An old couple was childless, and the husband and the wife longed for a child. So when the wife found that she was with child, they were overjoyed; but to their great disappointment, the wife gave birth not to a human child, but to a little she-frog. However, as the little frog spoke and behaved as a human child, not only the parents but also the neighbors came to love her and called her affectionately "Little Miss Frog." Some years later the woman died, and the man decided to marry again. The woman he chose was a widow with two ugly daughters, and they were very jealous of Little Miss Frog's popularity with the neighbors. All three took a delight in ill-treating Little Miss Frog.
One day the youngest of the king's four sons announced that he would perform the hair-washing ceremony on a certain date, and he invited all young ladies to join in the ceremony, as he would choose at the end of the ceremony one of them to be his princess. On the morning of the appointed day the two ugly sisters dressed themselves in fine raiment, and with great hopes of being chosen by the prince they started for the palace. Little Miss Frog ran after them, and pleaded, 'sisters, please let me come with you."
The sisters laughed and said mockingly, "What, the little frog wants to come? The invitation is to young ladies and not to young frogs." Little Miss Frog walked along with them towards the palace, pleading for permission to come. But the sisters were adamant, and so at the palace gates she was left behind. However, she spoke so sweetly to the guards that they allowed her to go in.
Little Miss Frog found hundreds of young ladies gathered round the pool full of lilies in the palace grounds. And she took her place among them and waited for the prince. The prince now appeared, and washed his hair in the pool. The ladies also let down their hair and joined in the ceremony. At the end of the ceremony, the prince declared that as the ladies were all beautiful, he did not know whom to choose and so he would throw a posy of jasmines into the air; and the lady on whose head the posy fell would be his princess.
The prince then threw the posy into the air, and all the ladies present looked up expectantly. The posy, however, fell on Little Miss Frog's head, to the great annoyance of the ladies, especially the two stepsisters. The prince also was disappointed, but he felt that he should keep his word. So Little Miss Frog was married to the prince, and she became Little Princess Frog.
Some time later, the old king called his four sons to him and said, "My sons, I am now too old to rule the country, and I want to retire to the forest and become a hermit. So I must appoint one of you as my successor. As I love you all alike, I will give you a task to perform, and he who performs it successfully shall be king in my place. The task is, bring me a golden deer at sunrise on the seventh day from now." The youngest prince went home to Little Princess Frog and told her about the task. "What, only a golden deer!" exclaimed Princess Frog. "Eat as usual my prince, and on the appointed day I will give you the golden deer." So the youngest prince stayed at home, while the three elder princes went into the forest in search of the deer.
On the seventh day before sunrise, Little Princess Frog woke up her husband and said, "Go to the palace, prince, and here is your golden deer." The young prince looked, then rubbed his eyes, and looked again. There was no mistake about it; the deer which Little Princess Frog was holding by a lead was really of pure gold. So he went to the palace, and to the great annoyance of the elder princes who brought ordinary deers, he was declared to be the heir by the king. The elder princes, however, pleaded for a second chance, and the king reluctantly agreed. "Then perform this second task," said the king. "On the seventh day from now at sunrise, you must bring me the rice that never becomes stale, and meat that is ever fresh." The youngest prince went home and told Princess Frog about the new task. "Don"t you worry, sweet prince," said Princess Frog. "Eat as usual, sleep as usual, and on the appointed day I will give you the rice and meat." So the youngest prince stayed at home, while the three elder princes went in search of the rice and meat.
On the seventh day at sunrise, Little Princess Frog woke up her husband and said, "My lord, go to the palace now, and here is your rice and meat." The youngest prince took the rice and meat, and went to the palace, and to the great annoyance of the elder princes who brought only well-cooked rice and meat, he was again declared to be the heir. But the two elder princes again pleaded for one more chance, and the king said, "This is positively the last task. On the seventh day from now at sunrise, bring me the most beautiful woman on this earth." "Ho, ho!" said the three elder princes to themselves in great joy. "Our wives are very beautiful, and we will bring them. One of us is sure to be declared heir, and our good-for-nothing brother will be nowhere this time." The youngest prince overheard their remark, and felt sad, for his wife was a frog and ugly.
When he reached home, he said to his wife, "Dear princess, I must go and look for the most beautiful woman on this earth. My brothers will bring their wives, for they are really beautiful, but I will find someone who is more beautiful."
"Don"t you fret, my prince," replied Princess Frog. "Eat as usual, sleep as usual, and you can take me to the palace on the appointed day. Surely I shall be declared to be the most beautiful woman."
The youngest prince looked at the princess in surprise; but he did not want to hurt her feelings, and he said gently, "All right, princess, I will take you with me on the appointed day."
On the seventh day at dawn, Little Princess Frog woke up the prince and said, "My lord, I must make myself beautiful. So please wait outside and call me when it is nearly time to go."
The prince left the room as requested. After some moments, the prince shouted from outside, "Princess, we must go now."
"All right, my lord," replied the princess. "Please open the door for me."
The prince thought to himself, "Perhaps, just as she was able to obtain the golden deer and the wonderful rice and meat, she is able to make herself beautiful," and he expectantly opened the door. But he was disappointed to see Little Princess Frog still a frog and as ugly as ever. However, so as not to hurt her feelings, the prince said nothing and took her along to the palace.
When the prince entered the audience chamber with his frog princess the three elder princes with their wives were already there. The king looked at the prince in surprise and said, "Where is your beautiful maiden?" "I will answer for the prince, my king," said the frog princess. "I am his beautiful maiden." She then took off her frog skin and stood a beautiful maiden dressed in silk and satin. The king declared her to be the most beautiful maiden in the world, and selected the prince as his successor on the throne. The prince asked his princess never to put on the ugly frog skin again, and the frog princess, to accede to his request, threw the skin on the fire.
(Source: "Burmese Folk-Tales" Maung Htin Aung)
The Frog King
by the Grimm Bothers
In olden times when wishing still helped one there lived a king whose daughters were all beautiful, but the youngest was so beautiful that the sun itself, which has seen so much, was astonished whenever it shone in her face.
Close by the king's castle lay a great dark forest, and under an old lime-tree in the forest was a well, and when the day was very warm, the king's child went out into the forest and sat down by the side of the cool fountain, and when she was bored she took a golden ball, and threw it up on high and caught it, and this ball was her favorite plaything.
Now it so happened that on one occasion the princess's golden ball did not fall into the little hand which she was holding up for it, but on to the ground beyond, and rolled straight into the water. The king's daughter followed it with her eyes, but it vanished, and the well was deep, so deep that the bottom could not be seen. At this she began to cry, and cried louder and louder, and could not be comforted.
And as she thus lamented someone said to her, "What ails you, king's daughter? You weep so that even a stone would show pity."
She looked round to the side from whence the voice came, and saw a frog stretching forth its big, ugly head from the water.
"Ah, oldwater-splasher, is it you," she said, "I am weeping for my golden ball, which has fallen into the well."
"Be quiet, and do not weep," answered the frog, "I can help you, but what will you give me if I bring your plaything up again?"
"Whatever you will have, dear frog," said she, "My clothes, my pearls and jewels, and even the golden crown which I am wearing."
The frog answered, "I do not care for your clothes, your pearls and jewels, norm for your golden crown, but if you will love me and let me be your companion and play-fellow, and sit by you at your little table, and eat off your little golden plate, and drink out of your little cup, and sleep in your little bed - if you will promise me this I will go down below, and bring you your golden ball up again."
"Oh yes," said she, "I promise you all you wish, if you will but bring me my ball back again." But she thought, "How the silly frog does talk. All he does is to sit in the water with the other frogs, and croak. He can be no companion to any human being."
But the frog when he had received this promise, put his head into the water and sank down; and in a short while came swimming up again with the ball in his mouth, and threw it on the grass.
The king's daughter was delighted to see her pretty plaything once more, and picked it up, and ran away with it. "Wait, wait," said the frog. "Take me with you. I can"t run as you can." But what did it avail him to scream his croak, croak, after her, as loudly as he could. She did not listen to it, but ran home and soon forgot the poor frog, who was forced to go back into his well again.
The next day when she had seated herself at table with the king and all the courtiers, and was eating from her little golden plate, something came creeping splish splash, splish splash, up the marble staircase, and when it had got to the top, it knocked at the door and cried, "Princess, youngest princess, open the door for me."
She ran to see who was outside, but when she opened the door, there sat the frog in front of it. Then she slammed the door to, in great haste, sat down to dinner again, and was quite frightened.
The king saw plainly that her heart was beating violently, and said, "My child, what are you so afraid of? Is there perchance a giant outside who wants to carry you away?"
"Ah, no," replied she. "It is no giant but a disgusting frog. Yesterday as I was in the forest sitting by the well, playing, my golden ball fell into the water. And because I cried so, the frog brought it out again for me, and because he so insisted, I promised him he should be my companion, but I never thought he would be able to come out of his water. And now he is outside there, and wants to come in to me."
In the meantime it knocked a second time, and cried, "Princess, youngest princess, open the door for me, do you not know what you said to me yesterday by the cool waters of the well. Princess, youngest princess, open the door for me."
Then said the king, "That which you have promised must you perform. Go and let him in."
She went and opened the door, and the frog hopped in and followed her, step by step, to her chair. There he sat and cried, "Lift me up beside you."
She delayed, until at last the king commanded her to do it. Once the frog was on the chair he wanted to be on the table, and when he was on the table he said, "Now, push your little golden plate nearer to me that we may eat together." She did this, but it was easy to see that she did not do it willingly. The frog enjoyed what he ate, but almost every mouthful she took choked her.
At length he said, "I have eaten and am satisfied, now I am tired, carry me into your little room and make your little silken bed ready, and we will both lie down and go to sleep."
The king's daughter began to cry, for she was afraid of the cold frog which she did not like to touch, and which was now to sleep in her pretty, clean little bed. But the king grew angry and said, "He who helped you when you were in trouble ought not afterwards to be despised by you." So she took hold of the frog with two fingers, carried him upstairs, and put him in a corner, but when she was in bed he crept to her and said, "I am tired, I want to sleep as well as you, lift me up or I will tell your father."
At this she was terribly angry, and took him up and threw him with all her might against the wall. "Now, will you be quiet, odious frog," said she. But when he fell down he was no frog but a king's son with kind and beautiful eyes. He by her father's will was now her dear companion and husband. Then he told her how he had been bewitched by a wicked witch, and how no one could have delivered him from the well but herself, and that to-morrow they would go together into his kingdom.
Then they went to sleep, and next morning when the sun awoke them, a carriage came driving up with eight white horses, which had white ostrich feathers on their heads, and were harnessed with golden chains, and behind stood the young king's servant Faithful Henry.
Faithful Henry had been so unhappy when his master was changed into a frog, that he had caused three iron bands to be laid round his heart, lest it should burst with grief and sadness. The carriage was to conduct the young king into his kingdom. Faithful Henry helped them both in, and placed himself behind again, and was full of joy because of this deliverance.
And when they had driven a part of the way the king's son heard a cracking behind him as if something had broken. So he turned round and cried, "Henry, the carriage is breaking." "No, master, it is not the carriage. It is a band from my heart, which was put there in my great pain when you were a frog and imprisoned in the well."
Again and once again while they were on their way something cracked, and each time the king's son thought the carriage was breaking, but it was only the bands which were springing from the heart of Faithful Henry because his master was set free and was happy.
(English translation by Margaret Hunt)
The Enchanted Frog
by Carl and Theodor Colshorn, Germany
Once upon a time there was a merchant who had three daughters, but his wife was with God. Once he planned a journey across the ocean to a foreign land in order to bring back gold and other valuable things. He consoled his weeping children, saying, "I will bring back something beautiful for you. What do you want?"
The oldest asked for a silk dress, "and it must be made of three kinds of silk."
The second desired a feathered hat, "and it must have three kinds of feathers."
The youngest finally said, "Bring me a rose, dear father, and it must be fresh and have three colors."
The merchant promised to do this, kissed his daughters, and departed.
After arriving in the foreign land, he ordered the dress of three kinds of silk for his oldest daughter and the hat with three kinds of feathers for the second one. Both were soon finished, and of seldom splendor. Then he sent messengers throughout the entire country to seek a three-colored rose for his youngest and dearest daughter, but they all returned empty handed, even though the merchant had promised a high price, and even though there were more roses there than there are daisies here.
Sadly he set off for home and was downhearted the entire voyage. This side of the ocean he came to a large garden in which there was nothing but roses and roses. He went inside and looked, and behold, on a slender bush in the middle of the garden there was a three-colored rose. Filled with joy, he plucked it, and was about to leave, when he was magically frozen in place.
A voice behind him cried out, "What do you want in my garden?" He looked up. A large frog was sitting there on the bank of a clear pond staring at him with its goggle-eyes. It said, "You have broken my dear rose. This will cost you your life unless you give me your youngest daughter to wife."
The merchant was terrified. He begged and he pleaded, but all to no avail, and in the end he had to agree to marry his dearest daughter to the ugly frog. He could now move his feet, and he freely walked out of the garden. The frog called out after him, "In seven days I shall come for my wife!"
With great sorrow the merchant gave his youngest daughter the fresh rose and told her what had happened. When the terrible day arrived, she crept under her bed, for she did not at all want to go. At the hour of noon a stately carriage drove up. The frog sent his servants into the house, and they immediately went to the bedroom and dragged the screaming maiden from beneath her bed, then carried her to the carriage. The horses leaped forward, and a short time later they were in the blossoming rose garden. In the middle of the garden, immediately behind the clear pond, there stood a small house. They took the bride into the house and laid her on a soft bed. The frog, however, sprang into the water.
Darkness fell, and after the maiden had awakened from her unconsciousness, she heard the frog outside singing wonderfully sweet melodies. As midnight approached, he sang ever more sweetly, and came closer and closer to her. At midnight the bedroom door opened, and the frog jumped onto her bed. However, he had touched her with his sweet songs, and she took him into bed with her and warmly covered him up.
The next morning when she opened her eyes, behold, the ugly frog was now the handsomest prince in the world. He thanked her with all his heart, saying, "You have redeemed me and are now my wife!"
And they lived long and happily together.
from Lang, Andrew (1844-1912) The Violet Faerie Book
ONCE upon a time there was a woman who had three sons. Though they were peasants they were well off, for the soil on which they lived was fruitful, and yielded rich crops. One day they all three told their mother they meant to get married. To which their mother replied: "Do as you like, but see that you choose good housewives, who will look carefully after your affairs; and, to make certain of this, take with you these three skeins of flax, and give it to them to spin. Whoever spins the best will be my favourite daughter-in-law."
Now the two eldest sons had already chosen their wives; so they took the flax from their mother, and carried it off with them, to have it spun as she had said. But the youngest son was puzzled what to do with his skein, as he knew no girl (never having spoken to any) to whom he could give it to be spun. He wandered hither and thither, asking the girls that he met if they would undertake the task for him, but at the sight of the flax they laughed in his face and mocked at him. Then in despair he left their villages, and went out into the country, and, seating himself on the bank of a pond began to cry bitterly.
Suddenly there was a noise close beside him, and a frog jumped out of the water on to the bank and asked him why he was crying. The youth told her of his trouble, and how his brothers would bring home linen spun for them by their promised wives, but that no one would spin his thread. Then the frog answered: "Do not weep on that account; give me the thread, and I will spin it for you." And, having said this, she took it out of his hand, and flopped back into the water, and the youth went back, not knowing what would happen next.
In a short time the two elder brothers came home, and their mother asked to see the linen which had been woven out of the skeins of flax she had given them. They all three left the room; and in a few minutes the two eldest returned, bringing with them the linen that had been spun by their chosen wives. But the youngest brother was greatly troubled, for he had nothing to show for the skein of flax that had been given to him. Sadly he betook himself to the pond, and sitting down on the bank, began to weep.
Flop! and the frog appeared out of the water close beside him.
"Take this," she said; "here is the linen that I have spun for you."
You may imagine how delighted the youth was. She put the linen into his hands, and he took it straight back to his mother, who was so pleased with it that she declared she had never seen linen so beautifully spun, and that it was far finer and whiter than the webs that the two elder brothers had brought home.
Then she turned to her sons and said: "But this is not enough, my sons, I must have another proof as to what sort of wives you have chosen. In the house there are three puppies. Each of you take one, and give it to the woman whom you mean to bring home as your wife. She must train it and bring it up. Whichever dog turns out the best, its mistress will be my favourite daughter-in-law."
So the young men set out on their different ways, each taking a puppy with him. The youngest, not knowing where to go, returned to the pond, sat down once more on the bank, and began to weep.
Flop! and close beside him, he saw the frog. "Why are you weeping?" she said. Then he told her his difficulty, and that he did not know to whom he should take the puppy.
"Give it to me," she said, "and I will bring it up for you." And, seeing that the youth hesitated, she took the little creature out of his arms, and disappeared with it into the pond.
The weeks and months passed, till one day the mother said she would like to see how the dogs had been trained by her future daughters-in-law. The two eldest sons departed, and returned shortly, leading with them two great mastiffs, who growled so fiercely, and looked so savage, that the mere sight of them made the mother tremble with fear.
The youngest son, as was his custom, went to the pond, and called on the frog to come to his rescue. In a minute she was at his side, bringing with her the most lovely little dog, which she put into his arms. It sat up and begged with its paws, and went through the prettiest tricks, and was almost human in the way it understood and did what it was told.
In high spirits the youth carried it off to his mother. As soon as she saw it, she exclaimed: "This is the most beautiful little dog I have ever seen. You are indeed fortunate, my son; you have won a pearl of a wife."
Then, turning to the others, she said: "Here are three shirts; take them to your chosen wives. Whoever sews the best will be my favourite daughter-in-law."
So the young men set out once more; and again, this time, the work of the frog was much the best and the neatest.
This time the mother said: "Now that I am content with the tests I gave, I want you to go and fetch home your brides, and I will prepare the wedding-feast."
You may imagine what the youngest brother felt on hearing these words. Whence was he to fetch a bride? Would the frog be able to help him in this new difficulty? With bowed head, and feeling very sad, he sat down on the edge of the pond.
Flop! and once more the faithful frog was beside him.
"What is troubling you so much?" she asked him, and then the youth told her everything.
"Will you take me for a wife?" she asked.
"What should I do with you as a wife," he replied, wondering at her strange proposal.
"Once more, will you have me or will you not?" she said.
"I will neither have you, nor will I refuse you," said he.
At this the frog disappeared; and the next minute the youth beheld a lovely little chariot, drawn by two tiny ponies, standing on the road. The frog was holding the carriage door open for him to step in.
"Come with me," she said. And he got up and followed her into the chariot.
As they drove along the road they met three witches; the first of them was blind, the second was hunchbacked, and the third had a large thorn in her throat. When the three witches beheld the chariot, with the frog seated pompously among the cushions, they broke into such fits of laughter that the eyelids of the blind one burst open, and she recovered her sight; the hunchback rolled about on the ground in merriment till her back became straight, and in a roar of laughter the thorn fell out of the throat of the third witch. Their first thought was to reward the frog, who had unconsciously been the means of curing them of their misfortunes. The first witch waved her magic wand over the frog, and changed her into the loveliest girl that had ever been seen. The second witch waved the wand over the tiny chariot and ponies, and they were turned into a beautiful large carriage with prancing horses, and a coachman on the seat. The third witch gave the girl a magic purse, filled with money. Having done this, the witches disappeared, and the youth with his lovely bride drove to his mother's home. Great was the delight of the mother at her youngest son's good fortune. A beautiful house was built for them; she was the favourite daughter-in-law; everything went well with them, and they lived happily ever after.
The Two Frogs
from Lang, Andrew (1844-1912) The Violet Faerie Book
ONCE upon a time in the country of Japan there lived two frogs, one of whom made his home in a ditch near the town of Osaka, on the sea coast, while the other dwelt in a clear little stream which ran through the city of Kioto. At such a great distance apart, they had never even heard of each other; but, funnily enough, the idea came into both their heads at once that they should like to see a little of the world, and the frog who lived at Kioto wanted to visit Osaka, and the frog who lived at Osaka wished to go to Kioto, where the great Mikado had his palace.
So one fine morning in the spring they both set out along the road that led from Kioto to Osaka, one from one end and the other from the other. The journey was more tiring than they expected, for they did not know much about travelling, and half way between the two towns there arose a mountain which had to be climbed. It took them a long time and a great many hops to reach the top, but there they were at last, and what was the surprise of each to see another frog before him! They looked at each other for a moment without speaking, and then fell into conversation, explaining the cause of their meeting so far from their homes. It was delightful to find that they both felt the same wish -- to learn a little more of their native country -- and as there was no sort of hurry they stretched themselves out in a cool, damp place, and agreed that they would have a good rest before they parted to go their ways.
"What a pity we are not bigger," said the Osaka frog; "for then we could see both towns from here, and tell if it is worth our while going on."
"Oh, that is easily managed," returned the Kioto frog. "We have only got to stand up on our hind legs, and hold on to each other, and then we can each look at the town he is travelling to."
This idea pleased the Osaka frog so much that he at once jumped up and put his front paws on the shoulders of his friend, who had risen also. There they both stood, stretching themselves as high as they could, and holding each other tightly, so that they might not fall down. The Kioto frog turned his nose towards Osaka, and the Osaka frog turned his nose towards Kioto; but the foolish things forgot that when they stood up their great eyes lay in the backs of their heads, and that though their noses might point to the places to which they wanted to go their eyes beheld the places from which they had come.
"Dear me!" cried the Osaka frog, "Kioto is exactly like Osaka. It is certainly not worth such a long journey. I shall go home!"
"If I had had any idea that Osaka was only a copy of Kioto I should never have travelled all this way," exclaimed the frog from Kioto, and as he spoke he took his hands from his friend's shoulders, and they both fell down on the grass. Then they took a polite farewell of each other, and set off for home again, and to the end of their lives they believed that Osaka and Kioto, which are as different to look at as two towns can be, were as like as two peas.
The Frogs And The Crane
A Native American Tale
In the heart of the woods there lay a cool, green pond. The shores of the pond were set with ranks of tall bulrushes that waved crisply in the wind, and in the shallow bays there were fleets of broad water lily leaves. Among the rushes and reeds and in the quiet water there dwelt a large tribe of Frogs.
On every warm night of spring, the voices of the Frogs arose in a cheerful chorus. Some voices were low and deep---these were the oldest and wisest of the Frogs; at least, they were old enough to have learned wisdom. Some were high and shrill, and these were the voices of the little Frogs who did not like to be reminded of the days when they had tails and no legs.
"Kerrump! kerrump! I'm chief of this pond!" croaked a very large bullfrog, sitting in the shade of a water lily leaf.
"Kerrump! kerrump! I'm chief of this pond!" replied a hoarse voice from the opposite bank.
"Kerrump! kerrump! I'm chief of this pond!" boasted a third old Frog from the furthest shore of the pond.
Now a long-legged white Crane was standing near by, well hidden by the coarse grass that grew at the water's edge. He was very hungry that evening, and when he heard the deep voice of the first Bullfrog he stepped briskly up to him and made a quick pass under the broad leaf with his long, cruel bill. The old Frog gave a frightened croak, and kicked violently in his efforts to get away, while over the quiet pond, splash! splash! went the startled little Frogs into deep water.
The Crane almost had him, when something cold and slimy wound itself about one of his legs. He drew back for a second, and the Frog got safely away! But the Crane did not lose his dinner after all, for about his leg was curled a large black water snake, and that made a fair meal.
Now he rested awhile on one leg, and listened. The first Frog was silent, but from the opposite bank the second Frog croaked boastfully:
"Kerrump! kerrump! I'm chief of this pond!"
The Crane began to be hungry again. He went round the pond without making any noise, and pounced upon the second Frog, who was sitting up in plain sight, swelling his chest with pride, for he really thought now that he was the sole chief of the pond.
The Crane's head and most of his long neck disappeared under the water, and all over the pond the little Frogs went splash! splash! into the deepest holes to be out of the way.
Just as he had the Frog by one hind leg, the Crane saw something that made him let go, flap his broad wings and fly awkwardly away to the furthest shore. It was a mink, with his slender brown body and wicked eyes, and he had crept very close to the Crane, hoping to seize him at his meal! So the second Frog got away too; but he was so dreadfully frightened that he never spoke again.
After a long time the Crane got over his fright and he became very hungry once more. The pond had been still so long that many of the Frogs were singing their pleasant chorus, and above them all there boomed the deep voice of the third and last Bullfrog, saying:
"Kerrump! kerrump! I'm chief of this pond!"
The Crane stood not far from the boaster, and he determined to silence him once for all. The next time he began to speak, he had barely said "Kerrump!" whe the Crane had him by the leg. He croaked and struggled in vain, and in another moment he would have gone down the Crane's long throat. But just then a Fox crept up behind the Crane and seized him! The Crane let go the Frog and was carried off screaming into the woods for the Fox's supper. So the third Frog got away; but he was badly lamed by the Crane's strong bill, and he never dared to open his mouth again.
It is not a wise thing to boast too loudly.
The Frog and The Ox
Once a little Frog sat by a big Frog, by the side of a pool. "Oh, father," said he, "I have just seen the biggest animal in the world; it was as big as a mountain, and it had horns on its head, and it had hoofs divided in two."
"Pooh, child," said the old Frog, "that was only Farmer White's Ox. He is not so very big. I could easily make myself as big as he." And he blew, and he blew, and he blew, and swelled himself out.
"Was he as big as that?" he asked the little Frog.
"Oh, much bigger," said the little Frog.
The old Frog blew, and blew, and blew again, and swelled himself out, more than ever.
"Was he bigger than that?" he said.
"Much, much bigger," said the little Frog.
"I can make myself as big," said the old Frog. And once more he blew, and blew, and blew, and swelled himself out, -- and he burst!
Self-conceit leads to self-destruction.
The Frog Who Became an Emperor
Source: Folk Tales from China
Once upon a time there lived a very poor couple. A baby was on the way when the husband was forced to leave his home to find a living somewhere far away. Before he left, he embraced his wife fondly and gave her the last few silver pieces he had, saying, "When the child is born, be it a boy or a girl, you must do all you can to bring it up. You and I are so poor that there is no hope for us now. But our child may be able to help us find a living."
Three months after her husband's departure, the wife gave birth. The baby was neither a boy nor a little girl, but a frog!
The poor mother was heart-broken, and wept bitterly. "Ah, an animal, not a child!" she cried. "Our hopes for someone to care for us in our old age are gone! How can I ever face people again!" She thought at first she would do away with him, but she did not have the heart to do so. She wanted to bring him up, but was afraid of what the neighbors would say.
As she brooded over the matter, she remembered her husband's words before he went away, and she decided not to kill the child but always keep him hidden under the bed. In this way, no one knew she had given birth to a frog-child. But within two months, the frog-child had grown so big that he could no longer be kept under the bed. And one day, he suddenly spoke in a human voice.
"Mother," he said, "my father is coming back tonight. I am going to wait for him beside the road." And sure enough, the husband did come home that very night.
"Have you seen your son?" the wife asked anxiously.
"Where? Where is my son?"
"He was waiting for you by the side of the road. Didn't you see him?"
"No! I saw no sign of anyone," her husband answered, surprised. "All I saw was an awful frog which gave me such a fright."
"That frog was your son," said the wife unhappily.
When the husband heard that his wife had given birth to a frog, he was grieved. "Why did you tell him to meet me?" he said.
"What do you mean, tell him to meet you? He went without any telling from me. He suddenly said you were coming tonight and went out to meet you."
"This is really extraordinary," thought the husband, brightening up. "No one knew I was coming. How could he have known?"
"Call him home, quickly," he said aloud. "He might catch cold outside."
Just as the mother opened the door to do so, the frog came in. He hopped over to his father, who asked him, "Was it you I met on the road?"
"Yes," said the frog. "I was waiting for you, Father."
"How did you know I was coming back tonight?"
"I know everything under heaven."
The father and mother were amazed by his words and more amazed when he went on.
"Our country is in great peril," he said solemnly. "We are unable to resist the invaders. I want Father to take me to the emperor, for I must save our country."
"How can that be?" said the father. "Firstly, you have no horse. Secondly, you have no weapons, and thirdly, you have never been on a battlefield. How, then, do you propose to fight?"
The frog was very much in earnest. "Only take me there," he pleaded. "I'll defeat the enemy, never fear."
The father could not dissuade the frog, so he took his frog-son to the city to seek an audience with the emperor. After two days' journey, they arrived at the capital, where they saw the imperial decree displayed!
"The imperial capital is in danger. My country has been invaded. We are willing to marry our daughter to the man who can drive away the enemy."
The frog tore down the decree and with one gulp swallowed it. The soldier guarding the imperial decree was greatly alarmed. He could hardly imagine a frog accepting such a responsible duty. However, since the frog had swallowed the decree, he must be taken into the palace.
The emperor asked the frog if he had the means and ability to defeat the enemy. The frog replied, "Yes, Lord." Then the emperor asked him how many men and horses he would need.
"Not a single horse or a single man," answered the frog. "All I need is a heap of hot, glowing embers."
The emperor immediately commanded that a heap of hot, glowing embers be brought, and it was done. The heat was intense. The frog sat before the fire devouring the flames by the mouthful for three days and three nights. He ate till his belly was as big and round as a bladder full of fat. By now the city was in great danger, for the enemy was already at the walls. The emperor was terribly apprehensive, but the frog behaved as if nothing unusual was happening, and calmly went on swallowing fire and flame. Only after the third day had passed did he go to the top of the city wall and look at the situation. There, ringing the city, were thousands of soldiers and horses, as far as the eye could see.
"How, frog, are you going to drive back the enemy?" asked the emperor.
"Order your troops to stop plying their bows," replied the frog, "and open the city gate."
The emperor turned pale with alarm when he heard these words.
"What! With the enemy at our very door! You tell me to open the gate! How dare you trifle with me?"
"Your Imperial Highness has bidden me to drive the enemy away," said the frog. "And that being so, you must heed my words."
The emperor was helpless. He ordered the soldiers to stop bending their bows and lay down their arrows and throw open the gate.
As soon as the gate was open, the invaders poured in. The frog was above them in the gate tower and, as they passed underneath, he coolly and calmly spat fire down on them, searing countless men and horses. They fled back in disorder.
The emperor was overjoyed when he saw that the enemy was defeated. He made the frog a general and ordered that the victory should be celebrated for several days. But of the princess he said nothing, for he had not the slightest intention of letting his daughter marry a frog.
"Of course I cannot do such a thing!" he said to himself. Instead, he let it be known that it was the princess who refused. She must marry someone else, but whom? He did not know what to do. Anyone but a frog! Finally he ordained that her marriage should be decided by casting the Embroidered Ball.
Casting the Embroidered Ball! The news spread immediately throughout the whole country and within a few days the city was in a turmoil. Men from far and wide came to try their luck, and all manner of people flocked to the capital. The day came. The frog was present. He did not push his way into the mob but stood at the very edge of the crowded square.
A gaily festooned pavilion of a great height had been built. The emperor led the princess and her train of maids to their seats high up on the stand.
The moment arrived. The princess tossed the Embroidered Ball into the air, and down it gently floated. The masses in the square surged and roared like a raging sea. As one and all stretched eager hands to clutch the ball, the frog drew in a mighty breath and, like a whirling tornado, sucked the ball straight to him.
Now, surely, the princess will have to marry the frog! But the emperor was still unwilling to let this happen.
"An Embroidered Ball cast by a princess," he declared, "can only be seized by a human hand. No beast may do so."
He told the princess to throw down a second ball.
This time a young, stalwart fellow caught the ball.
"This is the man!" cried the happy emperor. "Here is the person fit to be my imperial son-in-law."
A sumptuous feast was set to celebrate the occasion.
Can you guess who that young, stalwart fellow was? Of course it was the frog, now in the guise of a man.
Not till he was married to the princess did he change back again. By day he was a frog but at night he stripped off his green skin and was transformed into a fine, upstanding youth.
The princess could not keep it a secret and one day revealed it to her father, the emperor. He was startled but happy.
"At night," he said to his son-in-law, "you discard your outer garment, I hear, and become a handsome young man. Why do you wear that horrid frog-skin in the day?"
"Ah, Sire," replied the frog, "this outer garment is priceless. When I wear it in winter, I am warm and cozy; and in summer, cool and fresh. It is proof against wind and rain. Not even the fiercest flame can set it alight. And as long as I wear it, I can live for thousands of years."
"Let me try it on!" demanded the emperor.
"Yes, Sire," replied the frog and made haste to discard his skin.
The emperor smiled gleefully. He took off his dragon-embroidered robe and put on the frog-skin. But then he could not take it off again!
The frog put on the imperial robe and became the emperor. His father-in-law remained a frog forever.
The Frog in the Shallow Well
(a fable from China)
Have you not heard of the frog that lived in a shallow well? It said to a turtle that lived in the East Sea, "I am so happy! When I go out, I jump about on the railing beside the mouth of the well. When I come home, I rest in the holes on the broken wall of the well. If I jump into the water, it comes up to my armpits and holds up my cheeks. If I walk in the mud, it covers up my feet. I look around at the wriggly worms, crabs and tadpoles, and none of them can compare with me. Moreover, I am lord of this trough of water and I stand up tall in this shallow well. My happiness is full. My dear sir, why don't you come often and look around my place?"
Before the turtle from the East Sea could get its left foot in the well, its right knee got stuck. It hesitated and retreated. The turtle told the frog about the East Sea.
"Even a distance of a thousand li cannot give you an idea of the sea's width; even a height of a thousand ren cannot give you an idea of its depth. In the time of King Yu of the Xia dynasty, there were floods nine years out of ten, but the waters in the sea did not increase. ln the time of King Tang of the Shang dynasty there were droughts seven years out of eight, but the waters in the sea did not decrease. The sea does not change along with the passage of time and its level does not rise or fall according to the amount of rain that falls. The greatest happiness is to live in the East Sea."
After listening to these words, the frog of the shallow well was shocked into realization of his own insignificance and became very ill at ease.
Why Frogs Croak
A Tale from Native American Literature
Once, long ago, the days and nights were of varying lengths. Brother Sun made some of the days very long and the following nights could also be very long. Many of the animals did not like this. They wished the days were more regulated and even, as they are now.
The animals got together and formed a committee to ask Brother Sun to better regulate the day length. There were many animals on the committee but two of the notable ones were Frog and Grizzly Bear. They were the two chosen by the rest of the committee to survey the rest of the animals.
Grizzly wanted one long day and one long night. He ate all day and slept all night. Long days and nights seemed very logical to him. Frog, on the other hand, wanted shorter days and nights. Frog did not live very long and he wanted his rest and feeding time to be spread out so he could enjoy them. Grizzly was a big bully of a bear. He sauntered around, speaking to each of the animals about the length of the days and the nights. Because he was a bully, he growled to each animal "SIX MONTHS DAY AND SIX MONTHS NIGHT," showing his big teeth and long claws. He growled to Fox, "SIX MONTHS DAY AND SIX MONTHS NIGHT." Grizzly growled to Owl, "SIX MONTH'S DAY AND SIX MONTHS NIGHT." He saw Fish, "SIX MONTHS DAY AND SIX MONTHS NIGHT." After every animal was talked to, Grizzly wandered off to a den and took a long nap.
Frog, on the other hand, was a sociable sort of fellow. He hopped from place to place, listening to what the animals had to say. It didn't matter to Fish what the day length was. Swimming could be done at night a well as during the day. Fox preferred dawn and dusk and wanted many of those at fairly regular intervals. Owl, on the other hand, liked to hunt at night but enjoyed sleeping during the day. Periods of six months of day and six months of night were too long for Owl.
After listening to all of the animals, Frog returned to the committee to report. After Frog's report, the committee looked around for Grizzly. Grizzly, being a big bully, was sure that the rest of the animals would vote his way and did not bother to wake up from his long nap to return to the committee to report.
The committee weighed all the possibilities and choices, taking into consideration the opinions of all the animals surveyed. They voted. Eagle was sent to tell Brother Sun of their decision. Brother Sun agreed that their choice was possible and he changed the day length to be what we know today. The days in winter were to be short and progress to being longer until midsummer when they were again begin to shorten. The nights were to be just the opposite, going from long in winter to short in summer.
Frog was so happy about his part in the decision that he hopped from place to place, croaking, in a chirpy little voice, "One day, one night. One day, one night." He was so proud of himself and his descendants are also proud. In fact, if you listen quietly just shortly after the sun sets, you may hear the frogs still croaking, "One day, one night. One day, one night. One day, one night. One day, one night."
The Little Blue Frog
By Shoshone Woman A.k.a. Darla Lee Moore
Once a long long time ago, in a time before humans were the most mportant people on the world, there was a time when the world was peopled mostly by frogs. There were many lakes, ponds, creeks, and rivers for the little frogs to live in.
There were all kinds of frogs. There were big frogs, and little frogs, there were smooth frogs, and warty frogs, but they all had something in common. They all were some shade of green, and the all could sing and swim very well.
Everything was going along quite swimmingly, when one day The Great Mystery, (whom some call Grandfather and some call God) did a very mysterious thing. He created a Little Blue Frog. No one knows why the Great Mystery did that, but the Great Mystery usually has good reasons for the things that he does.
This little blue frog had a very hard life. Being blue wasn't his only disability. It seems that not only was he blue, but he didn't have webbed feet and he couldn't swim very well. His toes instead of being webbed, were more like hands with long fingers and with soft sticky palms.
Living with all the green frogs was very hard for him. You see, these green frogs were very unfriendly and impolite, they just couldn't help but make rude jokes about the blue frog. They called him rude names and were very mean to him. Sometimes, they would even shove him into the water, and push his little blue head under the water just to see him sputter. The other green frogs would often point and sing "Blue Frog, Blue frog."
The Little Blue Frog lived through the summer with the best attitude he could muster. In spite of being blue, he was quite congenial and optimistic. He tried to make the best of his life, such as it was. He spent long hours hiding in the weeds, and watching the other frogs swim. He thought that swimming looked like a lot of fun, yet he somehow knew that it wasn't the thing for himself. He loved sitting on lily pads in the afternoon sun. Lots of big green flies would fly about, and he just loved eating big green flies. Even though he was blue, he lived his life very much as all the green frogs, excepting that he couldn't swim very well.
Even back in those days so long ago, frogs lived very much the same as they do today. So, in the fall came the time when most frogs dig deep down into the mud at the bottom of the pond and go to sleep for the winter. The Little Blue Frog also dug down into the mud and went to sleep as well.
The winter lasted for a long, long time. It was very cold and all the grass and lily pads died. All the leaves fell from the trees and all the other creatures had to hide in their burrows to stay warm. All the water in the lakes and ponds froze up. The wind blew snow out across the ice, and it made a lonely whooshing sound. The frogs didn't know about this, as they were sleeping the whole winter away down deep in the mud at the bottom of the ponds.
After a long while the days begin to get longer and longer. Spring was on its way. The air began to get warmer, and soon the ice and snow began to melt. Very soon the trees started to bud new leaves, and the grass began to grow again. In a little while the bugs came out and began to fly about, and the lily leaves were once more growing in the ponds and lakes. It was then that the frogs woke up and dug their way out of the mud and swam to the edges of the ponds. Just as they do to this very day.
After they made their way to the edges of the ponds, They began to gather into groups and began to sing. The singing sounded very nice, and soon a lot of young frogs were gathering together, and the spring courting had begun. The singing is a very important part of this courting, because everyone knows that the best singers make the best husbands.
As they were singing, that afternoon, something very mysterious happened. They began to hear beautiful music coming from somewhere near the pond. Where could this beautiful voice be singing from? The green frogs each took turns singing by themselves to see if this beautiful music might be coming from one of them. Well, it wasn't one of them. They were quiet for a while, and then they heard the beautiful song again. This time they sent out a search party to find this frog with the beautiful voice. To heir great surprise, they found that it was the Little Blue Frog singing from the weeds.
They were just about to ask him to join them for the evening concert, when they heard the voice of the Great Mystery, "Listen to me green frogs. I have sent the Little Blue Frog among you as a lesson. You treated him badly just because he is a little different from you. You didn't even give him a chance to show you his great talent. You shunned him based only on his color and ability to swim. I am very ashamed of the way you have behaved. Because you have treated him so badly, I will give him a gift that none of you shall ever have."
Then to the Little Blue Frog he said, "You have handled being treated badly quite well, and I am proud of you. You will always have your beautiful voice and bright blue color. Now I want to tell you a secret. You can't swim very well because you are a special frog. You were never meant to swim. Look at your toes. They are different for a reason. You are, my child, a tree frog. I created you with sticky toes so that you can climb into the trees high enough so that everyone can hear your beautiful voice."
So, that is what happened a very long time ago when the Great Mystery taught the green frogs not to judge others by their looks or disabilities.