A CHILDREN'S STORY--an original story by Steven Jon Kaplan

Once upon a time there was a mighty and beloved king. His kingdom was so great that it reached all the way around the world and back again, then around the world halfway. Everyone loved the king, except for those who knew him well. His friends did not adore him, because he had the unpleasant habit of disappearing for weeks and putting his daughter in charge of the palace. Now his daughter was mean and nasty and ugly, and besides that did nothing all day but put on her bright green dress, walk down to the moat, chase after flies, and stare at her reflection. "Oh, water water everywhere, who is she that is most fair?" she would ask the moat. "Definitely not you," cried the moat, "this week you're in third to last place among all the women of the kingdom, and that includes the horses and cows and pigs and even the mosquitoes."

It was hoped that the king's daughter would become engaged to a man who lived far far away, so that the people in the kingdom would not have to deal with her anymore. Unfortunately, despite the fact that she had many suitors, none were willing to marry her even for all of the king's gold and silver. Year after year the king despaired of his plight, until he sought out a famous magician.

"Oh, wise and renowned wizard," cried the king, "what shall I do about my daugter? I love her so, and would like for her to remain by the palace, but she treats everyone so horribly. All she does is dress in bright green, stare at the moat, and chase after flies. If she were to get married, I would have to surrender much wealth, and would never see her again besides. Not to mention that there is none who wants to marry her, anyway. Oh, what can possibly be done?"

"Fear not," said the old magician, "I have dealt with much more difficult cases in my time. Bring me your daughter." The king did so, and the wizard turned her into a frog. Now she loves her shiny green coat, does a wonderful job catching flies, and lives within her favorite moat. The king visits her every day, and with the recent rally in precious metals is happy to have kept his gold and silver. And they all lived happily ever after.