This fairy tale is also known as The Bog King’s Daughter. It’s one of the longer Hans Christian Andersen’s tales. Whilst I thought it was an okay tale to read, it didn’t capture my imagination and attention as much as other tales.
It tells the very old story that storks tell their kids. The first storks to tell the story, was actually part of the story. It centres around a mother and father stork who are in a Danish marsh. They’re arguing one day when they see three swans fly down. One comes down and casts off her swan skin leaving a maiden behind. The other two swans tear up her swan skin (pleasant!) and leave her in the marsh. The marsh king comes up from the marsh and drags her under.
After a while, the storks see a stalk growing from the marsh with a little baby girl inside. They choose to bring her to the Viking chief’s wife who really wants a child. However, the child is totally problematic, because she’s a mixture of the princess who’d been in the swan skin and the marsh king. She is a beautiful human child with an evil personality and by night she’s an ugly frog but is incredibly sweet.
The storks lean that the princess had been sent north to get a remedy for her ill father. The two swans that had betrated her by tearing her swan skin had lied and said how she’s been killed by a hunter. The storks are totally annoyed by this because they know the truth. They steal the swan skins and bring them with them as they go north.
The girl, who they name Helga, grows up. She’s totally ruthless and asks to kill a Christian priest that the Vikings have captured. When it comes to it though, Helga is a frog, she sneaks out in her frog shape and releases the priest from prison. The priest takes Helga with him. When she turns into the evil girl, he prays for her and she stops acting evilly. The priest teaches Helga about Christ and she wants to be baptized. As if enough hadn’t happened to Helga and the priest, they are attacked by some robbers. The priest and their horse dies. Helga, in her frog formation builts them a burial mound. Her genuine kindness turns her into a human for good.
The priest’s ghost returns to Helga and tells her she must go back to the marsh. She rides the ghostly horse with the priest. Helga sees a shape just like hers underneath the water. Helga realises that it’s her mother and pulls her out.
Helga turns out to be the flower of the deep water and her presence heals. Everything seems to be going well. She’s about to marry a prince. On her wedding night, a vision of the priest appears and Helga wants to see the face of God. The priest agrees. Helga is so intrigued and awed that she asks for more time. When Helga eventually returns to the celebration there’s no one there. She sees the storks and tries to talk to them as friends. Surprisingly, they don’t know who she is. Helga has been gone for centuries! As the rising sun’s rays touch her, Helga turns into dust!