It was that time of the week again and everyone waited with baited breath for the imminent explosion. Every week, the King awarded the Princess a new toy, and as tired as she became of them as the week waned, everyone breathed a sigh of relief at the break they would enjoy once she was momentarily occupied.
I was her maid: tasked with maintaining an eye on her Royal Highness. It was the task that fell to whoever had fallen out of favor with the Head Maid.
The King waited in his throne room for her, sitting straight-backed and proud looking every inch the King he was. She flounced into the room, golden curls springing violently in every direction as she tossed her royal head back and forth, absolutely oozing imperial status.
Before she could reach his throne, he spoke. “There will be no new toy this week, my darling” As the shock registered in her eyes and her mouth began to open, he continued. “I have been doing you no favors by allowing you to become so spoiled. I love you, and I want you happier than you can ever know, but you will be Queen some day and must learn to think of things other than your personal pleasure.”
I watched as her horror made her limp with fright as the King decreed that she should have a new toy only once a month rather than the weekly presents she had been enjoying. She would wait another three weeks before receiving anything new. He hoped she would learn to content herself with the toys she had.
Before he could finish laying down his royal decree, she had turned tail and run in a very un-princess-like fashion from the vast room.
As she ran, I followed behind far enough off that she couldn’t tell I was there. I’d made the mistake of getting too close once and hadn’t been able to sit for a week.
She ran a short distance more then stopped, like I knew she would, it was her secret place. It was a beautiful creek, a few boulders spotting the edge and trees shading the area. Finding a bush close by, I settled in to keep an eye on her.
The Princess flounced over to a rock and flopped down, sighing dramatically. Tossing last week’s present, a little golden ball, up and down, I could see her head bobbing as she followed the movement of the ball. In the distance a bird shrieked, catching the Princess’ attention momentarily and as she glanced over, I watched as the ball fell and rolled into the deep part of the creek.
The Princess scrambled up and plopped at the edge of the creek. I could hear her grunt of frustration as she stared into the water.
Suddenly she jumped, and I jolted forward, ready to help if need be. She was saying something under her breath and looked disgusted. I looked around, and found a closer bush. Crouching low, I moved over so that I could hear what she was saying.
“But, why won’t you grab it for me?” Who was she talking to; I was the only person nearby.
As I continued to listen, it became clear she was speaking to a frog that was sitting on the bank in front of her, demanding he grab her fallen ball for her. A bit worried the Princess had lost her mind, I started when I heard the frog respond.
“Your Highness, I would be glad to do you that favor, may I have one in return?” His smooth voice was disconcerting from his slimy body. I cringed and continued to listen.
“And what might that favor be?” She demanded.
“Oh, merely that you allow me to accompany you back to the palace and allow me the honor of living at your side.” He responded easily.
The Princess froze, completely still. She slowly straightened her shoulders and I recognized her imperial pride asserting itself. I sighed, knowing how this would turn out for the frog.
“I am appalled that you would think such a thing acceptable. I am to be the future queen, it would not do for me to be accompanied by the likes of,” she sniffed. “…you. And anyways, my father will simply buy me a new toy; I’m sure that when he hears of this incident he won’t hesitate to buy me a new plaything.”
I saw the water ripple as the frog stepped back. As much as a frog can show expression, his face hardened.
“If that’s the way you feel, your Majesty” he practically spit the endearment in her face.
She wilted a small bit at his derision and then straightened up again.
“I’ll just enjoy playing with your golden ball then” he continued slyly.
She flinched involuntarily at the thought of his slimy fingers all over her most recent favorite toy. I knew she wanted a new one, but she had always hated relinquishing something that was hers.
I listened as she took a deep breath, the frog looking her squarely in the face.
“Now that it’s been wallowing in that…cesspool, I’m not sure I want it back after all” she snapped, standing up, whirling around on her heel, and pranced away from the creek.
Once she had passed me, I glanced back for a moment at the frog; he hadn’t moved. He sat staring after the Princess’ receding figure, and for a moment, I thought I saw a look of longing pass his froggy features. Standing up myself, I hurried after her, anxious to avoid her notice while maintaining my watchful eye.