The Secret Prince: Chapter Three — Pease Porridge Hot

<= Return to Chapter Two — The Golden Ribbon

If you are new to this story, please start with the Introduction to The Secret Prince

(Note to parents about to read this to a child. I included some math in this chapter that might be interesting for a child in first, second or even third grade if they are learning times tables. If you are reading this to a younger child, you might want to skip the bold section with numbers.) 

If you are new to this story, please start with the Introduction to The Secret Prince

Chapter Three — Pease Porridge Hot

“The queen told me to tell you that she and the king will be back at dinner time,” said Sir Andrew as he walked toward the door. “She told me to remind you to learn your numbers.”

As he stepped out the door, Sir Andrew added, “and remember to feed the fire.” 

And then Ronduin was alone again with his ancestors, queens and kings, looking down at him from paintings. Ronduin looked up at the painting of King Ronduin, the great-great-grandfather whose name he carried. 

Ronduin spoke to the picture of his ancestor as if he could hear him. “Agnes the cook said that, when she was a child, the river overflowed, and they were stuck in this castle for a long time. Did you ever get stuck in this castle?”

The room was quiet except for the sound of rain pounding on the window. Ronduin’s hand reached to the hem of his shirt and, as he grasped it between his thumb and his index finger, he heard a voice speaking to him in his mind. 

“Ask your parents. They will tell you about the history of this castle and all the times when your ancestors had to stay within for may weeks.” 

Ronduin didn’t know whether the message from his great-great-grandfather was real or whether it was his mind tricking him.

Ronduin put a log on the fire and then his legs wanted to run. He almost repeated the mistake of trying to run around the room, but then he remembered his jump rope. He counted as he jumped. “One, Two, Three, Four, Five.”  Then he tripped. Frustrated, he started jumping  again and counted “Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten” and he tripped again. This time he was determined not to trip. Again, Ronduin jumped while counting, “Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen…”  He called out Fifteen loudly and was happy when he did not trip as he continued counting Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty.  Ronduin did not trip, but he stopped. 

“Mother said to learn numbers,” he thought. “Maybe I can do that while I jump rope.”  

Ronduin started jumping again. This time he whispered, “one, two three, four” and then he shouted, “Five.”  He continued whispering four numbers then shouting the fifth number. “Six, seven eight nine, Ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, Fifteen, sixteen seventeen eighteen, nineteen, Twenty.  Ronduin repeated this pattern all the way up to 100. Then he repeated it all over again. He took a rest and noticed that King Ronduin appeared to be looking at him with curiosity. Feeling the hem of his shirt, he heard King Ronduin again speak directly to his mind. This time he thought he heard him say “Jump higher when you shout.” 

Ronduin repeated the pattern of four jumps followed by a shout with a higher jump. 

1  2  3  4  FIVE

6 7  8 9  TEN

11 12 13 14 FIFTEEN 

16 17 18 19 TWENTY 

21 22 23 24 TWENTY-FIVE

26 27 28 29 THIRTY

31 32 33 34 THIRTY-FIVE

36  37 38 39 FORTY

41 42 43 44 FORTY-FIVE

46 47 48 49 FIFTY 

51 52 53 54 FIFTY-FIVE

56 57 58 59 SIXTY 

When he reached sixty, he heard sounds in the hallway. Ronduin stopped and listened, hoping his parents would arrive. And, sure enough, his mother walked through the door followed by two servants. They each carried one end of a thick wooden rod. Suspended from this wooden rod hung a big, round, black pot with steam rising from it. The two servants placed the big pot over the fire on the iron chimney crane and quickly left the room. The queen placed three bowls on the table as the king entered.  

Soon, Ronduin sat with his parents, listening to the storm and eating pease porridge with bread. Looking at the portrait of the king who carried his name, Ronduin said, “Sir Andrew told me that Agnes said that this is not the first time the castle was surrounded by water.”

“I was just a babe the last time the river flooded this much. And, over the centuries, my ancestors were stuck here in this castle for weeks at a time for various reasons. My father spoke of a week long snow storm. They were stuck here for weeks more after that until the roads were dug out during a big freeze. My father also told me the legend about his father, King Ronduin. It was said that he was once stuck here with his family for many months when a dragon lurked around the castle and the village. I don’t know if the dragon was real or if it was imagined. But, I do know that since then the cooks have always kept many barrels of dried pease just in case people couldn’t get out of the castle to get food.”

“I hope you like pease porridge,” said Ronduin’s mother,”because we will  likely be eating it every day.” 

“I like it a lot,” said Ronduin, scraping the bottom of his bowl.


Onto Chapter Four — Pease Porridge Cold =>

After thoughts for parents

I’m writing this in the same way I’ve told healing stories to children at school and at home for decades. My goals for this ongoing story are to normalize the experience of being stuck at home and to empower children to find their own creative ways to live in an unexpected new life structure. I don’t have an exact picture of where the story is going and I will likely adjust the story to reflect a longer confinement if, in the real world of spring 2020, it is recommended that we all stay at home for an extended period.

I am assuming that parents will read these chapters to their children. Let me know if your older children want to read this on their own. I am considering posting a separate version of the story without these notes for parents.

In a classroom situation I often work in themes with individual children i mind. Please email me at if you have something you would like addressed in the story or have an idea about what I could add that would make your child feel a connection to the story. I can’t promise to describe every Teddy Bear or give a character a struggle similar to your child’s, but I’ll try.

Wishing you and your family good health and hopeful spirits,

–Kim Allsup

Kim Allsup taught in Waldorf schools for 25 years. She is the author of a teaching memoir, A Gift of Wonder, A True Story Showing School as it Should Be. She is currently working on a middle grade novel set in the year 2054.  

You are invited to join the conversation!
*On the Facebook page The Secret Prince Storytelling Community. Here we can talk about how we are working with the story, share children’s artwork about the story and discuss the role of storytelling in supporting children through challenges.
*This group also provides access to The Secret Prince in translation (so far in Spanish, Bulgarian and Vietnamese.)
*Note: follow Growing Children on WordPress or on Facebook to be alerted to the next installments of The Secret Prince
If you sign up to receive emails from this blog, you will get each new chapter emailed to you when it is published.

  One thought on “The Secret Prince: Chapter Three — Pease Porridge Hot

  1. Diana Murphy
    March 19, 2020 at 5:18 am

    This is so beautiful, thank you so much for doing this, it’s a life saver!! I will share with all class 1 parents now that our school have closed. Bless you and your family, stay safe!


    From: Growing Children Reply to: Growing Children Date: Thursday, 19 March 2020 at 04:35 To: “” Subject: [New post] The Secret Prince– Chapter Three: Pease Porridge Hot

    Kim Allsup posted: ” (Note to parents about to read this to a child. I included some math in this chapter that might be interesting for a child in first, second or even third grade if they are learning times tables. If you are reading this to a younger child, you might w”


  2. March 19, 2020 at 9:01 am

    If you like, please send me the first names of children in your class and I’ll have Ronduin think about his classmates using their names


  3. Erica
    March 19, 2020 at 9:21 pm

    My 1st grader is enjoying this so very much! Thank you for your wonderful story that really speaks to him- the themes are in point with what he’s been leaning and experiencing in school. He eagerly awaits the subsequent chapters each night 🙂


  4. March 19, 2020 at 9:26 pm

    Thank you ! I’m trying to finish a chapter every other day. Wish I could write faster ! Also consider telling me something about him that I can work into the story. ❤️


  5. Sara Sweningsen
    March 20, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    Thank you so much! I have been sharing these with my first graders via their parents, now that we are out of school. They are wonderful!


  6. March 20, 2020 at 1:08 pm

    Dear Kim,
    Thank you so much for this. Something magical at such an uncertain time. My middle child’s teacher forwarded our class a link to your story. Both the class and their teacher are heart broken at the forced end to this school year. It is a lovely thing to picture the class and their teacher united at bedtime through the same story, all eager to have the next chapter!

    With kind regards from the UK


  7. March 20, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    Please let me know if there are curriculum elements you would like to see in the next chapters.


  8. Erica
    March 20, 2020 at 6:28 pm

    Sure! Let’s see….. His name is Kellen and he loves the letter K (thankfully they got to the K in class right before this shut down happened!). He is intrigued by wizards and magic. He’s a beautiful singer- he constantly makes up songs and lullaby melodies- most often his songs about the stars, love & angels. Quite the dreamy, melancholic child 😉
    Thank you for responding and offering to add a nod to him somehow. How magical! thank you for sharing your gift of storytelling!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. March 20, 2020 at 7:45 pm

    This is so helpful! I’m thinking about singing and wizards


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