Ellen swung the lantern around again, but nothing was there. The light bounced off the nearby trees while the rail road was covered with runaway leaves and dirt. Ellen swung the lantern away and sighed. She pulled on her shawl and stepped down to look at her daughter. Fannie looked at her with terrified eyes.
"There is no one there Fannie. What is it that you hear?"
Ellen looked with concerned eyes. Fannie looked back a second and listened intently. There was nothing but the sound of the wind and the chirping of crickets.
"I heard footsteps mammy! But they're gone!"
A tear rolled down her freckled face and Ellen reached down and pulled her into a hug.
"Hush now child, we must go for your father will be worried."
Ellen slowly untangled herself from Fannie and straightened her dark blue skirt and black shawl. Fannie clutched her rag doll and grabbed her mammy's hand before they continued on their walk. Fannie began to calm down after a minute or so when the sound of footsteps disappeared. Ellen noticed this and began to sing a hymn,
"Down the stream lives a man,
a man of great powers.
With a shrug of his shoulders out comes a bunny.
What else will come from this man?
The man will smile and tug on his ear, and with this tug pours out money from his ol' ear.
The woodland creatures would dance on his long silver beard while the ol' man would do a jig.
With all of this the ol' man is powerful but don't be deceived by all of this.
For if you were to ever ask him a wish, he would grin a most terrible smile and when the wish is finished he will turn you into an ol' frog!"
Ellen continued to sing the hymn and Fannie listened with her heart for it was one of her favourite songs. They reached the yellow wooden house and walked up the steep, creaking steps. Ellen reached for the metal knob and slowly opened the grand brown door. Ellen stepped in with Fannie following her and closed the door quickly to not let any of the warmth fly out. She took the lantern and blew it out, while noticing Fannie's silence.
"What makes you calm my dear?"
Ellen asked her daughter. Fannie shrugged and simply croaked,
"Croak, I told you someone was there! Croak"
Ellen shocked turned around and saw an ol' man with a long silver beard who had a most terrible grin planted on his face. His silver eyes twinkled deviously as he reached and patted Fannie on her shoulder. Fannie gave one more 'croak' before she turned into a frog leaving behind her purple dress, white shawl, petticoat and brown pointed boots. The ol' man took hold of Fannie before she could fall and slowly walked out the door. Traces of sparkly dust fell from him as Ellen slumped to her knees on the wooden floor and cried her eyes out. Fannie's father hearing her ran out of the kitchen and gently lifted his wife to her feet. He looked at Fannie's clothes with wide but understanding eyes. With a shake of his head he and Ellen slowly walked into the kitchen. Little did they know that the ol' man was watching with a crying frog in his hand. Waiting for the next wish.