The princes were happy too. They worked on various projects around the kingdom. Using their education they were able to improve the lives of many Serendipians. For although, as we have learned the people of Serendip were a generally happy and clever people, blessed with particularly excellent weather conditions, they still were quite amazed when their beloved Prince Saud worked out a way to grow flowers which bloomed all the way until November 26th, more than a week after the rains started. Prince Admir was much celebrated for organizing a national rugby league and designing an environmentally friendly stadium for the players and people to use.
Zaki, well, Prince Zaki was a dreamer, which made people think him young, though he was only ever a year and some months behind Saud. This youngest Prince was still trying to decide what his first great accomplishment for the glorification of Serendip would be. Sometimes Zaki would retreat to the Crypt, now quite abandoned by his brothers and Diana, to try and meditate on the many challenges that daily life presented the hardworking people of Serendip, but somehow he would always find himself hunched over the old round table plotting courses on the worn out maps and charts. Despite his lack of outward achievement the people of Serendip, and his father, loved him just the same. All the Serendipians placed great faith in the young princes and their capability of ruling their lovely land one day.
The king also had great faith in his boys knowing that now as they were now quite grown into men and that at least one of them must one day be responsible to take his place. And yet, and yet, My Most Darling—there must always been an ‘and yet’ or here our pleasant story would end—the king knew that there was still a great deal for the princes to learn of the world they lived in. He was positively certain that no amount of reading descriptions, or looking at pictures and maps of the strange lands that lay beyond the sea of dragons would equal actually going to these places. The king knew from his own long life that there were many kinds of people in the world and that each kind had its own way of living their lives. He knew very well that in order for the princes to fully appreciate the glorious land of Serendip they needed to see the gloriousness, and ingloriousness of other lands. And so, though the thought of bidding farewell to his beloved sons for even a short time made this brave king very uncomfortable, he settled upon the idea. The princes must leave.
The king knew that his sons, though they had spent their boyhood in constant talk of adventures in distant lands, did not wish to leave him. Only in Prince Zaki’s eyes did he ever catch a sort of far away look that he thought he could call wanderlust. Saud and Admir were both very busy with projects and council meetings, and now seemed content to remain in Serendip forever. The king also noticed a different sort of look in Prince Admir’s eyes that seemed to transpire whenever it so happened that Mrs. Soup’s daughter, Diana, came too near him. And if His Majesty was not mistaken, her eye seemed to take on a similar reflection in the same circumstances.
It was at dinner one night that the king realized that he must make up his mind about the princes departure sooner rather than later. The table was set for six; the party being made up of the royal family, Mrs. Soup, and Diana. The six of them shared their meals in this way as often as matters of state would permit. For Mrs. Soup liked few things better than getting to serve up her meals herself. And the king was resolute about liking few things more than watching her partake in her own creations. The children, not at all children anymore, always enjoyed spending an evening together in discussion of their current projects, and to argue about books, and things. This night the conversation was thus:
Diana: “I think not Saud. I found Hesparsian’s theory to be far too simplistic. The possibility of finding life, as we think of it, with in our own solar system is very unlikely.
King: “Mrs. Soup, this lasagna is to be commended. Truly glorious.” Mrs. Soup: “So please you, Highness.”
Saud: “How can you say so? He has laid the evidenced before us. It is selfish to imagine that there is nothing there only because we cannot imagine the…yes thank you Cookie, I adore your green beans…form which that life might take.”
Zaki: “I agree. About the beans and Hesparsian too. How do you get the lemon pepper just right every time Cookie? I should love to build some kind of space craft one day.”
Diana: “Oh, never mind about that, I mean the space craft. The beans are lovely Mami. If Hesparian is right you would be long dead before you could get to any of these planets. I am sure I agree with him that there can be no way of breathing in the outer reaches of our atmosphere. Remember how fatigued we became just hiking the peak of Mt. Frang last summer? It is considerably higher than Frangipannini. Even dear Admir nearly fainted. I am sure the air becomes thinner with increased elevation. How shall we further test our theory Admir?”
Admir:“Yes?” It should be noted here that Admir had been looking quite fixedly at Diana for most of the meal, but she had not yet noticed.
Diana: “Did you not…Oh.”
With this ‘oh,’ Diana stopped suddenly, as if surprised. Her eyes had locked with the eyes of Admir and what she saw in them had caused her to entirely forget about atmospheric pressure.
At this same ‘oh’ the king looked up expectantly from his lasagna at Diana, and then at his son. He saw in both their eyes that look which we have described above. Though the king had only begun to take note of it a few weeks before, in truth, it had been increasing in frequency since long before the hike of Mt. Frang. With the increasing frequency of this look it was inevitable that the look should appear in both Admir’s and Diana’s eyes at the same moment, and that they, at that moment, should eventually be looking at one another. But this alignment of eyes and looks had not occurred until this moment. So it was that from three chairs apart, over a table of perfect green beans and glorious lasagna, Diana and Prince Admir discovered that they were in love, and had been for some time. The king noticed also that Mrs. Soup, her cheerful eyes more anxious than usual, seemed to be observing him observing their children. The king wondered if Mrs. Soup was wondering what he was thinking. To be frank, the king wasn’t sure what to think about what had suddenly become exquisitely clear to everyone at the table. But he was sure that for all concerned this dinner table was not the appropriate time to silently contemplate the matter. He interrupted the rather extensive pause thus:
King: “I declare, Mrs. Soup, this has been a rare meal! The only thing to top it would be an indelicate serving of custard pie. Can we all agree on that?
These loud words caused the five pairs of eyes at the table to turn suddenly to the king smiling their agreement.
After getting into his large and comfortable bed that night the king found he could not sleep. He drifted once, enjoying a short dream of Zaki riding a green bean among the stars. When he next shut his eyes, he clearly saw Admir’s eyes before him. He knew very well the look he had seen in them. After all, Admir’s eyes were an exact replica of his mother the Queen’s own gold-dappled eyes. To the king it seemed merely days, or hours even, since he had last seen that peculiar expression of love in her eyes, though she had been gone fifteen years. As he lay there he compared the identical pairs of eyes, their expression, their intensity, their hope, he realized that further delay of the princes’ departure would sharply increase the pain of separation for Diana and Admir. Even now it would be difficult. As he drifted back into sleep he determined to send the princes off within the week. This time he dreamed of himself flying through a brilliant night sky toward a bright star very much like eyes of his Queen.