If you are new to this story, please start with the Introduction to The Secret Prince
Note to parent readers: Your child may know the nursery rhymes at the opening of this story. I chose rhymes that go back to Medieval times so they would carry a hint of historical accuracy. Speaking these rhymes together with your child could be soothing for some children who may even want to repeat the rhymes more than once.
Some children might even want to try jumping rope with these rhymes. Consider finding a jump rope (or jump rope substitute) and leaving it in a visible place, but don’t over encourage. My hope is to inspire independent initiative in the children who connect with this story.
Chapter Five — Rain, Rain, Go Away
Ronduin picked up his jump rope and began jumping, but, this time, instead of counting, he jumped to the rhythm of the verse he had said with his mother.
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
He did this over and over until he had to stop and catch his breath. And then he rested and began again. He had a lot of running energy to put into his jumping.
After some time, Roduin was tired of saying this verse, but he was not tired of jumping. He searched his mind for more rhymes. He tried:
To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog.
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done.
Ronduin had to speak this verse three times while jumping in order to work out a speaking rhythm that matched his jumps. Once he had the rhythm figured out, he jumped while speaking this verse many times until he was very thirsty.
A brown earthenware pitcher of well water sat on a small table near the windows. Ronduin poured water into a cup and swallowed it in big gulps. Outside, the sky poured great gulps of water toward the earth, which was unable to swallow it, unable to let any more water into the earth, for the soil was already fully soaked.
Now, another verse popped into Ronduin’s mind.
Rain, rain, go away
Come again another day
For Prince Ronduin wants to play.
Ronduin sat cross legged in front of the window watching the rain and listening to the ever-changing singing voice of the wind. He found himself adding his own tune to the verse.
Rain, rain, go away
Come again another day
For Prince Ronduin wants to play.
Ronduin sat for a very long time, singing all the songs he knew, songs he had learned from troubadours, from his mother, from his teacher. After some time he was hungry and he scooped a lump of pease porridge cold out of the pot into his wooden bowl and filled his cup with water. He ate and he drank, put a log on the fire and went back to sitting at the window.
Something felt so familiar about singing at this window. Now he suddenly remembered many times when he had been very small, long before he knew any of the songs sung at court, sitting at this same window, singing, always singing, making up little songs about rainbows and twinkling stars, about green grass and chirpy birds and his love for all things that grow under the sun.
Smiling as he remembered the little boy he had once been, Ronduin’s fingers found the hem of his shirt and softly began to sing, making up the words and the tune.
Sun, sun come back today
Please come back so I can play
And run by rivers and climb a tree
Listen dear sun to my plea
As he finished singing his little song, the rain stopped. The bright disc peaked out between the clouds and cause the new lake in front of the castle to sparkle. Five ducks appeared. They formed a circle and chased each other round and round.
Ronduin smiled at the ducks and then he remembered that his parents had said that, as soon as they rain stopped, they would send the rowboat to the village.
“I wonder whether they noticed that the sun came out,” he thought. “They are too busy to be looking out windows. I better find them and tell them.”
In a flash, Ronduin had left the room and was walking fast through the hallway, dodging scaffolding and people carrying buckets, mops, hammers, and pieces of wood. Even though it had stopped raining, the roof still leaked and by the time he had walked all the halls on the upper floor, his hair was wet and he still had not seen his mother or his father or Sir Andrew.
Ronduin took the stairs down to the middle floor where he discovered the hallways were so full of furniture that he had to carefully wend his way around chairs and chests, and huge paintings leaning against heavy tables.
Onions. Ronduin smelled onions cooking. He followed this scent around a corner and into a room that had once been a grand sitting room where his parents met visiting dignitaries. Now it had become a temporary kitchen. The room was darkened by thick curtains, but a bright fire lit one side of the room. Here a big table covered with bowls, heaps of carrots and potatoes, black pots and cloth sacks stood in front of the hearth where Agnes stirred a big, black iron pot with a wooden spoon. She looked up and smiled.
“Ronduin,” she said. “Come, dear and stir this pot while I cut potatoes.”
“Have you seen the king and queen?” he asked as he took the spoon and began stirring the boiling, onion-scented liquid. “The rain stopped and they said that means we must rush to send people to town in the rowboat,” he said excitedly.
Agnes, a slightly bent old woman with white hair pulled up in a bun, moved slowly toward the window and drew back the curtain. Sunlight streamed into the room, lighting the objects on the table.
“It seems like months since we’ve seen sun,” said Agnes, though it’s only been two days.
Just then the door to the room swung open so forcefully that it banged against the wall. Looking agitated, Sir Andrew stepped in and shouted, “Ronduin’s missing.”
“No I’m not,” said Ronduin. “I’m right here stirring the pot. I was looking for you because you need to know that the rain stopped.”
Sir Andrew rushed to the window and said, “time to make ready the boat. If the rain holds off, we can get the first boatload to town by dark. Agnes, can you spare this young lad? I can use his help.”
“Of course,” said Agnes as the King and Queen entered the room.
Suddenly, it occurred to Ronduin that his parents might be unhappy with him for leaving the upstairs sitting room even though it had been for a good reason. He looked closely at his mother’s expression. He knew her well enough to see in her calm expression that she had not heard that he was missing.
“It’s stopped raining,” announced Sir Andrew. “I need Prince Ronduin to help ready the boat.”
“Certainly,” said the King, looking at Ronduin with a gleam in his eye. “Ronduin is certainly old enough to begin doing real work.”
Ronduin smiled. After a rainy days alone, real work sounded very good.
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