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The Frog who Wants to Be as Big as the Ox.
A French Fable to Prevent Greediness

by Kao-Ly Yang

Have you ever heard about a certain Frog Bul-Foast whose stomach got burst at the Lake Hurt? This frog loves wearing red suits even if it's only a green frog. It has a low front and a steadfast smile at its face with some small dark spots. It is quite pretentious and enterprising, always spreading wrong rumors everywhere. Everyone admires its sweet voice, which makes it have lot of face.

One day, Frog Bul-Foast suddently speaks French. No one knows how such a thing can happen. Frog explains:
- While I was walking, I fell down, then I started to speak French. 
Since that day, Frog has been able to read (aloud) in French. It does so much that everyone gets tired at listening to its voice. Though, it keeps reading for all, so happy to be so skillful.

One night, the moon is full. Frog Bul-Foast finds a French fable about another frog.
- Oh ! So inspiring, Frog concludes, after finishing reading it.

The fable is about a frog who wanted to become as big as an ox. 
- Er ! How can I become as big as an ox? Our small red-suit Frog Bul-Foast loudly wishes.

The truth is that Frog Bul-Foast does not understand French at all. It simply deciphers words, and does not comprehend the figurative meanings. The writer, Jean de La Fontaine, wrote this parody to warn people about the danger of greediness and vanity. Our frog believes that the story is real: it can increase its size. 

However, Frog Bul-Foast does not know what to do exactly in order to become as big as an ox. He is thinking meticulously when a piece of idea emerges from its mind:
- I just need to behave like oxes in order to be as big as an ox.

In the Lake of Hurt, when a frog is nicely huge, potbellied, and tall like an ox, the community loves inviting it to give speeches. All look at it very highly, as an excellent role model. In addition, Frog is depressing: it has no date. It is thinking that if it becomes like an ox, it may attract some lovers.
- How do oxes behave? His mind is turning while smiling cutely like a spider.

Now Frog Bul-Foast is wondering, when suddenly another piece of idea pops up. No one knows if the idea is good or bad. As Frog Bul-Foast is mistrustful, hypocritical and narcissist -- even if its appareance makes people believe that it may be an innocent and harmless little red-suit frog.  It does not want to share its idea with others lest people would steal it. (This is a fatal mistake of judgment.)

From that day, Frog Bul-Foast behaves with much more arrogance. It believes that it is far superior to others. With this overconfidence of course, it tells whomever wants to listen that it knows everything: it can teach mathematics, history, French, and even Hmong language. It is a scholar! Its behavior is so outrageous and boastful that its own kins don't recognize it anymore.  The small frog who has a thin shape has become quite plump and greasy with a big stomach. Even if it keeps repeating that it has hypertension and diabetes, it still attends all celebrations, parties, funerals or weddings, and eats all what it can at any good meals while drinking at will. All murmure:
- This frog is too pretentious.

Time is passing. Frog Bul-Foast is fully aware of its failure. It did not gain an inch. It's obvious. No one really likes it or applauds its supposed feats or prowess. It goes deliver speeches, but no one listens.  Sometimes, people who don't know the frog's vanity yet still invite it. Some invite it just to avoid its rumor spreading. And most attendees behave just  like some vain hypocrites. Nevertheless, the frog doesn't care because it only wants to be the first biggest frog in the Lake Hurt. However, the frog feels like something is wrong. It didn't get the secret to become big as an ox. It needs to rectify the shot.
- Maybe, ... I misunderstood, the frog starts to whisper to itself.

A few days later, another idea pops up. "In fact, to become like an ox, it is not about behaving and being overconfident". This time, Bull-Foast, very excited, calls her group of followers. All, even skeptical, dare not advising much. "Yes, maybe, try ...", all say to Bull-Foast, scared to be terrorized by the red-suit frog.

Frog Bul-Foast thought that in order to become like an ox, it needed to be arrogant, contemptuous, and condescending, and to attack the successful frogs by spreading bad rumors about them. Full of vanity, it has accused them of excluding it from any projects that, however, have nothing to do with Bull-Foast by an inch. In fact, Frog Bul-Foast is simply unprofessional and unethical. It knows no boundaries between its egoistic ambitions and the responsibilities that one should have toward one's community for its welfare and peace. It takes its dreams for realities, and tries to destroy whomever it doesn't like, especially the migrant frogs who came to live in Lake Hurt and who are far better educated than the little read-suit frog. But it keeps creating hideous rumors to its heart content without thinking about the consequence of the well-being of the community of Lake Hurt. 
- What goes around, comes around, keep warning his relatives.
For the majority, exhausted and discouraged by so much extravangance, non-sense, and vanity, no one wants to pay attention to its twisted mind and restlessness anymore. However, some naive  and conceited frogs still follow Frog Bul-Foast's lead. What a delusional group! 

Cutely sitting on a bamboo branch, always wearing its red suit, Frog Bul-Foast is thinking hard. Again a solution comes out:
- How come I did not think of this first! Of course, the oxes live near water. They are huge because they drink water! That's it!

The short Frog Bul-Foast runs as fast as it can to the lake Hurt. Arrived, it puts its head into the stream, and starts to drink with all its heart.  Its stomach is becoming as big as a watermelon.
- But still, too small, it thinks.
So it keeps drinking until it hears a cracking sound then a bursting. It looks left to right, then realizes that its intestines are slipping out. Frog Bul-Foast finally knows that Death is nearby.

Sad is the tale!  However, rather than a morality, it's more of a satire.
Frog Bul-Foast does not have the same luck as the frog in the Hmong folktale " The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl " where it was possible to sew again the stomach.  The poor Frog Bul-Foast of the Lake Hurt died miserably because of its greediness, vanity, bragging and rumor-spreading. There is nothing else one can do to prevent it. 

Jean de La Fontaine already gave the morals of the fable. However, it doesn't cost to remind it again. Do not envy others because you can lose your life because of greediness.  Just accept the way you are. Even if you have the knowledge, but not the skills, strength or mean to carry on projects, you may not be able to succeed. Do not hope too much or too little, just hope for what you need and you can. When you see people with talents, learn from them. Do not be jealous. Do not hate people because of their wealth or poverty.  You may be small or big in size, there will be always something awaiting you.  Do not take example from Frog Bul-Foast who reveals to be simply too Boast-Ful, and for a stupidity, lost its life tragically.

March 2006.
Edited in July 2018.

Copyrights © 2006 Kao-Ly Yang
All Rights Reserved.


La grenouille qui veut se faire aussi grosse qu'un boeuf
Une Grenouille vit un Boeuf
Qui lui sembla de belle taille.
Elle, qui n'était pas grosse en tout comme un oeuf,
Envieuse, s'étend, et s'enfle, et se travaille,
Pour égaler l'animal en grosseur,
Disant : "Regardez bien, ma soeur ;
- Est-ce assez ? - Dites-moi. - N'y suis-je point encore ?
- Nenni. - M'y voici donc ? - Point du tout. - M'y voilà ?
- Vous n'en approchez point". La chétive pécore
S'enfla si bien qu'elle creva.
Le monde est plein de gens qui ne sont pas plus sages :
Tout bourgeois veut bâtir comme les grands seigneurs,
Tout petit prince a des ambassadeurs,
Tout marquis veut avoir des pages.

Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695)
Courtoisie de Jean de la Fontaine, Site réalisé par la famille Vidaud

(In English)
The Frog Who Aspired to Become as Big as the Ox
A Frog espied an Ox
that seemed to her of a noble size.
She, no bigger than an egg,
Envious, stretches, puffs up and labors
To match the animal in size,
Saying: "Hey watch me sister;
Is this enough? Tell me; am I there yet?
-No way! -How about now? -Not at all. - IIs that it ?
You aren't even close." The puny, pretentious creature
Swelled up so much that she croaked.
The world is full of people who aren't too wise:
People with some money wish to build like royalty,
Every minor prince has ambassadors,
Every marquis wants servants.


French literature
Social parody