I just discovered that my stupid lazy little brother, Justin has not written in his new diary yet. Can you believe it? He has had it for a whole month and not done a thing with it. Well I soon set him strait. As for my diary, I got it today for my birthday and you better believe I wrote in it right away. My name is Jaden and I am twenty-four years old as of today. The twins Justin and James are twenty-two. The next set of twins, Joseph and John are nineteen. My youngest brother, Jerome is seventeen. Elise is sixteen. All of my siblings are lazy and conceited, I like to keep them straightened out. But most of them are to stuck up to listen to me. Mother has more faith in me then in the others. She says I may choose my own bride, but she will find brides for my other brothers and groom for Elise. On Saturday, we go to the castle of King Ronald. Mother plans on having Justin marry his sweet daughter Eleanor. But Justin is to stupid to figure out her plans.
Well, I went walking in the garden to enjoy the cool afternoon air, when I saw Elise's fairy godmother. Now everyone knows that if you catch a fairy, you will be granted three wishes. So I sneaked up on her and grabbed her by the wings.
“Unhand me prince Jaden!” she scolded. She must have took me for a fool.
“First grant me three wishes!” I ordered.
“You greedy, selfish, bossy young man!” she snarled, “How dare you demand that of me!” How dare she talk to me like that. I noticed Justin staring at me from the garden door. There was something like a smirk on his face. Then the fairy suddenly seemed to grow.
“What is this?” I demanded coldly, “You can't cheat me out of my three wishes!”
“Jaden you are a frog until you can learn the meaning of true love, and a girl agrees to brake the spell by kissing you!” I stared at her in surprise. When I tried to back away from her and found myself hopping. That cursed fairy had indeed transformed me into a miserably blotchy frog!
I slept in the garden last night. Justin shut the door in my face and I did not seem to be able to open the door. I shall certainly thrash my treacherous brother within an inch of his life, once I become a man again. The garden was gloomy. I never realized how stupid it is to have so many gardeners. They stomped all over the place and kicked me about while trimming the hedges. Disrespectful! When I tried to explain, a nasty croaking noise came out. So there was only one thing to do, go into the woods and look for a peaceful place to rest. After all I know the woods like the back of my hand.
Apparently I don't know my hand very well. Probably because it has turned into a webbed monstrosity. I have been wandering all over this miserable cold wet forest unable to find away out. I am starving, but I refuse to eat flies. I will not admit that they are beginning to look tasty. The sun was somewhere in the middle of the sky, which means that it was definitely lunchtime, when I found what looked like a puddle. But with my vast knowledge I knew that it was actually a well. If you looked carefully, you can see the stones lining the outside. The rude and cruel sun had dried up all the dew so I was melting and my skin was beginning to crack for lack of water. I jumped right in. The well was probably abandoned, no one lived around here, so I wasn't disturbing anyone's drinking water.
I was relaxing on a comfortable slab of bark in the well, when there was a splash. Someone was chucking stones at me. The nerve! I jumped out of the water and hid under a pile of wet leaves. There was a juicy fat slug, which I quickly gulped, with a flick of my tongue. It was delicious. Then now that my stomach was full I turned to face my tormentor. I was a bit surprised to find that it was a young girl. I want to say she is about Jerome's age. She had long curly reddish hair, a pale face and big hazel eyes. She was wearing a long dark green gown with light gold and silver trimmings. All in all, she was beautiful. I was still admiring her, when she pitched another boulder at me, but was hardly more then a pebble in her long slender fingers. My admiration for her was immediately extinguished. She was a cruel brat. What kind of person threw stones at helpless creatures. I hopped further into the woods to wait for her to leave. I would not try and make her acquaintance.
The beautiful brat was back again today. This time I remained hidden. I wasn't going to speak to her or give her the chance to throw more rocks at me. This time she had a small golden ball. I could tell that it was made of real gold. But judging by the way she tossed it about, I decided that it was hollow. Cheep if you ask me. Still it was interesting to watch her. All my brother would have made fun of me if I watched a girl like this back home. Maybe being a frog has its uses.
I was waiting for her and not disappointed when she came back. She had her ball with her again. But I wish she would drop it into the well, because she only pays attention to it. I wonder what mother would think of her. She is clearly rich. Some high born lady. I was still wishing that she would drop the ball, when she did. It fell right into the well and sank like a stone. The splash was very satisfying. Her tantrum was not. She stomped around kicking at everything and screaming. When I made the mistake of coming out to offer condolences she tried to stomp on me. Ungrateful wretch! You better believe I left her to her tantrum.
I had a very enjoyable time watching all the soldiers and servants trying to rescue the ball from the well. It was very satisfying when none of them were able to retrieve it. After hours and hours of attempting to rescue the silly toy, the knights and servants went off and left the girl crying. Crying over a toy. Disgusting! Not even Elise would do a thing like that! In spite of my disgust, I hopped out of my hiding place and onto a rock in front of the girl. Then with a great effort I cleared my throat. My new natural instinct was to croak but I forced myself to speak the common tongue.
“I could fetch your little ball for you.” I offered politely. I really can't stand seeing someone cry, especially a lady.
“You're a frog!” she shrieked ungratefully.
“So what?” I snapped, “I can still fetch your baby toy!”
“Then get it you disgusting rodent!” she snarled. Such manners!
“There is a big difference between my species and rodents!” I told her frigidly.
“Fine you miserable pick toad!” she screamed, “Now fetch my ball at once!”
“No!” I said and hopped off, “You can say please first!”
“Come back, toad!” she howled.
“I'm a frog!” I croaked and hurried away, pleased that I was able to punish her.
I was awakened this morning by the sound of the girl's voice. She was calling for me. I felt rather pleased.
“Frog, oh froggy, I want to speak to you!” she called. I tossed aside my leaf blanket and hopped out to see her.
“You called?” I said with an elaborate bow. Her lips curled up in a sneer. I grinned.
“I want you to get my ball back.” she snapped.
“Say please.” I retorted.
“What do you want?” she said ignoring my request, “I am willing to pay.” I was about to shake my head, when the idea of a delicious dinner on a table struck my fancy.
“Take me home with you and let me eat at your table.” I said.
“Deal!” she cried, so quickly that I felt suspicious. In spite of my misgivings, I dived into the cool refreshing water. The further down I went the darker it got. But after blinking a few times, I realized that I could see quite well. Being a frog definitely had its good side. I found her ball in the mud at the bottom of the well. Believe me I lugged that thing to the top of the well, and it was a whole lot of work. It must have weighed a ton to a poor frog like me. What I wouldn't do for something good to eat. Unfortunately, when I reached the top of the well, the girl reached down, grabbed the well, dropped a rock on my head and ran off. I was furious! Such a spoiled ill-mannered brat, definitely needed a good old fashioned switching. I was going to speak to her parents about it too. Just as soon as I found them.
Finding where she lived was easy. All I had to do was follow the path. It was lined with little rocks and flowers grew along the edge. I hopped along it until I came to a garden gate. Living outdoors has really kept me slim so I had no trouble squeezing under the door. The garden was a maze of paths and brilliant flowers, shrubs and trees. It took some time, but I finally found the door leading into the house, which was really a palace. Probably some king's summer palace. Unfortunately even a frog couldn't squeeze under that door, so I did the next best thing I could do. I banged on it with my webbed fist.
“Spoiled princess open the door!” I yelled, “Keep your promise made at the well.”
“Go away!” a gruff voice, probably the doorkeeper, called.
“Open up!” I yelled banging until my fists bled.
“I'll run you through!” the doorkeeper threatened.
“Wait, who is there?” a man, probably the king, called.
“I am the frog who rescued the princesses ball!” I shouted, “She promised me dinner, I demand my dinner!” There was a silence. I crossed my webbed hand finger things behind my back. Then the man who was probably the king replied.
“Elaine?” he said gruffly.
“Father.” the girl whined, “It's a fat slimey toad!” I was offended. Why did people keep calling me a toad.
“Well, you promised.” her father snapped.
“Can he come back tomorrow, we aren't ready for him, tonight?” Elaine whined. I was disgusted.
“I shall return!” I shouted and hopped into a bush to spend the night.
The following night I was waiting by the door, when the doorkeeper opened it. The oaf looked in every direction, except mine. He was doing it on purpose too! I know it. After awhile I got tired of his oafish manners, marched up to him and kicked him good. He jumped, then looked down.
“Y-your a frog?” he gasped, his face turning redder then a flannel petticoat.
“Of course I'm a frog!” I snarled, “I informed you last night! Now kindly inform the princess Elaine that I am here for dinner.” The oaf turned and stumbled off. He should have been fired, just for the way he walked. He looked like a drunk.
An old man with a snow white beard and a golden crown on his head came to the door soon after. The drunken doorkeeper shuffled after him.
“So you are the frog?” the king asked. I found that question just a tad ridiculous. Of course I was the frog. Couldn't he tell by looking at me?
“Of course, sire.” I said. The king turned.
“Elaine, come attend your guest!” he ordered curtly. The princess shuffled over to us, looking rather downcast.
“Come along froggy.” she muttered. I frowned. Obviously her manners were still not up to date.
“I am tiny, you are going to have to carry me!” I said definitely, as I crossed my arms, or what was supposed to be my arms.
“NO!” Elaine snarled.
“Daughter!” the king growled. She immediately bent over and picked me up between the tips of her finger and thumb. My triumph was short lived, because it was so painful the way she was pinching me.
Eating at a grand table is so much different when one is a frog. All the silver was two big for me, as well as the goblets and pitchers. As for the chairs we won't even discuss them. I took one look at the situation and decided to perch on the edge of the golden plate and eat with my webbed fingers. The meal was very undignified and awkward. Elaine didn't look at me once. Her father talked politely about the many wars and skirmishes he had been involved in. Some of his descriptions were a little vulgar for table talk, but I couldn't tell him that. I said little, I was having trouble eating and didn't want to encourage the king.
I returned to the well this morning. I needed a bit of time to decide weather or not I wanted to experience another dinner at the palace.
Well this morning I decided to go back again. Mother was very good at teaching etiquette. She said that if you wanted to get invited to dinner, you pay a social call half an hour before the meal should be served, then it would be only proper for them to invite you to stay. Believe me, it worked like a charm, and once more I found myself perched on a dinner plate. This time Elaine talked.
“Father,” she said, ignoring me, “What do you think of Prince Kane of the Southwood?” she asked. I paused in the process of taring of a chunk of chicken. Prince Kane just happened to be my cousin.
“He is a very nice young man, daughter, but his mother is a little odd.” the king said. I scowled.
“I think-” I began.
“What about that prince that is coming here two nights hence?” Elaine interrupted. Obviously her mother had not taken a great deal of time on teaching her etiquette.
“Charming as they come dear, but I heard his whole family is odd.” the king said, “Remember the rumors of Prince James turning into a beast. And what about Prince Justin's bride-to-be? She was cursed, I believe.” I felt my green face turning bright red. They were gossiping about my family right in front of my face.
“I think he is disgusting!” Elaine said, “Imagine having to marry a prince who has a twin brother! I could never do it!” I decided that she was talking about Joseph or John.
“Gossiping is a sin!” I snarled.
“I beg your pardon?” the king said.
“Pardon granted!” I sniffed.
“Er- thank you, I think!” he said.
“What a rude little froggy!” Elaine sneered, “If I was your mother I would have you paddled!” I hopped right off the table.
“Good day, Barbarian princess!” I snarled and hopped out the door.
I am so never going back to see either Elaine or her father! How dare they insult my family! How dare they! There is nothing odd about my family! Nothing! What on Royaume did they mean by James being a beast, and Justin's bride being cursed? Well I guess it's just a stupid rumor!
In spite of what I had promised myself I decided to return to the palace today. At least I could figure out which one of my brothers was coming to visit. I decided that it was Joseph because John would have to be dragged by mother. He has never liked the idea of going courting.
When I arrived at the palace, I found Elaine in the garden looking very bored, and totally ignoring Joseph. Yes, it was Joseph. A pity I wasn't getting money for betting on the right person. The king was talking to my brother, but shooting nasty glances at Elaine, every now an then. I wondered why I wasn't angry that she dared not like my brother. In fact I felt rather pleased. Probably just because Elaine wasn't suitable enough for my brother. I decided to speak to him. I hopped onto the top of a small garden statue of an elf queen.
“Good afternoon, Prince Joseph.” I said. His eyes bulged, and he stared at me, and started to stutter.
“W-wh-what?” was all he seemed to be able to get out.
“My dear young prince, allow me to introduce the frog, a friend of my daughter.” the king said evenly. I noticed he sounded a little irritated, but I didn't care.
“But your a frog.” Joseph gulped.
“A magical frog.” the king said. I shrugged. Joseph had obviously recognized me, and was asking me what happened.
Suddenly the princess moved between Joseph and I. Such rudeness. She took his arm and turned her back on me. More rudeness.
“Your highness.” she said in a gushing voice, “Please, allow me to show you the rose paths.” she led him off. He glanced over his shoulder at me, a pleading look on his face. He obviously didn't want to go with her.
When night finally arrived, I was still waiting in the garden. Joseph escaped the princess, and came to find me.
“What in the name of wonders have you done to yourself?” he snarled, “Justin said you got turned into a toad...”
“Frog!” I hissed, “And Justin is a traitor!” He shrugged.
“Whatever!” he snapped, “It's also come to our attention that James spent a hundred days as beast.”
“He was already a beast!” I replied.
“And a fairy told Justin that he was the only one who could wake Princess Eleanor from eternal sleep!” he continued, “Now mother is trying to make me court this bratty princess! I don't want to marry her! I don't want to marry a princess!”
“Quite right, she is spoiled rotten!” I said. Then I told him about being turned into a frog and rescuing the ball. Joseph had the wrong reaction entirely.
“Why we make Elaine kiss you, which will turn you back into a man, then she can marry you and I'm free.” he cried gleefully.
“What?” I gaped. How dare he suggest something like that! Disgusting! I totally loved the plan.
“Lets start with a banquet.” he said.
Joseph helped set up a short table in the woods near the well, then found cushions for seats. I wrote the invitations, on paper that Joseph provided. Although I was calling it my banquet, it was really Joseph's banquet. He did far more for it then I did. But why shouldn't he? Isn't that what brothers are for? To help one another. I thought the banquet was gorgeous if I do say so myself. Low table, green cushions, leaf decorations, wooden plates, dishes full of fruits, tall candles, fish on leaf platters, gravy dressings. Yes, it was a simple but pretty arrangement.
Greetings to the King of the Northwood, and his daughter the beauteous Elaine,
I the frog of the well in the woods, do request your company at a banquet the following night, at the well, in thanksgiving for letting me share two most delightful dinners with you in your charming palace.
May the stars shine favorably upon you,
The invitation was quite glorious. Not even Elaine could say no to it. But apparently, according to Joseph, she did. But the king accepted, so she had to come anyway. So much to look forward too.
What I would really like to say is that the banquet was a success, that I am a man again and about to have a happily ever after. But I'm stuck on reality. The King, his daughter, three servants and four guards came to the banquet. Of course Joseph was there too. The King was a well mannered guest and thanked me properly. I saw to it that he got the best of everything. Elaine was rude. She didn't speak to me at all. Every time I looked at her, she would start talking to Joseph in the most gushing manner. Disgusting! Couldn't she see that she was making my brother uncomfortable? About half way through the dinner, Elaine stood up. I braced myself. I could tell she was going to do something mean, by the contemptuous look on her face.
“My dear father. And of course you frog, this dinner has been quite delightful.” she said said. Her father nodded. I scowled. They way she spoke, I could tell she meant exactly the opposite.
“Of course, dear.” her father said. Elaine tilted her nose even higher.
“I think that this is the best moment, certainly most quaint and charming.” she continued. I would have raised my eyebrows if I had any.
“Sit down, please.” Joseph muttered.
“This is as I see the perfect time to announce that I have decided to except Prince Joseph's hand in marriage.” Elaine burst out, then she shot me a triumphant look.
“Darling.” her father cried proudly, he then kissed her and shook Joseph's hand. My brother had a look of frozen horror on his face. I couldn't blame him. It has got to be a man's worst nightmare to have it announced to the whole world that you are going to get married, before you even realize it yourself.
“How sweet!” I barked. Well, that puts a damper on our plans! What is this girl trying to do? Make me jealous? How come she keeps flirting with my brother every time I look at her? Well, I wouldn't be surprised if Joseph is gone by morning.
Yesterday, Elaine's announcement caught me off guard, and I was too busy playing the host to think much about it. But after my guests left, the full enormity of everything hit me like a ton of bricks, and I felt more miserable then I had felt in a long time. Being a frog had been such fun, but now I hated my wretched state. It meant that I would be trapped as a frog forever. I could never marry the girl I loved. Not that Elaine deserved to marry someone nice. Joseph most certainly didn't deserve to be tied down to someone like her. All in all, it was a very miserable night.
I had been expecting to see Joseph passing through on his way to escape Elaine, and her ill-timed marriage plans. He finally passed through today.
“Jaden?” he screamed as he came storming towards the well. I hopped onto a rock.
“Well?” I asked.
“I hate her!” he yelled, “I really, really do!”
“Then don't marry her.” I suggested reasonably.
“But she already told the entire world that I was going too.” he wailed.
“Her father, three servants, four guards and myself are hardly the entire world.” I said.
“Ugh!” he moaned, “I want to marry someone I love.” Then he turned and ran deeper into the forest, in what I could only except to be the direction of home. I couldn't say I blamed him.
Joseph was hardly out of sight, before it came to my attention, that having a human around could be useful even if he was my brother. Together we could come up with some plan for Elaine to change me back into a man. I sighed. Joseph would probably insist that we find a more obliging princess. It would make more sense. Elaine would never stoop to kiss a slimey toad. UGH! Now I was calling myself a toad..
Last night, the perfect plan came to me. Elaine adored her golden ball. All I had to do was steal it, hide it, then return it, when the princess put out a reward. Unfortunately I was to small to fetch a golden ball. I would have to find Joseph. So today I set out to look for him.
I never did find Joseph, instead I found Jerome. My kid brother, his clothes were all torn and ragged. He was obviously running amuck in the forest to annoy his tutors and mother. He spotted me, and scooped me up in his very dirty hands. I couldn't believe the fool was already seven and ten years of age. He acted no more then four summers.
“Hello lil' froggy!” he drawled. Wow, someone got it right.
“Don't talk like a baby!” I ordered in my best older brother voice. Jerome screamed and hurled me up into the air. I managed to grab a branch and stop myself from falling to a very painful end.
“Jaden?” Jerome asked slowly, “Is that you? Justin said you were a frog, but I didn't believe him.”
“Justin is an idiot!” I growled.
“He is going to rescue the princess Eleanor!” Jerome said, “I just got back from her castle! Really Jaden, you should see the hedge around that place. I think it may improve Justin, just to cut through-”
“Stop babbling!” I growled.
“Sorry.” he muttered.
“Jerome, where is Joseph?” I demanded.
“He is visiting his love, who has twenty feet of hair!” Jerome said, “Imagine that.”
“Twenty feet of hair?” I repeated stupidly.
“Of course.” he said. I sighed. Well then Joseph couldn't help me very much. Jerome would have to do.
“I need you to steal something for me.” I told him. Jerome's eyes bulged and he looked like he was going to explode.
It took forever to explain to Jerome yesterday, but then in the end he agreed. Our parents still though he was with Justin visiting James and Eleanor's castles. So he didn't even have to let them know. Which was probably a good thing since they would never have agreed. I felt like a terrible brother when Jerome, looking way to happy with the situation broke into the palace and went to look for the princess's golden ball. He found it much quicker then I thought was entirely proper for a prince who was stealing something for the first time. I had him bring it down to the well, then place it strategically so that anyone coming down would accidentally kick it strait into the water, and no one could possibly blame me. I feel brilliant.
This morning Jerome and I were sharing breakfast. Cheese and bread for him. Something crunchy, which I shall refrain from naming, for me. When suddenly, someone comes storming down the path. Jerome, barely had time to run off and hide, before Elaine came into sight. Just as I had planned, her foot struck the ball and it went flying into the well with a loud splash. Elaine screamed and made a dive but missed it by inches.
“You shouldn't leave your toys around.” he told her, feeling a bit guilty.
“Stop croaking at me, you disgusting little beast, and save it, now!” she stormed. I shook my head. There was no way that I was going to fetch the ball for that kind of behavior.
“I think not!” I said and leaped after Jerome. Elaine screamed after me, but I ignored her.
The following morning Elaine was back. She was not quite so cocky as she had been the previous day.
“You're invited to dinner.” she said in a coaxing voice.
“No thanks!” I said. She scowled.
“There is a little bag of gold for you.” she said, her teeth gritted.
“No thanks!” I said again. Her face turned red.
“What do you want?” she stormed.
“A kiss!” I said.
“Not a chance!” she screamed, and turned and fled. I rolled my eyes and sighed. I really should find a more reasonable princess. But then a more reasonable princess would not be playing with toys, toys were for babies.
Elaine was back again today. She no longer looked angry, which was a start. I had decided to relent a bit, because she most certainly was not ready to kiss me, after all I was a frog.
“Please, will you fetch my ball for me?” she asked meekly. I was amazed. I really had not expected her to say please.
“It would be a pleasure, your highness.” I said, deciding not to push it. After all she was learning to be polite. Well, I fetched the ball, and this time she didn't run off. She waited for me to climb out of the well.
“Thank you.” she said humbly.
“You are most welcome.” I replied. She allowed me to walk with her back to the palace, but did not touch me.
I now live at the palace. The king seems to think I have a good affect on his daughter. I feel really guilty about steeling the ball. But I feel even worse, because Jerome is living out in the woods. I went to see him and tried to make him go home. But since none of my brothers ever obey me, he said no. Apparently he likes living in the woods like a common outlaw. Disgusting. But I can hardly say I blame him. Once he goes home, mother is liable to hook him up with a stiff proper princess who never smiles.
Oh misery! I thought Elaine was getting better. Well, I must have been wrong. Today she relapsed, and was worse then ever. She stepped on me twice. I have been limping since. OUCH! She kicked me once, and set a plate down on my head twice. I am beginning to be really annoyed. She refuses to speak to me, except in the frostiest of voices. She treats me worse then a peasant. I wonder if that was how I used to sound when I spoke to peasants? I know I could never do it again. It makes me feel miserable and unloved. I went to complain to Jerome, and he said we had to try to ball trick again. I said no, because the princess never visited the well anymore, the ball couldn't just appear there.
Oh no! Something terrible has happened! Remember what I said about my brothers never listening to me Well, guess who didn't listen to me yesterday? Jerome! He tried to steal the ball again and got caught by a servant. He is currently locked in a storage room. I am very much afraid that there is nothing I can do. If I tried to explain the whole thing, no one would believe me. There is also no way that they would think that Jerome is a prince. He certainly doesn't look like one any more. I must try to think up a plan to rescue him.
I finally found where the guards were holding Jerome, but it is to late to rescue him. The king has sent him to prison. I only saw my poor brother as the guards were dragging him out of the storage room. It is so frustrating to be stuck in the weak puny shape of a frog and unable to do a thing to help the wretched boy.
I was tossed out of the palace today. A servant came, picked me up by the hind legs and tossed me into the woods. Repulsive and rude behavior. I wonder if Jerome ratted on me? I probably should have confessed awhile ago. I really am a selfish beast. I can never go home. Mother would die if she saw that I was a frog, and even if she didn't she would get a severe heart attack. Hearing about Jerome will totally finish her. So I will stay at this well and pretend to be a real frog.
Yesterday I spent so long convincing myself that the only thing to do was mope for the rest of my life at the well, but now I see that it really is selfish. My family deserves to know where I am. As for Jerome, father could probably get him out, and mother of course could hush up the scandal. The only thing that worries me is that I don't want my mother telling Elaine or her father that I'm really a prince. Why am I even worried about these things? Now that I'm a frog, I could just hop away and live a life a freedom. I could, couldn't I?
I'm still moping at the well. I have to do something, or I shall go quite mad. But am beginning to understand Elaine. I considered her selfish, but that is only natural for a princess and only child, with no mother. But what is my excuse? I am just as selfish, but I got several brothers, a sister, loving parents- although I'm a frog now- I still had an ideal family, yet I am just as selfish as poor Elaine. I believe I owe her an apology. Instead of being an example of unselfishness, I tried to force her to be nice. Besides I owe it to Jerome. So I guess I will have to confess the whole thing to Elaine and her father, including the part about the fairy transforming me. Humiliating but necessary.
I finally worked up enough nerve to return to the palace today. But disaster! I arrived just in time to run into a crowd of visitors. Men in strange armor with loud voices. I left. There is no sense in speaking to them if they are to busy to listen. How disappointing.
The rotten soldiers seem to be following me. They are tramping all over the woods, shouting. I wish they would say something else.
“Oh Princess?” Wait a minute, are they calling for Elaine? Is she missing? What's going on? Why doesn't anyone ever tell frogs anything? It's most annoying.
Today I sneaked down to the palace to find out what had happened. I was horrified to discover that Elaine had been kidnapped! If I was a man I would ride to her rescue! But I am simply a miserable frog!
Last night in occurred to me that I could still try to rescue the princess even if I am a frog. I have just as much right to rescue her as anyone else. So I hopped on down to the palace and demanded to see the king. I asked him what was being done to rescue Elaine. Well, apparently she was kidnapped by a gang of outlaws and everyone is afraid of them. The miserable cowards! It should be the required duty of all knights to rescue damsels in distress. When I told the king that I would attempt what all his cowards were to afraid to do. He just stared at me.
“I am sure his majesty would grant you anything you wish, if you rescue her highness.” the steward said with a sneer. The king nodded. None of them had any faith in me, but I didn't care. I knew that I had a chance, after all I had been trained by the best tutors.
“If I bring your daughter home, I would like the young thief that tried to steal the golden ball, to be released into my care.” I said curtly.
“If you wish.” the king said, looking disinterested. I knew that I couldn't fail now.
I staid at the palace yesterday, looking over maps. Not that they could really help me, since everything was a frog's eye view. Today, I asked to be shown to the armoury. Every knight needs a weapon. I believe all the palace staff were laughing at me. But I needed to succeed for Jerome and Elaine's sakes. Anyway, I selected a tiny dagger, which made a large sword for me. I fixed up the belt so I could sling the dagger from my back. Putting it around my waist would have been just ridiculous.
I have left the familiar woods around the well, behind. I already miss it. I am headed for the North end of the forest. If I recall correctly, there are many caves and tunnels there. The ideal place to hide someone. The good news is, as a frog I can hop longer then any man. Plus I have a nice trail left from a large party of tramping me, that has just got to be the kidnappers. Being small, makes it easier to see the trail. Broken blades of grass, cracked twigs, scrapes in the dirt. Yep, easiest job I ever had to do.
I am almost caught up to my prey. I found their camp and the ashes in the fire pit, were still warm. Just a little bit longer.
I was caught today. I ran into a group of nasty thugs. I am pretty sure that they were the back party, who were in charge of discouraging followers. One of them grabbed me by the leg.
“Who wants froggy legs for desert?” he jeered.
“Lookie it out, that un gots a sword, 'e does!” one of his companions yelped. I drew my sword and slashed through my captor's thumb, he screamed and dropped me. I stabbed one of his companions in the boot then dived into the brush to hide. There was to many stamping feet. But the man whom I had wounded chased and trapped me, then locked me in his pouch. Foul smelling leather. He took my sword too. The brute will pay! No one eats me! But at least I'm not weaponless. There is a needle and a ball of string in the pouch with me.
My ugly captor took me out today and waved a knife in front of my face. I had never realized, just how sharp a knife could be.
“I'm eatin' 'im!” he shouted, “Ain't no one gonna stop me!”
“I will!” I shouted, and slid the needle through a nice patch of flesh. He screamed. Not sure if it was because I was talking or because I stabbed him with the needle. The neat thing was that I had threaded the needle and after pulling the needle through his skin, I ran it through his jacket. I sewed his hand to his jacket. Neat or what? I feel really clever. Particularly since he dropped me. This time I didn't stop hopping until I was deep in the forest.
Well, guess where I am. Lost! I could cry, except that isn't very manly. Wait, I'm a frog, so I guess it doesn't matter, I don't have to be manly. Strangely I don't feel like crying any more. But I have to keep hunting for that rotten trail.
I found the trail again. Looks like my luck has returned. I hopped far into the night and passed there camp. Now if I just get far enough ahead, I can set a trap. The only problem is that I might have made a mistake about where they are going. Also, how is a frog supposed to set a trap for six grown and especially strong men? Oh well, I will think of something. I am clever after all. Well, clever for a frog anyway.
It was nightfall when I hopped into an open window of a hunting shack, found some rope and brought it to the trail. I know there won't always be a shack handy to get tools from, but I shall take advantage of it, when there is.
I climbed up into a tree, by doing a lot of hopping, bouncing and detouring. I would do anything for a nice pair of hands. Have you ever tried to climb a tree, while carrying a rope and tie a knot, with webbed feet? It's not even half as easy as it sounds, believe me! I hopped up onto a bush, while carrying one of the rope in my mouth. From the bush, I hopped to a low hanging branch. I heard that some kind of frogs live in trees, but I know that is just a bunch of oily rust! Frogs don't climb! I ought to know! I am a frog! I got up to the top of the tree, and tied that miserable rope in a sailors knot, nearly breaking my neck in the process. Once the rope was tied, I slid down the rope to the ground. Then I pulled it back. Have you ever tried pulling down the branch of a tree, while being no bigger then an average kitten? Sure, I was a big frog, but I was only a big frog, not a giant! Once the snare was set, I collapsed. I was completely ready to die! And for what? A spoiled rotten princess, who deserved a spanking!
I awoke to a loud yelled and snapping noise, followed by a massive crunch, as if something big and smashed into something else and broken. I blinked, the first streaks of dawn were just appearing on the horizon. But I hadn't come to admire the sunrise. A massive man was swinging from one end of my snare, two other massive men were dancing around him, trying to catch him, I suppose. Three other men had Elaine, bound and gagged between them. I drew my knife. It was time to fight. I launched into the air, caught the swinging man by one of his flailing arms and stabbed at his neck as I swung passed it. There was a gurgling noise. Red dribbled from his wound. Then I realized that he had already died. Probably broken his neck when he struck the tree. What a disappointment! By the time I leaped to the next man, Elaine's three captors were disappearing into the trees and I was left with the two big ones.
“Oh come on!” I grumbled. After all my hard work, all I got was a dead body and two ruffians to fight.
“Why, ish a froggy.” one of them slurred.
“Yeah in ish talking!” the other hooted. He reached down and picked me up by one leg. My day just wasn't getting any better. I was a good deal to close to his breath, which smelled like a barrel of very old very stale bear. Besides, being held by one leg is a painful process. The one thing useful for being in that humiliating situation was that I was literally in his face. I stabbed, then went flying through the air as he bellowed and screamed.
Whoever the kidnapper was, he should have been ashamed of himself. Who would be stupid enough to hire three henchmen that were weak enough to be killed by a frog? I seriously did leave them gasping out their last breaths in the clearing. I didn't waste much time on sorrow either. There was a law about drinking in the kingdom! Someone had to punish the drunks!
Guess where I am today? Right! In the forest chasing the kidnappers again! If Elaine doesn't kiss me when this is over with, I will do something drastic! I feel as if I earned my human shape back, twice over! Will this hunt never end?
I am past the kidnappers again. Sure enough there was no shack waiting for me at my set ambush place, so I decided to play with fire. I collected several sharp twigs. Then I stabbed them into the ground, in a nice little row. Actually it was a long row. I cleared aside the grass and weeds in thirty foot row. Then I pounded the sharp twigs in the ground. I also feel like I should mention that I do have a plan here, I'm just not sharing it! Once all the twigs were set up, a put try leaves and bits of grass around them, until you couldn't see the twigs at all. Then I went to one end of the pile, and used two rocks to get a tiny spark of a fire going. It was a small fire for me, but it would have been literally invisible to any human. I carefully tended it, making sure it grew no bigger or smaller. I had a great plan!
Today the kidnappers caught up to me. I lit the leaves on fire. Immediately I had a nice row of roaring flames. Unfortunately only one stepped on it, the other swines managed to turn about, with the princess. My victim screamed and cursed, while hopping up and down on one foot. I threw three flaming darts at him. While I was chasing him, the other two escaped with the princess. What rotten luck. But at least I could hunt down my victim and administer swift and well deserved punishments!
There are still two kidnappers to go, and I am exhausted. What I need is a horse. Well, anything that can carry me. Is Elaine really worth this? Of course not! What had she ever done for me? If I don't think she is worth this pain, why am I still following her? Ugh! Why can't I answer my own questions?
Ta Da! I am now the proud owner of a beautiful reddish stead! The terrible and dangerous squirrel! It's nice to relax on something soft while charging through the forest. This time I'm not going to set a trap. They will be expecting it. This time I am riding into battle, mounted on my glorious steed. Please don't ask how I caught and tamed this majestic stead. It's embarrassing and frankly I don't want to share it! But I hope you are curious now! If frogs could look evil, that's what I would look like at the moment.
The sun was already high in the sky when I charged up into the kidnappers camp. The rotten no good sons of peasants had tied Elaine to a tree, and weren't sharing food with her. She still looked haughty. A pity, I had this ridiculous hope that she would have changed some. Oh well. I forced my stead to leap at the nearest lout's face. He screamed something about rabid squirrels. If I wasn't so busy stabbing at him with my dagger, I would have covered the squirrel's ears. He was to young to be hearing that kind of language. Anyway, what with a squirrel clawing at his face, and my valiant sword stabbing at his throat, he fell to the ground.
“It's another possessed frog!” his companion screamed.
“It's gotta be the same one!” he fallen companion screeched while trying to shove me away. I hopped off the squirrel. He was doing fine, ripping chunks out of the man's face. Then I leaped at the other man. By the time I reached the spot he had been standing, he was long gone. Racing through the forest for dear life. I raised my sword high in the air and hopped after him.
I caught up to the man this morning and we battled. He tried to smash me with a log, but I leaped over it and caught hold of his boot. He slashed at me with his sword, and cut his own leg. He screamed, and limped away. I followed, stabbing and shouting at him to surrender. He wouldn't! By and by, a horseman came by, and hulled the unfortunate man up beside him and the two of them bolted off. The new man shouting at the other one, for being an idiot and fighting a stupid frog.
“I shall hunt you down, and justice shall be served!” I shouted grandly after them, then added in a whisper, “Just as soon as I'm a man again.”
By the time I arrived back in the camp, the other man was long gone. The squirrel was sitting on its hunches, licking itself like a cat. I grinned in a froggish sort of way, then patted him.
“You are free to go.” I said gallantly. He ignored me. So I hopped over to Elaine. A pity that she had been tied up to the tree for a few days with nothing to eat. Maybe that would make her more mellow. But for some reason she didn't look pleased to see me. Oh well, it's not every day that your typical handsome prince is just a slimy little frog. Besides I had left her alone, with nothing to eat. Can't say I blame her much. Although a simple thank you would have done wonders.
“So you came back?” she croaked. I cut her ropes and let her gorge herself out of the kidnappers supply wagons.
“Tomorrow we return you home!” I said, but she was to busy eating to listen.
Perhaps I was wrong about Elaine. Today, when we were setting out, she bent down and picked me up. Sure, she had a cloth covering her hand, but she still did it.
“I never thanked you for rescuing me.” she said humbly, “If you still want to, you are welcome to come back to the palace.” I didn't tell her that her father and I had already discussed the reward.
“That would be nice!” I said dryly.
“If you want-” she hesitated and her face turned bright red, “I will give you that kiss you asked for once before.” I was delighted. One kiss and would be free. But suddenly it was my turn to hesitate. I couldn't let her kiss me. That was basically the same thing as forcing her to marry me. If I turned back into a man, it was proper protocol that she marry me. What if she really did want to marry Joseph.
“Thank you your highness.” I said miserably, “But if you do that you will regret it, so please don't!” So she didn't.
We arrived back at the palace. The king was overjoyed and promptly had me knighted. I, being a prince had already been knighted, but it was the thought that counted. Besides, I couldn't really tell him that I was a knight. He probably wouldn't believe me anyway. I am feeling rather bitter. Perhaps I should have asked for that kiss after all.
Jerome was released today. Since my every wish was granted these days. I insisted he be given clothes fit for a prince and a bath. Phew! He smelled terrible after rotting in the dungeon for so long. I think some of the servants are beginning to event wild stories about Jerome, because I wouldn't satisfy anyone's curiosity by telling them why I was patronizing him. Elaine has been really nice to me. A little too nice. I'm beginning to be uncomfortable.
Ugh! I know, Elaine thought she was being nice, and generous. She is really trying to be kind, but I really didn't want sleep in her room. She literally had a silken pillow set up for me in the corner of her room. I'm not sure what is a nice way to say it, but NO WAY! I got out of it by saying I preferred the balcony. I get plenty of fresh air that way. I hope Elaine won't be to embarrassed when I return to my true form. That is if I do.
I was playing fetch with Elaine and her golden ball, in the garden, when it occurred to me that I am nothing but a house pet! I was so shocked by this that, I rushed off without an explanation. Tonight I plan on staying at the well. This whole experience is just getting to awkward. Besides, I just realized something. I love Elaine! Staying at the palace isn't fair to either of us. I can use the pet experience as an excuse to leave.
I awoke this morning, cramped and uncomfortable for sleeping outside after spending so many nights on a silken pillow. By the edge of the well, was a golden plate and cup. Both were filled with my favorite delicacies. Not flies! I ate the food and drank the wine. But didn't go back to the palace.
Jerome and Elaine came down to the well today. I was surprised that the king would let his daughter hang around in the company of a notorious criminal like Jerome. Elaine looked sad and sat down on a rock. Jerome headed straight for my camp. I wished I could throttle him, but of course my webbed hands were to small. He crouched down next to me.
“I'm off home!” he whispered.
“About time!” I retorted. He gestured at the princess.
“I told her, that I would bring her to you. She wants to talk to you.” he said. I scowled.
“Why did you do that?” I demanded, “I was comfortable-” Jerome stood up, so I shut up. He obviously wasn't listening.
“You can come on over.” he said, then strode off into the trees.
Elaine picked up her skirts and scurried over to me. I crossed my arms, which probably looked ridiculous, considering that I was a frog.
“You are mad at me, aren't you?” she said softly.
“Why did you come down here with him?” I asked jerking my head in Jerome's direction.
“I don't think he is dangerous!” she said crossly, “If anything he is a sweet little boy.” I rolled my eyes. Jerome would have thrown a royal tantrum if he heard that.
“He ought to be, he has six older brothers!” I said before I could stop myself. She stared at me strangely. I started coughing.
“You left because I was treating you like a lap dog!” she accused, luckily dropping the subject of Jerome and his family.
“Er- more or less.” I said vaguely.
“Please come back!” she pleaded, “You are so much more then a lapdog! You are a friend!” I hesitated. That wasn't exactly what I wanted to be. I shook my head. I couldn't go back.
“Tomorrow!” I blurted out. Mentally, I kicked myself. Why had I told her that. But she looked pleased.
“I will come back tomorrow to fetch you!” she said, then turned and ran back in the direction of the palace. I cursed myself for a twice cursed idiot, and wondered if I should be long gone by morning.
Curse me for a weak idiot! Yes, I was still at the well in the morning. I tried to tell myself to stop waiting and leave. When I finally galled myself into starting, I was going so slow, that a grandmother snail with her house, all her grandchildren and their houses, on her back could have overtaken me. Yes, I'm a fool! Living at the palace is a really bad idea!
Suddenly, I heard this shuffling noise in the leaves. Whoops! To late! Might as well not go not! Was what I was thinking. That is until I turned around. You would never believe who it was! Guessed wrong! It was not Elaine! But rather a tiny little girl! Sheesh! Where did that come from?
“Foggy?” she calls and shuffles towards me. A strange terrified sensation entered my heart. Little children and animals do not mix! Anyone can tell you that! If that child got her paws on me- squish- I would literally be as good as dead. With one great hop I leaped over the well. Two more hops and I was leaving her in the dust.
Splash! The sound literally stopped my heart! The surprised screams that followed, literally stopped everything else. I felt so stiff and frozen as I awkwardly shuffled around. The child was in the well, of course, where else would she be when there was no one but yours truly to rescue her. She was splashing about and drowning! What really bad mother let her midget down here in the first place? Well, I couldn't let her drown, but I was to small to pull her out. What was I supposed to do? Well, I thought of everything in one split second. Actually, I made it up as I went along.
I hopped into a tree, grabbed hold of one end of a vine and dived into the well. I found the drowning child and wrapped one end around her. It was work, believe me. She kicked, struggled and generally swallowed more water then I would have though possible. But in spite of these discomforts, I secured her. She was now stuck. Her nose was just above the water line. Not the best of positions, but a lot better then drowning. The next thing to do was go to the palace and find help.
“Princess?” a high pitched voice of an old woman screeched. I jumped. I had been so busy with my work that I had not heard these nurse come down the path.
“Ma-am?” I began. She hardly noticed me.
“Princess Vianna?” she screamed and rushed to the well. So this was the nurse that let the child wander off. If it was my daughter, I would have had the woman fired instantly in disgrace. But at least she was there to rescue the child. Of course I got no thanks at all as the nurse untangled the child and rushed her, dripping in the direction of the palace. Then it occurred to me, that if Vianna was a princess, then she was probably Elaine's sister. I felt a little put out. How come no one told me she had a sister?
I was settling down for the night, when Elaine came. I felt awkward. I had totally forgot about telling her that I would go back to the palace today. What with the excitement of almost witnessing a drowning and taking a hand in the rescue, I had completely forgotten. Well, anyway, Elaine got right down on her knees in the mud.
“That would be your dress, you're ruining!” I pointed out. She ignored me, which I found weird. Instead she picked me up in her bare hands and kissed me! Weird! I can't say I've ever experienced a kiss in human form, but it was not anything like I expected it to be.
Suddenly, a tremor ran through me and I leaped into the air. Elaine made a grab and we both went tumbling into the pond! To my complete dismay I realized that I couldn't breathe underwater. What a fine time to change back into a man. I splashed to the surface, and shook my reddish blond hair out of my eyes. About this time Elaine started screaming. I dragged myself out of the well. How could I have ever found that water comfortable? It was cold, dark and deep. I shivered and wished I had a cloak. My clothes were thin dinner garments, now sopping wet. They had not been made to get wet or wear after the sun went down. I pulled Elaine out of the water. She had stopped screaming and was staring at me with an incredulous look on her face.
“My name is Jaden!” I said, and started sneezing.
“Did I just kiss you?” she asked, her eyes narrowing, “Or was it a frog? Are you a frog? Or were you a frog? I am so confused!”
Well, the king is happy. His daughter is getting married. Apparently he had trouble finding her a suitable groom. Plus I guess he thought it was a bonus, that I turned out to be a prince. Yes, I am marrying Elaine. I suppose she is happy that I am willing to marry her after having seen her at her worst. We were eating breakfast this morning in the sun room. I was feeling uncomfortable not being able to flick my tongue in and out at juicy pieces when there was a flash and the fairy appeared. Elaine stood up and curtsied politely.
“How are you my dear?” the fairy asked her.
“Fine thank you, and you?” Elaine said politely.
“Beautiful!” the fairy cooed, “I just knew that if the two of you met you could cure each other!” she said.
“Huh?” both Elaine and I chorused.
“I just explained to Justin that he wasn't really cursed a few days ago, and a couple weeks before that I explained the same thing to James.” the fairy said, as she turned towards me. My eyes narrowed. “Now I'm explaining to you, that you would have eventually changed back with or without a kiss!”
“You're invited to our wedding!” I said icily, as I took Elaine's hand. “Since you did help set in motion the events that led to our meeting, you of course will always be welcome!” I didn't really mean that, it was just a polite thing to say. The fairy nodded.
“Well then my dears, I'm off to help Joseph learn to think about others.” She vanished.
“He's your brother isn't he?” Elaine said as she glanced at me. I nodded. The king laid down his fork.
“That little thief was your brother as well, wasn't he?” he accused me, “You were using my daughter to help you get what you wanted! You are so wretched!” I shrugged. I saw no sense in trying to explain everything to him.
“To bad, I'm still marrying her!” I said. Elaine smiled at me.
To Be Continued
The Diary of Rapunzel's Prince