The Frog King
In olden 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 very 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 on high and caught it, and this
ball was her favorite plaything.
Now it so happened that on one occasion the princess's golden ball
did not fall into the little hand which she was holding up for it,
but on to 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 round 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?" said she; "I am weeping for my golden ball,
which has fallen into the well." "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
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 bedif thou wilt promise
me this I will go down below, and bring thee thy golden ball up
"Oh yes," said she, "I promise thee all thou wishest, if thou wilt but bring
me my ball back again." She, however, 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 while came swimmming 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.
The next day when she had seated herself at table with the King and
all the courtiers, and was eating from her little golden plate,
something came creeping splish splash, splish splash, up the marble
staircase, and when it had got to the top, it knocked at the door and
cried, "Princess, youngest princess, open the door for me." She ran to
see who was outside, but when she opened the door, there sat the frog
in front of it. Then she slammed the door to, in great haste, sat
down to dinner again, and was quite frightened. The King saw plainly
that her heart was beating violently, and said, "My child, what art
thou so afraid of? Is there perchance a giant outside who wants to
carry thee away?" "Ah, no," replied she, "it is no giant but a disgusting
"What does the frog want with thee?" "Ah, dear father, yesterday when I was
in the forest sitting by the well, playing, my golden ball fell into
the water. And because I cried so the frog brought it out again for
me, and because he insisted so on it, I promised him he should be my
companion, but I never thought he would be able to come out of his
water! And now he is outside there, and wants to come in to me."
In the meantime it knocked a second time, and cried,
"Princess, youngest princess!
Open the door for me!
Dost thou not know what thou saidst to me
Yesterday by the cool waters of the fountain?
Princess, youngest princess!
Open the door for me!"
Then said the King, "That which thou hast promised must thou perform.
Go and let him in." She went and opened the door, and the frog hopped
in and followed her, step by step, to her chair. There he sat still and
cried, "Lift me up beside thee." She delayed, until at last the King
commanded her to do it. When the frog was once on the chair he wanted to
be on the table, and when he was on the table he said, "Now, push thy
little golden plate nearer to me that we may eat together." She did
this, but it was easy to see that she did not do it willingly. The
frog enjoyed what he ate, but almost every mouthful she took choked
her. At length he said, "I have eaten and am satisfied; now I am
tired, carry me into thy little room and make thy little silken bed
ready, and we will both lie down and go to sleep."
The King's daughter began to cry, for she was afraid of the cold frog,
which she did not like to touch, and which was now to sleep in her
pretty, clean little bed. But the King grew angry and said, "He who
helped thee when thou wert in trouble ought not afterwards to be
despised by thee." So she took hold of the frog with two fingers,
carried him upstairs, and put him in a corner. But when she was in
bed he crept to her and said, "I am tired, I want to sleep as well as
thou, lift me up or I will tell thy father." Then she was terribly
angry, and took him up and threw him with all her might against the
wall. "Now, thou wilt be quiet, odious frog," said she. But when he
fell down he was no frog but a king's son with beautiful, kind
eyes. He by her father's will was now her dear companion and
husband. Then he told her how he had been bewitched by a wicked
witch, and how no one could have delivered him from the well but
herself, and that to-morrow they would go together into his kingdom.
Then they went to sleep, and next morning when the sun awoke them, a
carriage came driving up with eight white horses, which had white
ostrich feathers on their heads, and were harnessed with golden
chains, and behind stood the young King's servant, faithful Henry.
Faithful Henry had been so unhappy when his master was changed into a
frog, that he had caused three iron bands to be laid round his heart,
lest it should burst with grief and sadness. The carriage was to
conduct the young King into his kingdom. Faithful Henry helped them
both in, and placed himself behind again, and was full of joy because
of this deliverance. And when they had driven a part of the way, the
King's son heard a cracking behind him as if something had broken.
So he turned round and cried, "Henry, the carriage is breaking."
"No, master, it is not the carriage. It is a band from my heart,
which was put there in my great pain when you were a frog and
imprisoned in the well." Again and once again while they were on
their way something cracked, and each time the King's son thought the
carriage was breaking, but it was only the bands which were springing
from the heart of Faithful Henry because his master was set free and
from Grimm's Household Tales,
translated by Margaret Hunt, 1884