The parable of the Frog-Prince

Once there was a king whose son was changed into a frog by a witch, and the terms of the witch’s curse were that the prince would remain a frog for nine years. During that time, he would neither speak nor think nor in any way be a human being, but he would be a frog. The king did not throw the frog into the swamp, but kept him in a velvet-lined box and had the queen feed him and minster to him. Every care and tenderness was showed to the frog, for the king wanted his son to emerge from the spell healthy and whole.

On the last day before the curse was to expire, a butcher came by with a knife offering, if it pleased the King, to slaughter the frog for the meat in its legs, but the king forbade it, saying it was not lawful for a parent to kill his own child.

The butcher said the law forbade the murder of humans only, it did not forbid the slaughter of animals.

The king stared at the butcher in wonder and horror, saying that no one should kill his own child.

The butcher said that it was not the law, but merely the king’s opinion, and that each man should decide for himself, if his child were changed out of his humanity and into a frog, whether to care for the frog for nine years, or to slaughter it; and again he offered the king his knife.

As it turned out, the only way to break the spell at the end of the nine years was to have the frog enter into the body of the queen, and emerge again in such a way as to cause the queen great pain and bloodshed. Therefore the butcher offered the knife to the queen, telling her that the choice was hers alone whether the frog-prince should live or die. The butcher said that modern neuroscience proved that the frog was in no way a human being at the moment, and would not be human until tomorrow.

The queen asked the king whether the choice was hers alone, or whether the law should forbid that a mother kill her own son.

The king asked the queen not whether her son was a human, or was a frog, but he asked her whether she loved her son or not.

The king’s name was Abraham; the queen was Sarah; the child was Isaac. All his neighbors served Moloch, who demanded the slaughter of children. Had Abraham listened to the butcher, a people as countless as the stars who have been a blessing to this world would never come into being, because to kill a child kills every human being (every Son of Man, if I may use that expression)  who might otherwise come from him.

The butcher’s name was Cain and on his brow was the Mark of Cain. But I think we knew that.

I do not see why this parable would have a different ending merely if a lazier witch turned the king’s son into a single-celled organism rather than a frog, and enchanted him for nine months rather than nine years.