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In these three short stories, Sadie the Swan takes The True Princess Test, the Pond Life are haunted by a Ghost Swan, and Bertie sees off Barker the Dog.

We first published the stories, right at the beginning of Storynory in November 2005. They formed introductions to our Christmas Carol Pantomime in three parts. This Christmas we decided to edit the Bertie stories out of audio, so that our listeners can get straight to Scrooge. Many of our new listeners won't have heard them, and many of our long-standing faithful listeners won't have heard them for a while - so we are republishing them here. We've added a little jazzy music for Pond Life atmosphere.

Bertie fans will notice that Colin the Carp has a slightly different voice. This is because he is played by Rob who took the part of Scrooge in the pantomime.

All other voices by Natasha. Proofread by Claire Deakin. Duration 9.48 minutes.


Hi everybody. My name is Natasha. And my name is Rob.


Here's a piece of gossip I just picked up about Bertie the Frog. As you know, Bertie used to be a handsome prince, but now he's been turned into a frog; and he lives in a pond with tadpoles, birds and fish to keep him company.

Bertie's friend, Sadie, is a very special swan, who has lots of romantic daydreams. Sometimes she looks at her reflection in the pond, and imagines that her beautiful neck is rather royal!

The other creatures say that she's always asking Bertie what it's like to be a princess. Colin the Carp, who is a very grumpy fish, likes to take Sadie and her lofty ideas down a peg or two.

Do you know what he said to Sadie today? You don't? Well, it was rather rude.
He said, "It doesn't make any difference to you what it's like being a princess. You're just a swan. You're stuck that way."

But Tim the Tadpole said, "Perhaps she might be a princess really! Maybe someone turned her into a swan."

Sadie became quite excited at the thought of that. "Do you think I'm a princess, Bertie?" She said. "Do you really?"

In reply, Bertie told her a little secret. "The beautiful Princess Beatrice has a special princess test. It helped her to tell who was a princess and who wasn't. She would just ask them whether they wanted to take the princess test."

"Can I take the princess test?" Asked sadie.

"Well," said Bertie, "If they said yes then they weren't really a princess, because a real princess doesn't need to take a test - she just sort of knows."

"Oh," said Sadie, a bit sadly. "I might not be a princess, but I'm the most beautiful swan on this pond!"

But Colin the Carp wasn't at all bowled over by her beauty. He grumped back at her, "Well, that's not saying much. You're the only swan on this pond." And everybody laughed - except Sadie, who glided away with as much royal dignity as she could manage.

Now, if enough children listen to his stories, one day he will turn back into a prince - and perhaps, just perhaps, he will invite Sadie to come and live on a special ornamental pond, with a golden fountain, and her dream will come true - almost.


Here's a piece of gossip I've just picked up about Bertie the Frog. As you know, he used to be a handsome prince, and when he was royal he was always extremely brave - and that's why all the creatures who live on his pond always look up to him.

Now this morning it was very chilly weather down on Bertie's pond. Mr Frosty had been through the vegetable patch, and everything was white and snowy, including Sadie the Swan.

Now you might not know this, but normally Sadie is a very special swan because her feathers are jet black. When Tim the Tadpole looked up from under a pebble in the bottom of the pond, he saw Sadie all glittering and white in the frost, and he was a bit frightened, because he had never seen a white swan before.

"Oh, ohhh," squeaked little Tim. "Is that a ghost swan?"

Bertie was used to Tim's silly questions by now. "Oh no!" He boomed. "Ghosts aren't real, so that can't be a ghost. That's a new type of swan we haven't seen before."

When Colin the Carp heard Bertie telling this to Little Tim, he swam over and said, "Well Bertie, since you consider yourself to be the prince of this pond, and a natural-born leader of creatures great and small; perhaps you should go over and introduce yourself to our new friend - if it really is a friend, that is, not a ghost swan."

"Oh cripes!" Thought Bertie. "What if it is a ghost? It's all very well when you are a prince to be brave, but when you are a frog, things can be a bit scary sometimes."

"Go on Bertie," said Colin.

"Go on Bertie," said Little Tim.

"Er, erm... Croak!" Said Bertie.

Just then the ghostly white swan glided throught the mist towards the little group of creatures. Tim quickly dived down, and hid behind a piece of green slime. Colin the Carp sank to the bottom of the pond amd pretended to be a lump of mud. Bertie wanted to hop away, but he was so scared that he found his legs were numb, and he couldn't leap off his lily pad.

The ghostly swan said, "Hello Bertie. It's so frosty this morning that my feathers are all white. Do you think I look like a princess?" And Bertie recognised the voice of Sadie the Swan - although she was normally a black swan.

He croaked a little, but no proper words came out of his mouth.

"Oh my dear Bertie," said Sadie, sympathetically. "You're such a pale shade of green today. Are you feeling well?"

"I think," said bertie, "that I might be starting a cold."

But Tim and Colin were secretly very impressed that Bertie hadn't hopped away, and they thought that he may be a brave frog afterall.


There's a dog who lives in the palace, and his name is Barker. Sometimes Barker comes down to the pond, and do you know why they call him Barker? You don't?

It's because he barks, and barks, and barks.

Tim the Tadpole, who is only very small, even for a tadpole, finds that a bit scary. So this morning, Barker was barking, and Tim was hiding bedind some green slime.

"I'm a bit scared, Bertie," said Tim.

"Don't be scared, Little Tim," croaked Bertie, "he's only a silly old dog." But barker was growling, and then he dipped his big snotty nose into the water and started drinking.

Bertie jumped back. "You're scared as well," said Colin the Carp.

"Rubbish," said Bertie. "I used to be a prince, and princes aren't afraid of anything."

Then Bertie looked across at Sadie the Swan. Now, Sadie is a very special swan; unlike most swans who are snowy white, she's jet black and has a wonderful red beak. Although she's very gentle really, sometimes she can be a bit frightening when she flaps her wings, and hisses, because she is in a bad mood.

Bertie, who was hiding underneath a lily pad, poked his head out of the water and said, "Sadie, how big are your wings?"

Sadie flapped her big black wings. "This big!" She said.

Then Barker looked up and the silly dog ran away, because he's really scared of swans. As he started running, Bertie croaked at him as fiercely as he could. "Look, I made him run away!"

"Oh Bertie," swooned Sadie, "You're so brave!"

Any time you have a spare moment, drop by at where you'll find loads more stories. We have famous stories, which you might have heard before, but I hope you'll enjoy listening to them again. And we have lots of new stories too, so come by and listen.

Until then, from me, Natasha. Bye bye!

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