We are getting really into the holiday mood now, with the absolutely true story of how Prince Bertie the Frog met Santa Claus. And as a special treat, this story is our first to come with music and ambience.
Read by Natasha. Duration 23 Minutes.
Hello. This is Natasha. And I'm dropping by to tell you the storynory of how Prince Bertie the Frog met Father Christmas.
Yes, really. In real life!
It's ever such an exciting story, I can hardly wait to tell it to you.
Christmas was getting close, and all the pond life were sitting around discussing the things that they wanted for Christmas.
It was quite shivery weather, being the middle of winter in that part of the world, but Prince Bertie the Frog and his friends didn't mind about that. They were too excited thinking of things to ask Santa for.
"What are you wishing for, Bertie?" Asked Tim the Tadpole.
"Well, my small friend," said Bertie. "I would like a new 60 gigabyte video Ipod, personally engraved, of course; and a new PlayStation 3, with loads of games to play. Maybe a Nintendo as well. Oh, and perhaps a High Definition flat panel TV. And, and, and... I would like one of the new Robo-Skateboarders, because I have read it is this year's must-have present, and there will be a real shortage."
Bertie had reeled off his Christmas list with great enthusiasm, but then for a moment he felt a little bit sad - for you see, when he was a prince and lived in the palace, he used to get loads and loads of presents, but now he's a frog, the most he can really look forward to for Christmas is a piece of green slime.
"And how about you Tim?" Asked Bertie.
"A pair of wellington boots," said Tim; "A walking stick, some socks, maybe some jelly babies, and a copy of, "Cooking With Slime," by Joly Oliver."
"We'd better not even ask Colin the Carp what he wants," said Bertie.
"Oh, just a fly trap, as usual," said Colin, sounding a bit gloomy, "and maybe, if Santa can be bothered, a copy of "Dead Insects à la Carte," by Graham Ramsey."
"And in a perfect world, what would Santa bring for Sadie the Swan?" Bertie wondered out loud.
Sadie glided elegantly across the pond. "I think I'd rather like a day at a luxury health spa," she sighed, "and some feather beauty treatments."
So Bertie said he was would write all the things they wanted down, and make sure they were sent off to Santa in plenty of time for Christmas - and maybe, just this time, Santa would remember all the pond life. After all, there has to be a first time for everything. But he had counted without a very unexpected turn of events.
Up at the Palace, just a few days before Christmas, the wicked queen, Princess Beatrice's Stepmother was in a terrible temper - even worse than usual. She was getting more and more stressed with all the preparations for the big day.
There were presents to buy and wrap, food to prepare, and all sorts of charitable acts for the poor people... which really didn't interest her very much.
"Right, that's it!" She screeched one morning. "I'm totally fed up. Christmas is cancelled. We're not bothering this year... and I'm going to ask that stupid old Santa just to send me a cheque instead."
Now, when everyone in the palace heard this, they were really quite upset, because they were looking forward to Christmas so very much - but the wicked stepmother was absolutely determined. "No No, No, Absolutely NOT. Christmas is OFF," she shrieked over and over again. "If any little child so much as dare whisper, "Merry Christmas I'll turn him into a beetle." And everyone did their best to stay out of her sight. Because you see, secretly she's a witch, and she might turn you into a creepy-crawly just for fun, so if he's in a bad mood, it's best to stay out of her way.
Everyone was truly miserable, but nobody more so than the lovely Princess Beatrice, because she especially loved Christmas. Most of all, she liked helping the poor people, and doing kind things for little children, and small, fluffy animals... and she quite liked eating yummy-scrummy food, and getting some presents herself. So she was terribly upset.
To calm herself down, she went for a walk by the pond. but she couldn't stop herself from sobbing gentle, sweet tears. She began to talk to the creatures who lived on the pond, and she didn't think for a moment think that they might understand a word of what she was saying.
"Dear, gentle swan," she said. "Funny-faced frog, tiny tadpole, and strangely grumpy looking fish do you not understand how sad I am, now that my wicked stepmother has cancelled Christmas? Yes, it's true, she wrote to Santa and asked him to pay a cheque into her bank account instead. Oh alas! It is as if my heart had been broken into a thousand tiny little bits... and I have no idea how to put it back together again."
And wiping the tears from her eyes, she went back to the palace.
"Oh!" Sighed Bertie. "This is truly terrible. I can't bear to see the lovely Princess Beatrice so upset. After all, I'm still officially engaged to be married to Her Royal Loveliness. Something must be done."
And so Bertie, along with his friends, hatched a cunning plan.
They waited until the night of Christmas Eve, and when it was getting dark, Bertie and Tim hopped onto Sadie the Swan's back. The mission was so important that even Colin the Carp wished them good luck.
Sadie flapped her wings. It was a long time since she had flown anywhere, and she had to flap and flap, but finally, she spread out her feathers and soared upwards into the night sky.
Bertie was hanging onto her back, and Tim was hanging onto Bertie.
"Are we there yet?" Asked Tim nervously.
"I only wish," said Bertie as he swayed around in the wind.
Sadie flapped up and down, up and down, until they were flying over a nearby village.
"There!" shouted Bertie.
And Sadie flew down onto a rooftop, skidding to a halt. Tim was very pleased to climb off, and he was already wondering if he could take a bus home since flying on a swan's back was a bit scary.
"We'll just wait right by this chimney," said Bertie, "and when Santa and the reindeer come along, we'll tell him that he's not to listen to the silly old wicked stepmother and I'll order him to deliver presents to the palace as usual."
Then he paused to think for a bit... "And to everyone on the pond as well, of course."
So Bertie, Tim and Sadie waited and waited. They got very cold, and a bit peckish, but they didn't complain because they knew it was very important to see Santa.
Finally, they saw the twinkling of moonbeams, a silvery trail of stardust, and Santa's sleigh was coming into land.
"I saw him first, I saw him first," said Tim, trying to jump up and down, which is quite difficult when you haven't got any legs.
"No, I did," boomed Bertie.
"It was me, it was me," squealed Tim.
"No, Tim, I..."
"Not fair, not fair, not fair," cried Tim. "I never get to see anyone first."
"Now, now, boys, it doesn't really matter who saw him first," said Sadie. "We just have to speak to Santa."
The sleigh had already landed on the roof, and a big jolly man with a red coat and a white beard was walking with a sack of presents towards the chimney.
"Who's that?" Asked Tim - who really is a rather silly Tadpole.
Bertie ignored him and went up to accost Santa's reindeer.
"I say there, my merry fellows," said Bertie. "I need to have a word about a delivery."
"Well, I don't know about that," said the first reindeer. "You'll have to talk to the boss."
"It's very urgent," said Bertie.
"Oh, urgent, is it?" Said the reindeer. "It's only Christmas Eve, 'innit mate. We've only got, what three or four billion presents to deliver, and you start telling us your business is urgent."
"But... but..." Spluttered Bertie.
"Well have you got anything for us?" Asked the reindeer.
"And not another mince pie and carrot," said the next reindeer. "We've had a couple million of them already, and we're fed up."
"I didn't actually think to bring you something," said Bertie.
"No, well, nobody ever does. We deliver millions of presents around the world, and nobody brings us nothing - unless it's a mince pie."
Bertie was starting to wonder if he shouldn't put in an official complaint about the reindeer's poor service, when just then Santa himself popped back out of the chimney.
"Oh bother," he said, bending over and picking up Bertie. "Looks like I dropped this little feller. Oh well, never mind, we'll just sling it in the next stocking. There must be some not terribly well-behaved snotty-nosed kid who deserves nothing better than a cheap-looking toy frog ."
"I-I-I'm not a toy," spluttered Bertie.
Santa chuckled. "A toy that talks - that's hardly original."
"Look here, my good sir," said Bertie, putting on his grandest voice. "I'm Prince Bertie - from the Palace, you know. I'm merely in the form of a frog because my fiancee's stepmother got rather cross with me once - well that's a long story but perhaps I'll tell it to you another time."
"We'll be skipping the palace this year," said Santa. "The queen wrote to us personally, and said she was cancelling Christmas this year, and we were just to send a cheque and a large box of chocolates instead."
"That's just it," said Bertie. "It's all been a terrible mistake. The lovely Princess Beatrice - she's my fiancee, you know, and the sweetest kindest creature who ever lived - is so terribly sad about Christmas being cancelled, and so I've come to ask you to put the palace back on your route. If its not too much trouble..."
Santa stroked his long white beard. "Can't be done," he said firmly. "It's already been put on the system, you see. I can't go around changing it at the last minute."
"But Princess Beatrice will be so miserable," said Bertie.
Santa shook his head. "Not as upset as the systems people will be if I start trying to change the rota. It simply can't be done."
Bertie was starting to get so cross he was hopping from one foot to another. "I have to insist," he said.
"You can insist all you like, my fine frog, er, prince, but rules are rules. Letters to Santa must be written three weeks in advance, on one side of the paper only, and addressed to The North Pole. Chimneys must be a regulation six feet minimum, and free of dangerous objects. Roofs must have a minimum width of twelve feet of landing space for the reindeer. One mince pie must be left for Santa, but no custard, or harmful additives. It's all there in health and safety regulations, mate."
"But it's Christmas," spluttered Bertie. "Goodwill to all frogs, and all that."
"Doesn't mean there aren't rules to follow," said Santa. "If the palace wants to go back on the list then they will have to apply to head office."
Just then Sadie the Swan walked across. She hissed her fiercest hiss and bared her sharp teeth. "You've never seen a crying princess," she said. "It's enough to break anyone's heart. Now deliver a present."
Santa backed away because Sadie was really quite scary when she got cross. "I could, I suppose," said Santa. "But I'm afraid we haven't got anything to give her."
"Nothing at all?" Said Bertie.
Santa shook his head. "All these presents are spoken for," he said. "You wouldn't want some small child missing out because of you, would you frog?"
Now Bertie thought about it, that didn't seem a terribly good idea. "I know," he said. "Just take me. I'll be the present." And as Santa was fed up of arguing, he agreed to Bertie's plan, on condition that nobody breathed a word about it to head office.
So Bertie, Tim and Sadie climbed onto Santa's sleigh, which Tim thought was the most exciting thing ever. The reindeer pulled it high into the sky, until it landed on the roof of the palace. Santa put Bertie in his pocket and dropped down the chimney. He glanced across to check that the lovely Princess Beatrice was sleeping, and then he slipped Bertie into the bottom of the stocking that was hung up by the chimney.
He picked up the mince pie that Princess Beatrice had left just in case Santa did come after all. Then he flew on to deliver the presents to all the other children all over the world.
Bertie stayed at the bottom of the stocking until dawn broke. He was starting to wish he'd borrowed a mince pie because he was feeling a bit peckish, but then he heard Princess Beatrice waking up.
She walked over to the chimney, and she saw that the mince pie was gone and that there was something in the stocking. "Santa has been," she said out loud. "I knew he would...."
"I'm so excited, I'm so excited," she said, dancing around the room. "It's Christmas!"
Then when she had calmed down, she looked inside the stocking. She was talking out loud about all the things she'd asked Santa for. A new tiara set, a string of pearls, a pink ballgown, a fluffy pink bunny, and a complete set of Girls Aloud CDs.
"Oh dear," she said, lifting Bertie out of the stocking. "It's a toy frog. That's, er, well, quite nice I suppose - I think I'll take it to the charity shop on Monday."
Bertie was a bit sad about that. It seemed the Princess Beatrice didn't really like her present. He only longed that he could look into her darling hazel eyes and say, "Dearest Beatrice, don't you recognise me? Before I became this sweet little frog you see before you, I was your handsome Prince Bertie."
Now if there is one thing Bertie was good at when he was still a prince, it was skateboarding. Unfortunately, Princess Beatrice did not own a skateboard, but she did have a pair of roller-blades. And as it happened, Bertie saw one sticking out from under her bed. He pulled it out and hopped on board. Then he started to do loop-the-loops and all sorts of marvellous acrobatics. Eventually, he fell off, but he managed to make that look like he did it on purpose, just to be funny.
Princess Beatrice was delighted. She was so excited that she jumped up and down and clapped her hands. Then she picked up Bertie and was about to kiss him when she thought, "well perhaps not this time," and put him down again on the floor.
"My darling little frog," she said. "How can I ever thank you enough? This is the best Christmas ever." She ran off to tell all the little children who lived in the palace all about what had happened.
"Croak," said Bertie when she was gone. He cried a little tear because he would so like to be a prince once again, and spend Christmas with the lovely Princess Beatrice. But at the same time, he felt really really happy because he had managed to cheer her up.
And when he got back to the pond, he found some presents waiting for him. And Tim had cooked up a mega-dish of Christmas treats, specially prepared from his brand new copy of 'Cooking With Green Slime'.
And that's the Storynory of how Prince Bertie the Frog met Father Christmas. And every single word of it is true. Honestly.
I hope you have a great day, and that Santa brings you some wonderful presents.
But for now, from me, Natasha, and all your pond life friends at Storynory.com HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! bye, bye.