“Mrs. Bullfrog” by Nathaniel Hawthorne


(I love African Bullfrogs)

For week 16 of the Deal Me In 2014 Short Story Reading Challenge, I drew the six of spades. Spades are my suit for “darker” stories and this one certainly qualified. For my complete roster of 2014 click here. Prior years’ rosters are accessible via the links on the left.


(Six of spades image from theworldoftarot.wordpress.com)

The first sentences of this story certainly make you want to read on: “It makes me melancholy to see how like fools some very sensible people act in the matter of choosing wives. They perplex their judgments by a most undue attention to little niceties of personal appearance, habits, disposition, and other trifles which concern nobody but the lady herself.”

So this will be a story about a match that didn’t work out well? Maybe. The narrator, Mr. Bullfrog, actually admits that he could be counted among those fools: “For my own part I freely confess that, in my bachelorship, I was precisely such an over-curious simpleton as I now advise the reader not to be.”

Mr. Bullfrog, a fastidious shopkeeper, finds only somewhat late in life a woman who he feels to be the perfect match for him, and “within a fortnight” the two are wed. All is going well. At first. It is on their “matrimonial jaunt” in a carriage ride, that he discovers he has hitherto only seen one side of his bride. That would be her good side, naturally.

The careless driver, not mindful of a hazard in the road, allows the carriage to overturn, sending his passengers tumbling. Mr. Bullfrog says “What became of my wits I cannot imagine; they have always had a perverse trick of deserting me just when they are most needed.” Disoriented by the accident, he is amazed to see the coachman being chastised by a strange personage, one “of grisly aspect, with a head almost bald, and sunken cheeks, apparently of the feminine gender, though hardly to be classed in the gentler sex.” He also notices that his dear Mrs. Bullfrog is nowhere to be seen…

Not an overly long or particularly deep story, but I do enjoy Hawthorne’s deft command of the English language, and it is always a pleasure to revisit his work.

This story is available in the public domain and may be read online in many places, one of which is http://www.online-literature.com/hawthorne/148/

What about YOU? Have you read this story? What about others by Hawthorne? Which are your favorites among his works?





  1. April 17, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    I like “Young Goodman Brown” by Hawthorne, the story of a young Puritan unwisely arranging to meet with the Devil in the forest.


    • Jay said,

      April 18, 2014 at 9:21 am

      HI Lisa,
      Young Goodman Brown is another favorite of mine. I’ve read a fair percentage of Hawthorne’s works (short stories and novels) but this particularly story was a new one for me.

      I also read a good biography of NH a while back (by Brenda Wineapple). Worth a try if you see it in your library or bookstore…



  2. Dale said,

    April 17, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    I’m starting realize you can definitely count on Hawthorne for a good short story. I have “Young Goodman Brown” on my 2014 DMI list and am looking forward to it. “Wakefield” and “Feathertop” were on my list last year and were very good as were “Ethan Brand” and “The Celestial Railroad” this year. “Wakefield” is another story about the darker side of marriage.


    • Jay said,

      April 18, 2014 at 9:24 am

      Hi Dale,
      Years ago, I salvaged an old beat-up paperback of “Hawthorne’s Selected Works” which was my introduction to him. That led to reading his novels, The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, and The Marble Faun. The latter two were somewhat difficult going, but I’m glad I read them.

      His short stories – as you say – do not disappoint. There are still some I haven’t read, but that number is dwindling, and reading Mrs. Bullfrog has decreased it by one…



  3. Paula Cappa said,

    April 18, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Jay, I’ve not read this story and have it on my list. You’ve made it sound quite inviting. Love Hawthorne!


    • Jay said,

      April 21, 2014 at 5:33 pm

      Worth a try. “Short and sweet.” Well, maybe not so sweet. 🙂


  4. Jay said,

    April 18, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Hi Paula,
    He’s one of my favorites is well, and as Dale says above can always be counted on for a good story. 🙂


  5. Melissa said,

    April 18, 2014 at 11:23 am

    I would like to read more Hawthorne soon. I think The Scarlet Letter is the only one I’ve read!


    • Jay said,

      April 21, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      Of his novels, I thought that one was the easiest read. Almost all the short stories of his I’ve read have been great!


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