Once upon a time there lived a frog named Albert. Albert was quite content as a frog. He had his lily pad, his friends and a wonderful voice. Everybody knows that frogs are great singers, but Albert’s voice was something special. Whenever he sang the whole pond would stop and listen to him sing. Albert sang about the moon shining on the pond at night, about sleeping warm in the mud through the winter and about bathing in the warm light of the sun. It was in fact, Albert`s voice that got him into trouble.
In a castle up on a hill, overlooking Albert’s pond, lived a King and his family. The royal family lived content, with the exception of the youngest daughter whose name was Sue. Where princesses were supposed to be graceful and composed, Sue was somewhat ungainly and terribly shy. Somehow she never acted quite like a princess should. Her brothers and sisters taunted her unmercifully. Even the servants in the castle teased her
One spring evening when the air was especially still she stood on the balcony of her room listening to the sounds of the spring night. Since her room overlooked the pond, she of course heard Albert singing.
“Even a frog has something special that makes him sing so beautifully.” She sighed and leaned her head against the cool glass. “I wish I knew what that frog is singing about so wonderfully. She shook her head. “What nonsense I am thinking tonight to envy a frog his voice.” She turned to go into her room. Just as she was closing the doors behind her she heard a beautiful bass voice singing of the joy of spring under the first star of the night. Transfixed the princess stood and listened to the velvety voice.
“O dear me, you will catch your death of cold.”
Sue jumped and turned to her nurse.
“You startled me.” She closed the doors and came into the room. she stretched and gave a tremendous yawn. “I’m so tired.”
“Such a yawn for a princess.” Her nurse clucked and helped her change for sleep. “It isn’t at all becoming.”
Sue blushed and climbed into her bed. When the light was out and she was alone, Sue lay awake and stared at the ceiling.
“Why do I need a nurse anyway? I’ve grown far beyond the age I need a nurse.” Still grumbling she drifted off to sleep.
The next morning did not begin well. First, Sue was late for breakfast. her mother glared as Sue hurriedly slid into her seat and sent the juice glasses to slopping over onto the white tablecloth.
“Oh, I am sorry, I slept late.” Sue mopped at the juice with her napkin..
“My dear, you are a princess,” the Queen said, “you must be punctual. If you cannot be on time, don’t make excuses, and certainly don’t rush about out of breath.”
After breakfast the princesses gathered to work on their needle point. Sue stabbed herself, and bled so badly that she ruined three months of painstaking work. Her finger bandaged, she was sent outside to amuse herself until lunch, with the order to stay out of the mud, and her sisters’ demure titters ringing in her ears.
What use is it to be a princess if I can’t be a happy princess? Gradually the warm sun began to cheer her up. Then she heard the wonderful voice from the night singing. Following the voice until she reached the pond Sue saw a large green frog sitting on a stump. She squealed and jumped back. The frog jumped into the pond. The ball which the princess dropped, rolled into the pond.
“How am I going to get my ball back without getting covered with mud?” the princess wailed. “0h, why can’t I do anything right?”
Albert looked carefully out from under the water. The girl sat on the grass crying bitterly. He had often seen the princesses playing near his pond and felt sorry for the youngest princess. He liked her best because she was the only one who ever seemed to appreciate his pond. On an impulse he dived down into the water and with a great effort pushed the ball to the surface and rolled it to the princess. Sue looked at him in astonishment.
“Thank you, 0h, thank you.” She grabbed the ball and laughed. “They will never believe this in the castle.” Albert was so pleased with himself that he swelled up with song. Sue’s eyes bulged and she almost dropped her ball again.
“It was you singing last night” She gasped in astonishment. “You must be a prince under enchantment. no frog could sing so beautifully.” The princess looked around. “I will take you home and break your enchantment. Then we can be friends.” She quickly caught Albert and ran home to hide him in her room.
Albert was devastated. This place was cold and hard, and worst of all it was dry. There not a decent bit of water or mud to be found. He missed the sun and the well known murk of his pond. As the day turned into evening his loneliness became so great that he began to sing. It was a terribly mournful song, and as Sue came into her room and heard it, it caught at her heart.
“It must be terrible to be a prince, and have to live as a frog.” She picked Albert up and hugged him. Albert was so sad that he kept singing his unhappy song. “Frog.” Sue said between her sobs, “You are so unhappy. I wish I could make you a prince.” And she kissed him.
“Who is that man?” the King thundered from the doorway. Sue didn’t answer, for she was staring at Albert in amazement. Albert had turned from a frog into a man.
“Why are you in my daughter’s bedroom?” The King roared at Albert, but Albert didn’t answer either he was looking at himself in amazement.
“Why frog, you are a prince.” Sue squeaked.
“Hardly a prince if he appears like that in a princess’s bedroom.” the King bellowed, since, being a frog, Albert had no clothes.
The King and Queen were up all night discussing what they were going to do. They finally decided that the only way to avoid a scandal was for Albert and Sue to get married, immediately. So they planned the wedding for the next week.
Albert found the change to palace life very difficult. He wasn’t sure how to eat with knife and fork. Clothes were strange and uncomfortable. But most of all he missed being a frog and singing in his beloved pond all day. The only thing that made it at all bearable was the princess. She taught him how to eat with utensils and helped him choose the most comfortable clothes. She even stood up for him when he chose his entire wardrobe in green. But each evening Albert would slip out of the castle and go down to the pond. There he would sit in the light of the moon and sing. They were sad songs, and Sue listening on her balcony would determine to try even harder to make her prince happy.
One day while Albert and Sue sat in the sunny courtyard escaping from the wedding plans for a brief time Sue’s nurse came out to bustle Sue back into the castle.
“I’m about to be married. I don’t need a nurse.” Sue yelled in rebellion. “Go away, and don’t bother me anymore.” The old woman looked at Sue then slowly and silently left.
“Why did you yell at her so?” Albert asked. “Surely she is only trying to help.”
“She’s been my nurse longer than I can remember. But I don’t need a nurse anymore, and I don’t like being fussed over.”
“If you don’t need a nurse, maybe she needs you.” Sue looked at him quizzically.
“Why should she need me. I’d think that she would be glad to do something else for a change.”
“What?” Albert asked reasonably. “She has always been Nurse.”
“I don’t know. That’s her problem anyway.” Sue grumped.
“You are her princess. I think that makes it your problem.” Albert pointed out. “You should give her something else to do if you want her to stop bothering you.”
Sue looked at him for a moment.
“I hadn’t thought of that.” She jumped up. “I’m going to go and talk to her.”
“What are you going to ask her to do.” Asked the frog prince.
“To be the nurse for our children!” Sue laughed, and ran off to find Nurse. Albert sighed and wandered down to the pond. He thought wistfully of his old uncomplicated life as a frog.
Yet as the days before the wedding shortened, Albert’s common sense made itself felt. Even the King found himself discussing difficult problems with his guest. The Queen went so far as to admit one night while she and the King worked over the proclamation for the wedding that Albert might make quite a suitable match.
“By the way dear, have you found out exactly who Albert is?” She asked. “We really can’ t have a proclamation reading ‘Today the Princess Susan Aurelia Constance Esther marries Albert.’ We need to know a little more about his background.”
“Quite right, You should ask Sue in the morning.”
The next morning, the day before the wedding, Sue walked down the stairs to breakfast.
“Good morning.” She smiled, and glided into her place.
“Good morning Sue.” The Queen nodded. “Your father found a minor detail that needs to be cleared up. We need to know Albert’s full name and a little more about him for the proclamation.”
“I have been so busy that I never thought to ask him.” Sue said. ” I will ask him today.”
Out in the courtyard, which had become their favourite place, Sue found Albert. He was staring moodily through the gate down toward his old pond .
“Albert, my mother asked me what your other names are.”
“Other names? I only have one name.”
“But Princes always have lots of names. Like me, I have four.”
“I like Sue best,” Albert said with a smile.
“But you are a Prince, you must have other names.”
“No.” Albert sighed “I have no other names. I am not a Prince.” Susan stared at him, then laughed.
“You must be a Prince. Why would anyone enchant somebody who wasn’t a Prince?”
“You did, Sue.” Albert said looking at her with an expression she couldn’t quite fathom.
“Oh Albert.” Sue blushed.
“But you did Sue. You turned me into a Prince.”
“And if I turned you into a Prince, what were you before?” She demanded.
“A frog. I’m a frog Sue. I was never a prince until I met you.”
“You are not an enchanted Prince?” Sue’s face turned red. “You let me think you were a Prince all this time, and all the time you were just a frog? What am I going to tell my father? That I’m marrying a frog?” Sue stood now, screeching at him.
Albert flinched with each question.
“You creature. You abominable creature. I hate you.” The princess turned and fled from the courtyard.
Albert sat for along while, then slowly he stood and walked down to the pond, a sad, shrinking figure in green.
The Princess locked herself in her bedroom. She refused to talk to anyone. Other than to tell her father through the door that the wedding was off; that everything had been a terrible mistake. She closed the window then wept on her bed for three days.
Finally, she got up and washed her face. Squaring her shoulders, she unlocked the door and went down to breakfast. Her family greeted her with a wary silence. The Queen gave her an approving nod.
Things returned almost to normal. As the weeks passed, Sue floated quietly through life, her face cold and pale. She rapidly lost weight. One morning she no longer had the strength to get up.
The King and Queen worried about her. They begged their daughter to tell them what was making her so unhappy. But Sue simply stared out the window and said nothing. The old nurse came to the princess’s room to be by her side. She bustled about cleaning and tidying, opening the window to let the fresh summer air in. The day passed and as the evening came Sue heard a voice singing outside her window. It sang of the summer night, and the sorrow of a love lost. It sang of the moon shining on the pond and of a beautiful princess named Sue. It sang of enchantment and a broken heart.
“Albert,” the princess whispered. She stood and staggered to the window. “Albert.” His deep, sad voice soared through the night, telling of the joy and sorrow of his love.
Sue sat on the balcony and listened to the song through the night. In the grey of the early morning she slipped out of the castle. Walking slowly but with iron determination she made her way down to the pond.
“Albert.” She called into the silver mists. “Albert, I’m sorry. I love you.” The effort of walking overcame the weakened princess and she fainted beside the pond. There Albert, once again a frog, found her.
My poor Sue.” Albert said as he kissed her. “I wish I could make you happy.”
The rising sun shone gold on two happy frogs as, hand in hand, they hopped into the pond.