Some of my readers have been following along with a contest that I have entered. Many have been voting for the photo on the merits of the photo alone. That is wonderful and I appreciate it.
I heard today that some people are unaware of the unfolding story that accompanies the photograph. I have been using the photo description field to tell a fairy tale. Some people have missed it all together and others have missed earlier episodes. I've compiled the entire tale (to date) and I offer it below.
More "episodes" will be revealed daily until the end of the contest. Why?
(1) Because I am permitted only 700 characters in the entry description, and
(2) Because I want to entice people to visit and vote every day, and
(3) Because, as with traditional fairy tales, this tale will teach a lesson. This is a fairy tale about love and respect and following the counsel of God.
Once upon a time the King of the Boardwalk called for thirty eligible frogs to vie for the hand of his fair daughter, the Princess. Each frog received a number to display upon their chest.
"You'd think we were running a marathon," one particularly portly frog complained to his neighbor in the pool.
"This is my lucky number," another exclaimed. "I just know she'll choose me."
The King arrived with the Princess. The crowd cheered but the frogs grew quiet, watching above their heads as the Princess reached her hand toward the pool.
Who among them would she choose?
Ferdinand gazed at the face of the Princess. She was more beautiful than he had been told. Her lips were as pink as water lilies. He sat motionless, knowing she would soon lift him to her lips and break the spell that held him captive. She did not even look his way. Her eyes searched the far side of the pool.
Ferdinand raised up to survey his competition. He gasped. The Princess began to reach for a frog near the edge of the pond. Ferdinand nearly jumped out of his skin.
He called out "foul" for he knew the frog to be an imposter. Surely, the Kiss of a Princess would never release such a cad.
Festus heard the other frog but dared not blink or turn to look. The hand had stopped to hover above his head.
"What in tarnation have I got myself into this time?"
One minute he was dreaming in the warm mud of his holler in Froggy Bottom.
"Now I got a couple dozen other fellers crammed in this here pool and all a starin' at me. Look at their frozen eyes. What they got to be scared of anyhow? She ain't a reachin' in to pick them up by their heads."
It did not bother Princess Penelope that people called her "The Persnickety Princess". The shortened "Princess P" was also an appropriate name.
"I know I am particular," she would say. "I am particular with a P."
The King would snort a retort. "You are particularly nitpicky, my Princess P."
As Princess Penelope poised her hand above the pool of frogs, she was peculiarly particular. To kiss one frog was disgusting but to kiss yet another would be repulsive. To make this selection, the Princess would be positively punctilious and so she paused.
With her hand yet suspended above Festus, the Princess thoughtfully surveyed the huddle of frogs.
Ferdinand kept his gaze on her face hoping their eyes would meet when she looked his way. He heard the fly buzzing before it landed between his eyes. His skin began to twitch and his tongue instinctively started to dart from his mouth.
He could not bite his tongue, as frogs do not have teeth.
He could not purse his lips, as frogs have no lips.
Sheer will-power held his tongue when the gaze of the Princess met his. It is difficult to say whose eyes crossed first, but as the Princess turned away in discomfort, Ferdinand snatched his snack.
Ferdinand kept watch on the Princess while pressing the squirming fly against the roof his mouth until his tongue grew sore. He could wait no longer. He gulped loudly.
With a snap, Princess Penelope withdrew her hand and turned away.
The King caught Ferdinand's eye as he gulped again. A smile began to tickle the corners of the King's mouth.
"Princess?" The king stepped to her side and placed his hand on her shoulder. "These fellows are famished. If you do not choose your prince in two minutes, I will order a recess. They must eat a decent meal or perish where they are."
To the King's surprise, his daughter blinked, returned her attention to the pool and stretched out her hand.
The crowd grew quiet.
The wait staff stopped setting up tables and turned to watch.
The paparazzi and reporters froze where they were. Every camera was trained on the hand of Princess Penelope and a microphone on a long boom was held above her head.
The King grew concerned. Surely Persnickety Princess Penelope was not about to make the decision of a lifetime in less than two minutes!
The King signaled for his guards to clear his way to join his daughter at the edge of the pool. He arrived to hear her address the would-be-princes at her feet.
"The Bug Chef has been commissioned to prepare a meal. We should not disappoint him. My staff will assist you to your seats."
"Highness? The King has assembled the frogs in the pool. Your prince awaits you."
Penelope had chosen a gown with three quarter length sleeves so as to avoid soiling the dress when selecting a frog. Her naptime had been devoted to further considerations, not sleep.
While the frogs were enjoying a feast of roasted cicadas in a centipede sauce, the Princess was considering the appropriate manner for lifting a would-be-prince from the pool. Contrary to popular belief the Persnickety Princess did not intend to lift anyone by his head. She would either slip her hand beneath his belly or she would grasp him about his body.
She returned to the pool of frogs and stretched out her hand.
When Festus and Ferdinand had been seated together at dinner, Ferdinand realized he had been mistaken about Festus. Now, back in the pool and finding himself shoulder-to-shoulder with Festus, Ferdinand apologized.
"I should not have called foul on you. I mistook you for a bully I know. You look just like him. Maybe you're related."
Festus grinned. "Pfft. No harm, no foul. I knowed a few toads in my time, too."
The joke went right over Ferdinand's head and that is right where Princess Penelope's hand stopped and hovered once again. The two frogs glanced at each other before each turned their gaze to her beautiful face. She was captivating.
She smiled and knees grew weak.
The Princess moved away, considering each frog as it fell beneath the shadow of her hand.
"Psst. Festus! How's she going to choose a prince doing that? Do you think her shadow knows?"
Festus kept his eye on the Princess. "I dunno. I thought we was gonna jump or somethin."
"You're kidding! Right?"
Ferdinand and Festus kept watching the Princess.
"Heck, I dunno if I'm even supposed to be a prince."
Ferdinand stuttered. "What did you say? Every frog is meant to be a prince! Right?"
Festus was quiet for a minute. "I know lots of frogs that ain't princes. Heck, even my Pa ain't no Prince."
Ferdinand was confused. "Never chosen to be a prince? How could that be?"
Please, Click on the Vote button below and come back tomorrow for another episode as the Princess moves closer and closer to making her choice. Will it be a correct choice or will she lean on her own understanding?