The Secret Prince — Chapter 27 : The View from the Hill

Preface

Children are facing a time of increased solitude. I am a retired teacher developing the story The Secret Prince to show 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 cannot 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 the experience of being stuck at home? I’ve been pleased to learn that many families are 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.

I have dreamed of collaborators in creating this tale and, with this chapter, my dream is coming true. This is the first chapter written by a guest writer. I had imagined such bonus chapters would be side stories about villagers that could stand on their own.  But this chapter turned out to be more than that. It felt like magic to me as I read this chapter by Karah Pino, for it adds depth to the storyline and helped me to see the next phase of the story.   

I hope you will join us as readers and perhaps even as collaborators.  

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 (as soon as it is available) at the end of each chapter.

Some teachers and parents follow the time-tested approach (used in Waldorf Schools) of telling a story on one day, then asking the child to retell it the next day. The day after that the child engages in an activity related to the story: writing, math, drawing, making or using a jumprope, building a model, sewing a bean bag, or making a map for example. You can also tell your child a side story about a character in the story. This chapter was originally a story a mom created to expand the central story for her child.

Many thanks to the collaborators who are translating this story:  Joel Aragón Colín who is translating into Spanish, to Phan Lê Minh who is translating into Vietnamese and Tanya Kirilova Kothari who is translating The Secret Prince into Bulgarian! 

Please join us for conversations, updates, ideas for follow up activities, new chapters and translations by joining The Secret Prince Story Community on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/640925113394726/

You might want to sign up to receive an email with the full text of each chapter when it is posted on this blog.

Chapter 27  The View from the Hill 

by Karah Pino

Roland woke to the sound of the barn doors creaking slightly.  From his perch in the hay loft, he saw the early morning light filtering through the cracks around the doors and realized he had slept later than usual.  The cows and sheep were padding the soft earth and straw, expectantly waiting for Roland to open the doors so they could enjoy the morning dew on the grass.

Roland stood and stretched his long arms and twisted at his waist, feeling the soreness in the muscles along his spine. He climbed down the ladder, placing one foot carefully at a time.  Moving towards the barn door, he felt each animal as he passed, pausing to gauge the girth of the two heavy cows, nearly ready to give birth.  Feeling the thick wool of the sheep, he murmured sympathetically.  Usually by now, the sheep would have been shorn and they would happily lean close to him in the cool morning air.  But this was not a usual spring and the thick wool would likely grow a few more weeks before being trimmed.

Once he reached the barn doors and lifted the latch, the cows pressed their shoulders against the doors.  The heavy doors swung open and they walked outside to the thickly growing grass.  Roland leaned against each of the heavy doors until they met the side of the barn and he then secured them open. He turned with his back to the barn and gazed down the hill to the castle, still surrounded by water.  The sounds of the larger animals leaving the barn excited the chickens laying in their roosts and they started pushing out of their nighttime coop into the small pen below.  Roland scattered a handful of oats into the pen to keep the chickens happy while he finished his morning routine.

Roland walked around to the back of the barn.  A  soft nose appeared around the corner followed by the head of a small horse.  “Good morning, Galen,” he said as he passed, stroking along the soft muzzle.  After rounding the fenced-in area that was temporarily a horse pen, Roland picked up a bucket and lowered it into the narrow, deep well.  While the bucket filled, he took a moment to enjoy the view of the majestic mountains in the distance. His gaze moved down to the hills at the foot of the mountains. To his right a tall pine grove hid his view of the town.  Peering through the morning mist in the valley, he could just make out the bottom of the lower foothills where the swollen lake still covered the fields between the barn hill and the foothills.

The oldest milking cow came around the corner, snorted and gave an open mouthed “Moo!”  Roland understood the sound meant to tell him that her udders were heavy and she was ready to be milked.  He smiled at her and softly murmured, “I’m sorry Beni, I’ve gotten a late start today.  I will be with you in just a moment.” 

Pulling up the bucket from the well, Roland noted that the flood water had continued to go down overnight.  He could not yet see the rocky path that connected the barn hill to the pastures in the foothills. But, he could see a hint that this hidden pathway that ran along the hills above the fields would soon appear. Roland thought of the joy of walking this rocky path each springtime after a long, wet and cold winter.  The cows, sheep, oxen and horses were always eager to reach the new grass in the foothills.  Along the narrowest parts of the path, he used his walking stick to guide the animals hooves away from the wild raspberry canes that lined the path to keep them from being trampled. Now, the water had gone down enough that the tops of these raspberry canes began to emerge. 

The expected appearance of the raised path to the foothills was good news.  The grass around the barn would not feed the animals much longer and he was nearly out of the winter stores of hay.  Usually, by this time in spring the cows and sheep would have the entire hillside to graze in.  But this was not a usual spring.  Roland took a long drink of cold water from the full bucket.

“Come along, Beni.” Roland patted the side of the cow as he passed, heading back into the barn.  She ambled along behind him, stopping to graze as he refilled Galen’s water trough from the freshly filled bucket and then walked back into the barn.  He replaced the water for the chickens with the remainder from the bucket.   Then Roland picked up a stool from the corner.  Beni settled into place as he set the stool up next to her and began to pull the milk from each teat into the bucket.

As Roland steadily filled the bucket with warm, frothing milk, he remembered the last big flood.  He had been a young boy and lived with his father and brothers in the old barn.  When the flood had come then, the old barn, which had been closer to the castle, had also filled with water.  The animals and his family were hastily moved into the second floor of the castle.  He remembered spending many weeks living in the stone hallway with all his animal friends until the mud dried enough to walk back up the hill.  Roland smiled as he looked back at those strange and wonderful days. 

Beni snorted again and moved away as Roland picked up the bucket and stool.  He returned the stool to the corner and opened the gate for the chickens who tumbled over one another as they made their way through the rays of sunlight to peck for the worms wriggling along the saturated grass at the edge of the floodwaters.

Looking around the barn, Roland made a mental list of his tasks.  He would need to clean out and replace the straw in the barn, fetch the eggs from the coop and bring down another bale of hay.  But first, he would take the milk into the kitchen.  Walking around the other side of the barn, he spied Robere, the barn cat, crouched and ready to pounce. Roland stopped short, but saw the mouse scamper around the corner having already been startled by his footsteps.  Robere launched after the mouse, racing around the corner.  “Sorry Robere,” Roland chuckled.

Setting down the bucket of milk, he looked to see where the mouse had been rustling and saw the small crack in the rocks at the doorstep.  Roland had spent most of this past winter, carefully patching the threshold and doorstep into the kitchen.  He pushed aside the heavy rocks holding the thick door in place and pulled it open with a heavy grunt.  The sweet aroma of milk curds greeted him as he picked up the bucket and entered the kitchen.

Robere chirped a meow as he leapt over the threshold and entered the kitchen.  “No luck?” Roland asked.  He dipped a small bowl into the milk and set it down for the purring cat.  Roland quickly moved around the kitchen.  He checked the coals in the fire and sprinkled some wood dust over the warmest areas. Then he lifted a wooden bowl from the long, large basin that served as his bed in the winter.   He set the bowl on the counter next to the bucket of milk.  

Roland then carefully pulled up the cloth covering a large wooden vat and peered inside.  Satisfied, he replaced the cloth and opened the basket brought by Sir Andrew from the castle.  He pulled out the last two pieces of loosely woven cloth, the bundle of salt and a small flask of vinegar his sister Agnes had packed for him.

Here is the portal to Chapter 28 https://childrengrowing.com/2020/06/01/the-secret-prince-chapter-28-the-most-important-message-of-all/

Karah Pino is a quarantine inspired parent from the Wasatch Waldorf Charter School in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.  She has worked creatively with children and in the arts for 22 years.  She has also been a web designer, social media manager, acupuncturist, meditation and QiGong instructor and collaborative facilitator for community organizations and businesses.  Her website is http://www.KarahPino.me

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