The Friendly Frog

Stabroek News Sunday - - JUNIOR STABROEK -

The queen made no re­ply. She did not at­tempt to look for flies, but sat down be­neath a tree, and gave way to tears. “Oh my dear hus­band,” she cried, “how grieved you will be when you go to fetch me from the cas­tle, and find me gone! You will sup­pose me to be dead or faith­less; how I hope that you will mourn the loss of my life, not the loss of my love! Per­haps the re­mains of my char­iot will be found in the wood, with all the or­na­ments I had put on to please you: at sight of these you will not doubt any more that I am dead. But then, how do I know that you will not be­stow on some­one else the heart­felt love which once be­longed to me? At all events I shall be spared the sor­row of that knowl­edge, since I am never to re­turn to the world.”

These thoughts would have filled her mind for a long time, but she was in­ter­rupted by the croak­ing of a raven. Lift­ing her eyes, she saw in the dim light a large raven on the point of swal­low­ing a frog which it held in its beak. “Though I have no hope of help for my­self,” she said, “I will not let this un­for­tu­nate frog die, if I can save it. Though our lots are so dif­fer­ent, its suf­fer­ings are quite as great as mine.” She picked up the first stick which came to hand, and made the raven let go its prey. The frog fell to the ground and lay for a time half stunned; but as soon as it could think, in its frog­gish way, it be­gan to speak. “Beau­ti­ful queen,” it said, “you are the first friendly soul that I have seen since my cu­rios­ity brought me here.”

“By what magic are you en­dowed with speech, lit­tle frog?’ replied the queen; “and what peo­ple do you see here? I have seen none at all as yet.”

“All the mon­sters with which the lake is teem­ing,” replied the lit­tle Frog, “were once upon a time in the world. Some sat on thrones, some held high po­si­tions at court; there are even some royal ladies here who were the cause of strife and blood­shed. It is these lat­ter whom you see in the shape of leeches, and they are con­demned to re­main here for a cer­tain time. But of those who come here none ever re­turns to the world bet­ter or wiser.”

“I can quite un­der­stand,” said the queen, “that wicked peo­ple are not im­proved by merely be­ing thrown to­gether. But how is it that you are here, my friendly lit­tle frog?”

“I came here out of cu­rios­ity,” she replied. “I am part fairy, and though, in cer­tain di­rec­tions, my pow­ers are lim­ited, in oth­ers they are far-reach­ing. The Lion-Witch would kill me if she knew that I was in her do­main.”

“If you have fairy pow­ers,” said the queen, “I can­not un­der­stand how you could have fallen into the raven’s clutches.”

“That is eas­ily ex­plained,” said the frog. “I have noth­ing to fear when my lit­tle crown is on my head, for that is the source of my power. Un­luck­ily I had left it in the marsh when that ugly raven pounced upon me, and but for you, Madam, I would have been eaten. Since you have saved my life, you have only to com­mand me and I will do ev­ery­thing in my power to lessen the mis­for­tunes of your lot.”

“Alas, dear frog,” said the queen, “the wicked witch who holds me cap­tive de­sires that I should make her a fly-pas­try. But there are no flies here, and if there were I could not see to catch them in the dim light. I am likely, there­fore, to get a beat­ing which will kill me.” “Leave it to me,” said the frog. She gath­ered more than six thou­sand of her friends and they all smeared su­gar all over them­selves and then went to a place where the witch had a large store of flies, which she used to tor­ment some of her luck­less vic­tims. No sooner did the flies smell the su­gar than they flew to it, and found them­selves stick­ing to the frogs and were soon taken to the queen. Never was there such a catch­ing of flies be­fore, nor a bet­ter pas­try than the one the queen made for the witch. The sur­prise of the Witch was great when the queen handed it to her, for she was baf­fled to think how the flies could have been so clev­erly caught.

The queen suf­fered so much from want of pro­tec­tion against the poi­sonous air that she cut down some cy­press branches and be­gan to build her­self a hut. The frog kindly of­fered her ser­vices. She sum­moned round her all those who had helped in the fly hunt, and they as­sisted the queen to build as pretty a lit­tle place to live in as you could find any­where in the world.

But no sooner had she lain down to rest than the mon­sters of the lake gath­ered round the hut. They set up the most hideous noise that had ever been heard, and drove her so nearly mad that she got up and fled in fear and trem­bling from the house. This was just what the mon­sters were af­ter, and a dragon, who had once upon a time ruled tyran­nously over one of the great­est coun­tries of the world, im­me­di­ately took pos­ses­sion of it.

The poor queen tried to protest against this ill-treat­ment. But no one would lis­ten to her: the mon­sters laughed and jeered at her, and the Lion-Witch said that if she com­plained to her again she would give her a sound thrash­ing.

The queen was there­fore obliged to hold her tongue. She sought out the frog, who was the most sym­pa­thetic crea­ture in the world, and they wept to­gether; for the mo­ment she put on her crown, the frog be­came able to laugh or weep like any­body else. To be con­tin­ued…

I have noth­ing to fear when my lit­tle crown is on my head

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