The Frog Prince or Iron Henry
Once upon a time, there was a King with beautiful daughters. His youngest daughter was so beautiful that the Sun was amazed every time he shone on her.
Near the castle was a dark forest, and in the forest, under a large, old tree, there was a wishing well. When it was a hot day, the King’s beautiful youngest daughter would walk into the forest and sit by the cool wishing well.
While she sat there, she would take out a golden ball, and throw it up and catch it. This was her favorite thing to do.
One day, when the beautiful girl was throwing the golden ball, she didn’t catch it. It landed on the ground near the edge of the wishing well, and rolled in.
The King’s daughter watched as it sank to the bottom of the deep, deep well. The well was so deep, she couldn’t see the bottom of it. The King’s daughter started weeping; she cried and cried like she would never be happy again.
As she was crying, she heard a voice say, “What’s wrong, Princess? Your tears would melt a heart of stone.”
When the beautiful princess looked to see where the voice came from, there was nothing but a slimy frog sticking his thick, ugly head out of the water.
“Oh, is it you talking to me, you old frog? I weep because my golden ball has fallen into the well.”
“Don’t cry!” said the frog. “I can help you! What will you give me if I go get your ball?”
The beautiful princess said, “I’ll give you whatever you want, dear frog! I’ll give you any of my clothes, jewels, or even my golden crown! If only you will fetch my ball.”
“I don’t want your clothes, jewels, or crown,” said the frog, “but if you will love me and be my friend and play with me, and let me sit with you at your table and eat from your plate, and drink from your cup and sleep in your bed, if you will promise me all of this, I will dive below the water and fetch your golden ball.”
“Yes, I promise you all of that, whatever you want, if only you will fetch my ball.”
However, the beautiful princess thought to herself, “What nonsense! All he can do is sit in the water and croak with the other frogs. He can’t possibly be anyone’s friend.”
But, as soon as the frog heard her promise, he dove under the water and sank out of sight. After a while, he came to the surface again with the golden ball in his mouth. He threw it on the grass.
The King’s daughter was so happy! She was overjoyed to see her pretty ball again. She picked it up and ran off with it.
The frog cried, “Stop, stop! Pick me up, too! I can’t run as fast as you!”
But it was no use. No matter how much he croaked after her, she would not listen to him. She ran home as fast as she could, and soon forgot all about the poor frog. He had to go back to the well again.
The next day, when the King’s daughter was sitting at the table with the King and his court, and eating from her golden plate, she heard a pitter patter coming up the marble stairs.
Someone knocked at the door, and a voice cried out, “Youngest daughter, let me in!”
The beautiful princess got up and ran to see who it was. When she opened the door, the frog was sitting there. Then she quickly shut the door and went back to her seat, feeling very nervous.
She was so uneasy, the King noticed how quickly her heart was beating. The King said, “Daughter, what are you afraid of? Is there a giant standing at the door to steal you away?”
The princess said, “Oh no, it’s not a giant, but a horrid, awful frog!”
The King asked, “What does the frog want?”
The King’s beautiful daughter replied, “Oh Father, I was sitting by the well playing with my golden ball yesterday. It fell into the water and when I was crying about losing it, the frog came and fetched it for me, on the condition I would let him be my friend. I didn’t think he could leave the water and come after me, but now he’s outside the door, and he wants to come in.”
Then the King and all his court heard him knocking a second time and crying, “Youngest daughter, open the door to me! What about the promise that you made to me by the well? Youngest daughter, now open the door and let me in!”
“You must keep your promise,” the King said. “Go let the frog in.”
So the princess went and opened the door, and the frog hopped in and followed her to her chair. Then the frog cried, “Lift me up to sit by you.”
The princess refused until the King ordered her to do it. Once the frog was on the chair, he wanted to get on the table. He sat there and said, “Now push your golden plate closer to me, so that we may eat together.”
She did it, but everyone could see how unwilling she was. The frog feasted heartily, eating a lot, but every bite seemed to stick in her throat.
Finally, the frog said, “I have had enough and I’m tired. You must carry me to your room, and we will go to sleep in your bed.”
Then the King’s daughter began to weep. She was crying because the cold frog insisted on sleeping in her clean, pretty bed.
Now the King got angry at his daughter. “You have to keep a promise you made when you were in need!”
So the King’s daughter picked up the frog with her finger and thumb, carried him upstairs, and put him in a corner. When she laid down to sleep, the frog came creeping up and said, “I am tired and want to sleep as much as you do. Pick me up and put me in your bed or I will tell your father.”
Then the princess was filled with rage! She was so angry, she picked him up and threw him against the wall with all her strength! She yelled, “Now you’ll be quiet, you awful, horrid frog!”
But as he fell, he changed from a frog into a handsome prince with kind eyes. Her heart changed at once, and they fell in love.
The prince who was once a frog told her how a wicked witch had cast a spell on him and no one but the princess could release him and free him from the spell. The prince told her they would go to his father’s kingdom to get married.
A carriage with eight fancy white horses came to the door. The horses had white feathers on their heads and golden harnesses.
Behind the carriage was Henry, the prince’s faithful servant. Henry was so upset when his master was turned into a frog that he had to wear three iron bands over his heart, to keep it from breaking.
Faithful Henry helped the prince and princess into the carriage. He got up behind them and was filled with joy because his master was free. When they had gone a little ways, the prince heard a sound like something had broken.
The prince turned around and cried, “Henry, the wheel must be breaking!”
Henry said, “The wheel isn’t breaking! The three iron bands around my heart are breaking off because you are free now!”