Introduction: The Crankee Yankee and I are proud grandparents of Ava, who will soon be four years old. I began writing little stories for her some time ago, and will post them here.
So far, there are four chapters. This one is Chapter Four, called “Ava Gets Into Trouble.”
Chapter Four: Ava Gets into Trouble
One day in the beautiful land of Holli, Princess Ava (also known throughout the animal kingdom as ‘Ava the Brave ,’ ‘Ava the Kind,’ ‘Ava the Good,’ ‘Ava the Comforter,’ and ‘Ava, Picker-up of Crying Ones’) and her parents, Tall King and Golden Queen, were having breakfast together.
It was mid-August, and they were all enjoying crispy pancakes topped with freshly-picked strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. The two dogs, Sir Jack and Sir Ross, were sitting under the table, hoping for a pancake or two.
Tall King announced that he was going to trim the fruit trees that day, and Golden Queen said that she was going to weed the gardens. They asked Princess Ava to put the dishes in the sink and brush the dogs.
As everyone got up from the table, Princess Ava quickly tore a pancake in two and gave half to Sir Jack and a half to Sir Ross.
Princess Ava watched her parents start their work, and she went to get the brush for the dogs. She carefully brushed both dogs until their coats shone like glass. Satisfied, she went outside with them to show them off to Tall King and Golden Queen.
But when she opened the door, both dogs ran straight for the pond, which in the warm weather had turned into a large mud puddle. Before she could say a word, the dogs happily jumped right in the middle of the mud and rolled and romped in it. Their coats quickly became full of wet, sticky mud, and their previously clean coats were sodden and filthy. Princess Ava rolled her eyes and called them back. But they were so happy being dirty that they ignored her and went right on playing.
So Princess Ava decided to walk down to the river to see if they would follow her, jump in and get clean again. As she walked, she heard the contented ‘chug-a-rum, chug-a-rum’ of the frog king, King ShoShee, singing to his large family. She sat on the warm wooden dock, took off her shoes and dangled her feet in the cool water. As she idly splashed her feet up and down, she noticed a large dark shadow just beyond her feet. She looked down and saw a large fish swimming by. It kept swimming near her feet, and she leaned forward to get a better look.
SPLASH! Princess Ava overbalanced and fell right into the river. She remembered Golden Queen warning her to never swim by herself as the current could be strong. She knew how to swim, but she felt the current pulling at her feet and legs and, as hard as she tried to swim back to the dock, the current pulled her away. She began to panic, realizing that no one knew where she was. She tried harder to swim to the dock, but her arms and legs quickly become tired and harder to move. Her head slipped under the water, and she came up fast, coughing and choking.
Suddenly she felt two rubbery objects under her feet, and she realized that two somethings were holding her up. A ring of frogs appeared around her, and a chorus of little voices cried, “Don’t worry, Ava the Brave! King ShoShee and his brother, King Ranta’an will hold you up!” Princess Ava saw that she was surrounded by dozens of frogs of all sizes, some of whom she remembered moving from the pond to the river when the pond was drying up.
The ring of frogs moved close together until they surrounded Princess Ava. As the two kings steadily held Princess Ava up, they began swimming her toward the dock. The rest of the frogs supported her arms and they all slowly moved her back to the dock. Once she grasped the ladder, she pulled herself up. King ShoShee and King Ranta’an popped up and cried together, “Princess Ava, are you all right?”
“Yes, I am, thanks to you and your family!” said Princess Ava, her arms wrapped tightly around herself. “I thought I could swim back on my own, but the current is so strong!” She shuddered.
“Yes, yes, we know—it is very strong, but we frogs are used to it now. Princess Ava, you must promise us that you will never swim in the river alone again!” said King ShoShee.
“Princess Ava,” began the other frog, “I am King Ranta’an, brother to King ShoShee. I and my people know of your bravery in moving his family from the pond to the river. Because you did, my brother and I are together again and have merged our families.” He nodded to the circle of frogs, all of whom smiled and nodded at Princess Ava. “I, too, must ask you to please be careful from now on. You are much too important to risk your life, and any of us would gladly give our own life for you.”
Princess Ava bowed to King ShoShee and King Ranta’an, and thanked them and their people. She had been thoroughly frightened and was very grateful for their help.
Suddenly a very dirty Sir Jack and Sir Ross appeared over the hill, saw Princess Ava and ran to her. All the frogs ducked below the water with small plopping sounds. “Thank you! Thank you all!” cried Princess Ava. She hugged the dogs, mud and all, and together, dirty but happy, they walked up the hill to the house.
As soon as they got to the top of the hill, Tall King and Golden Queen came running to meet them. Princess Ava hung her head, knowing she would be in a lot of trouble. But she had no way of knowing that the two frog kings, King ShoShee and King Ranta’an, had already sent messengers ahead, Squire Greenspot and Squire Plinkott. They told the king and queen what had happened, and that Princess Ava was safe.
That night, over a dinner of sliced ham with sweet potatoes and an enormous salad of mixed greens, fresh tomatoes, black olives and chopped celery, Tall King and Golden Queen heard all about the brave frogs from Princess Ava. She promised them that she would not go near the river again without them, and they promised that they would always look after King ShoShee and King Ranta’an and their families.
As Princess Ava lay in bed that night, with her arms looped around Sir Jack and Sir Ross (now clean again), she remembered how frightened she had been in the river and how her friends, the frogs, saved her. She thought about how wonderful it was to be part of a family and to have friends.
As the moon climbed higher into the sky, far beyond the treetops, Princess Ava listened to all the frogs singing their songs. They sang about her, Ava the Brave; and Sir Jack and Sir Ross, Tall King and Golden Queen, about friendship, love and family. As she drifted into sleep, she still felt the small but strong bodies of the two kings under her feet, lifting her up.
When the moon was high enough to bathe the house and grounds with silver light, Princess Ava was fast asleep, dreaming and smiling.