From which we must consider the strange possibility of an interior attack on the castle of Serendip:
Still a few more years passed and now the Princes’ teachers began to report to the king that there was not much else that could be taught to them within the confines of the glorious land of Serendip. The Princes, and Diana too, had long since read every book worth reading in the palace, and perhaps the whole of the kingdom. The Princes had visited nearly every inch of that worthy land. They had met with almost every citizen. Even Silda and her daughter had spent a few moments with them. And though Orbin had by that time been married several months to the son of the old palace gardener, she freely admitted feeling a bit faint at being so near to those handsome young princes who she had dreamed of for so long.
Their kind father was now older too. He was very proud of his sons. He knew that they were now very close to what he had always wanted them to be. They were strong and handsome, yes, but this was nothing to him. What tickled the king was how his sons were able to look at everything thing around them carefully. After they looked, they thought about all the things they saw more carefully. And then they and spoke about what they saw most carefully of all. My Dearest, there is wisdom in that. Maybe you should read it again. These sagacious qualities were exactly what the king had hoped his sons would gain from their top-notch education. As an added bonus though, the king found something even more wonderful had come along with the development of their minds. And in the end, it was this unlooked for quality that pleased the king most. It was kindness. The Princes were kind, honest, and generous with everyone they met. They were kind to him, kind to each other, and they were even kind when they thought no one would know the difference.
The king of Serendip received a first hand assurance of this fact by accident one day when he may or may not have been trying to make off with one of Mrs. Soup’s custard pies. Here, My Darling, is the story as well as it can be pieced together:
His Majesty found himself in the kitchen. He freely admitted to having taken up the pie in question in his arms, “To, merely, test its weight” he said later. Next, there was some business about being compelled to rush into the pantry, pie in hand, in an attempt to catch a jar of summer peaches from sliding off a shelf. Perhaps, but whatever the reason, on this warmish summer day, the very king of Serendip found himself shut in a pantry with a custard pie in one hand, and a jar of peaches in the other, just as the young son of the new gardener bust into the kitchen, crying loudly.
The boy dropped himself on the hearth, head in hands for a few moments when Prince Saud and Prince Zaki entered the kitchen. Later, they too recalled having known something about Cookie making a custard pie that day, but they were never able to give a definite reason for having entered the kitchen that afternoon. At once seeing and hearing the boy in the hearth they stopped suddenly considering what to do. “
Marcus?” said Zaki, “Is that you?”
Now the king was a very good man, but he certainly didn’t know the names of every child that lived in and around the palace. He was pleasantly surprised that Zaki had been able to call this curled-up-heap of a child by name.
“Ahugh-sniff” replied the boy, or something to that effect. “
Marcus what is the matter?” asked Saud as he swiftly crossed the kitchen. “Are you hurt?”
“Gno.” howled the boy. The princes, after a little thought, interpreted this to mean ‘no’ and therefore deemed the boy’s trouble to be something other than immediate physical danger. The princes took a seat on either side of the poor child, and Zaki said, “Mark-my-man, what’s the trouble?”
The boy lifted his body from the cold stone and wiped his nose across the whole of his arm in one great sweeping motion, and said “Everyone hates bee.” Glad of their many years of linguistic study the princes continued their interpretations.
“I’m sure that’s not true.” said Saud.
“They do. And it’s by fault.” They gave him a moment to catch his halting breath again. “I told them that I could, but I couldn’t! Why did I tell them dat!” wailed the child.
“You told them you could climb the courtyard wall?” asked Zaki gently. Marcus turned his wet, brown eyes to Zaki, and then to Saud, realizing for the first time who his comforters were. With a shocked look, the boy took a second great sniff and asked, “How did you know dat?”
“Oh that was pretty easy. I can see from the way you are sitting that your backside is feeling tender, and” continued Zaki, “I see that you have some chrysanthemum petals still stuck in your hair, from the flower bed under the north wall of the courtyard.”
“And,” interrupted Saud, “that is just how Prince Zaki looked when he fell trying to climb the same wall, but he was a little older than you when he tried it. Did you really get to above the second window, Marcus?”
Marcus’s eyes were saucer like, but his voice came out a little proud, “Yes. How did you know that? Did you see me?”
Saud plucked a few wood splinters out from Marcus well worn sandal. “See the paint on this wood is just the color of that window ledge on the second floor. Boy, Zaki,” He turned his eyes to his brother, “you didn’t get that high, did you?”
Zaki looked seriously at Marcus, “Not even close.”
“Really?” Marcus, half smiled from one to the other.
“No,” Said Zaki, “and when I told the King what happened, he told me that those walls were built to withstand any attack, and are supposed to be impossible to climb for anyone. So I would say that what you have done today is a glorious feat of the human body.”
“Really?” Marcus was grinning now.
“Oh, absolutely. You probably shouldn’t attempt it again though. If the guards were to see you mounting an attack so successfully, well, I don’t want to be responsible for what could happen to you.” warned Saud.
Marcus was getting on his feet now, “Oh no. And I’ll warn the other boys too. Thank you Highnesses.” The boy started to turn away, headed back out to the courtyard.
“And Mark,” Zacki called him back, “Please don’t tell the other boys that you got higher than I did when I tried it. Especially since I was almost 11 and you are so much littler. How old are you?”
“Eight, Highness, and Yes, Your Highness, I mean, No, Your Highness, I won’t tell anyone.” And with that Marcus was off and running back into the courtyard.
The two princes sat quietly for a moment on the hearth, until their heard Marcus, now half way across the grounds shouting to the other boys, “Guess what the Princes told me! Guess what!” Both Princes were sure it would be a few days before all the boys in the court stopped whispering about how Marcus had nearly been shot off the wall by the guards, and how he had done what even the Princes couldn’t manage. Sharing a little smile with one another the Princes stood, and seeming to forget what they had first come into the kitchen for, they left.
The king was very pleased with what he saw from the pantry that afternoon. Mrs. Soup never could discover what had happened to the custard pie she had made, and sadly she scolded one of Marcus’s young friends when she found a jar of summer peaches half empty in the back of the pantry some weeks later.