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Wicked Queen

Storynory listeners know that the Wicked Queen turned Bertie into a frog. But the secret is not yet out in the Big Wide World. There's a rumour that the Queen has recorded her confessions on a cassette tape. The tape has gone missing. The race is on to find it. Bertie MUST get hold of it first.

A slightly silly Bertie adventure read by Natasha...

... and written by Bertie.

Bertie and the Queen’s Confession.

Hello, this is Natasha

And I’m here with the latest news from the pond where Prince Bertie the frog lives. As you may know, Bertie is a very patient frog. He has been waiting simply ages for the Lovely Princess Beatrice to twig who he really is. Yes Beatrice, Your Royal Highness, that cool and trendy frog who lives on the Palace Pond is your long lost prince ! I tried to tell her once, but she thought that I was a loony who had climbed over the palace wall. She called the guards and had me thrown out! If only she listened to Storynory !

Well, you listen to Storynory, so you know the secret about Bertie. But some people are a bit slow, I mean, you would think that the BBC or the newspapers would have got hold of the story by now ! Tim the Tadpole thinks that Bertie’s life would make a great Hollywood Movie.... and when that happens, I want a part in it. Perhaps I’ll be Sadie the Swan - what do you think?

Only last week, a news reporter came in secret to speak to Beatrice. They took a walk past the palace pond, where nobody would hear them. Nobody, except for a royal frog, a grumpy carp, a haughty swan, 20 geese, 40 ducklings, and two thousand tadpoles !

Oh, and I heard them too, because I was reading a book under a tree. They didn’t even see me, because they were talking so intently.

Beatrice was saying, “I really really shouldn’t tell you anything. I could get into SO much trouble with the press officer at the palace.”

And the journalist replied, “But your Royal Highness, our newspaper will help you find Prince Bertie. My reporter’s nose tells me I’m really onto something.”

“What exactly have you found out about Bertie?” asked Beatrice, hesitantly. She looked white and worried. “Do you know... do you know if he’s alive?” Her big blue eyes fluttered, and even the reporter was touched.

The pond was unusually quiet. Not a single duckling peeped. All the creatures were listening intently - not least Bertie himself.

“I’m afraid I don’t know if Prince Bertie is alive, your loveliness, I mean your highness, but I’ve heard rumours.... I mean to say... have you heard anything?”

“No,” she said. “Not a dicky bird. Please tell me, what is it that you’ve heard? I must know the truth.”

“It’s just a rumour,” said the reporter, “But people say that the Wicked, I mean, Her Majesty the Queen, has lost something important. Well placed people inside the palace tell me that she’s in a frightful fluster. Is that so?”

“Oh yes,” said Beatrice, “My stepmother has been acting very strangely this past two weeks. She sacked her maid. She even accused me of sneaking into her room and stealing her... her something - but I didn’t even know what she was talking about.”

“Was it a cassette by any chance?”

“Yes that was it. What’s a cassette? I’ve really no idea.”

“A cassette is something we used back in the olden days. It’s a tape. You can record sounds on it, like music, or voices. Before people had iPhones, and Androids, and iPods, we used cassette players - Walkmans we called them ... ”

“Oh,” said Beatrice, “The Queen is a bit stuck in her ways.. I suppose she might use an old thing like that. But why is it so important? I don’t think she listens to music.”

“Well the rumor goes that she recorded her confessions on it. That’s why she’s so worried.”

At this point, I heard a little squeaky voice from the pond say, “Bertie, What’s a confession?” And several fish told him to ‘SHHHHHHH!’.

But Bertie whispered back, “It’s very interesting Tim. A confession would be when she says all the bad things she’s done...”

Even little Tim understood that the Wicked Queen’s Confession would make a gripping tale. But Beatrice - well she likes to think the best of everyone, even of her stepmother. She looked all blue-eyed and innocent and asked:

““But what has my Stepmother got to confess?”

The reporter sighed. “Well,” he said, “the truth about what happened to Bertie...”

At that point, they walked out of earshot, but Bertie was hopping up and down with excitement.

“The Cassette, the cassette, we’ve got to get hold of the Cassette ! Then everyone will know the truth. Natasha can podcast it to the world ! The Wicked Queen will be condemned out of her own mouth!”

And all the pond-life were again a flutter, and flapping and quacking as excitedly as if the palace baker had just thrown a basket of stale buns into the water.

Bertie called a meeting, and everyone agreed to help him The sparrows and thrushes and all the birds on Twitter were straight on the case. They kept their beady eyes on the look out for a little box with tape inside it. The garden magpie swore that he hadn’t stolen it. And the Palace mice promised to check out every nook-hole.

But a week went past, and there was no news of the tape.

“Oh well,” sighed Bertie, “I expected it got recycled. It’s probably been made into a plastic drinks bottle by now.”

But on Saturday night, there was a dramatic development. When it was getting dark, the Wicked Queen herself came down to the pond, which was highly unusual, and rather scary. Bertie hid under a stone in case she planned to do something even worse to him. But Sadie the Swan could see that she was worried, by the way she was ringing her hands and pacing up and down. Then a man’s heavy footsteps crunched down the path to the pond. Bertie peaked out of the water and said : “I know him, that’s Fred the Footman.”

“Well,” said the Queen, when Fred arrived, “This had better be good, or I’ll turn you into a toad!”

“Oh, it is good,” chuckled Fred, “It’s the story of your life. Every night, for the past two weeks, I’ve listened to a chapter at bedtime, and what a tale ! Fascinating, your majesty. One of the best crime stories ever !”

“You filthy son of a flea !” screeched the Queen. “Give me back my cassette!”

“Tish tish, I think I deserve a handsome reward for finding a thing like that, don’t you?’

“Reward! You stole it !”

“The newspapers will pay a high price ....”

“All right, all right, one bar of gold..”

“Ten bars of gold, sent to my Swiss Bank...:”


The Queen was still gnashing her teeth when Bertie started to hop as fast as he could across the palace garden. You see, he had known Fred all his life. When he was a boy, Fred showed him his secret hideaway. Bertie was sure that was where he would store the cassette..... Fred always wanted to be a famous singer-songwriter. He had a little shed in the woods, where he used to strum his guitar, sing his songs, and record himself. He had loads of vintage recording equipment because he swore that it sounded better than the modern stuff. He had a big quarter inch tape player called a Revox, and he had... ... a compact-cassette player !

Sadie the Swan saw Bertie and she took off from the pond with her black wings going whoosh whoosh whoosh! She flew through the moonlit night to the woods where she waited for Bertie.

“Got... to.. get... to Fred’s hut,” panted Bertie. Sadie had never seen him look so determined. Bertie knew that this was his best chance yet to reveal the truth to the world - the truth about how the Wicked Queen Turned him into a frog... .he could hear the church bells ringing... he could hear the crowds shout “Long Live Bertie and Beatrice!” he could feel her warm kiss.... he could taste - yes Chocolate Cake.... their wedding cake would be 100% pure organic fair trade chocolate (Beatrice would insist on the organic fair trade bit).

Bertie hopped on through the tangled undergrowth of the woods, trying to avoid the stinging nettles. Sadie waddled along side him. They reached Fred’s hut.

“Locked!” sighed Sadie, as she looked up at the chain and the padlock on the door.

“Of course,” said Bertie, “But there’s a loose plank around the back. Or there used to be. Fred’s cat used to slink in through it.”

Thankfully, some things never change. The cat flap was still open, and there was plenty of room for a frog to slip inside. Sadie stayed outside and looked out for trouble. All was still. She saw nothing. Then suddenly she heard a voice:

“Hello, This is Queen Hilda, and I’m dropping by with the thrilling story of my life.”

Sadie hissed and flapped her wings... she was ready for a fight to the death.... but there was no sound of a struggle from within the hut... the voice rambled on...

“My tale will reveal all: the true story all my wonderfully wicked deeds. Here’s a few little tasters:

When I was a baby I made a burp so big it blew down a house.

When I was five years old, I made Santa fall asleep and miss Christmas Day.

At school, I made it rain every sports day for ten years in a row.

Later on, I put a spell on that that old fool, my husband, so that he would marry me.

And you’ve heard the rumours - yes it’s true, I confess it freely ! I turned that nincompoop

Prince Bertie into a frog. You would have done the same too if he wanted to marry your stepdaughter ! But I rush ahead of myself. We’ll save the best for last.

By now, Sadie realised that Bertie had found the cassette tape of the queen’s confessions and was playing it.... but they didn’t have all night - Sadie stuck her beak through the loose plank and hissed:

“Come on Bertie. We can’t wait for Fred to turn up...Bring the cassette and we’ll hide it well...”

Bertie jumped onto a button of the player, and ejected the cassette. He came out of the hut out with it in his mouth. They headed back for the pond as fast as they could hop and waddle. But when they emerged from the woods, they saw a pair of emerald green eyes glowing across the lawn:

“Is that Fred’s cat?” asked Sadie.

“No,” said Bertie. “I would know those eyes anywhere. They belong to the Wicked Queen.”

It was too late. The Queen is a witch, and she has perfect night vision. She spotted them right away, and she screeched:

“Bertie ! Halt Right There!”

“Quick, give me the tape!” hissed Sadie, and she pecked it from Bertie’s mouth with her beak.

“Hey what are you doing!” said Bertie as Sadie started to run and flap her swooshing wings. A few seconds later her feat were off the ground and she was starting to climb upwards towards the moon with the tape still firmly in her beak. But the Wicked Queen was not about to see her life memoirs get away like that. She turned herself into an eagle and started to fly after her.

All Bertie could do was watch helplessly. He looked up at the moon and saw the dark silhouettes of a swan and an eagle in a furious battle. Sadie zig-zagged to escape the eagle. The eagle snapped furiously at her tale fathers. Soon she had grabbed hold of the swan with her talons. Sadie turned round her powerful neck and stabbed with her beak at the eagle... there were terrible screeches - from the eagle, or the swan, or both.. .Bertie could not tell. But oh, Sadie let go of the cassette, and down it was broken and the silvery tape glistened in the moonlight as it tumbled and tangled.... down down down until with a plop, the box fell into the pond, and the tape floated in a knot on the water.

The Eagle dived down after it, but but when she reached the surface of the pond, a furious carp left out and slapped her around the face with his tale... not even an eagle...not even the Wicked Queen in the form of an Eagle - would tangle with Colin the Carp when he was in a fury. In any case, the tape was wet, tangled, and ruined. She flapped off back to her palace.

And so nobody, except for Fred and the the Wicked Queen, knows exactly what the rest of the tape revealed. Nobody was quite sure why the Queen recorded her Confession - perhaps she had done a deal to sell her memoirs for millions -

But some of the tangled tape has made its way into the duck nests on the pond - and the tadpoles play tug of war and loop the loop with the rest of it. The cassette box has sunk to the bottom, where it lies under a stone, empty and forgotten.

And that was the story of Bertie and the Queen’s Confession. Ooohhh What a truly Wicked Queen she is ! Poor Bertie. I’m not so sure I’m sorry for Beatrice though, after she had me thrown out of the palace. Anyway, it’s good to have Bertie round for the time being, because he has so many stories, and you can always drop by to hear them, at

For now, from me, Natasha

Bye bye!

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