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 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. Kim Allsup
If you are new to this story, start here: https://childrengrowing.com/2020/03/15/stories-for-children-in-times-of-trouble-storytelling-help-for-parents-in-the-era-of-covid-19/
You will find a link to the next chapter at the end of each chapter.
Also, consider joining us on Facebook to discuss how to use this story with children at The Secret Prince Story Community and, thanks to kind volunteers, to find translations into Vietnamese and Spanish https://www.facebook.com/groups/640925113394726/
“Sir Andrew said I’d find you here,” said Ronduin’s mother stepping onto the balcony. “The chickens look happy. You’ve made them a nice home.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a handful of vegetable scraps and tossed them into the chicken’s feed bowl.
“Agnes always has scraps that you can bring to the chickens,” she said. “Our meals will be in the new kitchen since all the workers except Agnes will be back in the village by the end of the day.”
Ronduin smiled as the chickens found their way to the scraps and began pecking at them.
“It’s so funny that they like to eat the scraps that we wouldn’t eat,” said Ronduin. “This one is named Sunrise,” he said pointing to the golden bird, “and this one is called Sunset.”
“Sir Andrew told me that they already laid eggs and that he’s bringing them to Ricard’s family,” said his mother.
“Yes,” said Ronduin. “I wanted to send them something. They are kind to give Sir Andrew bed and board.”
The Queen nodded. “We will miss Ricard, but I am glad he will be at home helping his family and other families from the village.”
“Now,” she continued, “we have an important job for you. Your father will soon help Sir Andrew load the boat for the first trip of the day. Sir Andrew will be coming back later today for the people now working on the roof. “After you come to the new kitchen for porridge, we need you to look out for Sir Andrew returning to the castle. The sitting room has the best view. Take some bread and cheese as you will be there for awhile. When you see the boat returning, I’m counting on you to tell the people working on the roof that the boat will arrive soon. They must work until the very last moment to finish the repairs. You will find the King with them and he will want to meet Sir Andrew to learn more about how the people in the village are faring.”
“Yes, mother,” said Ronduin.
Ronduin sat on the floor facing out the window of the sitting room. In the distance he could hear the faint sounds of hammering on the roof.
“Something is strange,” he thought, but he did not know what was different.
Then, for a few moments, the hammering noise stopped.
“I know what is strange,” he thought. “The castle is quiet. Even with the hammering, the castle has become quieter because more than half of the workers have gone back to the village.”
Ronduin stood and scanned the unusual sea that lay before the castle. In the distance he saw the forest that blocked the view of the village. Looking closer to the castle, he looked for the tops of small bushes that lined the road, but they could not be seen, for they were underwater. Across the area that should be recently planted fields, puffs of wind rustled up tiny patterns of waves that skidded across the water. “I like watching the wind tickling the water,” thought Ronduin, smiling.
Ronduin picked up his jump rope and remembered he had planned to figure out how to count by sixes. He wished he had a quill and ink to write with and parchment to write on.
“Maybe I can find something that works as well as a quill and ink and parchment,” thought Ronduin.
He looked around the room and his eyes settled on the fireplace which, on this warm, sunny day, lacked a fire. Picking up a piece of charred wood, he looked at the stones that made up the sides of fireplace. On the right side of the fireplace, a large, pale stone looked to be the perfect place to write.
Ronduin made an x for each number and at the end of each row of six x’s he inscribed a number. It looked like this:
Ronduin then read the numbers again and again until he learned them and could recite them without looking at the marks on the stone. Then he picked up his jump rope and jumped steadily, speaking the numbers from memory all while looking out the window.
Ronduin again counted by sixes while jumping rope. He did this again and again until he was breathing hard. After a drink of water, he settled by the window, watching the area where he could usually see the road that came out of the forest.
Sir Andrew and the boatful of villagers had approached the village via the same road through the forest that Ronduin had often traveled with Sir Andrew in the cart on the way to school. Only now the road had become a water passage through the trees. When Sir Andrew returned, he would emerge from the forest in an empty boat where the road parted the trees.
Ronduin brought a piece of bread and a chunk of cheese to his look out spot near the windows. He tossed his bread in the air and caught it. Now he tossed it higher, then higher, then higher still. He wondered if he could toss it so high that it touched the ceiling. The next time he threw it, he swung his arm with great force. The bread hit the ceiling.
“Hurrah,” said Ronduin excitedly. But then, as the bread plummeted to the floor in an unexpected location, Ronduin said, “Oh no!”
He picked the bread up, dusted it off and took a bite out of it. As he ate, he thought he would like to have something to throw that wasn’t part of his meal. As soon as he finished, he opened his mother’s sewing box and found some small squares of red velvet.
“Perfect!” he said. Ronduin found a needle and thread and began sewing the squares together. His eyes were on his sewing, so he didn’t see Sir Andrew as he emerged from the opening in the trees in the green boat. In fact, since the boat moved more quickly without passengers, Sir Andrew was almost half way back to the castle when Ronduin finally noticed him.
Ronduin was off in a flash. He dropped his sewing, sped out the door, darted around the scaffolding, passed the chicken balcony (where he resisted taking a look), turned the corner to the next hallway and began calling out as soon as he could see his father.
“Father, father, the boat is almost here,” he yelled.
Here is the portal to Chapter 14 https://childrengrowing.com/2020/04/13/the-secret-prince-chapter-14-the-first-fire/