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The Maiden And The Frog

from Popular Rhymes And Nursery Tales - NURSEY STORIES





[This tale of the frog-lover is known in every part of Germany, and is
alluded to by several old writers of that country. It is the tale "Der
Froschkoenig, oder der Eiserne Heinrich," in Grimm. "These enchanted
frogs," says Sir W. Scott, "have migrated from afar, and we suspect that
they were originally crocodiles; we trace them in a tale forming part of
a series of stories entitled the Relations of Ssidi Kur, extant amongst
the Calmuck Tartars." Mr. Chambers has given a Scotch version of the
tale, under the title of "The well o' the warld's end," in his Popular
Rhymes, p. 236. The rhymes in the copy given above were obtained from
the North of England, without, however, any reference to the story to
which they evidently belong. The application, however, is so obvious to
any one acquainted with the German and Scotch tale, that the framework I
have ventured to give them cannot be considered incongruous; although I
need not add how very desirable it would be to procure the traditional
tale as related by the English peasantry. Perhaps some of our readers
may be enabled to supply it.]

Many years ago there lived on the brow of a mountain, in the North of
England, an old woman and her daughter. They were very poor, and
obliged to work very hard for their living, and the old woman's temper
was not very good, so that the maiden, who was very beautiful, led but
an ill life with her. The girl, indeed, was compelled to do the hardest
work, for her mother got their principal means of subsistence by
travelling to places in the neighbourhood with small articles for sale,
and when she came home in the afternoon she was not able to do much more
work. Nearly the whole domestic labour of the cottage devolved therefore
on the daughter, the most wearisome part of which consisted in the
necessity of fetching all the water they required from a well on the
other side of the hill, there being no river or spring near their own
cottage.

It happened one morning that the daughter had the misfortune, in going
to the well, to break the only pitcher they possessed, and having no
other utensil she could use for the purpose, she was obliged to go home
without bringing any water. When her mother returned, she was
unfortunately troubled with excessive thirst, and the girl, though
trembling for the consequences of her misfortune, told her exactly the
circumstance that had occurred. The old woman was furiously angry, and
so far from making any allowances for her daughter, pointed to a sieve
which happened to be on the table, and told her to go at once to the
well and bring her some water in that, or never venture to appear again
in her sight.

The young maiden, frightened almost out of her wits by her mother's
fury, speedily took the sieve, and though she considered the task a
hopeless one to accomplish, almost unconsciously hastened to the well.
When she arrived there, beginning to reflect on the painful situation in
which she was placed, and the utter impossibility of her obtaining a
living by herself, she threw herself down on the brink of the well in an
agony of despair. Whilst she was in this condition, a large frog came up
to the top of the water, and asked her for what she was crying so
bitterly. She was somewhat surprised at this, but not being the least
frightened, told him the whole story, and that she was crying because
she could not carry away water in the sieve. "Is that all?" said the
frog; "cheer up, my hinny! for if you will only let me sleep with you
for two nights, and then chop off my head, I will tell you how to do
it." The maiden thought the frog could not be in earnest, but she was
too impatient to consider much about it, and at once made the required
promise. The frog then instructed her in the following words,--

Stop with fog (moss),
And daub with clay;
And that will carry
The water away.

Having said this, he dived immediately under the water, and the girl,
having followed his advice, got the sieve full of water, and returned
home with it, not thinking much of her promise to the frog. By the time
she reached home the old woman's wrath was appeased, but as they were
eating their frugal supper very quietly, what should they hear but the
splashing and croaking of a frog near the door, and shortly afterwards
the daughter recognised the voice of the frog of the well saying,--

Open the door, my hinny, my heart,
Open the door, my own darling;
Remember the words you spoke to me,
In the meadow by the well-spring.

She was now dreadfully frightened, and hurriedly explained the matter to
her mother, who was also so much alarmed at the circumstance, that she
dared not refuse admittance to the frog, who, when the door was opened,
leapt into the room, exclaiming:

Go wi' me to bed, my hinny, my heart,
Go wi' me to bed, my own darling;
Remember the words you spoke to me,
In the meadow by the well-spring.

This command was also obeyed, although, as may be readily supposed, she
did not much relish such a bedfellow. The next day, the frog was very
quiet, and evidently enjoyed the fare they placed before him,--the
purest milk and the finest bread they could procure. In fact, neither
the old woman nor her daughter spared any pains to render the frog
comfortable. That night, immediately supper was finished, the frog again
exclaimed:

Go wi' me to bed, my hinny, my heart,
Go wi' me to bed, my own darling;
Remember the words you spoke to me,
In the meadow by the well-spring.

She again allowed the frog to share her couch, and in the morning, as
soon as she was dressed, he jumped towards her, saying:

Chop off my head, my hinny, my heart,
Chop off my head, my own darling;
Remember the words you spoke to me,
In the meadow by the well-spring.

The maiden had no sooner accomplished this last request, than in the
stead of the frog there stood by her side the handsomest prince in the
world, who had long been transformed by a magician, and who could never
have recovered his natural shape until a beautiful virgin had consented,
of her own accord, to make him her bedfellow for two nights. The joy of
all parties was complete; the girl and the prince were shortly
afterwards married, and lived for many years in the enjoyment of every
happiness.





Next: The Story Of Mr Fox

Previous: The Three Heads Of The Well



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