Once upon a time there lived a King who had several beautiful daughters, but the youngest was even more beautiful than the rest.
Near the castle of this King was a large and gloomy forest. Just a short walk into the trees was a small clearing. At the far side stood an old lime tree, and beneath its branches splashed a fountain in the middle of a dark, deep pool.
Whenever it was very hot, the King's youngest daughter would run of into this wood and sit by the pool, throwing her golden ball into the air. This was her favourite pastime.
One afternoon when the Princess threw the ball high up in the air, she didn't catch it! It slipped through her fingers onto the grass. Then it rolled past her into the pool and disappeared beneath the water.
The Princess peered into the pool, but her precious ball was gone. Quickly, she plunged her arms into the pool as far as she could reach, but she could feel nothing except weeds and water lilies. Some people said the pool was so deep, it had no bottom. So when the Princess realised her golden ball was gone forever, she began to cry. "Come back to me this minute, golden ball," sobbed the Princess, staring into the water.
Now as a rule, Princesses are used to getting their own way. So after her golden ball didn't magically pop up out of the water, she started to howl even louder. Dear, oh dear! First she stamped her feet and then she threw herself down on the grass in temper.
The Princess was making so much noise that she didn't notice a big GREen frog stick his head out of the water and jump onto the grass beside her. "Don't cry, beautiful Princess," croaked the frog. " I saw your golden ball fall into the water, and it will be my pleasure to dive down and get it for you, if you will give me something in return.
At this, the Princess cheered up. " I will gladly give you my jewels and pearls, even my golden crown, if you will bring back my golden ball." It is true to say that promises should never be made in a hurry, even by Princesses, because a promise is a thing that must be kept, especially to frogs!"
The frog hopped nearer to the Princess. "Pearls and jewels and golden crowns are no use to me," he went on, "but if you'll love me and be my friend, if you'll let me eat from your golden plate, drink from your golden cup, and sleep on your golden bed, I will dive down and fetch your ball."
So eager was the Princess to see her golden ball once more, that she didn't listen too carefully to what the frog had to say.
"I promise you all you ask, if only you will bring my ball," she said.
Quickly as a flash, the frog jumped into the pool then bobbed up again with the ball in his mouth. Straight away the King's daughter snatched her ball and ran back to the castle.
"Take me with you," cried the frog. "I cannot run as fast as you and I shall be left behind."
But the Princess didn't care about her promise and soon forgot all about the frog. Later that day, when the Princess was sitting at the table, something was heard coming up the marble stairs. Splish, splosh, splish splosh! The sound came nearer and nearer, and a voice cried, "Let me in, youngest daughter of the King."
The Princess jumped up to see who had called her. Now when she caught sight of the frog, she turned very pale.
"What does a frog want with you?" demanded the King, looking rather surprised.
The Princess hung her head. "When I was sitting by the fountain my golden ball fell into the water. This frog fetched it back for me, because I cried so much." The Princess started to cry again. "I promised to love him and let him eat from my golden plate, drink from my golden cup, and sleep on my golden bed."
The King looked at the frog and thought for a while before he spoke. "Then you must keep your promise, my daughter."
The Princess knew she must obey, so she let the frog to come inside. The frog hopped in after her and jumped up into her chair and straight onto the table. "Now push your golden plate near me." said the frog, "so that we may eat together." As she did so, the frog leapt onto her plate and ate up all her dinner, which was just as well, because the Princess didn't feel much like eating.
Next, the frog drank from her little golden cup until it was quite empty. Somehow the Princess didn't feel at all thirsty either! After the frog had finished, he took one GREat leap and landed on the Princess's knee. "Go away you ugly, cold frog!" she screamed. "I will never let you sleep on my lovely, clean bed!"
The made the King very angry. "This frog helped you when you needed it. Now you must keep your promise to him."
"I am very tired after that wonderful meal," the frog said, "and you did promise that I could go to sleep on your golden bed."
Very unwillingly the Princess picked up the frog and carried him upstairs to her room.
When the frog hopped into the middle of her golden bed, it was just too much for the Princess. She pushed the frog hard and it fell onto the floor.
As he fell he was changed into a handsome Prince. A spell had been cast on him by an evil witch and only the Princess had the power to break it.
The Princess was speechless. She felt very sorry indeed that she had been so unkind to the frog.
After a while, the handsome Prince and the Princess were married, and lived happily ever after.