"Yes. Every morning and every night and every moment I
can sneak in between."
"And do you always write about your family?"
Sunday flipped the pages of her never-ending journal -
her nameday gift from Fairy Godmother Joy - past her thumb.
It was a nervous habit she'd had all her life. "I am afraid to write
"Why is that?"
Maybe it was because the honesty was intoxicatingly freeing
or because he was a frog and not a man, but she felt strangely
comfortable with Grumble. She had already told him so much
about her life, more than anyone had ever before cared to know.
Why should she stop now? "Things I write... well... they
have a tendency to come true. And not in the best way."
"I didn't want to gather the eggs one morning, so I wrote
down that I didn't have to. That night, a weasel got into the
henhouse. No one got eggs that morning. Another time, I did
not want to go with the family to market."
"Did the wagon break a wheel?"
"I got sick with the flu and was in bed for a week," she said
with a smile. " 'Regret' is not a strong enough word."
"I imagine not," said Grumble.
"And now you're wondering what would happen if I wrote
that you were free of your spell."
"The thought had crossed my mind."
"You might not come back as a man but as a mouse or a
mule or a tiger who'd eat me alive. You might come back as a
man but not the man you were. You might be missing something
vital, like an arm or a leg or -"
"My mind?" Grumble joked.
" -breath," Sunday answered seriously.
"Ah. We must always be careful what we wish for."
"Exactly. If I write only about events that have already
come to pass, there is no danger of my accidentally altering the
future. No one but the gods should have power over such
"A very practical decision."
"Yes." She sighed. "Very practical and very boring. Very just
"On the contrary. I found your brief essay quite intriguing."
" Really?" He was just saying that to be nice. And then she
remembered he was a frog. Funny how she kept forgetting.
"Will you read to me again tomorrow?"
If her ridiculously large smile didn't scare him off, surely
nothing she wrote could. "I would love to."
"And would you... be my friend?" he asked tenuously.
The request was charming and humble. "Only if you will
be mine in return."
Grumble's mouth opened wide into what Sunday took
to be a froggy grin. "And... if I may be so bold, Miss Woodcutter -"
"Please, call me Sunday."
"Sunday... do you think you could find it in your heart
to... kiss me?"
She had wondered how long it would take before he got
around to asking. A maiden's kiss was the usual remedy for his
particular enchantment. Normally Sunday would have declined
without a thought. But he had been so polite, and she was surely
the only maiden he would come across for a very long time. It
was the least she could do.
His skin was bumpy and slightly damp, but she tried not to
think about it. After she kissed him, she straightened up quickly
and backed away. She wasn't sure what to expect. A shower of
sparks? Some sort of explosion? Either way, she wanted to
stand clear of whatever was involved in turning a frog back
into a man.
They stared at each other for a long time afterward.
"I don't have to come back, you know, in case you were
offering just to be courteous."
"Oh no," he said quickly. "I look forward to hearing about
your sisters. Please, do come back tomorrow."
"Then I will, after I finish my chores. But I should go now,
before it gets dark. Mama will be expecting me to help with
dinner." She stood and brushed what dirt she could off her skirt.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...