Friday, February 17, 2012

The Prince Frog

This is another one from ‘Fractured Fairy Tales.’ They ran it under the title “The Frog Prince,” but I think my title is more fitting. I think the reason this story has stayed with me for so many years is that under the jokes and the funny voices (courtesy of Daws Butler, who also voiced Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound) there is a genuine love story here. Falling in love means you’re willing to do anything to be with someone. Being in love means you’re willing to do anything for someone. As you’ll see:

There was once upon a time a country that was entirely overrun with witches. They were everywhere, you couldn’t move for witches back then. It finally got so bad that there were more witches than there were people to bewitch. It was perfectly common to see two witches literally fighting over a peasant saying:

“Let go! I want to put him to sleep for a thousand years!”

“No, you let go! I want to turn him into a chair!”

“Well I want…a chair? That’s a weird thing to turn somebody into.”

“I’m running out of ideas! So sue me!”

One day a little witch was walking through the woods, desperate to cast a spell on someone when she came upon a little pond where she saw a frog sitting on a lily pad.

“Good morning!” said the frog, with the customary friendliness for which frogs are known.

“Not so good for you, dearie,” said the witch. “Because I’m going to cast a spell on you.”

But the frog just laughed. “I’m already a frog! What are you gonna do? Turn me into a handsome prince?”

“Say! That’s an idea!” With that the witch waved her wand and the frog became a handsome young prince…a human prince, in case that wasn’t clear…not that frogs have monarchies so…never mind.

“What?” cried the frog…I mean prince. “No! I don’t want to be a prince! Change me back into a frog!”

“Never! You are doomed to be a handsome prince forever!” And with a wicked cackle, she was gone.

The poor frog…that is the poor prince…well, he was really a frog but…looked, let’s just call him Filbert, okay? So, poor Filbert was very depressed and even though he tried to adjust to being a prince, he found his life just wasn’t the same. He couldn’t croak, he couldn’t catch flies, he couldn’t sit on lily pads (he almost drowned three times before he gave that up). In the end he realized he was just going to have to find a witch to turn him back into a frog and he set forth.

But he didn’t meet any witches on his travels (which was sort of surprising, come to think of it). Instead he met a beautiful princess who, despite his insistence that he was a frog, fell in love with Filbert. Feeling it would be impolite to refuse a princess, Filbert agreed to marry Princess Sylvia and they moved into a beautiful home together. Knowing that her eccentric husband was fond of nature, the princess had a beautiful back garden added to the house and Prince Filbert would walk through it for hours every day, dreaming of the days when he was a frog.

One day while he was out walking, a witch passed by. Imagine her surprise at seeing a genuine, honest-to-goodness prince! And not even under a spell! So, without any further ado, she announced that she was going to turn the prince into…a chair!

“No, a frog!”

“Good idea! A frog’s much better!” And Filbert was a frog once again.

Princess Sylvia tried to understand, but it wasn’t easy being married to a prince in the morning and a frog in the evening. Nevertheless she had come to love her husband very much and so she had a big, beautiful pond added to the garden where she could go visit her frog-prince-husband-guy whenever she wanted.

Well, as fate would have it, that same witch who started this whole silly business came by one day and recognized Filbert from the first spell. That’s funny, she thought. Normally my spells last longer than that. Oh well, we’ll just have to try something else. And with a wave of her wand, Filbert became…a chicken?

“Okay! That does it!” said Filbert and he marched…or whatever chickens do that’s most like marching…straight into the forest where he found the SHCOW meeting place: That’s Secret High Council of Witches. They were the group that sort of oversaw all witchcraft in the area. Sort of a Witches’ Union, you might say. Filbert went straight to the Head Witch, Griselda, and said, “Now look: First I was a frog, and I was happy. Then I was a prince, then I was almost a chair, then I was a frog again, and now I’m a chicken! I’m getting tired of this. Tell your witches to leave me alone!”

“Sorry, sir,” said Griselda. “We normally make it a point not to persecute any one person like this, but times are hard for us witches. Anyway, I’ll put you on the official ‘no-curse’ list, if you like and I’ll even change you back to your preferred form right now. So, what’ll it be?”

Of course, Filbert’s first thought was that he wanted to be a frog again. But then he thought about Sylvia. How she had humored him in his belief that he was a frog, how she had been so patient with his long walks in the garden, how she had let him live in the pond because she thought it would make him happy. She had done so much to make him happy; now, it was his turn. He knew what he had to do:

“I wanna be a prince!”

“Sure thing,” said Griselda and with a wave of her wand, the chicken was gone, and in its place was…a big, shaggy sheepdog? “Here, Prince. Good boy, Prince.”

“Not this kind of prince!”

“Oh, sorry.” So, Griselda waved her magic wand again and this time Filbert was a cat. Then a parakeet. Then a garden snail. Then a buffalo. Then a chair. And, finally, the frog he was at the start of all this nonsense. “Sorry, sir,” said the exhausted witch. “All that bewitching has rewritten your internal biology. It’s hard to explain, but I’ll never be able to make you a prince again.”

Filbert was confused and very unhappy as he thanked Griselda for trying and hopped on home. He didn’t know what he was going to say to his wife. But when he got back home, he found the house was empty. Sylvia was nowhere to be seen. Then he thought perhaps she was looking for him back in the pond so he hopped to the garden and when he reached the pond…there, sitting on his favorite lily pad, was the most beautiful girl-frog Filbert had ever seen. And, somehow, though he didn’t know how, he knew exactly who she was.


Yes, it was! It turns out that while Filbert had been thinking of becoming a prince to make her happy, she had decided that the only way she could be happy was to be with Filbert. And if Filbert needed to be a frog to be happy, then a frog is just what she’d be, too. She marched straight out into the woods and ordered the first witch she met to turn her into a frog. The confused witch obliged and Sylvia hopped back to the pond to wait for Filbert.

No one ever knew what happened to the prince and princess. Their house soon feel into disrepair and another couple moved in and rebuilt it about two years later. By now the witch crisis was over and they felt it was once again safe to bring up children in the neighborhood and, before long, two beautiful little kids joined the family. And every day after their lessons, they would come straight home and run right out to the back where there was a little lilly pond which was very cozy and inviting and, in residence, two friendly frogs and a whole lot of little pollywogs living very happily ever after.


NEXT WEEK: Something short, I promise!

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