The Secret Prince — Chapter 38 : Princess Eleanor

Preface to Chapter 38 

The Secret Prince story is back after the scribe took a brief holiday.  

Children have endured a time of increased solitude.  They have had their daily lives changed and still face an uncertain time as the world moves through the end of the pandemic and back to health. 

I am a retired teacher developing the story The Secret Prince to show role models who face a situation in which their world has changed dramatically. A flood surrounds the Medieval castle and the village. Prince Ronduin cannot go to school in the village and cannot run through the woods. How does he pass his time? Mirabel, who lives near the village is stuck in a small house with eleven other people. Can Ronduin and Mirabel help children today? Can the story help to normalize the experience of living in an unusual time?

As the flood waters in the story begin to recede, we see the pandemic receding in some countries and regions and not in others. The story continues to be a metaphor for the evolution of the pandemic and our experiences during this unusual time. In the story, some characters travel to the foothills, away from the flooding while those in the castle continue to be homebound.  

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. I’ve included math topics relevant to children in the early grades. The story can also be used by teachers presenting the Medieval period. Historical events are not included, however, I am attempting to show how people lived in this time period. 

I hope you and your family 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 (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 children 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. Some creative parents are adding to the story by telling about a person who lives in the village. One parent had the idea to add to the story by having Ronduin’s mother tell him stories. 

Many thanks to the collaborators who are translating this story:  Joel Aragón Colín who is translating the story into Spanish, to Phan Lê Minh who is translating the story into Vietnamese and Tanya Kirilova Kothari who is translating The Secret Prince into Bulgarian! I am also grateful Karah Pino who is writing the chapters about Roland, the farmer on the hill, and to Elliot Gardner who who has joined the team as my editorial assistant. 

Also in the works is The Secret Prince readaloud onvideo by a talented speaker!   

Please join us for conversations, updates, ideas for follow up activities, new chapters and translations by joining 

Secret Prince Story Community on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/640925113394726/

New chapters are also posted on the Growing Children Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/growingchildre/

Many families find that the easiest way to keep up with the story is to sign up as a follower of this blog on WordPress. Blog followers receive an email with the full text of each chapter when it is posted.

Chapter 38

Trees crowded in, hanging over the river. “Have you ever been on the river before?” Ellyn asked Mirabel as their boatload of travelers rowed slowly from the village to the foothills.  

“This is the first time,” said Mirabel looking at tree shadows on the water. “It’s beautiful. It’s like a great road.”

“This is my first time on the river too,” said Ellyn, “but I’ve walked along the river into the foothills many times. My mother taught me how to find wild food in the hills and I was asked to come along on this journey to forage for food and to cook. I’ll be searching for honey and pignuts and wild marjoram. And, if we are lucky, I will find truffles. When the cows come we will have milk and, perhaps, when Roland is ready to travel, he will bring food from the barn. Some cheese I hope. We have bags of grain. But most of that’s for planting not for eating. And you, Mirabel. I hear you were chosen to run.”

“Yes, Rowan and I will run along the foothills to the high path across the fields to the barn on the hill. We will help Roland and then we will return to the foothills to help in the fields.” 

The passengers were quiet for a moment and Mirabel noticed the river had grown narrower and faster. The trees and bushes that lined the banks now had openings that offered views of the wet fields bordering the lowest hillside pastures. 

Now Sir Andrew and Mirabel’s father, in the back of the boat, began speaking about about the work that needed to be done, the plowing, and the planting. They spoke softly, so the sound of oars splashing and wind rustling the overhead trees kept Mirabel from hearing the whole conversation. 

“The old plow is in the horse stable up in the foothills. I’m hoping that Stephan has started plowing on the lower pastures. But, with 21 horses to tend, he may not have had time to any the plowing done,” said Sir Andrew.

“Grass has been growing on those pastures for years. The roots are thick, so it will be hard to open up the soil. We will need to be plow twice or more,” said Ricard. 

“We will row back for more workers tomorrow and even more the day after that. We will have enough workers to plant each field very fast as soon as it’s plowed. But we only have one plow to turn over many pastures of thick grass.” said Sir Andrew.  

Ellyn whispered to Mirabel, “Their voices sound worried and for good reason. It’s much to easier to plant in the fields near the castle where we grow every year and the plows don’t have to move through thick grass. Everyone in the village is worried. They think the plowing might take a very long time. And the crops might be planted so late that we won’t grow enough food to feed us next winter.” 

“If only we had more plows,” said Rowan, who had been listening to the whispered conversation. “I heard there are three more plows in the castle. But there is no way to bring them here.”

The boat moved slower now as the current grew faster. Sir Andrew picked up an extra oar and stood up. He began to push against the river bottom with the oar. 

“The pushing doesn’t seem to help much,” whispered Mirabel to Ellyn. 

“Without it we would not be moving at all,” Ellyn whispered, leaning forward to speak into Mirabel’s ear. 

After some time of slow progress, the view suddenly opened up. No longer did bushes hide the view. 

“Oh!” said Mirabel. “Look ahead! The great, broad grassy hills! We are almost there! And a path. I see a path!” 

“Do you see that?” asked Rowan. “Look far, far down the path, a cloud of dust.”

“What could that be?” asked Ricard. 

“It seems to be someone riding a galloping horse,” said Sir Andrew in a surprised voice. 

Now the boat pulled up to the bank of the river. Ellyn jumped out and tied the boat to a tree. One at a time, each passenger stepped out of the boat. Everyone stared at the horse and rider moving toward them.   

“That’s not one of our horses,” said Sir Andrew who knew every horse in the royal stable. 

“See the braided mane,” said Ellyn. “Horses from the Mountain Kingdom wear braids in their manes.” 

Now the sound of hoofbeats thundered. Then the rider slowed the horse to a trot, then a walk. 

Sir Andrew stepped forward to greet the rider as the horse came to a full stop. Dismounting quickly and gracefully, the rider was a tall woman with long, black hair. She wore a dark brown linen dress and tall, leather boots. 

“I am Princess Eleanor and I bring greetings from the Mountain Kingdom,” said the rider. 

“I am Sir Andrew, and we are here to plant our crops and graze our animals in the foothills, for our fields are still unusable,” said Sir Andrew stepping forward. “Welcome to the Lowland Kingdom.” 

“I bring four carts, five plows and a ten workers,” said Princess Eleanor. “They are at the stable with Stephan who told me to find you here. We traveled here by the back cart road, but I will go home by the road along the river that runs into the Mountain Kingdom. I must hurry to tell the King and the Queen that all have arrived safely and are ready to work. By the time you walk to the stable you will find five plows already working the fields. Our kingdom is honored to come to your aid at this difficult time.” 

“Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!” shouted the the villagers. 

Sir Andrew bowed low and, seeing this, the villagers stopped their cheering and joined him.  Now they all bowed as an expression of their heartfelt gratitude. Mirabel bowed along with everyone while thinking, “Now we need not worry about growing enough food for the winter. ”  

“On behalf of the Queen, the King and the entire Kingdom, I offer heartfelt  gratitude for your kindness,” said Sir Andrew. 

“Your Kingdom helped us after the winter of endless snow,” said Princess Eleanor. It was long ago, but it was these very fields that your kingdom planted for our use one spring when the snow refused to melt on our mountain fields. This was in the time of my grandparents. Our people still carry a great debt to your people,” said Princess Eleanor.  

Princess Eleanor mounted her horse. When she was settled she said, “I must leave now to get home by dark. As soon as the carts are unloaded at the stable, they will send someone on horseback to help carry your cargo. Stephan tells me you will be sending runners to Barn Hill.  He told me to tell you that the fastest way is by the lower path through the lowest hillside pastures. He says it is passable by foot, but not easily by horse. He also told me to tell you to tell Roland to light a signal fire on this side of Barn Hill if you need more helpers to bring the animals to the foothills. ” 

“We wish you a safe journey,” said Sir Andrew. “Please bring our deepest gratitude to all your people.” 

Princess Eleanor nodded and reached behind the saddle. “Before I go I have something for the runners,” she said. “Please step forward.” 

Rowan and Mirabel looked at each other with surprise, then approached the horse and rider. 

“Such young ones,” said Princess Eleanor, smiling. Speaking directly to Mirabel, she continued, “You remind me of myself at your age. You must have been chosen for your speed and courage. I too was fast as the wind.”

Mirabel blushed and did not know what to say. 

The princess then handed Rowan a large leather flask with a long leather strap. 

Rowan and Mirabel both said, “thank you” at the same time. 

“I’ll fill it for you from the river,” said Ellyn.  

“Blessings on your journey,” said the Princess. Then, nodding her head at the villagers, she lifted the reins and turned her horse to the left. As horse and rider traveled up the river path, Mirabel stepped beyond the grove of trees that grew along the river. The wide view was magnificent. She saw rolling, green, grassy hills before her and, to her right, tall blue-gray mountains in the distance rising above the hills. Straight ahead she saw a path through tall grass. To the left, she saw low, wet fields, barn hill and the high path that would take them to Roland. In the distance she saw the castle looking lonely and lost in a great plain of water and mud.  

“I wonder about that boy they call The Sickly Prince,” she thought. “He must be very lonely in that castle.” 

Ellyn returned with the flask filled with water. Rowan took it by the long leather strap which he placed across his chest so he could run with his hands free. 

Sir Andrew stepped between Rowan and Mirabel and reminded them of their instructions. 

When he stepped back, Mirabel turned to Rowan and asked, “Ready to run?” 

***

Here is the portal to Chapter 39 https://childrengrowing.com/2020/07/24/the-secret-prince-chapter-39-down-to-the-courtyard/

  One thought on “The Secret Prince — Chapter 38 : Princess Eleanor

  1. Melissa
    July 28, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    Love it! So excited to have the princess in this story. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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