LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 43, No. 4 - Winter 1997
Editor of this issue: Robertas Vitas
Copyright © 1997 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
THE DOVE AND THE WEBBED WITCH OF THE WIND
JONAS KAZIMIERAS NOREIKA
Retold by Silvia Kučėnas Foti*
Jonas Kazimieras Noreika, the youngest of five children, was born on October 8, 1919, to a family living on a farm in Šiukioniai, Lithuania. At the age of 21, he enrolled in the Military Academy in Klaipėda to train for his county's defense. Within two years, he enrolled in the University of Vytautas the Great School of Law in Kaunas.
While he was going to law school, he married my grandmother, Antanina Krapavičiūtė. Upon his graduation, he became a captain in the Lithuanian Army, and worked as a defense attorney in the Army Court. In 1939, his daughter, Dalia Marija, was born.
Within a year, Russia occupied Lithuania, and the Lithuanian Army was disbanded and went underground. On June 22, 1941, my grandfather led a faction of 12 men in an uprising of thousands of Lithuanian rebels against the Russian occupiers. Within days, however, the country was occupied by the German Nazis.
My grandfather then worked for Lithuania's freedom as a Nazi resistor, while remaining as chairman, political leader, and governor of the region Šiauliai, Lithuania's fourth largest city. On March 17, 1943, he was arrested by the Nazis along with 46 other prominent Lithuanians as political hostages and sent to the Stutthof concentration camp in Gdansk, Poland.
That was the last day he was seen by his wife and his four-year-old daughter, my mother. He spent more than a year in that Nazi prison, and it was during this time that my mother and her mother fled Lithuania to save their lives, making their way through Germany, Switzerland, and Argentina, until eventually reaching the United States
My grandfather remained in contact with his wife through letters from the Stutthof prison. At the bottom of each letter, he wrote part of a fairy tale for his young daughter.
In January 1945, the Russian Communists invaded Lithuania to "liberate" the country from the Nazis. My grandfather was released, but he was captured by the Russian Communist troops who were stationed nearby and forcefully conscripted into the Soviet Army.
After World War II ended in 1945, he was returned to Lithuania. During this period, he and other leaders secretly organized the Lithuanian National Council, whose mission was to mastermind Lithuania's independence from the Soviet Union. My grandfather became the underground chief of national defense, and was assigned a code name - "Generolas Vėtra", or "General Storm" - to conceal his identity from the Communists.
At the time, there were 4,000 active partisans in Soviet-occupied Lithuania, but a revolution against the Communists would have brought out more than 40,000 partisans to fight for their country's freedom. About 22,000 partisans were killed by the Soviets between 1944 and 1953.
On March 16, 1946, my grandfather was betrayed by a fellow partisan who was a double agent for the Communists. He was arrested with 10 other freedom fighters, imprisoned, interrogated and brutally tortured for about a year by the KGB in their Vilnius headquarters.
Since his background was in law, he took charge of his defense and that of the other 10 prisoners who were arrested with him. During the proceedings, my grandfather took complete responsibility for the attempted coup, and as a result, he and only one other prisoner in this group were sentenced to death. The other nine individuals were banished to Siberia for a period of 5 to 10 years.
At the end of the "trial," the Communists gave my grandfather an opportunity to save his life by renouncing his country and by becoming a Communist. According to the KGB transcripts, he responded that if he were to become a Communist, he would be renouncing Lithuania's right to independence validating Russia's occupation. He pledged himself to Lithuania's freedom, and he was prepared to defend his country's right to be sovereign - even if it meant losing his life.
On February 26, 1947, he was shot twice through the back of his skull, and his body was tossed in a mass grave.
Events in Lithuania were kept under such a thick shroud of secrecy that my mother and grandmother didn't learn of his death until 1951 - four years later. They eventually settled in Chicago in 1955. For relatives who remained in Lithuania, it was dangerous to talk about my grandfather's role as a freedom fighter because the Communists were always suspicious of any links that anyone had with a "subversive." Any mention of "Generolas Vėtra" in Lithuania could have resulted in a punishment - perhaps even a deportation to Siberia.
When Lithuania regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the historic falsifications as well as the heroic achievements began finally to surface. It wasn't long before my mother began to go back regularly to the country where she was born to uncover her father's story and search for his remains.
By 1994, the country's government had revealed that all of those who had been killed in the KGB prison - which numbered about 900 - were secretly buried on the grounds at Tuskulėnų Dvaras - a mansion located about three miles away.
In late 1996, the family received word that "Generolas Vėtra's" remains were discovered and positively matched through DNA testing to my mother's and grandmother's blood. Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas in 1997 decreed that Jonas Kazimieras Noreika would receive the country's highest medal of valor - the Cross of Vytis, and that his body would be buried in the country's most prominent cemetery, called Antakalniai. His burial site would have a monument that would be erected by the Lithuanian government, and Lithuania's Army would host the ceremonies.
My mother, my younger brother, Rimas, and I, decided to go to Lithuania in March 1997 to attend my grandfather's funeral. Then something happened that reminded all of us of the days when this small country, about the size of the state of Virginia, was still occupied by the Soviet Union. Hours before my mother's flight was scheduled to leave for Vilnius, the nation's capital, she received a phone call from a representative of Lithuania's Army informing her that the remains of her father had not been positively identified, that there may have been a mix-up, and the funeral and national celebration of this hero should be called off.
Despite this devastating news, we decided to continue our trip, and to conduct the already-scheduled funeral ceremonies as a 50-year memorial service commemorating Generolas Vėtra's death.
After my mother's arrival to Lithuania, she had several meetings with the President's Special Committee in charge of my grandfather's funeral. It was hard not to remain skeptical of the strange turn of events. What was the problem? What did some of the authorities fear?
We never received definitive answers to these questions - although we all had our theories. Perhaps it was an honest mistake due to the possibility that the newly emerged country's technology was still inadequate for positively identifying so many bodies. On the other hand, could it be that "someone in charge" still didn't want to release a hero's remains to a country eager to embrace one of the leaders of its proud fight for freedom?
We set aside our skepticism during the next several days, when events and the sincere attention shown by President Brazauskas and the army demonstrated their respect for their national hero, my grandfather.
The insignia of valor was presented to my mother by President Algirdas Brazauskas during a special ceremony in the Parliament building. A memorial mass was held in the Vilnius Cathedral. Then, symbolically, we buried a small wooden box with a handful of dust from the Tuskulėnai Dvaras site where his body was said to be found.
As we continued our trip in Lithuania, we saw that my grandfather was turning into a national hero right before our very eyes. When we visited the region where he was born, we were surprised to find several memorial plaques in his honor. The town where he was born named its grade school after my grandfather, and we learned that a parade was held nearby in his honor just a month earlier. Later, my mother attended the Kaunas Military Academy where the ceremonies were hosted by the officials and cadets there. A bronze plaque with his portrait was embedded at the entrance. Streets in Šiauliai, Vilnius, and Kaunas were named after him.
Although we couldn't bury my grandfather's remains, we saw that his spirit had been resurrected and kept alive by the country's people. I never met my grandfather, but he has made a profound impression on my life and, I learned, on the people of Lithuania.
* * *
The fairy tale: The Dove and the Webbed Witch of the Wind reflects the tragedy of our family and all the others who were separated because of war and their incredible capacity to continue with hope in their lives. Amazingly, I had no knowledge of this fairy tale until my mother, who recently received her doctorate in Lithuanian and Spanish literature from the University of Illinois at Chicago gave a lecture in November 1995 about her father. She brought out the letters he had written in German from Stutthof, and she read some of the excerpts of this fairy tale to the audience. Their response to this initial reading by my mother was so encouraging and their enthusiasm so sincere that it sparked my desire, as a writer and his granddaughter, to translate and finish this fairy tale in his memory.
He wrote this stirring tale of a six-year-old princess for his almost six-year-old daughter, my mother, to express what was happening to Lithuania in a way that she might understand. Written from October 29, 1944, to January 14, 1945, in the Stutthof concentration camp, this story was mailed along with other letters to his wife, my grandmother. Unfortunately, he could never finish this symbolic allegory of how an evil brown witch and her magically cursed frogs were defeated by hope, and inspiration because in real life, my grandfather and his country had been usurped by Hitler and Stalin before he could conclude his story.
For more than half a century, this fairy tale has been kept by my grandmother, waiting to be read by a wider audience. This then is the fairy tale that Jonas Kazimieras Noreika would have loved to have read to his daughter Dalytė.
Algirdas Brazauskas, president of the Lithuanian Republic, presented posthumously the highest national achievement award: The Cross of the Knight (Vyčio Kryžiaus Ordinas) - first degree order to Jonas Kazimieras Noreika - General Vėtra, the leader of the underground resistance and the chief of national defense, who worked against Nazis and Communists during and after World War II. The ceremony took place in Vilnius on March 24, 1997 and was attended by daughter Dr. Dalia Kučėnas, granddaughter Silvia Kučėnas-Foti, grandson Dr. Rimas Kučėnas, minister and vice-minister of National defense, generals and high ranking militaries and civilians.
Facsimile of letter N. 68, written from Stutthof on October 23, 1944 to wife Antanina Noreika with the beginning of the fairy tale: "The Dove and the Webbed Witch of the Wind"
Silvia Kučėnas Foti is the managing editor of a socio-economic newsmagazine for the Academy of General Dentistry, and she has freelanced articles to Chicago Parent, L.A. Parent, the Southwest News Herald, Southtown Daily, Buenos Aires Herald, and Argentine News. She has a Masters degree in journalism from Northwestern University.
The Dove and the Webbed Witch of the Wind
Elytė, the princess, was as beautiful as a rose and had a child's sweet smell of innocence. Her father was the king of their kingdom, and he spent most of his time protecting his land surrounded by powerful enemies. She was the only child in her family, but her mother, her father, and her nanny loved her so much that she never had any worries while growing up in the family's grand palace.
Until her sixth birthday.
On that day, Elytė woke up very excited about turning another year older. She looked out her bedroom window to see if anything looked different now that she was six years old. Elytė regularly explored her surroundings and on that particular day, the world seemed even bigger with more opportunities for adventure.
Elytė noticed a few frogs hopping on the lawn. She ran down the palace stairs to investigate because she had never seen frogs this size before. She stared at these brown creatures who were as big as ducks and wondered where they came from.
"They're so odd looking," she thought to herself.
As she stooped down to take a closer look at these frogs, she noticed a dark shadow pass along the ground.
The clouds turned gray and the sun ducked away.
A cold, biting wind began to blow, and Elytė found herself trapped in the middle of a dreadful, brown tornado.
By far, the most ghastly storm that she had ever seen.
She tried to run to the palace and hide inside, but a bolt of lightning struck down upon the only home she had ever known, and almost instantly turned it into a pile of ruins. More big brown frogs began to appear everywhere. And they were hopping.
As quickly as it rose, the wind died down. And in its place appeared a brown witch with black warts dotting her face. This Webbed Witch of the Wind towered over Princess Elytė, and screeched in her croaking voice, "I am the powerful mother of frogs and I want to convert all of the world's children into my very own ugly beasts!
"Hee, hee, hee..." the Webbed Witch of the Wind snickered and sneered.
Frightened and confused, Princess Elytė was frozen to her spot, still not knowing what to do.
"Come with me, Elytė," the brown witch cackled in glee. "You're about to know hardship and misery. Hee, hee, hee, hee!"
The webbed witch's mighty iron-plated arms wrapped around Elytė and scooped the Princess into the brown sky. Together they flew, while the witch cackled, and while Elytė shrieked. Her stomach ached from the witch's iron grip, and her screams were lost amid the witch's thunderous peal of laughter.
"Hee, hee, hee, hee! Hee, hee, heeeeee.."
They climbed and soared and flew as fast as an airplane. The Princess was afraid to look down. When she did, she turned dizzy at the sight of her legs dangling above the wicked witch's webbed feet.
Then they zoomed down and landed on faraway ground with a hard thump. Thump.
Elytė rubbed her sore stomach as the witch loosened her steely grip.
It was quiet, very quiet, except for a faint and unfamiliar sound. "Kvar, kvar, kvar."
Gigantic brown frogs surrounded Princess Elytė and the webbed Witch of the Wind. They kept croaking "kvar, kvar, kvar... Kvar, kvar."
"Who are you?" croaked the frogs louder and louder. "Don't you understand us? Don't you know who we are? We would tell you. But, kvar, you can't understand us."
It was true. Princess Elytė couldn't understand the hopping, croaking creatures and looked to the witch with wide-open eyes. The witch howled in reply:
"You will stay here forever among my frogs, and you will learn how to jump like one of them. If you fail to hop properly, you will never see your mother, your father, or your nanny again."
Back amid the palace ruins, Princess Elytė's parents were frantic. After the horrible storm, little Elytė was not to be found anywhere.
This caused the king to go into a rage. "Find my daughter," he howled to his loyal subjects. "Search the ruins, look under every stone."
But, alas, the poor little princess was gone.
Her sad mother, the Queen, cried so much that her tears blocked her sight. Even the nanny's lower lip trembled as the family grieved over Elytė's disappearance. Elytė had positively, definitely vanished.
But the king would not give up hope searching for his one and only child, so he gathered the most famous thinkers of his kingdom to ask for their advice, and he promised to pay them generously.
"Who can tell me where my one and only beloved daughter is?" asked the sullen king. "Who? Please! Who?"
"Who?" asked the king again. But, no one could help him. He became so depressed that his heart almost stopped beating. Then out of the unsettling stillness, he heard his wife's dirge:
"My heart. It feels something. It's telling me to have hope."
"Wait," she sang. "I hear a dove chirping! Yes, I see a dove flying above us. Let's follow the dove. I know it will lead us to our princess!"
The king and all those gathered around him looked up and saw a white dove flying above. Suddenly, it soared down toward the royal family and landed right on top of the queen's crown.
The queen extended her arms, and the dove daintily hopped into the cup of her hands, chirping in a language that the queen and her subjects could all understand.
"I know where your one and only little daughter is," sang the dove sweetly. "A witch took her away from your kingdom. You must go after her right away. The road is quite long, but I'll show you the way!"
Everything was prepared very quickly. The king ordered twelve of his best horses to be harnessed for their daughter's rescue. The only problem was that the king couldn't spare any escorts, because all of his kingdom's men who were skilled in war were necessary for the next inevitable attack of the frogs.
His sister - his daughter's nanny - watched the king and queen prepare for their departure.
"Can I please go with you to look for your daughter?," asked the nanny. "I would go to the end of the earth for little Elytė, and I can't just stay here and wait. I love Elytė very dearly, as if she were my own daughter. Please let me join you."
The king knew his sister was a strong woman who was raised on a farm and was used to hard work. She would be a big help.
"Very well, sister," said the king to the nanny. "You will join us in the rescue. Hurry up then, we can't delay any longer."
They all climbed into the carriage, and as the king took hold of the horses' reins, the travelers launched their journey to search for Elytė with the dove leading the way, chirping merrily ahead of them.
Just as they were about to pass the kingdom's gates, they heard a galloping sound behind them. A man approached on his dusty, sweaty horse.
"Your majesty, your majesty," he panted. "Thousands of giant frogs have crossed the wall and are attacking our country." He gasped, trying to catch his breath. He heaved and sighed, but he was so fatigued from his journey that he collapsed before he could explain any further.
Upon hearing the message, the king resolved to turn back. He knew he had to lead his kingdom in the battle. He had to meet the enemy, defeat them and free his land.
He looked at the queen. Could he risk letting his wife take the journey by herself during this dangerous time?
As if reading his mind, his queen said tenderly, "I understand your duty, and I see your pain. God is testing our love for our country and our daughter. You belong to your kingdom where you will live or die, and I must go to find our daughter."
As the queen spoke, the white dove held its head low. When she finished, the dove chirped, "Yes, yes, yes! Let us go, go, go!"
The queen and the nanny departed, while the king headed back to his kingdom.
Meanwhile, Elytė was in a faraway wet swamp, held captive in the Witch's rocky, brown palace.
By far the ugliest palace Elytė had ever seen.
With huge halls. Some halls were bejeweled with gold and amber, much of which had been stolen from Elytė's country. Other halls were bedecked in gook and slime that oozed down the walls and covered the windows, preventing any sunlight from entering. The Princess was sure she had already endured a lifetime of imprisonment in these halls, until one day, she was taken down a steep spiral staircase into a damp and dirty dungeon with a big, black door on the other side. The Princess loathed the dark and she hated the dampness of the wet dirt beneath her feet.
"Beyond that big, black door is a swamp where hundreds of my frogs live," the witch cackled and sneered. "Remember, princess, hee, hee, hee. You must learn to hop like a frog. Or else... hee, hee, hee. You'll never see your mother, your father or your nanny again!"
And with that, the witch flew back up the stairs, leaving only her cackles and titters to cascade down the spiral staircase.
She left the Princess behind alone in the dank dungeon at the bottom of the wicked palace with the awful sound of the hee-hees fading into the darkness.
Elytė collapsed on the floor and buried her head in her arms. She cried and she cried, longing for her soft mother's arms, and wondered if there was any hope for freedom from this awful, nasty place.
Then she heard a creak, creak, creak of the big, black door.
She looked up and saw a giant green frog standing in the doorway.
Elytė stood up and ran to a corner, afraid to see what this beastly green frog would do.
The frog stood still, holding the door knob, its hind legs fully extended, its eyes shining like prunes, its slimy, thick throat croaking. The frog took a step forward, slowly and quietly, he croaked in a low, husky voice. "Kvar, kvar."
But Elytė didn't understand, and every "kvar" caused her to tremble a little bit more.
Suddenly, the frog jumped, turned around, and left. He quickly returned with two smaller green frogs, who were about half his size, carrying a big bowl of soup. Gently, they jumped, carrying out the orders of the big frog, as they laid on the table a white cloth.
And when the table was set for two, the big frog beckoned Elytė to eat. Although she didn't comprehend the meaning of his words, by observing his gestures, she understood what he wanted to say. Elytė was afraid, but her hunger was so strong and the soup was so warm that it was still steaming. It smelled so inviting that she couldn't stop herself from running to the table. She sat down in front of the big frog, and the two little frogs stood nearby ready to serve the strange couple at a moment's notice.
Elytė was beginning to feel that maybe she found a friend.
When dinner had ended and the frogs had gone, Elytė lay down on a small bed in the dungeon and fell asleep instantly. Dreaming, she saw a white dove leading her mother and her nanny toward the witch's brown kingdom.
They were coming to save her.
But they didn't see the line of slimy, brown frogs hidden behind the tall grass along the road, as Elytė did in her dream. "Kvar, kvar, kvar," whispered one frog to the other while the queen and the nanny passed by in front of them with their twelve horses and carriage.
These frogs were part of the witch's secret spy chain, trained to warn her of any strangers journeying down the road. Elytė realized all of this in her dream state.
One frog croaked quietly to another, passing along the message concerning these strange visitors.
Still, the dove, the queen and nanny continued down their path, oblivious to the danger they were in. They were determined to find the Princess and bring her back where she belonged.
"I miss my darling daughter so much," said the sad queen to the nanny. "If only she knew how much I loved her."
Wiping away the queen's tears and holding her hand gently, the nanny soothed Elytė's mother.
"We will find her," said the nanny to her queen. "Trust the dove."
Elytė woke up from her dream with a start, and she fretted about her mother and her nanny. Feeling restless, she jumped out of bed, and fled the dungeon through the big, black door that opened up to the wild and wet swamp.
The sun was just beginning to rise over the massive marsh filled with hollow tree trunks, boulders, and big, brown, spiky plants. All about her, Elytė heard hundreds of frogs croaking at the dawn's rising sun.
"Kvar, kvar..." wailed the frogs nervously at the sun.
The frogs were so fidgety because the webbed Witch of the Wind had cast a nasty spell on her slimy creatures, which could only be broken when an innocent girl would kiss them on the Day of the Sun. (Here it was the feast of Saint Casimir, the fourth day of March.)
Now it happened to be that day. Normally, the swamp was cloudy and gray, but once in a while, like that day, the sun would peek out from behind the clouds to observe the sad, sordid swamp.
Unfortunately, Elytė didn't know about the mysterious spell. She had no idea that at the moment of sunrise she could begin changing hundreds of frogs into children and into people releasing them from the witch's tragic hex. The frogs tried to tell her in their own way.
They wailed, they moaned. But Elytė had no idea what they were trying to say.
Besides, she was enjoying the sun. Its first rays dappled down Elytė's cheeks so lovingly and so invitingly, that Elytė felt she was being caressed by her mother. Elytė so missed her mother, her father and her nanny, but she was thankful to be alive.
She looked up toward the orange sun and saw a white dove dancing among its beams. The dove chirped to Elytė, "Try to learn your enemy's language."
Elytė waved to the dove, recognizing this was the white dove from her dream. Trusting the dove's words, she bent down to be near one of the big green frogs and softly said,
"Kvar..." croaked the frog slowly.
To get a better listen, Elytė stooped down even closer to the frog, and she brushed her cheek against the frog's mouth.
Oh! Pop! Pop! Pop!
A festival of sparkles and sounds of fireworks followed.
In the afterglow where the frog once stood, a handsome young boy appeared.
But though he was handsomely boyish from the waist up, he was still definitely froggish from the waist down.
"What happened?" asked Elytė, delighted to find at least half a boy.
"I am still part frog because you didn't kiss my lips/' he spoke to her sadly. "But beautiful girl, don't worry. I am a child, like you. You can call me Sparky."
Sparky explained how a long time ago he was kidnapped from their country and turned into a frog because he didn't obey the witch's commands. Some of the frogs were real creatures, he explained, but many were long removed from their homeland.
"You can tell the difference," said Sparky, "by their color. The Webbed Witch's frogs are brown, but the children from our country who were converted into frogs are green."
"Can the witch change me into a frog,?" asked Elytė, trembling at the thought.
"Yes she can," said Sparky. "If you don't learn how to hop like a frog, you too will be transformed. And the witch checks every day. If you can't hop like a frog, she'll relish turning a beautiful girl like you into one of her beastly frogs."
With her hands over her mouth and her eyes shut tight, Elytė imagined herself trapped in a frog's body, and she shuddered profoundly at the thought.
"But dear Princess," he continued, "don't be scared. Remember to keep repeating the names of your mother, your father and your nanny to help you find the necessary courage."
They both looked up a the white dove singing above them.
"Learn your enemy's language," sang the dove again.
Still puzzled over how to master another language, Elytė turned to Sparky. "Do you know who can help me?"
"That gigantic green frog," said Sparky, pointing down the swamp. "He's the Little Duke, son of Big Duke, the richest and most powerful duke in our country. For many years,
Little Duke tried to free himself from here, but he had no luck."
Little Duke was the frog who Elytė had dinner with last night.
"He taught all of us the frog language, saying that it would help us defeat our enemies. He will be your teacher."
Then, Sparky looked up at the dove and said sadly to Elytė, "I'm sorry. Now that I have told you everything, I must follow the dove. J cannot remain here in this form as half a boy and half a frog. I must leave now."
Elytė had a million more questions to ask, but Sparky quickly hopped away into the marshes. With each hop, she heard a squish, and another squish, and another.
"Kvar, kvar... kvar... kvar..." droned the frogs in the swamp.
Slowly, the sun inched up the sky, gathering its strength and stretching its rays farther and wider. As the gleam of the sun became brighter, Elytė took courage from knowing that not all hope was lost, that somehow, some way she will find freedom.
The white dove was back dancing among the sun's rays, and upon seeing Elytė, it glided down to rest on top of her head, comforting the little Princess and ridding her of her fears.
"Don't worry, little Princess," tittered her feathered friend. "Your mother and your nanny are on their way here."
"But what should I do?" asked the princess of the dove.
"I will give you another clue," sang the dove sweetly. "Kiss your enemies."
"Even if they're ugly and slimy and brown?" asked the Princess, shuddering at the possibility.
"Most definitely/' chirped the white dove, as it flew back into the sky. "And most especially if they're brown," it crooned, still looking at Elytė. And then the dove made a very pronounced wink.
Which made her think.
And ponder some more.
The frogs, filling the swamp with the sound of their mournful wails. "Kvaaaaaaaaaaaar."
Elytė couldn't think straight with all this croaking commotion, so she decided to return to the dungeon at the bottom of the witch's palace, where it was quiet. In the stillness of her room, she could properly decide what she needed to do.
Once she was alone in the dark dungeon, Elytė whispered, "kvar, kvar." She was practicing the frog language. She tried a little louder, as she thought longingly of her mother, her father and her nanny, she chanted softly again, and again "Kvar, kvar."
From the doorway behind her, she heard a deep and throaty echo join in with her faulty frog chants. Startled, she turned around and saw the green frog who had dinner with her last night. She thought she was beginning to understand his frog speech, when he croaked to her and smiled.
Happy to see a friend in the friendless kingdom, she ran to him and gave him a big kiss, right on the lips, when...
Pop! Pop! Pop!
A burst of sparks and fireworks appeared.
And all at once, the big ugly green frog was replaced by a handsome, young prince.
By far the cutest young prince Elytė had ever seen.
He looked down at himself in amazement and up again at Elytė and bowed gracefully at her feet. "Oh, my beautiful princess, I am a boy again! I am Little Duke. For many years, I have been waiting for a miracle. Finally, it has come. I have been the witch's slave for so long that I was beginning to forget my mother, my father, and my nanny. Now, I am forever indebted to you."
Princess Elytė clapped her hands in joy and danced around the Little Duke. Together, they sang a beautiful melody, repeating the names of their mothers, their fathers and their nannies.
Up at the top of the witch's brown palace, the Webbed Witch of the Wind was sitting on her moist, spongy throne, listening to war reports form her slimy spies while sipping a big brown, curdled goop shake.
News that Elytė's father, the King, had died in a battle against the frogs while fighting for his kingdom's freedom caused her to snigger with glee. "Hee, hee, hee, hee," she giggled, caressing her glass of brown goop with her webbed hands.
"How did it happen?" asked the witch, relishing every word of this story as she slowly slurped her brown shake through a straw.
"Well, your Webbed Highness/' started the brown spy. "He was very courageous and valiant, but his army was very small. The battle lasted for days, and many of our frogs died."
Stirring her thick shake round and round, the Witch gazed into her glass, trying to tune into a vision of the King's battle against her fiendish frogs. She winced as she saw the King slaughter her heartless frogs with his sword, piercing their bodies without fear or remorse. But in the end, her devilish glass revealed, that her legion of frogs overwhelmed the King's army and plundered his kingdom. They captured the King and snatched all of his subjects, forcing them to surrender their land and making them act like frogs. "Hop, hop... leap, leap," they kvarred to his people, teaching them to jump like themselves.
"The King was the most stubborn of all," said the frog spy, still explaining his story while the witch gazed in her glass.
"Did you promise him a bag of gold?" asked the witch, who knew all the tricks of the evil war trade to transform her defeated.
"Yes, he still wouldn't hop," explained the spy.
"Did you promise him his life?" asked the witch, who just loved sad endings to these war stories.
"He just wouldn't hop, not even once," said the spy, and then he tsk, tsk, tsked.
"Pity, some of them are like that," said the witch, slurping up the last of her goop. "So what happened next?"
The spy explained how the witch's army of frogs vanquished the king. First, they tied big coiled springs to each of the king's legs. Then they began to bounce him up and down, up and down - laughing all the while that he was finally hopping like a frog. With each spring, the king bounced higher and higher until finally he leapfrogged all the way into the gray sky, never to return again.
After she heard the story one more time, the witch settled down to more evil business and continued to connive her next more.
"Now that we've removed the king, we can get rid of the princess, her nanny and the queen. What fun that will be. Hee, hee, hee, hee. Hee, hee, heeeeee."
The chief spy boasted about his chain of super spies who spotted the queen and the nanny headed toward the Webbed Witch's Slimy Swamp on their way to rescue Elytė.
"How convenient of them to make this so easy for me," screeched the witch in her raspy voice. "They soon will be mine to do as I please! Hee, hee, hee... hee, hee!"
She stood up and snatched her cape, spinning round and round and round until she took off like a brown tornado fleeing the ground. As she rose higher and higher, the Windy Witch developed a telescopic bird's eye view of what was going on down below. It didn't take long for her to spot the queen and nanny and she went after them in her tumultuous way.
"Giddy-up, giddy-up," shouted the Queen to her horses, as she and the nanny tried to steer clear from the brown tornado's deliberate destruction. Swoosh and whoosh and up went the wind with the greatest of forces. Amid the chaos, the women lost their luggage and let go of the horses' reins. They watched their scared horses flee.
Their carriage wobbled down the path and eventually rolled off the road until it crashed into a tree, coming to a full stop.
In a torrential roar, The Witch of the Wind breathed her cold breath upon the queen and nanny. Together, they huddled, seeking protection from the power of the witch's winds. But soon, they were hoisted into the brown, brawling tornado and carried away to the Webbed Witch's marsh.
"Hee, hee, hee!" cackled the witch, as she carried her captives in the bosom of her winds. "Hee, hee, hee, hee. Hee, Heeeeee... The queen and nanny are my prisoners.
The princess and prince were still dancing in the dungeon at the bottom of the witch's palace, so happy to have found one another. But their merriment ended when they heard the screeching witch from atop the spiral stairwell.
"Hee, hee, hee, heeee. Hee. Hee!"
Elytė heard the witch shove her mother and nanny down the stairs and command they learn to hop like a frog. A second before the witch descended into the dark dungeon, Little Duke dashed out the door into the sunny swamp.
When the other frogs realized he was transformed, they clattered and "kvarred" until the entire swamp resounded with their confounded commotion.
The witch ran through the doorway and looked out upon her swamp. "Shut up, shut up, shut UP!" she shrieked to the croaking crowds.
Then she turned toward her prisoners and explained how the Day of the Sun made the frogs extremely excited. "Because this day puts my kingdom in danger, I must tie the three of you up until it has ended."
And so it was. The queen, the nanny and the princess were placed in a circle bound by strands from the witch's brown hair. They were strapped and secured until they could move no more.
"Heee, heee, hee, hee," cackled the witch as she entangled her prisoners. "And, by the way, my little Princess, have you been practicing your frog hops lately?"
"No-ooo!" bawled the Princess, as she howled from the pain of the witch's wrathful knots.. "I'll never hop like a frog. They're ugly!"
"Yes, yes, yessss," hissed the witch. "Like father, like daughter, I see. Well, never mind for now; I'll come back for you later. Hee, hee, heeee..."
And the witch left the dungeon in a gale of brown winds.
"Don't worry," said the nanny, trying to calm the queen down. "At least we're all together and we've got our little Elytė. Now, we must hold on to our hope."
Just as the queen was about to answer, Little Duke burst back to the dungeon and untied the women. Once free, they hugged and kissed and jumped and rejoiced. After all, they were alive and reunited.
"How is daddy?" Elytė asked her mother. "I miss him so much."
The queen looked at her daughter, stroked her cheek and said, "You will have to be very brave, little Elytė as we received terrible news yesterday. Your father fought the enemy very courageously, but he died defending his country."
Elytė cried in her mother's arms. She shook her head. "That cannot be. That cannot be. That just cannot be."
Little Duke stepped forward, and said, "I'm sorry, but we cannot delay any longer. We must stop the Webbed Witch from seizing other kingdoms and turning the whole world into frogs. This is our moment. If we don't act now, we will lose our opportunity. After all, it's The Day of the Sun!"
"Kvar, kvar, kvar," croaked the frogs close by in agreement. "Kvar, kvar, kvar."
When the prisoners went outside, they heard the dove above, chirping and singing, "Remember, sweet princess. Kiss your enemy."
So Elytė looked down at the frogs - in all of their slime - and closed her eyes. Then she stooped down and kissed one of the frogs.
Pop! pop! pop!
When she opened her eyes, the frog had become a boy. So she kissed another and another, now with her eyes wide open.
The whole swamp was filled with the sounds and sparks of fireworks.
With the green frogs, her kiss worked like a charm. But the brown frogs, once kissed, remained as they had been.
Nevertheless, Elytė kept kissing and kissing and kissing brown and green frogs alike.
One after another they lined up for their sweet smooch or tender pucker.
Just as Elytė was to kiss the last frog, she and the others felt a blast of cold wind. The Webbed Witch of the Wind appeared and gave them all a good scare.
"Do something, do something," screeched the witch to her brown frogs, who were not hopping and jumping, but were skipping and dancing. They were very confused for they were feeling something new in their chest.
It was a beat, a start.
When Elytė had kissed them, she had given all of them a heart.
The brown frogs tried to attack Little Duke and the boys, with all of their slimy might. But with their newly pumping hearts, they just weren't into the fight.
Sensing the confusion among the witch's frogs, Little Duke commanded his allies to charge in and strike.
Splishing and splashing in the marshy swamp, the boys and the frogs engaged in battle. Soon they were throwing sticks and hurling stones. Boys were dunked into the muddy waters, and frogs were shoved and pushed among the reeds.
In horror, the women watched the messy ordeal.
But it didn't last long, because the frogs were soon overcome. Torn and defeated, the frogs scrambled to escape. Never glancing back, they hopped away, far into the depths of the swamp, croaking all the while, "Kvar, kvar, kvar, kvaaaaaaaaar..."
"Come back here," screeched the witch, chasing her frogs. "I'll get you for this, you cowardly beasts!"
Soon she was mobbed by the boys, as she shrieked and howled.
Then she whimpered and moaned. "Please let me go. Let me go."
After she was surrounded, she had surrendered.
"Where shall we put her," asked Little Duke to Elytė.
"I know," answered the Princess looking at an old tree trapped in the swamp. "Let's put her in there," she said, pointing to the trunk.
So the witch was stuffed in, squished this way and that. She was pushed and jammed and wedged until she was completely inside the trunk. Then they blocked the openings of the trunk with big boulders so the witch could never get out.
But the witch must have turned herself into the wind, because Elytė and the rest of the crowd watched the trunk roll back and forth until...
Glurp. Glurp. Glurp...
That trunk sank into the bog, leaving only a trail of bubbles on the surface of the muddy waters, and soon even those disappeared.
Hurrah! Hurrah! Finally, they were free.
No more brown frogs. No more Webbed Witch of the Wind. No more "hee, hee, hees."
And flying above, among the sun's rays, was the white dove chirping merrily.
Everyone rejoiced and began to sing, repeating the names of their mothers, their fathers and their nannies in a most melodious symphony. Elytė kissed her mother and hugged her nanny. Then she thought of her father, the king, who fought so valiantly to free his country. Elytė knew her father would have been very proud.
For finally, his people were free.