giles spun round at once, jubilant and laughing "I told you so; he's a fraud."
"I do not have that power, but my grandfather has and I am acting for him."
"Your grandfather?" inquired Clarence. You haven't mentioned him before."
"He is up there waiting for me."
Giles could hardly restrain himself. "He's lying again. Look at him, making
it up as he goes. Tell him to bring his grandfather down then; lets see if he is
any more of a God than . . ." He didn't finish the sentence, but pointed his foreleg
at Peter, then raised his head and laughed as he strode away.
Clarence looked at the boy. He sensed that they had reached a critical moment,
for Peter's credibility was being questioned, and he could see only one way to answer
"Can you bring him down?"
"Course I can." Peter almost shouted defiantly. He didn't quite know that
was going to happen, but he was a little relieved at the thought of his granddad
being by his side. At least some of the burden might be lifted.
Without delay Peter was dispatched. With an escort drawn from random quarters
to see that there was no trickery. They moved away.
They found Peter’s Grandfather just where he said he would be, still fast asleep,
but the observers were shocked to see Peter regain his full size when he left the
water, and gently shook the old man's shoulder.
"Granddad," Peter called, "there is trouble in Paradise, you must come."
Without any questions granddad stood up and followed his grandson and all the
escort creatures back into the water. In a trice he and Peter were small, as hand
in hand they followed the pack until they reached the clearing.
Clarence waited until all had found their places before he approached the older
"Are you Peter's grandfather?"
"Are you God?"
"Peter tells us that you have the power to destroy us all."
He look rather surprised "Why did you say that Peter?"
Before peter could answer Giles was up again.
"He can't do it. Don't you see; the old man's lying now."
Clarence ignored the interruption, looking directly at Granddad.
"Yes of course ... but why would I want to?"
This time it was Peter's turn to interrupt. "That's what I have been saying
Clarence turned once more to the old man.
"May I know your name?"
"You have a middle name?"
"Yes, it's Orville."
So your full name is Gordon Orville Dexter?"
"That is correct."
At this Clarence moved forward and indicated to the principles to join him
by the large flat topped stone.
Addressing the pretender to the throne he asked "May I use your lieutenants
in a little experiment?"
"Be my guest." answered Giles, in good humour now feeling that things were
once more going his way. He motioned his trusty aids to come forward.
Clarence repeated the name three times as he moved in circles around the large
boulder by which activities were now centred.
"Gordon Orville Dexter. Gordon Orville Dexter. Gordon Orville Dexter." he called
out as though he was chanting. Everyone waited open mouthed; the vast assembled crowd,
Peter and his grandfather, and the two protagonists standing close by. Then he stopped
and motioned Giles’s two minders to come forward, telling them to find some small
flat stones which they could use as
They looked at Giles waiting for his acquiescence to the command, but Clarence
"Please do as I say."
Soon they returned, both carrying a hand sized piece of rock, and waited for
the next instruction. Clarence moved forward until he gently nuzzled the top of
the boulder, which was its only flat surface.
"This boulder has stood where it is since the beginning of our world in Paradise,
has it not?"
It was an open question, but no one contested the statement. Everyone knew
that what had been said was true. "Scrape away gentlemen." Politeness did not disguise
the authority of the command.
The two newts started to scrape away on the flat surface, disturbing two hundred
years worth of accumulated settlement, dirt, and crustaceans. Plant life and animal
life which had existed unmolested during those long years clung on, determined to
defeat these half hearted efforts to clear it away.
"Scrape you lazy good for nothings." Clarence shouted as the turncoat newts,
traitors to their own kind, tried to foil the efforts of the old carp, aware that
something was going on, and guessing that it would not be favourable to their cause.
"Scrape." came the shout again, Clarence was clearly unhappy by their lack
of enthusiasm. Peter, Gordon and Frederick moved forward to help, but were stopped
"No-one must touch that stone except these two miserable wretches, unless of
course Giles would like to help?" Giles declined.
The miserable wretches continued their toil, aware that in some way they were
getting the backlash of Clarence's displeasure, but not quite sure why. Not only
that, the accumulated growth was hard to move, regardless of knowing - or not knowing
- why they were doing it.
"Scrape." came the command once more, and Peter found himself looking on with
a mixture of emotions. Firstly he had not seen Clarence so purposeful before, and
he too was puzzled as to the meaning of the exercise. Exercise it was for the two
unfortunates who were visibly wilting. One could not say they were sweating in this
watery world, but one could see that it was hard work. Hard or not, Clarence would
not let them stop.
At last some clue was emerging as the sediment was worn away to float sedately
through the water in an undulating motion, swirled by a gentle current and the movement
of the scrapers until it settled in a growing pile around the bottom of the stone.
As the growth was cleared some marking became visible. A murmur of excitement
seemed to work through the crowd. Everyone knew that something was happening, and
that, whatever it was, it was going to be significant. The murmur became a definite
buzz, and Giles, looking distinctly uneasy now, had stopped shouting. The earlier
feeling of elation when he sensed victory was fast fading, and in its place was uncertainty.
On the top flat surface of the stone the markings were becoming clearer all
the time, and it was now possible to see that they were words of some kind. The
first thing to become clear were three large initials carved larger than the rest.
G O D Suddenly there was silence amongst the countless onlookers, for as the scraping
continued it was now possible to read the rest of the words.
The silence lasted a long time, until Clarence broke the spell.
Looking directly at Giles he spoke in his most authoritative voice. "A little
while ago you cast doubt on Peter's cogency and asked for proof, and there you have
it." for on top of the stone, scraped clean for all of Paradise to see was the legend
'Gordon Orville Dexter'; and then 'Paradi..' That was all, for the rest of the word
was lost where the stone was broken, but there were none who did not believe it had
once said Paradise.
Peter was flabbergasted. How on earth did Clarence know that his grandfather’s
name was carved on that stone, and why was it there anyway?.
Once more there was uproar.
Clarence swam about again, somehow by words and gesture calming the growing
atmosphere and once more gaining silence.
First he turned to Gordon. "That is your name?"
He turned to face Giles; silent now and ashen faced.
"You have been found to be a disruptive influence, and as such your continued
presence in Paradise is not welcome. For the good of this place and all who live
here you are asked to leave forthwith."
There was an immediate eruption from every quarter at this announcement, and
in a moment what had been a murmur became a buzz and then a roar.
Giles face displayed his anger yet he did not move. Events however were moving
on, for while Gordon was puzzled, Peter and Frederick jubilant, and Giles furious,
the vast population were astonished. What they had seen was magic; nothing short
of a miracle, and proof - for those who still needed it, and despite his denial -
that Gordon was indeed a God. More than that, because his name had been with them
and their ancestors since the beginning of time, he was not just a God, but their
God. Now they turned on those who had been attacking him. The newts.
Just in time, Peter and Clarence realized what was happening, as the newts
found themselves surrounded by the angry mob. They moved in quickly to try to avert
a massacre. But they were alarmed. So much activity by millions of fins and was
churning up the muddy sediment from the bottom of the pond so that it was getting
harder to tell who was who and which was which, but it was clear that something had
to be done.
Shouting first to Frederick to call in all the frogs, then Star to get his
troops they pushed and shoved to come between the newts and their countless would
be assailants, swimming round and round doing their best to protect the petrified
miniatures of prehistoric monsters now bereft of all aggression. Somehow they managed
to create a barrier, and shouting constantly that the newts must not be hurt, Peter,
Gordon, Clarence, Frederick and Star, with their clans, gradually calmed the frenzied
mob, and some kind of peace was restored.
"We have no quarrel with the newts," they shouted, as they kept up their guard
"they were being mistreated just like the rest of us. Only their leaders are guilty,
and we will deal with them."
The crowd gradually pulled back and as the water slowly cleared Peter was relieved
to see that a tragedy had been averted. The newts were all huddled together within
a protective circle of frogs and sticklebacks. The panic over, and the business of
the day concluded. Clarence thanked Gordon for being so instrumental, and wished
him well, as the newly acknowledged God of Paradise took his leave to be reunited
with Jason, his youngest grandson.
But what to do with Giles and his two cronies. As he went to consult Clarence
on the matter Peter asked Frederick to bring them with him.
"I thought you had them." he answered.
"No." Peter said, "I left them with y ... " but his words ended when he realized
that in the general melee they had escaped. Peter and Clarence went across to join
Frederick, and silently they viewed the dock; empty of prisoners.
"We must catch them and finish it now." offered Clarence.
"He's right," echoed Frederick, "if we don't do what we set out to do, before
we know it he'll be back, just as bad as before."
Peter nodded "OK, here is my plan." His youth and inexperience no longer questioned.
After all, wasn't he the grandson of their new God?
They started at the point were the river entered the lake. The combined number
of all the frogs and all the sticklebacks, was quite formidable. Added to that were
all the other fish in the pond, who had responded to the call by the venerable Clarence,
its oldest and most senior resident. Like Frederick he had risen to the occasion,
and of him all residents were justly proud. Both were now esteemed, and seen as a
force to be reckoned with. Before this vast task force started their search Peter
told the newts that he would understand if they did not wish to join the posse, and
he was pleased to see that not one of them remained behind when they moved off.
They spread themselves right across the western end of the lake, from the river
at its South West corner up to the north west corner, close to newt island where
Giles had reigned; and plotted. At first they kept close to the bank, then moved
forward until they reached stickleback territory on the south bank; across the water
right up to the shallower north bank and newt colony. They continued there search,
slow and steady, inching forward determined not to miss their quarry. As they reached
deeper water so the smaller creature in their thousands joined the search party
to form a curtain of eyes from the surface to the floor. Between them with thousands
upon thousands of creatures they could sweep the whole of Paradise Pond leaving
no way for anything as large as a great crested newt to escape. They searched every
crook and cranny, under every stone, behind every leaf and beneath every sunken log.
Before they left the newt territory they had searched in case there were any secret
dens where a cunning fugitive might hide. None were found. They moved on, relentless
and thorough. They took their time before they reached, and swept, the quarry and
the deep water, from surface to bed, where the drama of the day had unfolded. Gradually,
slowly, inch by inch they were getting closer to the points where the lake was at
its narrowest. Between the north nose and the smaller south nose. Beyond these points
the lake opened again, wide and shallow. To the left was frog island, which, like
newt island was close to the north bank. There were now too many searchers now for
the smaller east end of the water, and so the newts were sent home to rebuild their
lives without the tyrant Giles dominating them.
The strait across the points was well guarded to prevent the absconding trio
slipping back as first the frog enclave was searched, and then the entire party moved
on and down to the last part of the pond to be searched; the south east corner of
Paradise Pond. The swamp.
At this point all the little creatures of the pond were sent away. There was
simply not enough room for the as they circled the swamp.This was the shallowest,
muddiest, smelliest part of the pond, where all the water, fresh and invigorating
when it entered Paradise, finally found itself, stale and stagnant, tired and dirty.
But it was home to the millions of the little fellows of this watery world, hardly
ever seen, unloved and unsung, yet vital in the ecosystem of the lake, and on whom
the lager, more exotic pond dwellers ultimately depended. They too were sent away,
grumbling as the entered the unfamiliar cleaner water, despite an assurence that
they could return when Giles was found.
Wriggly worms and multitudinous insects thrived happily in conditions which
were an anathema to their larger neighbours, not least the aristocratic Giles and
it was to here he had been driven. Despite there not having been a sighting of the
fugitives they left in their droves to allow the search to continue for no one had
any doubts that they were there.
Confirmation of this was made when first one and then the second of his lieutenants
were found and held, and the search continued with even more certainty of success.
The searching horde pushed ever forward until almost the whole of the swamp had been
covered. Most of the searchers had held back due to growing lack of space, so if
Giles decided to make a run for it he would face a twenty deep gauntlet arranged
like an arc around this last corner of the lake. All that was left in front of the
searchers was a small pool where the water gathered, surprisingly clear, before its
final dash for freedom. It seemed reluctant to join the surge and fall the twenty
feet by the stony face of the old dam wall until it reached what remained of the
ancient waterway, but once free, after so long a delay, the water of the pond became
a river again.
The dam builders had created a sluice system where the water flowed from the
top of the dam. when not required to turn the big wheel. When needed it was diverted
via the sluice to an aqueduct to the mill race to provide the power. The flow to
the mill was thus controlled come rain or shine. Little remained of this ancient
industry; the aqueduct was gone, as was the mill race itself, its valuable stone
stolen and reused in other buildings. That once vital water way was filled with
rubble when the old mill was demolished. Nature had completed the task, and
now only a careful and well informed observer would see the signs of the industry
that was there so long ago. What did remain was the dam itself, built strong to last
forever, with its top stones smoothed by the constant unending rush of water where
the dam tried, but always failed, to empty itself. Two hundred years growth of moss
and slimy organisms had further hidden what little remained of the old workings;
the gradual build up of grasses and other vegetation all around, had reduced the
gap through which the water squeezed to leave Paradise for all time, to only three
or four feet. This caused a surprisingly strong spout to leap into space before
gravity and wind sent it tumbling and twisting into a cascade of a million droplets
falling falling, followed by a million more, and then another million, for ever and
Suddenly, mysteriously, when it reached the river below it was revitalized
as it danced and sang, glad once more to be on its journey. Perhaps it was in a hurry
to make up for all the time it had been held captive, and wanting to see what new
adventures lay in wait.