Once upon a time, there lived a king. He had two daughters, the elder was beautiful, sensible, and happily married to a neighboring prince. The younger was a little conceited, and proud of her looks, for she was ten times more lovely than her beautiful sister, but the core of her heart was good. Her favorite pastime was to sit at the edge of a pond in the garden, and stare at her reflection while tossing and catching a small golden ball encrusted with gems.
One day, while she threw her ball up and caught it, she caught sight of a frog watching her from a lily pad in the middle of the pond. Frogs were frequent around the water, but this one was different, and a little shiver ran up the princess’s spine when she looked into its big eyes.
So startled was she by the frog, that she forgot to catch the ball, and it fell with a plop into the dark water. Dismayed, the princess knelt to look down into the water, but she could not see her golden ball. A tear broke the surface of the water, and ripples spread as the princess began to cry. That ball meant a great deal to her, as it was one of the only things she had that was given to her by her mother who had died not long after she was born. She reached her hand down to feel for her ball, ignoring the muddy water that stained her sleeve, and instead of smooth gold, she felt something slimy and cold. With a scream, she drew her hand back up. A moment later, a frog broke the surface of the water. The princess recognized it as the Frog that had distracted her earlier, and began to cry afresh.
“What is the matter, Princess?” The Frog asked in his throaty gurgle.
“I’ve lost my golden ball that my mother gave me.” The princess explained through her sobs. “It was one of the only gifts she ever gave me, before she died. I dropped it when I saw you watching me.”
The Frog placed his webbed foot on her hand, and she gasped with fright. The Frog sighed and hopped back. “Don’t cry, princess. I can get your ball back-“ The princess squealed with delight, cutting the Frog off. “-but, I require a reward.” The Frog warned with a croak.
The princess waved his warning away. “Oh, never mind that! You may have anything you want, the ball means more to me than anything I own. Please help me.”
The Frog bobbed his head and disappeared. The princess waited with baited breath, hoping. Several long minutes passed, and she began to lose hope. All at once, the Frog popped out of the water, her ball in his mouth, and breathing heavily.
The princess took the ball gratefully. “Thank you! Thank you!” And she began to run back to the house.
“Wait! Princess! What about your promise?” The Frog called after her.
The princess waved back at him. “I’ll tell the servants to give you as many flies as you want!”
The Frog started after her, but it was no use, she was long gone. “That’s not what I want.” The Frog muttered in his throat. Slowly, he began the long trek to the front door of the palace.
The King and his daughter were at supper when the knock came. The footman announced him and the Frog hopped wearily into the great hall.
With a start, the princess half rose from her chair, then sat down again.
“Your highness,” The Frog addressed the King. “Your daughter has made me a promise, and it is yet unfulfilled. I have come to receive my reward for retrieving her golden ball.”
The King looked to his daughter, and she flushed. “Yes, Papa, I promised him a reward, but I thought it would be an endless supply of flies, or something of that nature, and so promised unknowingly. It’s not my fault.”
“You refused to listen when I tried to tell you what reward I wanted.” The Frog said quietly. “Listen now. I demand, as my reward, a kiss from your royal highness.” The princess was horrified, but the Frog continued. “And until you kiss me, I am to be your companion. You will let me eat off your plate, drink out of your cup, and sleep in your room. Such is my demand. Will the promise be honored?”
A stunned silence fell in the hall as the princess tried to collect her scattered wits. She turned to her father. “Papa?” She quavered.
The King’s brow was furrowed. “Did you promise?”
The princess opened her mouth, then closed it. “Yes.” She whispered.
“Then the promise shall be honored.” The King told the Frog. Then to his daughter, “You must kiss the Frog.”
The princess burst into tears. “Papa! He’s a Frog! I can’t!”
“Very well, then. Pick him up and place him beside your plate. Until you change your mind, he will eat off your plate, drink out of your cup and sleep in your room.” The princess stared at her father, and then the Frog. Slowly, she put her hand down and the Frog hopped into it. The princess shuddered and quickly placed him on the table beside her golden plate. The Frog immediately put out his tongue and snagged a small piece of roast venison and swallowed it.
A gag caught in the princess’s throat, and she left the table with a napkin pressed tightly to her mouth.
That evening, when the princess went to bed, the Frog ordered that a bowl be filled with water and a few rocks, and for it to be set on the princess’s wardrobe. There, he spent the night quietly, but the princess hardly slept a wink. She was thinking how she could get rid of the Frog.
The next morning, she begged him to release her from her promise, and said she would give him wagonloads of gold, if only he would give her back her promise. The Frog shook his head resolutely. “No, princess. The thing I want most in the world is for you to kiss me.”
The princess grew exasperated. “Don’t you see?” She said angrily. “With wagonloads of gold, you could pay any beautiful girl to kiss you!”
The Frog gave a slight smirk. “Any beautiful girl? Ah, yes. Many would do it for the money, but it must be a real kiss, meant from the heart. And only a true princess must do it.”
The princess despaired. She was sure she would never kiss the Frog of her free will, let alone mean it if she did, would she have to endure his company for the rest of her life, then?
She became miserable during the next few weeks. At meals it was all she could do to keep from retching as the Frog took what it wanted off her plate with his tongue. Her former friends laughed at her for keeping a frog as companion, and both her father, and her older sister were not sympathetic.
The older sister tried to explain. “What you have promised, you must do. It is one of the marks of a true princess. Unless it is very wrong, no matter what it is, you must do it. That is why one must be very careful what one promises.”
The princess cried in vain, and at length she began to listen to her sister’s good advice: “See this Frog as an opportunity, a test of your royalty. Prove yourself to all of us, and endeavor to change your heart. See things from his side, and I think will soon feel kindly toward him.”
The princess decided to follow the advice, and began to imagine what it would be like to be a frog. Her heart became softer, and instead of leaving the table at mealtimes, she tried to ignore the feeling of disgust. After all, it would be very embarrassing to have to eat with your tongue, and for everyone to feel that you were repulsive.
She even stood up to her friends on one occasion, when they mocked the Frog for his ways.
Before long, she felt compelled to apologize for her behavior, but pride is always hard to conquer, and it took her several days to make up her mind to do it.
Finally, one evening when they had just closed the door of the princess’s bedroom, the princess decided to make her apology and have it over with.
She knelt down in front of the Frog and took a breath. “I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry for how I’ve treated you these past few weeks. I was wrong, and I’m very sorry. Will you please forgive me?”
The Frog looked up at her with his huge golden eyes and tears began to trickle down the princess’s cheeks as she realized just how cruel she had been. She put her hands to her face and cried with shame.
“I forgive you.” The Frog croaked.
The princess dropped her hands and picked up the Frog. “Thank you!” She exclaimed humbly. “I’m so sorry-“ And then without thinking, she kissed him.
With a sound like thunder, and a flash of light, the Frog was gone, and in his place was a tall handsome prince.
The princess had been so frightened by the thunder, that she had covered her face and head with her arms. When nothing dreadful happened, she looked up and saw that she was kneeling in front of the prince.
“Oh, what happened to my Frog?” She asked in tears.
The prince took her hand and helped her up, while he explained that he had been turned into a frog by a wicked old hag, and only a real kiss by a true princess would break the spell.
Then the prince asked her to be his bride, and she said yes.
And they lived happily ever after.