Chase Me!

chase me cover ebook size

CHASE ME!

“Chase me! Chase me!”

If he caught her, he would cast a spell on her. Gabrielle ran faster, but she couldn’t escape. “You are now a Princess!” she heard him proclaim.

“I don’t want to be a Princess!”

“What did you say, your Royal Highness?” asked an elderly lady seated beside her.

“Oh, nothing!” replied the Princess. On the carriage seat across from her were,

The Princess’s Book of
What to Do

and,

The Princess’s Book of
What Not to Do

She could have screamed.

When they arrived at the palace, the King and Queen waited at the end of a long red carpet, and stared intently to see that their daughter did exactly as she ought to do.

Now, since it had rained a lot recently, the number of frogs in the palace moat had increased enormously. Despite the moat-keeper’s best efforts to keep them all there, one of them did manage to escape. Across the grass, it hopped, hopped until it stopped in front of the Princess.

“Croak!” it said.

“What?” she asked.

“Croak!” the frog said more loudly. “Croak! Croak!” Then it jumped into the Princess’s dress pocket.

That night, while her frog hopped in and out of a pitcher of water, the Princess had a dream. She dreamt that she was a girl called

Gabrielle and that she was playing chase across the autumn leaves with her uncle.

“Chase me!” she called. “Chase me!” And her uncle ran after her with a branch in his hand that was a magic wand.

“If I catch you,” he said, “I’m going to turn you into a Princess.”

“No, no,” she protested. “I don’t want to be a Princess. I’d rather be a frog!”

The dreaming Princess lay on her bed, a pitcher of water sat on a bureau and Gabrielle, who was now a frog, immediately jumped into it. After she got herself good and wet, she crouched beneath the Princess’s hair and went to sleep.

When morning came, Gabrielle, the frog, awoke to find the Princess reading a book. It was called,

The Princess’s Book of
How to Name a Royal Pet

“I’ve decided to give you a name,” said the Princess, “You will be Sir Gabby, Knight of the Lily Pad, but I will call you Gabby. You talk a lot and that is the best name for you.” Her frog croaked and then jumped into the pitcher of water.

It was a Saturday, a good day for a picnic. The entire palace came, including the King and the Queen, who sat on a swing for two.

When Gabby wriggled her way out of the Princess’s dress pocket, she looked for something wet to sink into. Whatever was in the punch bowl was red and cool and made her dizzy. She attempted a big hop back to the Princess but landed instead on the Queen. Next, a lady-in-waiting. She mishopped and she mishopped until … she landed in the picnic cake where she stuck and blushed a deep green.

“Haha!” cried the King.

“To the dungeon!” ordered the Queen.

That night, it rained. The dungeon was not entirely below ground, for its one barred window sat just above the moat that encircled the palace. The rain kept falling and soon a trickle of water began to flow down the wall. When the trickle became a stream,

Gabby’s eyes grew larger. A lily pad appeared with a frog croaking on top of it. Over the window ledge it slipped and landed in the pool that was forming on the dungeon floor.

Before very long, the pool of water was a rising flood fed by a waterfall that brought with it lots and lots of frogs. They surfed into the dungeon on their lily pads or simply tumbled down only to go up again with the ascending water, Gabby included.

When the curious guards outside opened the dungeon door, a wall of water fell over upon them, tossed them about and rolled them away.

Freed, Gabby and the other frogs headed for the bedroom of the Princess. When they reached it, they began to croak.

The Princess was fast asleep dreaming that she climbed a ladder in a vast palace library. She was headed towards two books that sat on the very topmost shelf:

The Princess’s Book of
How to Dream

and,

The Princess’s Book of
How Not to Dream

when she found herself falling through the air and about to land on the hard library floor with no cushion in sight.

Wait! A sound. A croak! A thunderous croaking! Wake up! Sit up! With a jerk, she was awake.
When she opened her bedroom door, a flood of wart-covered, bulge-eyed, paddle-pawed, flick-tongued hoppers on and hoppers off ballooning and hiccuping overhopped and overthrew her.
Finally, Gabby jumped onto a chair and uttered a commanding croak that caused all the frogs to seal tight their lips.

“We have just escaped from the dungeon,” the Princess’s frog explained, “because of a great flood that came pouring in, bringing my friends with it and sweeping us out the door that the guards opened much to their getting wet.”

The Princess listened in puzzlement to her hopped-up friend’s series of croaks. She didn’t know what to do. None of the books she had read could help her. She thought and she thought. When she finally took a rest from thinking, an idea came to her. She would write her own book:

The Princess’s Book of
What to Do with a Bedroom Full of Frogs

“My bedroom is full of frogs,” she wrote. “If the King and Queen should find them, this time they won’t escape. If only they were back in the moat! Where they were safe!” she scribbled. “That’s it! Even Gabby has to go back. She will be happier there, happier than jumping in and out of a glass of water!”

She got up and led her frogs away.

“What was that?” cried the Queen when the Princess and her bulge-eyed entourage padded by the royal bedroom door.

“Oh, it’s a lot of frogs and our daughter, I think,” mumbled the King.

“Frogs! The Princess! She has frogs! Ring the alarm!” ordered the Queen.

Outside the palace, a little pond behind a cluster of trees had attracted the Princess, her frog Gabby and the rest.

Here the frogs were playing a game they called, “King of the Lily Pads.” Each frog would sit in the centre of its own lily pad and utter challenging croaks. The frogs edged closer and closer to the water. Eventually, to save themselves from foolishly tumbling in, they would boldly dive instead. The last one left on its pad won the game. Croaking loudly, this frog expanded in size showing itself bigger and better than all the others.

“Goodness! It’ll float away if it doesn’t watch it,” the Princess said to herself. She was about to try the same thing when there was no time to do anything but flee!

The Keeper of the Moat had come with his dogs in search of his frogs.

“Where have they got to?” he blubbered and whined.

Now, his dogs were a special breed of dog called a Folly Dog. It has stiff green fur, buggy eyes, holes for ears, and a long wart-tipped tongue. It is able to round up frogs just like sheep but, with the Princess in charge, no one was going to be rounded up if she could help it.

Through the woods, they hopped and ran. “Catch us if you can!” the Princess called back, and then tripped on a tree root. Gabby stopped beside her.

The Princess urged her friend to go on but Gabby wouldn’t leave. Beneath a Folly Dog’s opening jaws, she rolled over and played dead. As the teeth closed upon her, she decided she had had quite enough of this dream and left it, left it to find herself playing chase with her uncle.

“Chase me!” she called. “Chase me!”

Back in the dream, the Princess also came to a decision. “Expand!” she commanded. “Expand as you’ve never expanded before!” Immediately, all the frogs obeyed. They ballooned so much that the slightest wind carried them away. The Princess too expanded and rose into the air, snatching Gabby from the closing jaws of the Folly Dog.

Where the Princess and her frogs ended up, no one can say.

One thing is sure: At last the Princess went just where she wanted and did exactly as she pleased!

*
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THE END
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