“Here she comes, lads!” Grandfather Frog splashed the alarm. “Take cover!”
The younger frogs – some of them barely more than pollywogs – dived for safety. The deepest recesses of the lily pond would afford them shelter until the danger had passed.
Huddled together in a rocky nook, the froglets trembled but their fear was tempered with excitement. It was an exhilarating game to them and Grandfather Frog was keen to impress upon them the severe peril of their predicament.
“Don’t look up,” he warned. “No matter how prettily the sunlight dapples the surface. If you look up, she will see you and, if she sees you, she will reach down and seize you. And if she seizes you, she will hold you up to her face – a face as big as the sun appears now – No, don’t look up! You must never look up! She will hold you in her hand and look into your eyes and you will be spellbound and you won’t think to leap – and if you do think to leap, you won’t do it. You’ll be too high up. The surface of the water will be like stone rising up to meet your belly and split you open.”
The young frogs cowered and giggled at this horrific prospect.
“But you won’t think of leaping; leaping will be the last thing on your tiny mind once she fixes you with those eyes of hers. Eyes as blue as cornflowers and more dazzling than any star. You won’t be able to look away. You’ll be stuck there on the pink lily pad of her palm and there’ll be nothing you can do to escape.
“Next come the lips, moist and puckered like rosebuds drenched in the morning dew. And they come right at you and they press against your face and you think you’re going to be smothered and all you can do is wait until it’s over. And when it’s over, those cornflower eyes dim and cloud with disappointment, and those rosebud lips curl in a sneer of disdain, and that soft, pink lily pad tips and down you fall, and the water races up towards you and you better have your wits about you and stretch your body out like a reed, like the beak of the deadly heron, or SPLAT! You’ve had it, lads.”
“Coo…” said the young frogs.
One young frog raised a flipper to attract the attention of Grandfather Frog. “But why, Grandfather?” he piped up. “Why does this giant do this? When it only leads to disappointment for her and danger for us?”
Grandfather Frog smiled sadly. “Those are good questions, Filbert. That poor giant is a Princess in her land and she seeks a husband. She believes that if she can only find the right frog and kiss him, he will be transformed into her mate and they shall live the rest of their days in luxury and bliss. But, it was decreed, long before any of you were spawned, that at first sight of this deluded human, we are to conceal ourselves in the deep. I know, lads, for I have gazed into those eyes and I have plummeted from a great height because I could not meet her ideals. I was extremely lucky to survive – Hush now, and hold your peace until she leaves.”
The group fell silent but young Filbert was not satisfied. He could not see why – just because Grandfather had had a bad experience – he should be denied his chance.
Do I not deserve a life of luxury and bliss? His throat swelled indignantly. Perhaps there is a Prince within me who deserves his moment in the sun.
With that thought overruling notions of personal safety, Filbert broke free from the group and swam towards the surface where the sunlight dappled the water so prettily.