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The Frog King
by the Grimm Bothers
In olden times when
wishing still helped
one, there lived a king whose daughters were all beautiful, but
the youngest was so beautiful that the sun itself, which has seen
so much, was astonished whenever it shone in her face.
Close by the king's castle lay a great dark forest, and under an
old lime-tree in the forest was a well, and when the day was very
warm, the king's child went out into the forest and sat down by
the side of the cool fountain, and when she was bored she took a
golden ball, and threw it up on high and caught it, and this ball
was her favorite plaything.
Now it so happened that on one occasion the princess's golden ball
did not fall into the little hand which she was holding up for it,
but on to the ground beyond, and rolled straight into the water.
The king's daughter followed it with her eyes, but it vanished,
and the well was deep, so deep that the bottom could not be seen.
At this she began to cry, and cried louder and louder, and could
not be comforted.
And as she thus lamented someone said to her, "What ails you,
king's daughter? You weep so that even a stone would show pity."
She looked round to the side from whence the voice came, and saw a
frog stretching forth its big, ugly head from the water.
"Ah, oldwater-splasher, is it you," she said, "I am weeping for my
golden ball, which has fallen into the well."
"Be quiet, and do not weep," answered the frog, "I can help you,
but what will you give me if I bring your plaything up again?"
"Whatever you will have, dear frog," said she, "My clothes, my
pearls and jewels, and even the golden crown which I am wearing."
The frog answered, "I do not care for your clothes, your pearls
and jewels, nor for your golden crown, but if you will love me and
let me be your companion and play-fellow, and sit by you at your
little table, and eat off your little golden plate, and drink out
of your little cup, and sleep in your little bed - if you will
promise me this I will go down below, and bring you your golden
ball up again."
"Oh yes," said she, "I promise you all you wish, if you will but
bring me my ball back again." But she thought, "How the silly frog
does talk. All he does is to sit in the water with the other
frogs, and croak. He can be no companion to any human being."
But the frog when he had received this promise, put his head into
the water and sank down; and in a short while came swimming up
again with the ball in his mouth, and threw it on the grass.
The king's daughter was delighted to see her pretty plaything once
more, and picked it up, and ran away with it. "Wait, wait," said
the frog. "Take me with you. I can't run as you can." But what did
it avail him to scream his croak, croak, after her, as loudly as
he could. She did not listen to it, but ran home and soon forgot
the poor frog, who was forced to go back into his well again.
The next day when she had seated herself at table with the king
and all the courtiers, and was eating from her little golden
plate, something came creeping splish splash, splish splash, up
the marble staircase, and when it had got to the top, it knocked
at the door and cried, "Princess, youngest princess, open the door
She ran to see who was outside, but when she opened the door,
there sat the frog in front of it. Then she slammed the door to,
in great haste, sat down to dinner again, and was quite
The king saw plainly that her heart was beating violently, and
said, "My child, what are you so afraid of? Is there perchance a
giant outside who wants to carry you away?"
"Ah, no," replied she. "It is no giant but a disgusting frog.
Yesterday as I was in the forest sitting by the well, playing, my
golden ball fell into the water. And because I cried so, the frog
brought it out again for me, and because he so insisted, I
promised him he should be my companion, but I never thought he
would be able to come out of his water. And now he is outside
there, and wants to come in to me."
In the meantime it knocked a second time, and cried, "Princess,
youngest princess, open the door for me, do you not know what you
said to me yesterday by the cool waters of the well. Princess,
youngest princess, open the door for me."
Then said the king, "That which you have promised must you
perform. Go and let him in."
She went and opened the door, and the frog hopped in and followed
her, step by step, to her chair. There he sat and cried, "Lift me
up beside you."
She delayed, until at last the king commanded her to do it. Once
the frog was on the chair he wanted to be on the table, and when
he was on the table he said, "Now, push your little golden plate
nearer to me that we may eat together."
She did this, but it was easy to see that she did not do it
willingly. The frog enjoyed what he ate, but almost every mouthful
she took choked her.
At length he said, "I have eaten and am satisfied, now I am tired,
carry me into your little room and make your little silken bed
ready, and we will both lie down and go to sleep."
The king's daughter began to cry, for she was afraid of the cold
frog which she did not like to touch, and which was now to sleep
in her pretty, clean little bed.
But the king grew angry and said, "He who helped you when you were
in trouble ought not afterwards to be despised by you."
So she took hold of the frog with two fingers, carried him
upstairs, and put him in a corner, but when she was in bed he
crept to her and said, "I am tired, I want to sleep as well as
you, lift me up or I will tell your father."
At this she was terribly angry, and took him up and threw him with
all her might against the wall. "Now, will you be quiet, odious
frog," said she.
But when he fell down he was no frog but a king's son with kind
and beautiful eyes. He by her father's will was now her dear
companion and husband. Then he told her how he had been bewitched
by a wicked witch, and how no one could have delivered him from
the well but herself, and that to-morrow they would go together
into his kingdom.
Then they went to sleep, and next morning when the sun awoke them,
a carriage came driving up with eight white horses, which had
white ostrich feathers on their heads, and were harnessed with
golden chains, and behind stood the young king's servant Faithful
Faithful Henry had been so unhappy when his master was changed
into a frog, that he had caused three iron bands to be laid round
his heart, lest it should burst with grief and sadness. The
carriage was to conduct the young king into his kingdom. Faithful
Henry helped them both in, and placed himself behind again, and
was full of joy because of this deliverance.
And when they had driven a part of the way the king's son heard a
cracking behind him as if something had broken. So he turned round
and cried, "Henry, the carriage is breaking." "No, master, it is
not the carriage. It is a band from my heart, which was put there
in my great pain when you were a frog and imprisoned in the well."
Again and once again
while they were on their
way something cracked, and each time the king's son thought the
carriage was breaking, but it was only the bands which were
springing from the heart of Faithful Henry because his master was
set free and was happy.