Gateway to the Classics: For the Children's Hour by Carolyn S. Bailey
For the Children's Hour by  Carolyn S. Bailey

Latona and the Rustics

T HIS is the story of the first frogs.

There was once a beautiful goddess named Latona. Now, Latona had two little babies, and there was no room for them in the palace of the gods on Mount Olympus, so Latona came down to earth, and wandered here and there to find a place to stay. The babies were very heavy to carry, and Latona grew tired and parched with thirst. At last she came to a pond of clear, cool water, in a field; so she laid her babies in the grass and stooped down to drink and bathe the dust from her face.

There were some country people working in the field, gathering willow branches and weaving them into baskets, and they began telling Latona to go away from the pond. At first Latona thought they could not mean what they said, and the babies cooed and stretched out their little arms to be taken and played with. But the country people again told Latona to leave their pond, and they stepped in the water, stirring up the mud at the bottom with their feet, so she could not drink nor bathe. Then they called to Latona: "Come and drink, come and drink."

Latona was very angry. "You should never leave the pond, wicked rustics," she cried. She spread her beautiful hands over them, and the strangest thing happened! The voices of the country people became harsh and shrill; their throats were bloated. Their mouths stretched as far as their ears. Their necks shrank until they had none at all, and their skin became green and spotted. They could not raise their feet, nor walk. They were able only to hop about, and just the tops of their heads showed above the water.

Latona had turned the selfish country people into frogs, and you may hear them in the pond, now, croaking: "Come and drink, come and drink," for that is all they are able to say.

— Adapted from the Greek myth
by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

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