Sitting on the stone bench near the pear tree in the courtyard, Ronduin noticed a low branch that was just a stick. Unlike the rest of the branches, it had no leaves.
“You know, ” he said to the chickens, “if the castle gardener were still here, he would have pruned that branch.”
Ronduin stood on the bench. “Maybe I can be the gardener today,” he said as he reached forward as far as he dared and was just able to grab the branch. With a quick jerk of his hand, the branch easily broke away.
“Look at that,” he said to the chickens, poking his new stick into the puddly mud. He dragged the stick along the muddy surface and it made a stripe that quickly filled in with water.
Just at that moment, Ronduin heard loud honking and the unmistakable whooshing of great wings. He looked up to see a wedge of swans flying low over the castle in the direction of the pond at the bottom of the foothills.
“I wish I could fly like a swan,” said Ronduin. Upon hearing this, Sunrise and Sunset ran down the board and took a small leap into the air and fluttered down to the stone walkway. It was as if they were saying, “see, we can fly.”
“True. I can’t even fly like a chicken, never mind a swan,” he said. “But, if I could fly as high as a swan, I could see the mountains, and the hills and the town. I could see over the forest into the lake and I could see the beyond barn hill to the high path across the fields.” As he spoke, Ronduin pictured all of this in his mind.
Now Ronduin had an idea. He sat on the bench and lifted the end of the board. Then he moved it so it became a pathway to the base of the pear tree which sat upon a small mound of earth. Next he walked out the board to the raised area of earth. He poked the stick into it and discovered that it was soft and still muddy, but it was thick mud, unlike the puddly mud that covered most of the courtyard.
Taking his stick, Ronduin drew a large rectangle in the thick mud under the pear tree. He waited a moment. “Look,” he said to the chickens, who ignored him as they pecked at their food, “The lines stay where I put them. And, if I make shallow lines, they don’t fill up with water.”
In the large rectangle, Ronduin used the stick to draw the mountains and the foothills. He made hatch marks for the forests and drew a circle to show the stone wall around the town. He drew barn hill and the barn and the stable. He made cart paths and foot paths where he remembered them to be. Then Ronduin carved out the river and the brook so deeply that water seeped in and made them look real.
“How can I dig a deep hole for the lake?” he asked the chickens. When they didn’t answer, he used the side of the stick to scrape away mud until he opened up a wide basin. Water slowly seeped into the basin, but did not fill the lake to the brim.
Now Ronduin walked back along the board to the stone bench. Standing on the bench, he surveyed his picture from above. As he did so, he imagined he was a swan looking at the land below. Somehow though, he didn’t see lines in mud. Instead he saw this scene as he might make it one day on a great piece of parchment using inks of all colors.
Stepping back to the board, he used his stick to trace the journey of Mirabel from her house to the town and then to the foothills and along the low path over the Disappearing Brook and then across the fields on the raised path to barn hill. Next he thought about the long journey to the Bowl of Flowers which was so far away it didn’t fit into his scene. Still, he used his stick to trace part of the family’s yearly journey. Looking at the route of the cart path by river into the foothills, he remembered the long road to the Mountain Kingdom and the magical valley of flowers of every color.
Ronduin remembered his nearby journeys as well. He took the stick and traced his journey to school across the fields and into the forest in the cart with Sir Andrew> Then he looked at his run along the lake and into the village. Finally, Ronduin remembered the flood that covered the fields. He took is stick and traced the voyage of the Sir Andrew in the green boat across the flooded fields into the flooded town and onto Mirabel’s house.
Sitting back on the bench, Ronduin wondered aloud, “Now that the water has gone, how will the green boat come back to the castle?”
Click here for Chapter 47 https://childrengrowing.com/2020/09/15/the-secret-prince-chapter-47-mirabel-and-rowan-at-barn-hill/