Mirabel rubbed her eyes and remembered dreaming about skiing across the mud to the castle. In her dream she approached the huge main door which swung open to reveal Ronduin with the King and Queen. She rubbed her eyes again. “I keep dreaming that Ronduin is in the castle and that Ronduin is the Prince, a healthy Prince.”
She rubbed her eyes again and remembered that today was the day that she and Rowan would walk Giselle and Patience to Roland to join his herd of sheep and cows in the foothills.
Mirabel quickly dumped the straw out of the big sleeping sack and then draped the empty sack around her shoulders. Climbing down the ladder, she smelled fresh bread baking in the kitchen. Soon she sat with Rowan eating bread and butter at a table covered with lovely round loaves.
“I’ll bring Giselle and Patience around the barn while you put the bread in the big sack,” said Mirabel.
Rowan popped his last bite of bread in his mouth and nodded. After he chewed and swallowed, he said, “I’ve already put water out for the chickens. I’ll fill the water flask at the well as soon as I’ve loaded the sack. We need to move quickly to be sure we’re back by sunset to wave at the royal family.”
Again, an image of Ronduin came into Mirabel’s mind.
Ronduin sat on the bench in the courtyard. He watched the chickens Sunrise and Sunset running up and down the stone walk. In his hands he held three throwing sacks: Apple, Pear and a third throwing sack his mother had given him from her collection. It was made of silk, the color of a peach.
“I’ll call you Peach,” said Ronduin, as he rubbed the silky-smooth throwing sack along his cheek.
“Father said we’ll be ready to travel in a few days or maybe a week,” said Ronduin to his throwing sack friends. “But, every time it seems that all is in order for us to leave the castle, father or mother remembers one more thing, or two or three more things that must be done.”
He looked at the three throwing sacks. “Let’s practice juggling,” he said. “But not here. I don’t want to drop you in the mud.”
Ronduin and his three throwing sacks found their way to the landing in the turret where he liked to practice. He set his three throwing sacks on the window ledge and looked out. “That’s strange,” he said to his colorful friends. “Usually Giselle and her calf are on the hillside at his time of day.”
Mirabel walked beside Giselle along the narrow causeway. Rowan, with the sack of bread draped over his shoulders, walked beside Patience. On both sides of the causeway the muddy fields now looked a little dryer, but not yet dry enough for safe walking. Mirabel noticed that, here and there, the tops of small rises in the fields had sprouted grass and weeds. Mirabel imagined bounding from grassy tuft to grassy tuft, crossing the field in a series of impossibly long leaps.
Rowan held his hand over his eyes as a visor and peered at the foothills. “Look,” he said. “Roland and the sheep and cows are much closer than they were last time I brought bread to the workers. “We can leave Giselle and Patience with Roland and then run to the stable with the bread.”
“Look,” said Mirabel. “I think Roland sees us. He is walking this way.”
Rowan and Mirabel waved wildly at Roland and Roland waved back. Soon they reached the end of the causeway with Giselle and Patience who bounded happily across the thick green grass before settling into grazing.
Roland, strode toward them with a huge smile.
“You have raised a healthy calf,” he said, wrapping both children into a big hug.
“We named the calf Patience,” said Mirabel.
“A fine name for these times,” said Roland.
“Do you have any news for us?” asked Rowan.
“Your father left early this morning. Yesterday many set of skis and a sled arrived from the Mountain Kingdom. So, Sir Andrew and your father loaded three pairs of skis and the sled into the green boat. Sir Andrew was eager to practice with skis and this sled. It’s a nice little sled with a wooden seat that could carry a Prince. So, Sir Andrew is taking your father through the village and down the lakeshore to the edge of the lake near the path to your home. Then he and your father will ski on mud through the forest. They will tie a pair of skis for your mother onto the sled and will drag the sled across the mud. They plan to spend an evening at your house. Then, the next day, they will put the two goats and the two little children in the sled and pull it through the forest to the lake. If all goes well, Sir Andrew and your father will return by tomorrow evening with your mother, your sister, Adelaide, and your brother, Merek, and two goats.”
“I miss them so much,” said Mirabel.
“If you wish, I can go back alone to care for the chickens,” said Rowan, “and you can stay at the stable so you can see them the minute they get here.”
Mirabel happily imagined meeting her mother, Adelaide and Merek at the stable and she was about to agree to Rowan’s suggestion, when she remembered a reason to return to barn hill with Rowan.
“Thank you dear brother,” said Mirabel. “But I can think of a reason to go back even though I wish to stay here in the foothills to see them the minute they arrive. The royal family will be very concerned if they don’t see both of us this evening.”
Roland said, “Mirabel, you are a wise child.”