A Note to Parents: Children are facing a time of increased solitude. I am writing the story The Secret Prince to show them a child who faces a similar situation in which he is stuck at home (well, a castle in his case). A flood surrounds the castle and Prince Ronduin can not go to school in the village and cannot run through the woods. How does he pass his time? Can Ronduin be a role model for children today? Can the story help to normalize their experience? I’ve been pleased to learn that a small but growing group of families is reading this to their children as the story grows. My goal is to add a chapter each Monday and Thursday. Perhaps you will join us. If you are new to this story, start here:
You will find a link to the next chapter at the end of each chapter.
Ronduin tore into his bread. Chewing, he looked at his mother with a quizzical expression. After swallowing he said with a puzzled tone, “This is fresh bread. But the new kitchen has no bake oven.”
“Agnes has worked a miracle,” said he mother. “She made a little oven in the fireplace by putting a clay pot over a pan on top of the coals.”
“She told me that she remembered that her mother used to bake bread like this as they didn’t have an oven,” said Ronduin’s father.
Just then, Sir Andrew entered the room carrying a pile of cloth. “I apologize for interrupting your meal,” he said using a tone of deference.
“Please speak,” said the king. “Did you find enough cloth?”
“Almost ,” said Sir Andrew. “We still need enough for one bag.”
“Just a moment,” answered the Queen, “we can use some cloth from my sewing box. Someone will get a fancy bag,” she said, smiling.
“Ronduin, can you find a suitable piece of cloth?” she asked.
Ronduin took his last spoonful of soup and went to look through the now well-known contents of the wooden sewing box.
“I think I know just the piece,” he said, remembering a rectangle of blue cloth.
“Here it is,” he said, holding up the light blue, woolen cloth.
“Perfect,” said the Queen. “This is cloth from my old, worn out cape. I think it will make a fine a food bag.”
“May I go with Sir Andrew now?” asked Ronduin.
Both his parents nodded and Ronduin and Sir Andrew soon wound their way around scaffolding on the third floor and then around the piled up furniture on the second floor.
When they reached the new kitchen, they found six workers already sitting in a circle. Sir Andrew had already explained that they would be sewing bags so everyone leaving the castle could carry onions, carrots and turnips. Sir Andrew announced, “Here is your teacher, Prince Ronduin.”
Ronduin gave one piece of linen cloth to each sewer and Sir Andrew gave each person a needle and a thread. Standing in the middle of the circle, Ronduin showed them how to thread a needle. Then he showed them how to push the needle in and out of the fabric. He encouraged them to take small stitches so their bags would have strong seams.
After everyone had learned to do a basic running stitch, the sewing group settled into a time of quiet. Once they were comfortable with sewing, they fell into a thoughtful conversation. They spoke about going home and they wondered how long they would have to stay stay in their homes, which they assumed were, like the castle, surrounded by water.
Agnes, who had been cleaning the kitchen, spoke up. “It will be many weeks. The last flood wasn’t as deep as this one. We won’t be able to travel by foot until the water goes down and the mud dries enough that you don’t sink in as far as your ankle with every step.”
“As soon as this rain stops, I will ferry you home to be with your families,” said Sir Andrew.
“When I get home, I’ll tell my daughter, Mirabel, that I was taught to sew by a young lad,” said a tall man named Ricard.
Up until that moment, Ronduin had not thought much about his friends. But, now, an image of Mirabel filled his mind. She was the only child at school who loved to run as much as he did.
After school they often ran together through the village and along the river, and, when they came to the lake, they stopped to catch their breath. Standing at the edge of the lake watching the swans, Mirabel often spoke about her family. Ronduin had to take great care to not show that he knew her father. He avoided speaking of his own home and, when Mirabel asked, he said that he lived on a farm.
Ronduin didn’t feel like he was lying when he said this, for the castle was surrounded by acres of fields growing rye and oats and carrots and turnips and leeks and kale and so much more. And, up on the hilltop, behind the castle stood the great barn with cows and goats and poultry. In a way, even though his parents could not tend all of this themselves, they were farmers, for they were responsible for overseeing all the tilling and the planting and the weeding and the harvesting and the storing away.
Ronduin remembered the moments when he and Mirabel parted. He always watched her running down the path through the forest toward her home at the edge of the village. He did not continue on his way along the lake until she had disappeared around a curve in the path. Then, for just a moment, even though he would likely see her soon, he strangely felt like he was missing her. Now, looking at Mirabel’s father, his head bowed over his sewing, Ronduin felt as he always did as she ran out of sight between the trees.
Of course Ricard, Mirabel’s father, knew that Ronduin, the prince, was friends with his daughter. But he had promised to keep Ronduin’s royal station a secret.
Now, Ronduin was concerned that the secret would be too hard to keep. He worried that perhaps Ricard would mention his name by mistake and that, when he went back to school, all his friends would know he was a prince and would treat him with deference.
Ronduin took it upon himself to sew the blue woolen bag. He finished it just as the rest of the sewing group stitched their last stitches. They each placed two linen bags on the table and kept one that they would load with carrots, turnips and onions in the morning.
Ronduin handed the blue woolen bag to Ricard who smiled as he received it. “Thank you,” he said. “This is a fine bag. When it is is done holding carrots and turnips and onions, I will give it to Mirabel.”
“Just don’t tell her I made it,” said Ronduin.
“That will be our secret,” said Ricard.
Here is the portal to Chapter Nine: https://childrengrowing.com/2020/04/01/the-secret-prince-chapter-nine-the-rainbow-of-power/