The Frog and the Lizard

From "The King of the Snakes and Other Folk-Lore Stories from Uganda",
by Rosetta Baskerville

YOU know that frogs have no tails, and if you look at a lizard's head you will see that its cheeks are puffed out all round its neck; but it was not always so. In Uganda frogs used to have tails, and lizards had quite thin cheeks.

Now I will tell you what happened to alter this:

Once upon a time there was a lizard, who lived on the branches of a cedar-tree, and he made friends with a frog, who lived on a little island in the middle of a pond.

One day the lizard made a feast and called his friend the frog to come to it, but when the frog arrived at the foot of the cedar-tree there was no way for him to climb up, for frogs have feet that are made for swimming, not for climbing trees.

The lizard came running down the tree and said:

"Never mind, I will help you up, I will tie a rope to your tail and pull you after me while I climb."

So he tied a rope to the frog's tail and began to climb, but he pulled so hard that the tail came off and down fell the poor frog to the ground.

He was very angry with the lizard and swam back to his island on the pond thinking all the time how he could revenge himself, and away up in the cedar-tree the lizard was holding his sides with laughter as he told the other guests at his feast how funny the frog looked without a tail.

Some time after this the frog asked the lizard to a feast, and the lizard, thinking that he had forgotten and forgiven the quarrel, said he would like to come.

When he arrived at the pond he wondered how he should get to the island, for he did not know how to swim.

"Never mind," said the frog. "I will tie a rope round your neck and pull you over while I swim." So they started off, but the water was very cold, and when the lizard felt it getting deeper and deeper he got frightened and pulled back.

"Come on," cried the frog, and pulled harder and harder. At last the rope broke and the lizard struggled back to land. He was very nearly drowned and panting for breath, and the rope was so tight round his neck that his cheeks were puffed out all round it. He looked back at the island, and there was the frog laughing at him.

And since that time frogs have had no tails and lizards have puffed-out cheeks. You can see them any day in Uganda, and they are not friends any more.


This e-text is in the public domain. It was extracted from The King of the Snakes and Other Folk-Lore Stories from Uganda, by Rosetta Baskerville, published as part of the Celebration of Women Writers collection.


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