The prince who turned in.., p.1
THE PRINCE WHO TURNED INTO A TOAD
A Retelling of The Frog Prince
Copyright 2016 Shelley B Chappell
All Rights Reserved
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Once upon a time, long, long ago in a lovely kingdom, it was summer, and a brother and sister were arguing.
"But why can't I come to your lessons anymore, Rupert?"
"You ask too many questions." Rupert flicked his hair and stuck his nose into the air.
"But you don't even like studying, and I—"
"I am the one the tutor is hired for and I say you can't come, so tough luck for you."
Kate's fists clenched. "Ooh, I wish—!"
"You wish you were me, don't you? Ha! You wish you'd been born the Crown Prince."
"Oh, don't be stupid," Kate said. But these days Rupert was stupid although he acted like a know-it-all. "I don't want to be you," Kate said. "I like being me. What I don't like is your mean attitude. I wish you'd change it!"
Rupert said nothing. He just swept up the golden ball from their shared basket of toys and ran to the doorway, pausing only to poke out his tongue before he raced from the room.
Bump. Kate sat down on the nursery chair. Hard. She folded her arms over her chest and glared at the door. Up until recently, Rupert had been a good brother. They were twins, so they had always done everything together. It was true that their parents had employed Tutor Alfred for Rupert's benefit, because Rupert was the prince and it wasn't usually considered important to educate princesses, but because Kate was so interested in learning new things her parents had let her attend all of Rupert's lessons. Rupert hadn't minded then. But, at the beginning of spring, her parents had departed on a tour of their kingdom that was to last a year, and their cousin Garil had arrived to manage the royal palace while the king and queen were away.
Unfortunately, Cousin Garil was not much like Kate and Rupert's father and over the spring many things had changed. The worst of these changes was in Rupert himself. Since Cousin Garil had arrived, Rupert had grown so naughty and bad-mannered that Kate hardly recognised him anymore. The problem was that he had been allowed to do anything he liked, and whenever he broke something or was rude or pushy, Cousin Garil simply smiled and shook his head and said fondly, "Boys will be boys". He never gave Rupert a good telling off!
Kate he told off all the time.
"Kate! Come inside to dinner, and don't let me see you tossing a ball around again. That's uncomely behaviour, Kate."
"Don't run like that, Kate! A young lady should walk slowly and sedately — to the dinner table as to every occasion."
"Kate! No, you cannot have a competition with Rupert to see who can eat the most meat and potatoes! Give her portion there to Rupert and bring her a salad, thank you, waiter."
"No talking at the dinner table, Kate! Young ladies should be seen and not heard. But Rupert, how was your day?"
"You mean to tell me that Kate attends your lessons with you? Kate! You shouldn’t bother your brother with your presence when he is trying to learn. Your foolish questions will distract him from serious study. Besides, you shouldn't attempt to tax your mind, young lady — you'll make yourself ill."
Cousin Garil was making her ill. At least, ill-tempered. Kate had continued to visit the schoolroom for some time after his pronouncement, because Rupert had agreed to keep it secret with her, just as he had secretly kept her some of his meaty bones at each meal, wrapped in his table napkins. But now Rupert had changed. He'd started to like the way things were under Cousin Garil. He liked feeling the biggest and the best and the boss of her. So now Kate had no parents and no meat and potatoes, no brother to play with — and no lessons as well!
Kate sighed but then she straightened her shoulders and made a decision. Having already learned how to read and write, she would simply have to teach herself everything else. She would go to the palace library and sneak away all the books she needed — for she particularly needed some books about nature. Before she had been banned from attending Rupert's lessons, she had been working under their tutor's guidance to catalogue all the bug and animal life around the palace grounds. You see, Kate wanted to be a scientist. Tutor Alfred, who was a wise young man from a kingdom far over the seas, had smiled and nodded when she announced her chosen career in the schoolroom several weeks before, but just yesterday Rupert had predictably told her, like a mouthpiece for Cousin Garil, "Girls can’t be scientists."
"Why not?" she had asked sensibly.
"They just can’t. All the scientists are men."
Kate had looked at Tutor Alfred and he had winked at her, so quickly that Rupert, who was sneering at Kate, didn't see. Kate had pressed her lips together and hidden a smile. I will be a scientist, she had thought to herself then, and nothing anyone does can stop me.
So now she tiptoed to the palace library — quiet and sedate not because she was a young lady but because she was on a clandestine mission and couldn't afford to be caught. Once inside, she quickly found the biology shelves and collected several books on pond life. Her plans for the rest of the day involved collecting specimens from the palace pond. But first, to get the books safely back to her rooms so she could refer to them later, once she had gathered her samples…
Meanwhile, now that Kate wasn't allowed to rollick around the palace and grounds with him, Rupert found that he had an awful lot of time on his hands, and that a lot of that time was awfully boring. After doing all the things he'd never been allowed to do when his parents were home, like sliding down the banisters, raiding the kitchens for tarts, and playing ball outside the chapel (accidentally breaking its window, just as had always been feared), he was at a loose end.
Cousin Garil was too busy to spend any time with him, and besides, when he poked his head inside the council chamber, as he would when his father was home and hard at work with his ministers, Cousin Garil wouldn't invite him in like his father had and explain what was going on. No, he would shoo him out, telling him he was far too young to worry about important things yet and that he should be out riding and playing ball and doing other boyish things.
Rupert left the council chamber on this occasion with his hands thrust into his pockets and his head down. He kicked at the cobblestones. Doing boyish things wasn't very much fun without Kate. He didn't have anyone to play ball with and riding wasn't as exciting when Kate wasn't galloping along beside him, whooping and daring him to jump over hedges with her.
He ventured out past the courtyards, past the maze-like gardens, past the palace ponds, in search of something interesting, and shortly he came across a little cottage he had never seen before, at the edges of the palace lands, right beside the forest. It was late afternoon and he was thirsty, so he went to the well at the side of the cottage and drew up a bucket of good, clean water to slake his thirst. It was very quiet around the cottage. The wind was blowing through the trees nearby, but it was still where he stood, and all he could hear was the scratching of the chickens around the dirt yard and the scratching of a quill inside. So, somebody was around.
Rupert decided it was quite within his rights to see what his subjects were up to, so he wandered over to the cottage door and peered inside. There he saw a girl, or a girl's back, rather. The girl had long brown hair tidied into a braid that fell
Rupert felt a bit uncomfortable, watching the girl in her house while he stood unannounced in the doorway, so he half-shouted, "Hey there!"
The girl jerked and her hand knocked over the ink pot. "Oh no!" She jumped up and tried to blot the mess, then, when it was hopeless, turned and glared at Rupert. "Why'd you have to give me a fright like that?! You could've just knocked."
Rupert felt his face go red, so he covered it up by strutting over to the table and looking at the mess. He peered at what she had been writing.
My name is Maisy O'Connell, the writing said. I am seven years old. So it went, repeating itself for several lines. The letters grew less wobbly the further down the page they appeared.
"What are you doing learning to write?" Rupert asked. "You're as silly as my sister, wanting to learn boy's things."
"Writing's not a boy's thing," Maisy protested.
"Is too. Boys can learn to write and read, but girls might get a fever of the brain if they try to think too hard." He smirked. "That's probably what's wrong with my sister. She's gone daft — she thinks she can be a scientist." Scorn dripped from his words.
Maisy glowered at Rupert. "If anyone's got a fever of the brain, it's you!"
Rupert felt his face grow red again. He told himself his flushed cheeks were from anger, and
The Prince Who Turned Into a Toad: A Retelling of The Frog Prince by Shelley Chappell / History & Fiction have rating 3.8 out of 5 / Based on15 votes