Ronduin scraped the flat ended shovel across the stone floor, peeling up dry mud. He dumped the dry mud in a bucket and then continued his work. Sweat beaded up on his forehead as he pushed hard on the shovel. When the bucket was full, he walked to the far end of the old kitchen and dumped it into the waiting wheelbarrow. On the other side of the room, his father and his mother worked at the same task while Cook Agnes scrubbed tables and washed the dusty dishes that had remained on the first floor when old kitchen was abandoned in the flood.
“We’re almost done with the scraping,” said the King. “Next we can wash this floor and there’s no better day for it. Water is coming out of the sky so we don’t have to haul it up from the well. I left buckets in the courtyard to collect rain.”
“I’ll go get one of the buckets,” said Ronduin.
The young prince walked out into the courtyard in the lightly falling rain. The cooling rain felt good and he tipped his head back to let the rain wash over his face.
He walked past the lilac bush near the wall and down the path to a bucket. He thought he might wash his muddy hands, but when he reached inside, the water didn’t even cover his hand. “I guess it hasn’t rained that much,” he thought feeling hopeful that this light rain would not bring on more flooding.
Ronduin left the bucket in place to continue to catch raindrops and walked back into the kitchen where he announced, “The bucket is mostly empty. I think we’ll have to get water from the well after all.”
The King smiled and asked, “where did you find this mostly empty bucket, son?”
“About halfway down the path, father,” answered Rowan.
“Now, go back to the courtyard and look behind the lilac bush near the wall for two more buckets,” said the King.
Ronduin looked at his father with a questioning expression. Then his father smiled warmly and nodded his head, as if to say, “Don’t question this, just go look for the buckets.”
Returning toe the courtyard, it was easy for Ronduin to spot the two buckets tucked between the lilac bush and the wall. Peeking into the buckets, Ronduin was surprised to find that they were about half full. He scratched his head, puzzling over a question: “Why would these buckets contain more water than the other bucket?”
“Is it raining harder next to the lilac bush?” wondered Ronduin.
Now, as a burst of new rain fell, he looked at the drops falling into the bucket out on the path. Then he observed the water falling into the two buckets behind the lilac bush. He noticed that water streamed into the buckets behind the lilac bush in a straight line. Looking up, he saw this stream fell off the edge of the roof.
His father had placed two buckets so they would catch rainwater that flowed off roof. While much of the top of the castle consisted of flat walkways, other sections, like the one far above the kitchen, had slanted roofs.
Ronduin now remembered the early days of the flood when he had puzzled over why the flood water had kept rising after the rain had stopped. He had figured out that so much water had fallen that the meadow called the bowl of flowers had filled like a bowl full of soup. That great bowl held a lot of water and it had slowly entered the river and flowed down to continue to add depth to the water over the flatlands.
Ronduin walked down the stone path and looked up at the pitched roof. It was flat, not like a bowl, so it didn’t hold the rainwater. But it was big and lots of raindrops fell on this big area. He could see that every drop that hit the roof flowed down the roof and off the edge. The empty bucket that sat away from the roof on the path only caught drops coming straight into it from the sky. But, the buckets that collected roof water had water from the sky above the buckets and the sky above the roof.
The rain slowed and became a heavy mist. Ronduin smiled. He had figured out another puzzle about water. He carried the two buckets into the kitchen and announced, “This is roof water!”
“And so it is,” said his mother. “And it’s about to become floor washing water.”
By late afternoon, the old kitchen had a clean stone floor, gleaming dishes, washed tables, a fire on the hearth and the smell of newly baked bread in the air. Four plates rested on the table and in the middle sat a vase.
Ronduin pulled four chairs up to the table. Cook Agnes stepped in from the courtyard where she had clipped branch of green leaves from the the lilac bush. She placed it in the vase.
“The rain has stopped and the sun is shining,” she said with a smile. “Now we will have our first evening meal since the flood in the old kitchen. Returning to this kitchen makes me feel like our lives will soon be back to normal.”
Ronduin’s parents returned to the kitchen carrying jugs of drinking water. They set these by the wall and soon the four residents of the castle sat together and bowed their heads as they said prayers of thanks.
That evening at sunset Ronduin, his parents, and Cook Agnes stood on the turret and waved at the occupants of barn hill. Mirabel and Rowan stood just outside the barn waving with great enthusiasm.
“I which I could tell them that we will see them soon,” said Ronduin.
Of course Rowan and Mirabel could not hear Ronduin. “I wonder when they will send someone with more skis and a sled,” said Mirabel.
“They told me they couldn’t predict when they would be here, but it would likely be when the planting is done,” said Rowan. “And though today’s rain will help sprout the seeds, it probably also slowed the planting.
“I wish we could tell the royal family that we will see them soon,” said Mirabel.