Bertie’s Double

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Storynory's Bertie - in doubleThe lovely Princess Beatrice has stayed true to her long lost prince Bertie for many a long day. But there was a time when she was seen walking in the palace gardens with another prince! Still worse, the wicked queen was determined to hold a royal wedding to boost the popularity ratings of the royal family. Bertie the Frog’s hopes of being turned back into a prince and marrying Beatrice were almost dashed into a million tiny pieces.

Read by Natasha. Proofread by Claire Deakin. Duration 25 minutes.

It all started like this. Bertie was sitting on his lily leaf in the sun, thinking that life as a frog wasn’t all that bad, when he saw Princess Beatrice walking in the palace garden with… another man!

Right away, he recognised the scoundrel as the smarmy Prince Boris. He liked to call himself Boris the Brave, and now Bertie heard his smarmy voice saying, “And did you ever hear about the time I fought a seven-headed sea monster?”

“Er, no.” said Beatrice. “But I suspect that I’m going to now.”

Boris started to tell a story which Bertie was certain was untrue, because anyone who has really fought a sea monster would know that they have nine heads, not seven – unless somebody had already cut two of them off, which seemed a bit unlikely.

“Oh dear,” said Bertie. “If the lovely Beatrice marries Boris, I won’t have any reason to go on living. I might as well just hop off and die.”

His only comfort came from Colin the Carp who was swimming by.

“I shouldn’t worry,” said Colin. “Beatrice looks bored silly by that Prince Boris the Boaster.”

A couple of weeks went by, and one evening Bertie saw Beatrice walking in the garden with yet another man. This time it was Prince Freddie from the next door kingdom. Freddie was terribly brainy at maths, and he had known Beatrice since they were both little. In fact, he used to help Beatrice with her maths homework. Bertie knew this, and he was just a tiny bit jealous that another prince had been her friend for so long.

“Freddie, dear,” said Beatrice.

“Uh oh,” thought Bertie. “She called him ‘dear’”

Beatrice went on. “Do you see that frog sitting on a lily leaf? It’s very strange, but sometimes when I see his funny little face, I can’t help thinking of my long lost Prince Bertie.”

Freddie chuckled when he heard this. “Indeed my dear,” he replied. “How right you are. Bertie always was a bit froggy in the face.”

Bertie was outraged when he heard this. “See here!” He called out. “When I was a prince. I didn’t look in the least bit like a frog.”

But Beatrice and Freddie couldn’t understand what he was saying. All they could hear was “Croak! Croak!”

Freddie remarked, “Now look. You’ve hurt the little frog’s feelings because you said he looked like Prince Bertie!”

Beatrice smiled for a moment, and then said, “Oh Freddie, don’t be so cruel. You know how dear Prince Bertie is to my heart.” And they both ambled back to the palace.

For the next couple of weeks or so, Bertie didn’t see any princes stepping out into the gardens with Beatrice, and he stopped worrying about Freddie and Boris. But up in the palace, the wicked queen was plotting a royal wedding for her stepdaughter. As usual, she had her own devious reasons. The king had recently put up taxes, and the royal family was becoming rather unpopular. The wicked queen thought that a royal romance followed by a fairy tale wedding would be just the trick to boost the royal ratings and make them popular with the people again.

“Now dear,” she said to the lovely princess Beatrice as she was brushing her hair one morning. “It’s high time you found a nice rich young prince and got married.”

“But Your Majesty,” cried Beatrice. “Prince Bertie has disappeared and nobody knows where he is.”

“Prince Bertie!” Spluttered the queen. “You’re not still hankering after that old flame are you? Since the day he vanished, he hasn’t so much as sent you a postcard. Don’t you see that he’s forgotten all about you?”

“Forgotten me?” Said Beatrice, with tears in her eyes. “Oh, no he can’t have. My dear Bertie would never do that. He’s on a top secret mission to save the country. He can’t let anyone know a thing about it. That’s what I think, and I won’t believe anything different.”

“Poppycock!” Cried the queen. “Why don’t you just marry Prince Freddie. He’s got lots of money.”

“But, but Freddie’s boring.”

“Well, what about Prince Boris? He’s handsome and rich.”

“But Boris boasts and tells fibs! No, I won’t marry anyone but my dear Bertie. Not ever. I’ll wait a hundred years for him if needs be.” And with that, Beatrice got up and ran out into the garden.

The queen was furious, because she hated Bertie, and she certainly did not have any plans to turn him back into a prince and suffer him as her son-in-law.

“He’ll be telling those unfunny jokes of his over breakfast, oh no no no, we can’t have that. And riding around on that awful skateboard. Ugh! Its so unroyal! Besides, he doesn’t approve of my wicked spells. Bertie is out of the question, but Beatrice won’t let him out her thoughts. Poor deluded girl.”

The wicked queen thought and thought about the problem for six whole days, but still no solution came to mind.

On the seventh day, she was having her breakfast with the king, when he exclaimed, “Oh Gosh. Oh Golly. For a moment I thought that was Bertie back from the dead!”

He tapped his newspaper. The queen looked over his shoulder and saw a picture of Bertie – only it wasn’t actually Bertie; it was somebody else who looked just like him.

His name was Norman Crompton and until recently he lived in a castle. The newspaper reported that he had just sold his ancient home, including the beautiful deer park that surrounded it. The company that had bought Crompton Castle planned to knock it down and build a multi-storey car park in its place.

The picture showed Norman cracking open a bottle of champagne. You see, the property company had paid him a lot of money for his castle.

“His heart seems to be in the right place,” remarked the queen.
“Yes, in his wallet!” Laughed the king.

Later that day, the queen asked her chief spy to find Norman Crompton’s mobile phone number for her. When he reported back with the number, she sent him a text message;

“Hi Norman. How would you like to marry the lovely Princess Beatrice and inherit the kingdom? All you have to do is pretend to be Prince Bertie. Yours, the Wicked Queen.”

Norman texted back right away, “No kidding? Of course I would. Just so long as Bertie doesn’t turn up.”

And the queen replied, “Don’t worry. He’s with the fishes.”

By which Norman understood that Bertie had met a watery grave, because how could he have guessed that he had been turned into a frog? That was the queen’s closely guarded secret.

That evening, she took Beatrice into a quiet corner of the palace and whispered some very important news to her. Only it wasn’t true news, it was a pack of fibs that she had made up. She claimed that Bertie was about to come back from his top secret mission. She said that this had been told to her that morning by her chief spymaster. He was due back in exactly a month’s time, and the day after his return Beatrice would marry him.

Beatrice was so excited when she heard the news that she didn’t know what to do with herself. As soon as the wicked queen had left her, she ran out into the garden and down to the pond.

“Oh dear little frog!” She exclaimed to Bertie. “All this long while that Bertie has been away, I’ve poured my heart out to you. And now, do you know what? He’s coming back! Yes it’s true! The queen told me herself. In a month’s time we are to be wed. I’m so excited I just want to laugh and cry, dance and lie down, shout and keep my mouth shut, all at the same time.”

That’s how Bertie felt too. You see, he really believed that the wicked queen had decided to turn him back into a prince so that he could marry Beatrice after all. You see, sometimes, when you really want something to happen with all your heart, you are ready to believe even the most unlikely fibs that people tell you.

When he told the little tadpoles about Bertie’s news, they swarmed around in circles and shouted, “Yippeeeee!”

Sadie the swan said, “Oh Bertie! A true fairy tale ending. What on earth shall I wear?”

Even Colin the Carp said, “Congratulations!” Which is highly unusual, as he’s normally he’s ever so grumpy. Then he added, “I don’t suppose any fish will be on the invitation list.”

The month went by terribly slowly for both Bertie and Beatrice. The day before the wedding was due to take place, Beatrice was looking out of her window when she saw a gold carriage and six white horses pull up outside the palace. Out of the carriage stepped Prince Bertie.

“Oh dear, dear Bertie!” She said to herself. “How I long to run and kiss your sweet face, even if it is a bit froggy like Freddie said.”

But Beatrice had been forbidden to speak to Bertie until the moment of her wedding. Both the king and queen said it was a strict tradition and if she broke it, it would mean terribly bad luck for their future.

Bertie also saw the golden coach arrive. Athough he couldn’t see Norman step out, Elsa the palace cat did. She knows all the palace gossip and never misses a thing. She ran straight down to the pond with the news.
“Guess what, pond life?” She murred, “The wicked queen has found somebody called Norman who looks just like Prince Bertie. Beatrice is going to marry him tomorrow and she will never know the difference.”

“I thought that something like that would happen,” said Colin. “If the wicked queen went to all the trouble of turning Bertie into a frog, why would she want to turn him back into a prince again? I should think that life up in the palace is much less annoying without Prince Bertie around.”

Bertie wasn’t listening. He did not know what to do, but he knew he had to do something, so he hitched a lift back up to the palace on Elsa’s back, and she took him all the way up to Beatrice’s door. She meowed and the lovely princess let her in.

“Oh Elsa,” she said. “You’ve brought me my lucky frog. He probably wants some water. I’ll run a cold bath for him.”

Bertie didn’t fancy a cold bath. Instead, he hopped onto her dressing table and croaked his heart out. Beatrice was quite puzzled. He had seemed so glad when she had first spoken of the wedding, and now that her happiness was almost fulfilled, her frog was upset about something. If only she could understand what all his croaking was about!

That night, she could hardly sleep with excitement. In the morning the maids came in and helped her get into her wedding dress and look at her most radiant and lovely for the wedding. One of them took a broom and tried to shoe Bertie out of the bathroom, but Beatrice just managed to stop her in time before she really hurt the poor little frog. In fact, when she went down to her carriage, she ordered the maid to bring him to the wedding.

“Ee- yuck!” She said as she picked him up.

Bertie had never felt so low in all his life. He felt even sadder than on the day he had been turned into a frog.

Here he was travelling in a golden carriage to his own wedding – only it wasn’t going to be HIS wedding. He was only going to watch his dear princess marry somebody called Norman, who happened to look rather like him – and all because of the wicked queen!

As Beatrice entered the church, the orchestra played, “Here Comes the Bride.” Her great-uncle, Prince Evan took her arm, and led her down the isle to where Norman and the archbishop were already waiting for her. As she stood side by side with Norman in front of the alter, she said ever so softly into his ear, “Darling Bertie. It’s so wonderful that you are back. All the time you’ve been away, I’ve been wondering one thing…”

“And what was that my dear?” Whispered Norman, trying as best as possible to sound like Bertie.

Princess Beatrice whispered, “Why didn’t the skeleton go to the party?”

“I don’t know. Why didn’t the skeleton go to the party?”

“Don’t you know? Because he had no body to go with. Alright then, which ghost has the best hearing?”

“I don’t know, my dear. Which ghost does has the best hearing?”
“Why, it’s the eeriest, of course!”

Just then, the archbishop cleared his throat to get their attention. He began the ceremenony.
He asked Norman, “Do you, Bertie, take Betrice to be your lawful wedded wife?”
“I do,” replied Norman.

“And do you, Beatrice, take Bertie to love, honour and Obey”

And Beatrice replied, “No way!”

“Why ever not?” Asked the Bishop.

“Because he’s not my Bertie. He’s an imposter! Guards, seize him!”

The wicked queen jumped up and screamed, “Guards. Do no such thing. My stepdaughter’s gone out of her sweet tiny mind!”
But the King said, “No, no, no. Guards do seize him! She’s right you know? That isn’t Bertie. Whoever he is, he’s an imposter!”

And then speaking to the Queen he said, “You see my dear: I had an inkling last night over dinner that there was something not quite right with that young man. I couldn’t put my finger on it . But now Beatrice has said he’s not Bertie, I see that she’s spot on. Do you recall him over dinner? I asked him what he had been up to while he was away, and he replied, “Father, I wish I could tell you but it’s a secret.”

Well that was pretty strange because if there was one thing Bertie could never keep, it was a secret. Then later on, he only ate one helping of chocolate pudding. That was most unlike himself. I thought he must be off colour – nerves about the big day – but no, now I see that it’s because he’s not Bertie.”

The wicked queen was afraid that her secret would be found out, so she let the guards drag poor Norman off the palace dungeons. Later on, he escaped, but only after she turned him into a mouse.

When the guards had hauled the imposter out of the cathedral, there was a huge uproar and loads of confusion among the people. The king made a long speech to calm everyone down. In fact, lots of them became very bored and either left or nodded off. While he was doing this, Beatrice spoke to her luck frog.

“Dearest little frog,” she said. “I knew you were trying to tell me something – only I could not quite understand what it was. It was only when I stood side by side with the supposed “Prince Bertie” that I felt troubled. I sort of felt it wasn’t him. So to make sure, I asked him two of Bertie’s favourite riddles. He didn’t know the answers, even though Bertie had told them to me thousands of times. Then I knew for sure that he was an imposter…

But it was you, dear frog, who first put me on my guard. I’m so grateful I could kiss you.”

And with those works, she began to raise Bertie, sitting on the palm of her hand, to her lips.

Bertie closed his eyes and thought, “Yes! The Lovely Princess Beatrice is about to kiss me at long last, and I will be turned back into a prince.”

Unfortunately, the wicked queen saw what was about to happen and… Kerpow!

She pointed her wand at Bertie and shouted, “Eat slime,” at the very second that Beatrice’s lips touched Bertie’s head.
That was enough to prevent the kiss working, and poor Bertie didn’t turn back into a prince. He remained a frog and had to hop off back to his pond.

That evening he wasn’t too sad, because at least he had prevented a lovely princess from marrying the wrong person. And there was still chance that one day he would turn back into the true Bertie and marry his princess.

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