When I originally read the English-translated Frog Folk Tale, my imagination went wild. I couldn't resist rewriting Büdingen's funny folk tale as first-person narrative from its various subjects. I hope you enjoy my retelling. Every time you see a frog represented in Büdingen, either through public art or pictures, you'll know why.
Countess Elizabeth of Wied
"Wake up!" I elbow my new husband, Count Anton of Ysenburg and Büdingen, fancy-pants himself, hard in the ribs. "Wake up!"
He jerks awake, thrashing and kicking. "What!? What is it?! I didn't do it!?" His eyes dart anxiously around the room.
I cross my arms in front of my chest and sit up. "Do what? What didn't you do?"
Anton eyes me skeptically, pauses, and turns the question, "Why'd you wake me up!?"
Exasperated, "Isn't it obvious?!"
His mouth gapes open, a stupefied look dawns on his face as he looks around the room. Carefully, "Can you give me a hint?"
I gesture wildly at the window, "WHAT is that horrible sound! It's terrible! It has to stop!"
He looks around, and an inkling of knowing starts to dawn on his face, and he starts grinning from ear to ear. "Oh! Do you mean the frogs!? My love those are the frogs in the moat. They're quite a good security system actually, if they smell danger, they stop croaking." He says with a laugh and rolls away to his other side. "Just close your eyes, my lovely Elizabeth and think of it as the lullaby of Büdingen."
Humph. Lullaby. Who on earth is he kidding. To make matters worse, my frog-loving-husband is snoring out of sync with his slimy orchestra outside. Are the frogs getting louder? My ears start ringing, and my head is pounding. Am I to suffer this every night for the rest of my life?! NO! NO WAY!
I grab the pillow out from under my husband's head, yank the blanket off him, and jump out of bed. "Where are you going?!" He cried. With shaking hands I light the candle and walk to his side of the bed.
"You, my lord, are going to get rid of those confounded frogs, or this marriage is over before its started!"
"OK! OK! I'll meet with my town council in the morning and we'll find out how to relocate the frogs. Can I have my pillow back, please? Dearest?"
"NO! TONIGHT! You must get rid of those frogs tonight or tomorrow I'm taking my leave of this horrible frog palace and going back home. Then you'll have to deal with the consequences. Who do you want to spend the rest of your life with, ME, or your FROGS!?!"
His face was slowly turning red, and I wonder for a second if he's going to strike me. He resolutely puts on his robe, calmly lights his candle on his side of the bed and opens the bedroom door.
Seething with anger, I need a sharp object. I tie my own robe tightly across my chest and light another candle and settle into a chair in the corner of the room, by the window. I take out my current embroidery project and needle and start stabbing out stitches. The ringing in my ears subsides as the emergency bells start ringing outside the town. I smile to myself. I guess he does love me.
Count Anton of Ysenburg & Büdingen
"Yes, my lord? You rang." My valet looks at me searchingly, gauging what ails me, and not finding anything visible. I sigh heavily.
"Sir, please. I need your help, my new marriage depends on it. Countess Elizabeth of Wied is demanding we find a way to either remove the frogs in the moat, or find a way to make them stop croaking."
I look away from my valet's gaping mouth, surprised face. This... is humiliating.
"Remove the frogs in the moat, my lord?” I denote denial in his tone.
"Yes. Tonight. It has to be tonight." I manage between hands covering my face, hiding a yawn and my humiliation.
Wringing his hands. "Of course, tonight. We'll remove all of the frogs in the moat tonight. Consider it done, my lord. Good night." He bowed out, and turned with a flourish. I slowly walk into my study, and sit down. Stretch. Yawn. I drift into sleep as the emergency bells ring out across the town.
Bailiff, Council of the Court
"CITIZENS OF BÜDINGEN! YOUR COUNT REQUIRES YOUR SERVICE TONIGHT IN PRESERVING THE PEACE BETWEEN BÜDINGEN AND WIED, IN HONOR OF HIS NEW MARRIAGE."
The assembled group of citizens were a comical scene. In varying stages of undress, yet wielding cross-bows and sharp pitchforks, others with buckets of water. All bleary-eyed with sleep.
With as much seriousness as though the city was under attack, I puff up my chest and throw my shoulders back. "BRING YOUR BUCKETS, AND NETS, PUT ON YOUR BOOTS. MEET IMMEDIATELY AT THE MOAT. TONIGHT....” I pause, and force my face to resolute seriousness, “WE MUST CATCH EVERY-LAST-FROG!!!!!"
A few citizens stared at him blankly. A few dared to laugh. Others shook their heads in disbelief.
Town Council Members
Sopping wet and weary, the citizens of Büdingen toted in countelss buckets brimming with frogs. The croaking was deafening. A few delirious citizens were dozing off face first in their buckets, the source of the croaks and all.
"What are we going to do now?!" The racket is horrible!"
"Well, can the archers dispose of the frogs?"
"What?! NO! What a waste of arrows! Absolutely not!"
"Ok, fine. How about a fire. We can start a big bonfire and toss the buckets in."
"FOOL! They're all wet. We're all wet! We'll never get a fire going."
"No, their guild will not allow it. They won't touch frogs. It's beneath them." He answered with a roll of the eye.
Beneath them. Humph. This whole frog-debacle is beneath us.
"Sir! The river! We can dump the frogs in the river and then Düdelsheim can deal with them!"
"Good morning my lord! We've solved the frog problem!" I can’t help myself, I throw my hands on my hips in pride. My blood-shot red eyes are a twinkling, probably a bit maniacally.
"Good morning! Wait... what frog problem? Oh. OH! Yes of course. Wonderful! Wonderful!" The Count thumps my back, congratulatory.
"Your loyal citizens of Büdingen worked tirelessly through the night and collected all of the frogs from the moat and now this afternoon we'll take them to the Mühltor Bridge and dump them into the river. They'll be croaking in Düdelsheim by nightfall." I’ll be telling my grandkids about this day, years from now.
"Genius! Brilliant! Of course! MY wonderful citizens. I'll tell the Countess, and we'll meet the citizens at the bridge for the frog...send off?"
Countess Elizabeth of Wied
He starts laughing, and leans back and crosses his arms. He's so proud of himself he's nearly busting his buttons. "My dear wife, the loyal citizens of Büdingen have solved your, I mean, OUR frog problem. They'd love to see your beautiful face at the Mühltor Bridge in a few hours to give a proper send-off to the Büdingen frogs,” he pauses, “Or should I say, the Düdelsheim frogs!" At this he starts cracking up in a most undignified manner. He's a funny man. Maybe this will be a good marriage after all. I smile at him, and kiss him appreciatively on the cheek.
Froggily Ever After
That beautiful afternoon, the citizens of Büdingen turned out in droves to see the Count and Countess, and of course to dump buckets of frog into the river. The kids will never forget the sight. The marriage of the Count and Countess was saved, and the citizens were forever nicknamed "The Fräääsch" the frogs, in pride for their clever frog solution.
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