“Only four sleeps until rescue day!” said Rowan as they stood outside the barn waving happily at the Prince, Cook Agnes, the Queen and the King.
“Look at Cook Agnes,” said Mirabel. “She’s waving much more than she usually does. It’s as if she knows that we are coming to rescue them after four sleeps.”
“I noticed that,” said Rowan.
“I’ve never met Cook Agnes,” said Mirabel. “But I feel like I know her. I seem to be sensing that she may be too frail to walk with mud skis on her feet.”
“I suppose that we could make two trips to the castle if she’s not strong enough. We could bring the sickly prince to barn hill in the mud sled, then we could go back to carry Cook Agnes in the sled. She looks to be as small as the sickly prince,” said Rowan. “But first we have to figure out how to feed everyone. We will have four people from the castle and Ellyn and four or five of her cousins.”
“Plus you and me,” said Mirabel. “And after the hard work of the rescue we will all be very hungry.”
“I will make bread, said Rowan. We still have butter and cheese, and of course, we have lots of eggs and the herbs that Ellyn gave us. So, I’ll make quiches too. And, when we travel to the foothills to see mother and father and the little ones, we can get milk from Roland.”
The sky began to darken and the residents of the castle waved one last time and turned toward the stairwell. Mirabel and Rowan turned too. Entering the barn, Mirabel said, “I already miss Giselle and Patience.”
“Me too,” said Rowan. “Sometimes I think we should have kept them longer.”
“I’ve thought that too,” said Mirabel. “Their empty stall makes me feel sad, but I think they are much happier now with Roland and all the fresh grass they can eat. We had to take them to the good grass of the foothills even though we miss them. ”
“Tomorrow Father and Mother and the little ones will arrive at the foothills,” said Rowan. “Let’s plan to wake early and feed the chickens and gather eggs and then run to the stable as fast as we can.”
“I want to do that too,” said Mirabel. “But, just like we had to make a choice that was best for Giselle and Patience, now we must make a choice that is good for the royal family. We must stay here at barn hill getting ready for them to be our guests. We must sweep floors and clean the kitchen top to bottom.”
“and do lots and lots of baking,” said Rowan finishing Mirabel’s sentence.
“And then, when all is ready here on the hill, we will go visit with our family on the day when Ellyn arrives with her cousins. We have to travel there anyway to practice the rescue with them.”
“You know I miss Mother and Father and Abigail and Merek so much,” said Mirabel. At first I had trouble falling asleep without Abigail at my side, without listening to her breathe as I fell asleep. And I still think about her every night as I fall asleep.”
Mirabel took a deep breath and looked at her feet and then continued, “sometimes, when I lie in the straw in the loft and think of them, I’m so sad that I cry.”
“Me too,” said Rowan.
“But now we have a big responsibility,” said Mirabel. “We will soon be rescuing the royal family and then we will care for them until they are ready to walk to the foothills. They are not accustomed to living in a barn. We must do everything we can to make this dusty old barn feel like a real home.
“The sickly prince may need to rest here for many days before he can make the long journey to the foothills,” said Rowan, “and then he will probably need to be carried all the way to the stable.”
Just then Robere stepped out of the shadows. He stretched and uttered a sound that was half yawn, half meow. Rowan and Mirabel crouched and Robere walked to them and allowed them to stroke his soft fir.
“Are you asking for milk?” asked Rowan.
“I think he is,” said Mirabel. “He also misses Giselle. This is the time of day when I would fill his bowl with Giselle’s milk.
Rowan reached into his pocket. He pulled out a hard boiled egg. He cracked it and crumbled it the bright yellow yolk and the hard cooked egg white into Robere’s bowl.