The Amphibious Prince

The frog turned to prince is a story of old,

but there's more to the legend that not many know.

So, if you don't mind I will tell you the tale

of an unlikely couple and the love that prevailed.

 

Once upon a poem, in a land far away

dwelt a princess as lovely as a bright summer day.

Her face was a wonder for all to behold,

and her figure was perfect, as if made from a mold.

Her nose was stately, yet delicate too,

and her lips were full, of a cherry red hue.

The blue of her eyes was as clear as the sky,

but they turned stormy grey if ever she cried.

The girl's auburn hair fell down to her waist,

and it shimmered and rippled with an aura of grace.

 

The name of the princess was that of a gem;

her parents named her Ruby, for she was precious to them.

Though her parents were kind, and couldn't be blamed,

Ruby soon became spoiled, and shallow, and vain.     

She decided the worth of the people she saw

just by counting their number of physical flaws.

She thought she was better than everyone else

and was usually absorbed with only herself.

 

Aside from her parents, there was just one Ruby loved,

and that was her horse, whom she had named Dove.

Dove was a stallion, aptly named for his speed,

for he flew when he ran and could outpace any steed.

Ruby was his rider, and he would carry no other,

but there was a prophecy that he could bear another.

 

When Ruby was born a strange woman appeared,

and told a strange tale for all present to hear.

When Ruby is older, she slowly intoned

Her horse will escape from this castle of stone.

For a month and a day this horse will be gone,

but do not worry, for nothing is wrong.

When he arrives back, he'll be bearing a man;

a man who will ask for your daughter's hand.

This man may not look handsome or wealthy or great,

but treat him with kindness, and set him a place.

Dress him in satin, give him a goose feather bed,

for this is the man whom your daughter must wed.

Also, remember, they have only ten days

to fall in love with each other before they both pay.

Heed my instructions and your kingdom will prosper,

but ignore this grave warning and many will suffer.

With those fateful words, the woman gathered her cloak,

turned her back to the throne, and prepared to go.

Though in parting she left an aura of dread,

no one ever doubted the words she had said.

So, Ruby never courted, and no suitors ever came,

for her parents had decreed it until Dove ran away.

Still, no one told Ruby of the strange woman's words,

for true love can't be decreed or forced or coerced.

So, Ruby lived happily for eighteen long years,

blissfully unaware of everyone's fears.

 

Because of her health, the queen had only one child.

If Ruby didn't marry, the royal dynasty would die.

With no one to rule, the kingdom would fall,

or be annexed by a kingdom with no scruples at all.

The fate of the kingdom was in the hands of a girl,

a girl who only cared for her horse and her curls.

The people were worried, for who wouldn't be?

Still, they held faith in the strange prophecy.

 

Finally, came the day the strange woman foretold,

a day that dawned late, and for the summer, quite cold.

Ruby was antsy and tired of staying indoors,

so she saddled up Dove to ride out on the moor.

But as soon as the princess rode onto the plains,

Dove just went wild, like he was a mustang again.

Ruby's riding was excellent, but she couldn't hang on

as Dove bucked and jumped like his wits were half gone.

When Ruby fell off, Dove flew away like a kite;

running so fast he was soon out of sight.

 

Ruby sat down and cried for some time

with worry for Dove filling her mind,

but finally she knew she must gather herself,

so she picked herself up and went for some help.

When she arrived at the castle covered in dust,

her parents guessed what had happened at once.

As she hysterically told them Dove was lost on the moor,

they told her to calm down and not fret anymore.

They told her to be patient and let fate run its course,

assuring her that soon she would again see her horse.

 

For a month and a day Dove roamed the world,

seeking a husband for his beautiful girl.

Then, after the time the woman had foretold,

Dove returned, and he wasn't alone.

For riding the great horse out of the fog

was a squat little man who looked like a frog.

His body was bulging out of tattered old clothing,

and face was misshapen with eyes sadly glistening.

All these features were ghastly, but his mouth was the worst,

for it was unnaturally wide, so wide it looked cursed.

When the king and queen saw him, they at once had their doubts.

Would their daughter agree to marry this diminutive lout?

Then they thought of the woman, and what she had said;

they knew they must listen or face the future with dread.

So they welcomed the frog man, and set him a place,

though their daughter looked on with scorn and distaste.

Ruby thought that the man had the look of a brute,

and his silence at dinner meant he must be mute!

When dinner was over her parents dressed him in satin,

and gave him a bed of goose feathers to sleep in.

Ruby was angry that no one threw the man out the door.

If she had known what was coming she'd have protested it more.

 

The next day while Ruby was out riding the land,

the frog man asked her parents for the gift of her hand.

The king and queen were absolutely complicit,

but when they told Ruby the plan she went completely ballistic.

"Marry who?!" cried the princess in petrified shock

"That ugly thing? I'd rather marry a rock!"

Everyone praises my beauty--they say I'm a catch

so why am I engaged to that hideous wretch?

He looks like a frog, we all know it's true,

I can't marry a man who isn't beautiful too!"

With that final shout she broke down into tears,

cursing the fate that had placed the man here.

 

All of that day Ruby wept for her plight,

and her tears carried on until late in the night.

As for the frog man and his brazen request,

he was consumed by guilt for causing distress.

Still, he knew that he must wed the princess,

even though she was vain and shallow and distant.

He did not love Ruby, despite her great beauty,

for he found her prideful and unattractively snooty.

His reason for marriage was not for himself.

It was for Ruby's poor kingdom; they needed his help…

 

When this man was a baby, a witch came to his castle

who first gave a prophecy, then the gift of a rattle.

The witch told of a horse-- one that ran like the wind--

that would appear at the palace to carry the prince.

No other can ride him, she said to the crowd,

Only the one who was named as the heir to the crown.

The horse will return to the place whence he came,

and there must your prince hand over the reins.

For the horse is that of a princess named Ruby,

who is nothing, if not a remarkable beauty.

Your prince must ask for the gift of her hand,

or lose his true self and bring doom on her land.

After giving her speech the witch turned away,

exited the castle, and strode out of the gate.

The king seemed not to hear doom for the world,

only tuning in to the part with a beautiful girl.

Well that went quite well," said the king with a grin,

"Where's my boy's rattle? Someone give it to him."

But as soon as the toy reached the boy's chubby fist,

suddenly the crib was enveloped in mist.

The queen quickly ran to clear out the smog,

and found that her baby now looked like a frog.

And written on the rattle were these tiny words:

He may not tell the princess about what has occurred.

She must love this prince for his heart above all.

If their marriage will last, her arrogance must fall.

 

The prince lived his life awaiting a horse,

with the hope that someday he might break the curse.

And now, though he disliked the princess and her cold castle of stone,

he knew he must win her for his sake and also her own.

He decided to find something they could share and agree on,

and talk to her about that tomorrow at dawn.

 

The very next morning while the sun was still down,

Ruby was awakened by a very peculiar sound.

From the courtyard below came the clip-clop of hooves,

and when she looked down, she saw why that was.

Under her window stood her very own Dove,

but who was holding the reigns of the horse that she loved?

It was none other than the frog man whom she despised,

and when she saw him beckoning she was definitely surprised.

At first she ignored him, and went back to her bed,

but when she heard the hooves fading, she turned back again.

For the sounds were not heading for the stable door;

they were heading for the gate out onto the moor!

 

Furious, she spun, and threw on some clothes,

then ran out of the castle to chase after the rogue.

When she caught up to the miscreant she was absolutely enraged,

and couldn't believe this was the person to whom she was engaged.

"Thief!" Ruby yelled at the frog man's hunched form.

"Stealing my horse? You're naught but a worm!"

But as she breathed in again to unload on the crook,

the frog prince turned round with a withering look.

 

"How dare you?" said the man from the back of the horse.

"You're no better than me. Perhaps even worse.

Just because you're pretty, you treat people like dirt.

and that is no reason to cause others hurt.

But I see right through you. I see your cruel heart,

You're foul, but look fair, and that's what sets us apart.

I may look amphibious and have a hideous face,

but I treat others with kindness, not with scorn and distaste.

I came this morning to talk, but now I see it's no use.

I will not be your whipping post or tolerate abuse.

I gave you a chance, though you sought to deny me a place,

so I'm going back to my home where I won't suffer disgrace."

 

With that, he set off towards the place whence he came,

but Ruby called him back, her heart filled with shame.

"I'm sorry!" she cried, with regret in her voice

"I just don't want to marry if I don't have a choice."

Then her voice got stronger, and she listed her complaints,

forgetting her shame and discarding restraint.

But you didn't even ask me!" she yelled, "Only my parents!

Marriage is an important decision, and you didn't let me share it,

and I realize it might be shallow, maybe even ridiculous,

but I can't stomach the thought of marrying somebody so hideous."

 

"You what?" said the prince as he fully turned Dove,

"If looks make a marriage, then where is the love?

What if you married a brainless buffoon,

simply because he was a good looking goon?

Marriage is based on love and respect,

not the cosmetic concerns of a ridiculous princess."

As Ruby spluttered in outrage and hurt,

the prince let loose, and again ripped into her.

"I came here," he said "To mainly help you,

yet you show me scorn when I deserve gratitude.

Your kingdom is in danger, and I would be willing to help

if only you cared for someone who isn't yourself.

If you were willing to be reasonable, even just for a day,

then maybe we can talk, and I won't ride away.

But you're snooty, you're cruel, and you're as blind as a bat,

 and I don't think you'll ever stop being any of that."

 

With that, he again turned and set off to ride,

but the sound of crying made him whip round mid stride.

There, on the ground knelt a humbled Ruby,

and the tears in her eyes didn't look arrogant or snooty.

"I'm sorry," she said softly once her tears had abated.

"I didn't realize my kingdom was in any danger.

But if they are I would save them in any way that I can,

even if it means I must marry a frog looking man."

So the prince softened his tone and began to apologize,

thinking, What kind of a man am I to make this girl cry?

"Alright," he sighed to Ruby, "I'll stay and marry you,

but you must swallow your pride and fix your attitude.

I will not marry a child, but I will marry a friend,

so how about we forget about our differences and start over again?"

 

The princess thought for a bit, then tearfully agreed,

for this frog man was more than he first seemed to be.

His words had hurt her, but she knew they were true,

and now she wanted to be beautiful, but kind hearted too.

She needed to save her kingdom, though she knew not from what

and maybe marrying this man wouldn't be as bad as she thought.

So as she rode with the frog man to her castle of stone,

she decided not to judge by appearance alone.

When the pair arrived at the castle they were tired but hopeful

and they watched the sun rise, glorious and beautiful.

 

After sleeping in late, Ruby went to find her fiancé

hoping to learn more about his culture and ways.

She found him in the stables brushing a horse

and she wordlessly joined in to help with the chores.

After the chores Ruby invited the prince for a ride

hoping to uncover what the frog man might hide.

She was curious to know how he had come to find Dove,

and why he had asked for her hand but also her love.

So the prince answered her questions as best as he could,

while concealing the witch and his own royal blood.

 

When Ruby asked him his name he had to deny her

for it would reveal who he was, of that he was sure.

After their ride the prince thought of his future bride,

about how thoughtful she'd been, and helpful and kind.

She'd helped with the chores, and let him ride Dove.

Could this possibly be the beginning of love?

 

While the prince was thinking, so was the princess

she was contemplating the swiftness of the frog man's forgiveness.

Though she knew she'd been cruel, and selfless and rude,

it seemed like he'd forgotten her flawed attitude.

He'd answered her questions and been kind to Dove,

and she wondered, could this be the beginning of love?

 

Over the following week the pair grew in affection,

and final preparations were made for their wedding.

Many people were shocked at the princess's fiancé,

for they never expected her to marry someone so ugly!

However, the princess knew those people just didn't know

of the prince's noble character and his generous soul.

 

When it finally came time for the princess to wed,

she didn’t feel her earlier anticipated dread.

Instead, she rejoiced as she donned her white gown,

for there was none with whom she'd rather share the crown.

As Ruby walked down to her amphibious groom,

an awed hush fell over the entire grand room.

For Ruby was lovely that day, both inside and out,

and her radiant face left no room for doubt.

This girl was a queen, and when the day came

she'd rule justly and wisely, treating all people the same.

 

The ceremony occurred without doubt or delay,

even though the groom would not give his name.

Then, the priest paused, and out of nowhere

a strange woman appeared as if from thin air.

The woman then strode to the dais and recited a verse,

a rhyme that sounded oddly like a cure for a curse.

 

Upon this tenth day, said the witch to the couple

I repeal any transformations that may have caused trouble.

For I see true love, despite trials and pain,

and this love is genuine--that much is plain.

Now, please kiss your bride before the day ends!

And with that she was gone; no one saw her again.

 

Then the frog prince kissed his bride, and to Ruby's surprise,

the lips she now kissed were quite human sized!

She pulled back with a gasp, and there stood a man,

one that was grinning and holding her hand.

The man was quite tall, with blonde hair and green eyes,

and he was undoubtedly handsome, to Ruby's surprise.

 

"My name is Prince Royal," said the man with a smile,

"and I've been part amphibian since I was just a small child.

As a babe I was cursed by that witch you just saw,

to grow up deformed and to look like a frog.

If I didn't marry you,” he said to his wife,

"I'd be stuck as a frog for the rest of my life,

and your kingdom would fall, or so the witch said,

and though I did not know you, her words filled me with dread.

So I came to your kingdom on the back of a horse

to save your doomed land and avert fate's fell course.

And I hope you don't mind that I've turned into a man,

for I'm still the same person who asked for your hand."

 

At first Ruby was stunned, but she quickly recovered,

and declared "Whether you are a frog or a man, I will have no other.

My heart is yours, no matter your appearance,

and if attractiveness affects that, then it's just interference.

So when the time comes let's rule with wisdom and grace,

and judge by the heart, not by the face."

With that final statement Ruby looked up at her prince,

and saw the respect in his eyes as he leaned in for a kiss.

 

So the couple ruled fairly when their time came,

and they had three wise children who governed the same.

The kingdom lives on to this very day,

but I doubt you will see it, since it's far, far away.

 

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