Judson adds this note to the story: "The tiny frog, called péska, is a black one, not more than an inch long, living in muddy streams in Louisiana. It differs from the bullfrog, common frog, and tree frog." Although the péska may be only an inch long, this tiny frog has some awesome powers, thanks to his magical grandmother, as you will see.
[Notes by LKG]
This story is part of the Mississippi Valley / Great Lakes unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes, edited by Katharine Berry Judson (1914).
The Tiny Frog
(photo by Shansby)
(photo by Shansby)
THE Ancient of Tiny Frogs was shut up by his grandmother so that he might learn magic. Then she took him on a journey.
First they met the Ancient of Panthers. The grandmother said to him, “This is your sister’s son. Look at him and wrestle with him.”
The Ancient of Panthers was very brave. To show his strength, he climbed very high up a tree which he tore to pieces, falling to the ground with it. Then he seized the Ancient of Tiny Frogs. But the frog caught him by the hind legs and whipped him against a tree. He beat him so severely that Panther’s jaw was broken in many places. That is why all panthers have a short jaw.
The Ancient of Tiny Frogs and his grandmother continued their journey. Next they met Bear. The grandmother said to him, “Look at your sister’s son. Go and wrestle with him.”
Bear began to pull the limbs off a tree to show his strength. Soon he rushed upon the Ancient of Tiny Frogs. But that one caught Bear by the hind legs and beat him against a tree until he broke off short his tail. That is why bears have such very short tails.
Again the old grandmother, singing as she walked, went along the trail with her grandson. They met Buffalo. She said, “Look at your sister’s son. Go and wrestle with him.”
Now Buffalo was very strong. With his horns he uprooted a tree, and then spent some moments in breaking it to pieces. Then he rushed at the Ancient of Tiny Frogs. But that one caught Buffalo by the hind legs and beat him against a tree. He beat him until the back of his neck was broken and he had a great hump on his shoulders. So Buffalo went away, but that is why buffaloes have such very heavy, humpbacked shoulders.
Again they walked along the trail, singing. It was not long before they met with Deer. To him the grandmother said, “Look at your sister’s son. Go and wrestle with him.”
Deer leaped up to show his agility. Then he sprang at the Ancient of Tiny Frogs. But that one seized him by the legs and beat him against a tree, breaking his nose, and leaving him with a very small nose, even as deer today have small noses.
Then the Ancient of Tiny Frogs said to Deer: “I shall remain here under the leaves. When hunters are after you and have almost reached you, I will urge you to escape by saying, ‘Pés! Pés!’ When I say that, do your best to get away.”
Hardly had he finished speaking, when he cried out, “Pés! Pés! It is so! Go quickly! Do your best!” Then Deer leaped away. For just then the hunters had come, sure enough.
Therefore, when a tiny frog cries out now, people say that some one is on the point of running after a deer.