Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Little Frog in the Stream

Quechua people from the Northern Andes Mountains
The Frog and the Condor

In a cool, clear stream there lived a kind little frog who believed that her face was quite ugly.  Every day she looked at her brothers and sisters and thought, “How beautiful they are!  If only I could look like them!”

At one side of the stream rose a mountain so high that its snowy peak was hidden among the clouds.  It was on the side of this mountain that the condor, king of birds, found a great rocky ledge on which to build his home.  It was a fine home!  The silky skins of vicuñas-the natural prey of King Condor- covered the walls and floors.  The great bird’s bed was of soft feathers.  His pantry was stocked with choice meats.

Unlike human kings, the condor had only one servant.  She was a poor little shepherdess whom he had carried off one day while she drove her flock of llamas to pasture.  The shepherdess’s name was Collyur, which means ‘Morning Star.” This name had been given her by her parents because they thought she was as beautiful as their favorite star.

The frog often watched Collyur standing in the doorway of the bird’s home, when the condor was absent, and saw the shepherdess looking sorrowfully into the distance.

One morning, after the condor had taken his nap, Collyur asked him, “May I go down to the stream to wash my clothes?’

“No, indeed,” said the condor, scowling.  “You stay here, and prepare my dinner.”

“It’s all prepared, sir.  Therefore, please let me go.”

The condor looked at her sharply.  “If I let you go alone, you will try to escape!”

The child swallowed hard, and thought quickly.  She answered, “Of course I will not.  Besides, as long as you hear me beat my clothes on the rocks to get them clean, you will know I have not run away.”

“Very well, then, you may go.  But if you try to escape, I shall punish you severely.”

So Collyur, carrying her little bundle of clothes on her head, made her way down to the stream.  On reaching the shore, she knelt on the rocks and soaked her clothes in the water. Then she began to beat them on the rocks, crying bitterly all the while.

Suddenly, she heard a voice say, “Dear child, do not despair.  I shall help you.”

Collyur looked around and saw the little frog perched on the rock at her side.  She did not think the frog’s face was ugly.  to her, it had kind eyes and a sympathetic voice which comforted her.

“Oh, please help me, little frog! I am so miserable!”  said Collyur, beginning to weep again.

“Now, please don’t cry or I can’t help you.  Just dry your eyes and listen.”

“Yes, I’ll dry my tears, dear little frog.”

“I was born with a magic power which allows me to take the shape of anyone I wish to help.  In a moment, I shall take on your appearance, and begin beating the clothes on the rocks.  As long as the condor hears that sound, he will not be suspicious.  When I begin beating the clothes, you must run quickly.  Go to the house by the edge of the woods where a good shepherd and his wife live.  They will help you find your way home.”

“Thank you with all my heart,”  the child said, as she bent over to kiss the little frog on the forehead.

As soon as the frog changed into a little girl who was the image of Collyur, the real Collyur ran as fast as she could toward the shepherd’s home.  All the way she could hear the frog-child as she beat, beat, beat the clothes.

“What is keeping that lazy child?” asked the condor of himself as he finished his tasty meal of vicuna.  “If she doesn’t stop beating her clothes, they will be in rags and tatters.  I will fly down to the stream and scold her.”

The loud whir of the condor’s wings warned the frog-child of the condor’s approach.

“Stop that beating and go back to the house,” shouted the condor from the great rock where he perched.

He was utterly surprised when the child stood up, stepped into the stream, and disappeared beneath the water.  There she became a frog again.

“Come back here,” shrieked the condor.  He flew down and looked into the stream.  All the saw was is own reflection in the calm, clear water.  Puzzled, he flew back home in a rage.

Meanwhile, the frog returned upstream to her sisters and brothers.  But something strange had happened to her.  She knew this because of the surprised look on the faces of the other frogs and the fish who crowded around her.

“What is it?’ asked the little frog.

“It is your forehead!” the frogs exclaimed.  “There is a beautiful star-shaped jewel on it!”

A lovely jewel shone on the spot where Collyur had bestowed a kiss.  It was like the morning star!

The frogs hopped excitedly.  The fish, eager to rejoice with them, made a circle, their glistening fins touching, and swam around the little frog singing:

Glug, glug
You are beautiful now,
with a shining jewel
upon your brow.

Then, with their fat little hands clasped, the proud frogs hopped about the little frog, and said:

Croak, croak,
To show how kind
And good you are,
On your forehead
Was left a star.

From that day on, the little frog, who had always been loved for her kindness, was called the Queen of the Stream.  And never again was she troubled about her looks.

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