The Secret Prince: Chapter Four — Pease Porridge Cold

<= Return to Chapter Three — Pease Porridge Hot

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

Chapter Four — Pease Porridge Cold

Ronduin woke to the sound of rain against the window panes and the plink, plink plink of water dripping into seven buckets that had been positioned to catch the leaks in his room. He knew his bed would stay dry because it was a secure little niche, a little room within his room with its own wooden ceiling. It had gray curtains and warm, wool blankets.  

In the hallway he found Sir Andrew working on building a wooden platform. 

“Good day!” said Sir Andrew cheerfully.

“Good day,” said Ronduin. “What are you making?’

“As soon as the rain stops we’ll make roof repairs. This is scaffolding to help us get up to the roof,” said Sir Andrew. 

Ronduin looked up and down the damp hallway and saw other workers building scaffolding. “I guess I won’t be running in this hall,” he thought. 

Ronduin’s parents, the King and Queen, were already sitting at the table when Ronduin quietly entered the sitting room. They were deep in conversation and appeared not to notice him.

“Agnes said that after the last big flood they sent workers back to the village as soon as the storm stopped,” said the Queen. “They used the rowboat as a ferry right away because they knew that, once water got lower than knee deep, the boat would get stuck in the mud.”

“All the workers except Agnes have families in the village,” said the King. “We will send them home with food and dry cloth and seeds to plant.”

“What about fixing the roof!” asked Ronduin, approaching the table. 

“The roofers will be in the last boatload,” said the Queen, who reached out and gave him a hug.

“It will be a quick temporary repair made of wood,” said the King, smiling at Ronduin as a greeting. “This summer we’ll get slate and fix it properly. But soon we need to send everyone home so they can take care of their families.”  

“They’ll have to work fast to get out before we’re surrounded by mud,” said the  Queen. “Agnes said that, after the last flood, the high water kept them in for weeks and then they were stuck in the castle for many more weeks, not because of   high water but because neither horses nor humans could walk through the deep, thick mud. They would sink up to their knees and get stuck.”  

Ronduin walked over to the fireplace and poked a wooden spoon deeply into the pease porridge. “Sort of  deep and thick like this cold porridge?,” asked Ronduin. 

The King and Queen laughed. “Cold mud for breakfast sounds rather dismal,” said the King.

“Would you prefer hot mud for breakfast?” asked the Queen.

The all laughed as they scooped heaps of cold pease porridge into their wooden bowls. 

‘This is a simple meal, “said the Queen. “But we are thankful for it.”

“Let us bow our heads in gratitude for this Providence,” said the King.

After a moment of quiet, Ronduin began to eat. 

The Queen spoke the verse Ronduin remembered learning when he had been very small.

Pease porridge hot

Pease porridge cold

Pease porridge in the pot 

Nine Days Old

Some like it hot 

Some like it cold

Some like it in the pot 

Nine days old 

When the verse was done, he stopped eating and smiled at his mom, facing her and putting his hands out in front of him. She returned his smile and together they clapped the old nursery rhyme just as they had done so many years ago when he had been but a toddler.

Pease porridge hot

Pease porridge cold

Pease porridge in the pot 

Nine Days Old

Some like it hot 

Some like it cold

Some like it in the pot 

Nine days old 

When Ronduin was little he had always said, “Again?” at the end of the rhyme and his mother had always agreed to say the rhyme over and over until she tired of the game. This time it was the Queen who said, “Again?’

They both laughed and Ronduin said, “I’m hungry. Maybe later.” 

“It’s another day for you to stay in this room,” said Ronduin’s father. 

“You can eat cold porridge,” said his mom. “And remember to feed the fire. Andrew told me you’ve taken up sewing. You may use the cloth in my sewing box.” 

Ronduin felt the hem of his linen shirt and was about to show his parents his careful stitching, but the sound of rain and the howl of wind caught his attention. And then, as he rubbed the hem between his fingers and thumb, the sounds of rain and wind stopped. He and his parents looked at each other in surprise and the whole family walked together to the window.

Looking out they saw the sun peeking through the clouds. Ronduin was about to say, “Finally, the storm has ended,” when the rain resumed, softly at first and then harder until it was pounding. Ronduin sighed.

“Your mother and I and all the workers in the castle have much to accomplish today. We are glad you are old enough to look after yourself.” 

The King gave Ronduin a quick hug and then he and the Queen stepped out of the sitting room and Ronduin was, again, alone for the day.   


Onto Chapter Five — Rain Rain Go Away =>

Afterthoughts for parents.

The end of this chapter is a good time to ask your child what they think Ronduin might do on his second rainy day alone. You could also ask your child to help you remember the previous chapters. I might incorporate children’s ideas if you send them to me, but please don’t mention that possibility to them. Comment below or email me at 

With wishes for robust health,

–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.  

  One thought on “The Secret Prince: Chapter Four — Pease Porridge Cold

  1. Mallika
    March 23, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    My girls thing he might do his 6 times tables
    Say a prayer/blessing of thanks to the earth

    Thanks for this fun story!


  2. March 23, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    Dear Mallika,
    I saw this idea after I finished writing chapter 5. I’ll try to work this into chapter 6!


  3. Rachel
    March 25, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    We are still loving this! My daughter has even asked us to put curtains in her room. She is very interested in the tieback that goes on them. She wants to use ribbon too!
    (Typo: 4 paragraphs from the end, you say “Andrew” but it should be “Ronduin”.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. March 25, 2020 at 10:53 pm

    Thank you for noticing the mistake. I’ll fix that tomorrow. I’m so happy to hear she is connecting with the story. I’m used to telling stories while I look at the child(ten), so sending this out into the world feels disconnected. I’m so grateful to hear that the story is finding it’s way into a child’s heart ❤️


  5. March 27, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    Maybe chapter 7.


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