The Secret Prince: Chapter 14 — The First Fire

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. Teachers are also using this story with their classes. 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:

You will find a link to the next chapter ( as soon as it is available) 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. Many thanks to Joel Aragón Colín who is translating the story into Spanish and to Phan Lê Minh who is translating the story into Vietnamese. Please join us (and also find translations) here:

Chapter 14

The workers climbed down from the roof and onto the scaffolding and hiked speedily down the hall nodding their heads toward the the young prince as they passed. Ronduin and his father followed them at a slower pace. “Dark clouds coming this way,”said the King. The workers told me rain is coming, but they think they can get back to the village before it pours if they don’t waste any time. Yesterday Sir Andrew and I planned that he would sit down with us for a meal before the last trip. I wanted to hear more about the people in the village and how they are faring. And I wanted Sir Andrew to learn more from Agnes about what everyone did during the last big flood so he could bring this knowledge to the villagers. But now, with more rain coming, there’s no time to talk. We must send people back to their homes as fast as we can.” 

When Ronduin and the King reached the new kitchen, the workers were already walking out of the room carrying bags of vegetables and grains. “Good bye, Prince Ronduin and fare thee well,” said Ellyn, a young woman who usually helped Cook Agnes in the kitchen.  “May all be well with you and your family,” replied Ronduin. 

“I’ll go down to the boat to help everyone get settled,” said the King. Ronduin, please go back to watching from the sitting room. Let me know when they reach the forest. I pray that they get to the trees before the rain.”

“Yes, father,” said Ronduin. “Do I have time to look at the chickens on my way?”.

“Certainly,” said his father, “But don’t stay too long.” 


Ronduin found Sunset and Sunrise napping peacefully together in one of the baskets. He noticed that they still had plenty of water. He saw that some food remained in their bowl. Looking up at the sky, he could see dark clouds creeping toward the castle. 

Ronduin slowly opened the door and stepped into the hallway. He tried to be as quiet as snow falling on a windless day so he would not disturb chickens. 

When he got back to the sitting room Ronduin looked out the window and saw that the rowboat had just come out the big doors. He waved and, for a moment, Ronduin was convinced that his wave had not been seen. But now Sir Andrew took both oars in his left hand so he could use his right hand to wave. Now everyone in the boat waved at Ronduin, who continued waving wildly until Sir Andrew grasped an oar in each hand and pulled away from the castle with sure, strong strokes. 

For a few minutes the boat traveled over the dirt road that was usually bordered by bushes. But now Sir Andrew veered to the right and headed out across the field in the direction of the road that parted the forest. The farther the boat travelled from the castle, the smaller it seemed to become. 

Ronduin knew it was silly, but he couldn’t stop himself from waving again, just a small wave, for he was sure that that he could no longer be seen by the travelers. He stood at the window with a tear trickling down his cheek as he waved and waved until Sir Andrew and the villagers turned into the channel between the trees and could no longer be seen. 

Now the rain began, softly at first and then harder. “At least they are almost home and are sheltered by the trees” thought Ronduin, feeling a sudden chill. 

The door to the sitting room opened just then and in walked Ronduin’s parents. “The boat just now moved into the forest,” said Ronduin. “The rain waited until they had shelter from the trees.” 

“They will be fine,” said the Queen. “They all wore woolen coats and capes that will keep them warm even if they get wet.” 

The King carried a small, iron pot with three legs. He set it by the fireplace. Ronduin dug into the woodbox for a small log and a pile of twigs. These he placed on the hearth. The king reached for the tongs that sat by the fire. He used the tongs to reach into the pot and pulled out a hot coal. Reaching in again he placed two more coals on the twigs. Ronduin balanced one end of a second small log on the twigs and picked up the bellows and began to puff air toward the coals. The coal brightened into glowing redness. Soon, the twigs burst into flame.

Ronduin’s father crouched in front of the fire, took the bellows and gave an occasional puff of air to encourage the flames. When the twigs had become flameless coals and had not yet ignited the logs, the King reached into the firebox and grabbed more twigs which he carefully laid on the glowing twigs. He poked at the area with a stick from the box, moved the top log until it was in the hottest spot and puffed more air from the bellows. The new twigs burst into flame and, after a few minutes, the upper log was in flame. Ronduin’ father added a large log, confident that the fire would now continue to burn.

Ronduin remembered building a fire with Sir Andrew. He remembered helping Cook Agnes with the kitchen fire. He remembered tending fires on his own. But he could not remember ever building a fire with his father, the King. He realized that, except for Cook Agnes, all the workers who usually filled wood boxes and built fires and tended fires in the castle had gone home. He realized that he had not known until now that his father was skilled in building a fire. Watching the first fire he had ever built with his father, Ronduin wondered what other skills his father and his mother would show in the weeks ahead. 

here is the portal to Chapter 15: /


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