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.
Zooming down the stairs, a thought jumped into Ronduin’s mind. More than a thought, it actually was a wish, a hope, a desire for an adventure with Sir Andrew. “Maybe, thought Ronduin, “just maybe, mother and father and Sir Andrew would give me permission to accompany Sir Andrew on his voyages to the village as he takes the workers back to their homes.”
Ronduin imagined the journey to the village that he usually took with Sir Andrew by horse cart, only this time in a boat with water everywhere.
Ronduin burst into the new kitchen which was bustling with people, and ran up to his mother and spoke, quickly, breathlessly, “Mother, mother, a power rainbow demanded the storm to stop and it did! The sky is clearing! Sir Andrew is rowing and he has two chickens and then he can take people to the village and can I go too?”
His mother’s eyes opened wide as she listened to Andrew and then she switched from being simply his mother to being a Queen. In a loud, commanding voice she announced, “The boat will be here soon. The unloading team will proceed to the door at the top of the stairwell. The first village group will wait behind them. Ronduin will hold the boat at the steps.”
The Queen turned to talk with Agnes. Then she turned back to Ronduin and said, “Chickens, did you say chickens?”
“Two chickens, mother. They fluttered onto the boat as Sir Andrew rowed away.”
“Then we’ll have eggs,” she said, smiling. “I’m putting you in charge of the chickens. When they arrive, catch them and put them in two of those big turnip baskets that are now empty. Once Sir Andrew leaves for town, carry them up to the third floor balcony that looks out over the courtyard. They can live out there.”
Ronduin was about to ask again about going to the village with Sir Andrew, but the Queen was busy talking to someone. Agnes found a couple of baskets. She turned one of them upside down over the other. She asked Ronduin to hold the baskets while she tied two of the handles together. Then she handed him another piece of twine.
“Once the hens are inside, tie the other handles before you carry them,” she said. “You can make a little chicken house on one end of the balcony so they have a snug place to sleep.”
Ronduin thought his mother hadn’t heard him ask about going to the village in the boat. But, now she turned to him and said, “I’m sorry, Ronduin, that you can’t go with Sir Andrew. If we have extra room in the boat, we will load more bags of grain for the village.”
Ronduin sat on the cold, stone step on the ground floor of the castle waiting for Sir Andrew. A cheery ray of sunshine shone through the gigantic, open castle door, but even this first sight of sunshine in many days did not cheer him.
He wanted more than anything to go to town, to catch a glimpse of his friends through the windows on the second floor of their homes. He wanted to see what the village looked like with a river through its center instead of a road. And, more than anything, he wanted to get out of the castle, to be sitting in the bow of green boat under the wide, rain free sky.
Then he imagined that the spot in the bow of the boat held three big bags of oats. And he imagined that one of those bags went home with Ricard so that Mirabel could have porridge. He imagined Mirabel smiling, eating her porridge and he realized he wanted her to have enough food more than he wanted to ride to town in the boat.
Ronduin heard the oars splashing before he saw the green boat. Sir Andrew turned the boat around before he rowed into the castle. Now he was poling the boat in backwards so the wide stern of the boat would glide up to Roduin first. A red chicken perched on the left of the stern and a golden chicken perched on the right.
“Ready for two fine hens?” asked Sir Andrew as he used an oar to pole across the entryway and drew close to the steps.
“I’ve got baskets,” said Ronduin.
“When I count to three, you grab the golden one and I’ll grab the red one,” said Sir Andrew. “Move fast so they don’t flutter into the water or take off up the stairs,”
“Ready?” asked Sir Andrew.
“Ready,” said Ronduin.
The boat was very close now. Ronduin looked calmly into the eyes of the golden chicken.
“One, two…. three,” said Sir Andrew slowly.
When Sir Andrew said, “three”, Ronduin reached out and grabbed the legs of the golden hen with one hand as he wrapped his other arm around the chicken’s body. He pulled the golden bird close, tucked it under its arm and stroked its head.
Looking up, he saw that Sir Andrew had also been successful. He had the red hen tucked snugly under his arm.
Here is the portal to Chapter Eleven: https://childrengrowing.com/2020/04/06/the-secret-prince-chapter-eleven-sunset-and-sunrise/