JACOB AND WILHELM GRIMM
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FAIRY TALES (1812)
TRANSLATED AND EDITED BY MARGARET HUNT
THE FROG-KING, OR IRON HENRY
In old 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 warm the King’s child went out into the forest and sat down by the side of the cool fountain, and when she was dull she took a golden ball and threw it up high and caught it, and this ball was her favorite plaything.
Now it so happened that, on one occasion, the princess’ golden ball did not fall into the little hand which she was holding up for it, but onto 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. On this she began to cry, and cried louder and louder, and could not be comforted. And as she thus lamented, some one said to her: “What ails thee, King’s daughter? Thou weepest so that even a stone would show pity.” She looked around to the side from whence the voice came, and saw a frog stretching forth its thick, ugly head from the water. “Ah! old water-splasher, is it thou?” asked she; “I am weeping for my golden ball, which has fallen into the well.”
[Illustration: JACOB GRIMM E. Hader]
[Illustration: WILLIAM GRIMM E. Hader]
“Be quiet, and do not weep,” answered the frog; “I can help thee; but what wilt thou give me if I bring thy plaything up again?” “Whatever thou wilt 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 thy clothes, thy pearls and jewels, or thy golden crown, but if thou wilt love me and let me be thy companion and play-fellow, and sit by thee at thy little table, and eat off thy little golden plate, and drink out of thy little cup, and sleep in thy little bed—if thou wilt promise me this I will go down below and bring thee thy golden ball again.”
“Oh, yes,” said she, “I promise thee all thou wishest, if thou wilt but bring me my ball back again.” She, how ever, thought, “How the silly frog does talk! He lives in the water with the other frogs and croaks, and 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 time 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 thee; I can’t run as thou canst.” 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.