Warning: This is a rather scary story, particularly if you are a very small tadpole. Halloween is the most frightening night the year, or it is the most scrummy night of the year, depending on whether you are on the right end of a trick or a treat. Prince Bertie the Frog, Colin the Carp and friends are in search of fun and things to eat, but they encounter a real wicked witch in the form of Princess Beatrice's stepmother. Bertie makes a wish, and then wishes that he hadn't.
Read by Natasha. Duration 15 minutes.
Proofread by Claire Deakin.
It was the day before Halloween. Bertie and his friends were splashing around, just as they do on any ordinary day, but it wasn't any ordinary day, and it certainly wasn't going to be any ordinary sort of night. But for now, Sadie was calmly admiring her reflection in the pond, and Colin the Carp was moaning about, well, just about anything and everything, so nothing out of the ordinary there. Bertie and Tim the Tadpole were playing a game of Twenty Questions, except that it wasn't going very well because the only thing that Bertie could think of was, "skateboard," and the only vegetable that Tim could think of was, "green slime," which made it a bit easy.
As they were playing, Tim saw Princess Beatrice and the children from the palace collecting giant pumpkins from the vegetable patch.
"What are those very large things, Bertie?" Said Tim.
"Those? They're vegetables."
"Oh. I didn't know that vegetables were so scary!"
"Well, my tiny friend," said Bertie. "That's because they are meant to be scary. The children are going to hollow them out and put candles inside them so that they light up for Halloween and look exactly like horrid scary monsters."
"Oh," said Tim. "I'm rather frightened." Because you see, Tim is only very small, even by the standard of tadpoles, and he gets frightened rather easily. Just then, Colin the Carp, who is a very grumpy fish, snapped his teeth loudly behind Tim's back, so loudly in fact, that Tim squeaked, "Yikes!" And tumbled back into the pond with a tiny little splash.
"Huh! Halloween's a good time for scaring small and silly creatures," growled Colin.
When Tim returned timidly to the surface, Bertie continued to explain all about Halloween:
"It's the most brilliant time of the year. When I was a prince I used to go Trick'r'Treating. I would knock on doors and say, "Royal Trick or Treat," and if people didn't give me sweeties or chocolate, I would play a trick on them. But most people were a bit scared, and they gave me a treat. So every Halloween I had the most yummy scrummy time."
"Fabulous!" Cried little Tim. "Can we go trick'r'treating Bertie? I promise to be really, really scary, and people will give us loads of green slime and other delicious things."
And so, Bertie decreed, that this year, the pond life would go Trick'r'Treating. Sadie, Bertie and Tim thought long and hard about what sort of costumes they should wear. Then Tim had a brilliant idea, which is rather unusual for him.
"Why don't we go as a swan, a frog, and a tadpole?" He said.
Sadie walked in front, and Tim hopped onto Bertie's back, and they wandered through the vegetable patch, and started down the street. Sadie tapped on the doors with her beak, and by the end of the evening they had collected loads and loads of sweets. They had jelly babies, and toffees, and biscuits, and chewy things, and well, it's making me a bit peckish just thinking about it. When they had as much as Sadie could carry in her wings, and Bertie could stuff in his mouth, they decided to go back to the pond. But as they drew close, a thick mist was hanging over the pond. Three human beings were taking a walk through the dark. But were they really human? After all, it was Halloween.
"Oh!" Said Tim, "What are those strange creatures? Are they... are they scary monsters?"
"Well," said Bertie. "I would say, based on my experience of magic and the supernatural, that, er, what we see there is a big witch and two baby witches."
Suddenly one of the little witches called out, "Tick or Treat?" And her friend said, "Trick or Treat?" At that very instant, Colin the Carp leaped up out of the water with a dead fly in his mouth, and he put it right down in front of the tall figure who, as it turned out, was the lovely Princess Beatrice who had dressed up as a witch for Halloween.
"Here's your treat!" Said Colin, "Now, buzz off!"
Princess Beatrice, who as well as being very lovely and sweet, is also very afraid of creepy crawlies, and besides, had never heard a carp speak before, so she jumped up in the air and shrieked,"Aaahhh! Ahhhh!"
She ran all the way back to the palace with the two little witches following her as fast as they could.
"Ha! That will teach her to come around here asking for treats," grumped Colin.
"If only," Bertie mused. "A real witch would come and put a spell on him. What's the use of all those pretend witches?"
Little did Bertie know, that just then, in front of the full moon, a wicked witch was flying past on her broom, and that the wicked witch was none other than Princess Beatrice's stepmother. Since it had been rather a dull Halloween, and she hadn't found anybody to turn into a frog or a toad, she was delighted to hear Bertie calling for the services of a real grade A, official, and fully certified, wicked witch!
She went flying low over the surface of the pond, leaving a huge wake of surf and green slime.
"Ah ha ha haaaa!" She screeched. "Let those who moan, turn to stone!"
When she was gone, and all was quiet again, little Tim said, "That was rather scary."
"Nonsense," said Bertie, "That wasn't frightening at all. I just hid behind this tree as a sensible precaution."
So the pond life went to bed, and I'm glad to say that none of them had any nightmares at all. But I'm sorry to say that Bertie felt just a little bit sick, as he had eaten so many scrummy sweeties. When the sun started to rise over the palace, and stretch her warm autumn rays over the pond, Sadie the swan was admiring a new fountain that she hadn't noticed before.
"My oh my," she said, "that stone fish with water coming out of his mouth looks just like Colin. I wonder who could have made it in his honour?"
"Yes," said Bertie, "I'd recognise that ugly mug anywhere. But wait, do you know what? I think it is Colin!"
"Don't be silly," said Sadie, "but then again, oh, I think you are right. You don't suppose that wicked stepmother could have turned Colin into stone?"
"I do suppose," said Bertie. "Look what she did to me. I used to be a handsome prince."
Although the little tadpoles had a lovely day, free from Colin's tricks and his moaning and groaning, Bertie started to feel just a little bit guilty. After all, it was he who had asked for the help of a wicked witch. But he hadn't meant it. Not really. We all say things we don't mean when we are a bit cross. So he thought of a plan, and that night he hopped over to pay a visit to the wicked stepmother. He was rather frightened because, after all, she is a very wicked witch indeed. He waited for a long time outside her door, feeling rather nervous. Eventually he called out, "Croak!" And when the wicked stepmother came out, he shouted, "Trick or Treat?" Before she could reply, he splattered her with green slime from his mouth, and hopped away as fast as his bendy legs could carry him.
"Grrrrr! Bertie!" She shouted.
Bertie waited until it was very late at night - past half seven - and then he knocked very loudly on the door again. Then he shouted, "Trick or Treat!" And pushed a skateboard under her feet so that she fell over and banged her head on the floor, and he hopped away.
"Grrr! Just you wait. I'll get you Bertie. You've gone too far my filthy little frog!"
He waited until the king came to say goodnight to the wicked stepmother. The king knocked on the door quite loudly. Suddenly the door opened and the queen leaned out shouting, "I'll turn you into a maggot, you stupid piece of green slime! Oh, oh sorry Your Royal Highness. I didn't mean to." But the king strutted down the corridor, muttering about how one of his wives had never been so really, really rude, and how the last one who was rather rude got her head chopped off. The wicked stepmother was rather afraid. Just then, Bertie hopped into view.
"Er, Trick or Treat?" He said mildly.
And even though the wicked stepmother was really cross, she realised that she had been outwitted, and she agreed to come down to the pond, and to turn Colin back into a fish again. All the pond life were very pleased to see Colin swimming around again, because even though he is a bit grumpy, he still is their friend, and friends are very important. They saved up for a couple of chocolate-coloured dead flies so that even Colin the Carp cheered up for a little bit.
And that's the true Storynory of Prince Bertie the Frog's Halloween.