The Secret Prince : Chapter 45 — Muddy Puddly

photo credit: Frances Cole Denoncourt

“Up to the tower or down to the courtyard?” This is what Ronduin asked himself as he opened the curtains in his bedroom at the first glimmer of light. He dressed and then took Apple and Pear from his pillow and walked over to the window and sat them on the windowsill where they too could survey the fields.  

Now the day was brightening. “Look at those muddy, puddly fields,” said Ronduin to his beanbags.

“Muddy, puddly. Muddy puddly. Muddy puddly,” I like the sound of that, don’t you?” asked Ronduin. 

Now Ronduin began to sing

Under water very deep 

The fields they had a long, long asleep 

In spring we could not plow or plant 

And yet for food we did not want 

We ate pease porridge hot and cold 

Even when ‘twas ten days old 

Now the water’s seeped away 

Yet fields are still wet today

The land is muddy puddly 

Muddy puddly muddy puddly 

The land is muddy puddly

Ronduin was still singing as he put Apple and Pear into his pockets and carried a bucket of oats and table scraps and a jug of water out into the hall. He left these on the landing inside the turret and ran up the stairs to the very top where he stood facing barn hill. 

Seeing no sign of Roland or Mirabel or Rowan, he gazed down at the fields that stretched between the castle and barn hill. These fields were just as muddy puddly as those outside his bed chamber.  

Reaching his hands into his pockets he found Apple and Pear and took them out to talk to them. “No, you can’t juggle right now,” he said. “But we can come back later.”

Ronduin walked to the other side of the turret and looked into the courtyard.  Far below, Sunrise and Sunset pecked at their empty food bowl. 

Ronduin called down to them, “I’m bringing your food now!” 

He ran down to the third floor where he stopped on the landing to pick up the food bucket and the jug of water. Then he ran down to the ground floor where slippery mud still lay thick on the floor. 

Ronduin made his way to the window and out to the center path. He was happy to see that the work he had done with his father to clear the path had been worthwhile. Now no dampness remained. A perfectly dry path ran through the center of the courtyard. 

“Here’s your food and water,” he said to the chickens as he strode quickly down the path. The two birds scampered to meet him and then followed him back to their food dishes at the far end. “I see why you left the balcony to come here,” said Ronduin to his chickens.  “Now you can run on the path and soon the rest of the courtyard will dry out and won’t be so muddy puddly.” 

As soon as Ronduin finished filling the chickens’ water bucket and their food bucket, he turned to face the dry path. He took a deep breath and smiled. Then he was off! He ran as fast as he could to the other end of the pathway, turned and ran back. He ran back and forth like this twenty times, his joy growing. 

Stopping after twenty round trips, he noticed the stone bench that sat just beyond the pear tree. He remembered eating so many ripe pears while sitting on this bench, so many that his mother had to tell him to stop before he got a stomach ache. 

Now, Ronduin had an idea about how to reach the bench without sinking into the mud past his ankles. He ran back to the window, made his way to the plank and then the stairs. From the stairs, he slid the plank over to the scaffolding. Next, he walked across the board and took hold of one of the planks on the deck of the scaffolding. 

“If I’m lucky these boards aren’t nailed down,” he said to the Apple and Pear who he hoped would hear him from his pockets. Pressing up, Ronduin found the board moved as it was simply laying on top of the structure with no nails. 

“It moves!” he said to Apple and Pear excitedly. 

Ronduin pulled the board back and rested one end on the floor. Then, carrying the other end of the board, he slid it as he walked toward the window. In only a few moments he was able to drag the board to the far end of the courtyard and push it out over the muddy puddles to make a path to the stone bench. 

Ronduin walked out the board and carefully stepped onto the bench. Sitting down, he put his feet on the board and smiled. The sun shone on his face and, for a moment, he just sat there feeling thankful.  

And then, with his eyes closed and the sun warming his face, he remembered a blessing his mother would sing to him everyday when he was s sickly prince.   

May the blessing of light be on you – light without and light within. 

May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire, 

so that stranger and friend may come and warm himself at it. 

And may light shine out of the two eyes of you, 

like a candle set in the window of a house, 

bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm.

He sang this blessing to Sunrise and Sunset. The chickens tipped their heads and looked at him with curiosity. Then they scampered out on the board and jumped up next to him on the stone bench. 

“It is the most wonderful of days,” said Ronduin to the chickens. “I am so happy to be out in the sun, here in the courtyard where I can run. I think you are happy too.”

Here is the portal to Chapter 46

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