Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Peter and the King, III

Continued from yesterday...

The king led the way through the trees, and Peter followed. As they walked, the sun sank further behind the mountain, leaving the forest darker with each step. The king’s lantern swayed, eerily lighting the trees and the snow. Shadows and light fought in the woods.

On they trudged, as the wind picked up, and cold snuck into the boy’s coat and the under the king’s hat. Intent on following the path in the semi-darkness, the king didn’t notice that Peter wasn’t right behind him at first. Hearing silence instead of footsteps in the crunchy snow, he turned around to find the path empty.

“Peter! Where are you?”

“Here, sir. I’m coming.”

The king walked back to find Peter in the path far behind him, struggling against the cold. “I’m sorry, sir, but it’s so cold. I’m not sure how much farther I can go.” His teeth chattered, and he bent his head down into the wind. The king pulled Peter’s scarf up tighter around his ears, and said, “This is what I want you to do, son. Step where I step on the path. Stay close behind me, and step where I step. The warmth of my footprints will help you fight off the cold.”

Peter just looked up at him. “What? Your footprints will keep me warm?”

“I know, it sounds impossible, but just do what I say.”

“Yes, sir.”

So the king walked through the forest, leading the way, with Peter obediently stepping in his footprints. Peter hadn’t really believed the king very much – OK, he hadn’t believed him at all, but he did what he had been told to do. And he was warm. He stayed close behind the king, following his light and stepping carefully in his footprints, and, amazingly, he was warm. Wait until he told the cook and the housekeeper and the butler. Wait until he told his mother!

Finally, they made it to the house at the foot of the mountain and shared the food, wine and blankets with the family they found there. The warmth of bringing the unexpected gifts to the man and his family kept both the king and Peter warm all the way home.



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