Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Prince Rupert III

Once upon a time, there was a prince named Prince Rupert the Third. His father was Prince Rupert the Second, and his grandfather was Prince Rupert the First. It was a family thing. In those days, it was the custom for evil witches to cast spells on princes and turn them into frogs. Then some princess would come along, kiss the frog, and turn him back into a prince. That’s just how things were done.

One day, Prince Rupert the Third was out for a stroll, since it was a nice day and all. He knew it was risky, that he might run into an evil witch, but he wanted to have a life and not spend all his time hiding in the castle. So he was outside on sunny day, when whom should he meet but Dorice.

Dorice, of course, was a witch. Now, if you actually spent some time with Dorice, you’d know she wasn’t very evil at all. She always returned her library books on time, helped collect food for the local food pantry, and ran errands for a neighbor who was homebound. But still, she was a witch. Witch culture at that time said that if you meet a prince, you turn him into a frog, period. And so she did.

This should have been a terrible thing for Prince Rupert the Third, who was now just plain old Rupert in his new frog community. All his life he was told about how terrible it would be to be turned into a frog, and now it had happened. But you know what? Rupert didn’t think being a frog was all that awful.

Rupert did miss some things, like butter pecan ice cream and coloring books, but on the whole, being a frog was kind of cool. For one thing, frogs got to go swimming whenever they wanted to. They didn’t have to wait an hour after eating, or worry about finding a bathing suit that fit. If they wanted a dip in the pond, then SPLASH there they were! And once you got used to them, flies and bugs didn’t taste so bad.

As a frog, Rupert noticed a lot of things that he never saw as a prince. He noticed how pretty a sunset is when it’s seen through the cattails in the pond. Rupert saw how his pond was really like a city, with so many different kinds of life in it. He noticed how different each lily pad is from the other lily pads, and each blade of grass from the other blades of grass, and each frog from the other frogs. As a prince, he only noticed how things were the same; now he was excited to discover how they were different.

Frogs don’t wear tiny watches or hang little calendars on the reeds in their ponds, because they don’t need them. Frogs don’t make a lot of appointments. Still, time does pass, and Rupert was a frog for quite a while in froggy time. He had frog buddies who showed him what to eat and when to hide. He sang at night, just because it was so great to be a frog.

Then one day, they heard a noise – a big noise. Rupert and his friends stopped singing and looked up. There she was, the most beautiful princess any of the frogs had ever seen. She had beautiful dark, curly hair and beautiful dark eyes. Rupert smiled a big froggy smile, but then he frowned. He knew what would happen next. The princess (he would later learn her name was Rabecca the Fourth) would lean down and kiss him, since that was usually the princess’s only job in these stories, and the kiss would turn him back into a prince, and they’d live happily ever after.

There was only one problem: Rupert didn’t want to go back to being a prince. He liked the pond and his friends. He liked looking up at all the stars at night, and seeing the sunset through the cattails, and hopping from lily pad to lily pad and over logs and stuff.

Rabecca, of course, spotted Rupert right away among all the other frogs. Even as a frog, he was very handsome. She reached down and gently lifted him up. But before you could say “ribbit’ three times fast, Rupert hopped out of Rabecca’s hand and kissed her on the cheek—a nice big froggy kiss. Right then and there, Rabecca turned into a frog.

Rupert showed Rabecca all the wonders he’d discovered in the pond, and she made many frog friends herself. After they spent time getting to know each other better, they decided they liked being each other’s best friend, and they lived happily ever after.

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