The King’s Things—a proverbial fairy tale
“Who’ll go with me?” Prince Edwin yelled to the cheers of the crowd in the courtyard below the balcony on which he stood. His long blonde hair blew gently in the breeze, and his skin glowed in the rising morning sun.
King Theobald, standing back in the richly decorated room that led to the balcony, felt his chest rise in pride over his son. His son’s deep voice rose in response to the crowd. eyes wandered to the empty spot where his great-grandfather’s bow and arrow once stood. Then to the spot above the fireplace where the commissioned painting of his late wife once stood.
“To steal from my father is to steal from the kingdom! We cannot let King Baldric’s thieving goons steal the kingdom from under our noses. We must retrieve the gold and valuables that were stolen from King Theobald.” His voice rose to a crescendo, “WHO WILL GO WITH ME?”
Men from throughout the crowd surged forward, kissing wives and girlfriends good-bye, raising fists in salute, the thrill of coming victory shining in their eyes. Theobald recognized most of them, and was glad his son would have such good men in support of the mission.
A moment later, his son strode back into the room. “We are ready to go, Father. The men are gathering below.”
“I only wish you could ride Hercules.”
“Ah, Father, we’ll get your horse back from those thugs. I shall ride Hercules in the next battle. Unless you do.”
Theobald rubbed his gimpy leg. “He shall be yours if you are able to bring him home, Son.”
Edwin’s eyes twinkled, and he bowed his head in acknowledgment of the compliment and challenge. “As you wish, Father. Those thieving men of Baldric cannot be far ahead. Perhaps I shall be home for supper. Breakfast tomorrow at the latest.”
“Make it so, Edwin,” the king said, thumping his son on the back.
His son strode out, his hand tapping the sword buckled at his side. His footsteps on the stone floor echoed through the room.
Theobald sat down on his wide, plushly covered throne. He smiled as he thought of his late wife nagging about his slouching. She would be proud of their son’s leadership and maturity. Hopefully, Edwin’s anger at the “disgrace” of his mother’s portrait would find outlet in the hunt for the thieves. A servant stirred up the fire, then left the room. The fire’s warmth stole over him, and he dozed.
Someone gently shook his shoulder. “King Theobald, Sir?”
He straightened gruffly in the throne. The was was low in the sky, the fire had gone out, and his neck was sore. “Why are you waking me at this hour?”
A sudden suspicion crept over him.
“How goes the battle, boy?”
“Your Majesty, it’s your son. You must come. The carriage is being prepared for you as we speak.”
The pageboy held out the royal cloak, and Theobald shrugged into it.
It was a silent ride next to the pageboy, though not quiet. The carriage rumbled over ruts and gravel and grass and tree roots.
Finally, it lurched to a stop. He jumped out and saw Edwin immediately. He lie under a spring-green tree, red running from his side. The beautiful white Hercules lie stretched beside the boy.
Gimpy leg forgotten, Theobald ran over to Edwin.
There was no breath.
“We routed Baldric’s thieves, Sire, and the missing items have been found,” one of the men offered.
A screaming moan ripped from his throat and he dropped to his knees, pulling Edwin’s head onto his knee and curled his body around his son’s.
He thought about the stolen gold.
His great-grandfather’s sword.
His late wife’s portrait.
The other things the thieves had taken for Baldric.
They were things.