Children’s Books

These are my dream projects.  I still need to finish the illustrations in my spare time.  My girls love them, but they’re partial…comment and let me know what your kiddo thinks!  And if you happen to be a publisher, movie producer, or excellent editor, I’m expecting your call…any minute now.

For our beloved Princesses, with PANDAS and without….

Without further Ado…

This is the story of a Princess, it’s true,

but this Princess was actually quite a lot like you.

She tried to be good, most of the time anyway

and only threw tantrums once or twice a day.

She lived in a castle as most princesses do,

surrounded by toys, even her very own zoo.

Her Daddy’s love for her was never in doubt,

but he’d been away at war so long

Princess Hazel was beginning to act out.

———————-

Of course life would have gone on in its usual way

if this princess had only learned how to listen and obey.

The day started out fine, but Hazel was bored

she started to fuss, and time-outs she ignored.

Mother looked at her sternly and said with a frown

“We all do our part, even those with a crown!

Princess or not, all your chores must be done

before you can go out and have any fun!”

“What, no fun?” The Princess rebelled!

She pouted, she fussed, she kicked and she yelled.

No matter how loud or how shrill her tirade

still no one came to the Princess’s aid.

“That’s it. I’m done! They can’t treat me this way!

They’ll all be sorry when I’ve run away!”

——————————————
A princess, of course, is always well dressed

with closets full of clothes, the finest and the best.

Sneaking out to the stables in velvet and furs,

she saddled her mare and put on her spurs.

Not leaving a note, not saying goodbye,

with no thought of her mother

or the tears she would cry,

the Princess rode nimbly on through the trees,

until at long last she could smell the sea breeze.

“Freedom at last!” she thought with a laugh

as she came to the gate hidden in the path.

And then she was free to do whatever she pleased,

with no one to tell her to eat all her peas.

——————–

Now was her chance for the life she’d been craving,

no longer would she have to do all that behaving.

Princess Hazel rode on, pell mell, down the street

until she came to a place not quite so elite.

The people were dirty, their houses not nice

in fact she was sure these kids all had lice.

But just when the Princess was about to retreat

her gaze fell upon a small boy named Pete.

His eyes, they were teary, his nose always sneezing

on this cold winter’s day, what kept him from freezing?

Without even a coat, or shoes on his feet

no wonder he’s sick, poor, dirty little Pete.

The Princess’s heart just broke at the sight

of a boy dressed in rags and in such a fright.

————————-

An orphan, no doubt, with no one to care

if his nose is all snotty or he brushes his hair.

The Princess, she sniffled, and wiped away a tear

with her fancy kid gloves no worse for the wear.

“Ah ha! That’s it!” She knew then in her heart

how she could help give this boy a head start.

She took off her gloves and gave them to Pete,

surely he could trade them for something to eat.

He thanked her and smiled, a smile of pure gold

and off rode the Princess, on down the road.

—————————–

Princess Hazel rode on, forgetting the cold

until she came upon a woman so old

that wrinkles were etched deep in her face

like canyons and rivers but still there was grace.

She sat in the square, in spite of her age

selling hankies for pennies, her only wage.

The woman worked hard, this work was her art

that no one was buying just broke Hazel’s heart.

She reached in her purse, pulling out all her gold

and placed it in the hands of the woman, so old.

“In trade for the hankie, with flowers and birds.”

The princess bade farewell, without any more words

but the old woman cried, as a single tear fell,

“That girl is a princess, anyone could tell!”

——————-

With a purse so much lighter, the Princess rode on

joy filling her heart, though her money was gone.

It wasn’t until she smelled hot apple pie

that her stomache began to give out a cry.

Now, the feeling of hunger was something quite new

to a Princess who rarely even said “Thank you”.

She’d never given a thought to who made the food

that was catered to fit her whim and her mood.

So she didn’t feel rude, not in the least

when she walked up to the cottage

and demanded a feast.

The woman who answered, she wore only rags

and the babe on her hip cried in hiccups and jags.

Bewildered the woman said, “This is our last meal.

but you’re welcome to it, we’ll share it with zeal.”

The Princess, ashamed, realized her mistake

alas, it would seem it was too little too late.

She had no more gold, what else could she give?

The woman before her was barely a girl…

no more than her size, and so with a whirl

the princess exchanged her furs and her dress

for the poor mother’s clothes, which fit, more or less.

———————–

The princess rode on, now dressed as a peasant

but soon stopped short at a sight quite unpleasant.

A man walked before her, her Father’s own soldier

wounded in battle, he’d soon die from exposure.

She pulled her horse short, looked into his eyes,

blue eyes, like her Father’s, not one of them dry.

His tears for his family pulled at her heart

and she knew deep inside that she surely must part

with her dearly loved mare, the horse she was given

on the day she turned ten, or was it eleven?

Princess Hazel dismounted with an awkward leap,

said goodbye to her friend and tried hard not to weep.

Giving reigns to the soldier, she turned slowly to go

when he stopped her gently and bowed ever so low.

“My lady, I thank you, with all of my soul.

You may be a peasant, but the Lord sent you, I know.”

—————–

Princess Hazel watched sadly as they rode off together,

the soldier and her horse were soon gone forever.

It had been quite a day, and now she was alone

no money, no horse, and her hair all wind blown.

She realized suddenly, she was in quite a pickle…

miles from her home, without even a nickle.

Why, what if she got home and they didn’t let her in!

She didn’t look like a princess, or even her twin!

At this she just blubbered, boo hoo’d, if you will,

at the end of a day that had just gone down hill.

——————-

It was then that she heard them, oh glorious sound,

the sound of the trumpets, all playing out loud!

She’d know that sound anywhere, her Father’s band!

The war must be over, then came the command

“All bow for the King! Give praise to our Lord!”

As a great cheer arose, all in one accord.

Their beloved King had come back to his land

after saving his people with his very own hand.

But poor Princess Hazel, she was so ashamed,

what would Papa think of how she’d behaved?

First running away and look at her now

Would the King even know her without her fine gown?

But then with a glance in her general direction

His gaze suddenly stopped, as if he’d seen his reflection.

He leaped from His steed, and running to his love

with kisses gave freely forgiveness undeserving of

“My daughter, my love, everything is just fine,

I’d know you anywhere, I made you, You’re mine.”

Wiping away all the tears, the dirt and the grime

He put her on his steed, and then in no time

they were back at the castle, back home to stay

but she never forgot what she learned on that day…

1 John 3:1

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

——————————————————————————————-

The Song of the Wind 

Chapter 1

The snow melted slowly, sinking deep into the earth, finding its way down the mountainside in rivulets and streams, leaving a trail of green everywhere it touched.  Tiny flowers unfurled their leaves, stretching after their long winters sleep.  A deer led her fawn to the meadow to frolic in the sun.  The brown bear showed her young cubs how to catch the best salmon. Even the tiny wood mouse emerged from her nest full of little ones to sniff and blink at the smell of spring. The air was fresh and clean, full of new life and new beginnings.  At the top of the highest mountain was a magnificent castle, glimmering in the evening sun.

The King watched from his balcony as the sun sank over his beloved kingdom. His lands stretched many miles beyond them in every direction. He was the most powerful man in a mighty empire….yet he could not stop the sun from setting. He could not command the rain to fall. And he could not keep his beloved wife from dying. For the first time in his life, the King felt helpless, and weak. As the sorrow of his loss washed over him, he felt the tiny bundle stir in his arms. His dear Queen had given her life to bring this little one into the world. He tucked the blanket more securely around his new daughter. In the stillness of the evening, the wind whispered through the willow trees, reminding him that he was not alone. Never alone. There was One who was greater than he, One who commanded the wind and the waves. One who gave new life, new joy, even in the midst of sorrow. With her last breath, the Queen had one final request. “Let us name her ‘Willow’, so everyone who hears the sound of her name will be reminded of the sound of the wind.” The Queen had loved the sound of the wind through the willow trees. On their wedding day, the King had commanded an entire forest be planted, just to make his new bride smile. How they had loved to walk through the willow trees together, listening to the sound of the wind in the trees. She would sing a wordless melody with the wind, like the song of the lark, beautiful and free. Now the King looked down into the face of his new daughter. The little Princess gazed into her Father’s eyes with quiet wonder. How could he teach her all that she needed to know, without her mother there to show her the way. Without realizing what he was doing, he began to hum, from deep in his chest, the melody rumbled, the sound of the wind. From the tree above him, a lark joined the song, and in that moment, the King felt the love of his dear wife, there with him for one last sunset, one last song, with her beloved King and their baby girl.

Chapter 2

Willow was what some might call, “a difficult baby”. Perhaps she missed the warmth of her mother. Perhaps she had a bad case of indigestion. Whatever the case, she wailed to let the world know. Her cries echoed throughout the castle walls, piercing the ears of all within range. Her father, the King, had thrown himself into his work, trying unsuccessfully to forget his grief. Now his chief advisor stood before him, saying something about the gold mines on the coast. The wailing drowned out his words. The King interrupted him, “I hired a nurse for that child! Obviously she knows nothing about babies!” He huffed. Dismissing the advisor, he stormed into the nursery. The poor frazzled nurse walked the floor, singing out of tune. “Give her to me!” he thundered. Relieved, she handed him his child.

It was the first time he had held her since that night on the balcony. The night his wife had left him. He hadn’t been able to bring himself to hold their child again since then. She reminded him too much of her mother. Now that he held her again, he wondered why he had waited so long. He began to sing the melody, holding her to his chest. Slowly, she quieted, then, peacefully slept.

From that moment on, Little Willow held her Father’s heart in her wee little hands. Everyone knew that once she started, there was no stopping her wailing until the King came to her calls. She seemed to know it too. As soon as he held her, she would gurgle happily, look up in his eyes, and smile. Behind his back, the nanny whispered “He’ll spoil that child, just wait and see!” The advisers said, “The King’s time is better spent working for his Kingdom, not wasted rocking a baby. A job for nannies and nurses and peasant women!”, but the wise old ones knew it was as good for the King as it was for the little Princess.

It wasn’t long before Little Willow could sing along, her childish voice singing with her Father’s strong one. When her Father had to attend to the business of the Kingdom, she would hum the melody as she played and remember that she was never really alone. When she played in the courtyard and the breeze ruffled her hair, she would stop for a moment and listen for the song in the willows. It was always there.

The days melted into weeks, and the weeks into months, and the months into years, but always, without fail, the King would stop everything to sing to his Princess each night.

Chapter 3

Hardly a day went by when Willow didn’t visit her Father’s stables with apples for the horses. She loved each of them and called them all by name. Every night she begged the King for a horse of her own, but he always said she was too young. “A horse is a thing of beauty and strength, too wild for a little girl. Horses are better suited for knights on the battlefield, my child.” Still, she begged and pleaded. It wasn’t until her tenth birthday that he relented. There was a farm outside the city walls with just the thing for his Little Princess.

The morning of Willows birthday she awoke with one thing on her mind….”A pony!” She raced down to the stables. “Please oh please oh please oh please….let there be a pony!!!” She rounded the corner and pushed open the giant doors. Open mouthed, she stared. A large red ribbon was tied around the foal’s neck. The King stepped out from behind the door. “Well, do you like your birthday present?” he asked. For once, Willow was speechless. Then she squealed with delight and threw her arms about the fuzzy foals neck. “Oh thank you, Father! Thank you! I will name her Little Marella. She’s the most perfect pony in the whole world!!” The King laughed. “Willow, my dear, that is a lovely name, but she isn’t a pony.”

“What?” Willow asked, “Don’t be silly Father, of course she’s a pony. She’s got big brown eyes, a big horsey mouth, and lovely long legs. What else could she be?”

“My dear child, did you notice her ears are as long as a rabbits? Your ‘pony’ is a donkey, but you are right, she will be the perfect companion for you to ride. A donkey isn’t like a horse, and it’s not just the ears. She is smart and loyal. Treat her well, and she will love you for life. If she is frightened, she won’t buck and run, leaving her rider in the dust, instead she stops and thinks what to do. You could learn a lot from this little donkey. Stop and think before you run into things. Love well…” The King was still talking, but Willow didn’t hear him, she was too busy petting her new donkey and dreaming of all the fun they would have together.

Chapter 4

Willow didn’t see the clouds gathering on the horizon. She was too busy going for rides through the countryside to hear the people talking in hushed, worried voices, and looking over the mountains with fear in their eyes. Then the day came when even Willow couldn’t be shielded from the storm. The people of the countryside fled to the safety of the walled city. The enemy had crossed the mountains, and if something wasn’t done to stop them, would soon be at the gates of the kingdom. After years of living at peace, the kingdom was now at war. The King had no choice but to lead his troops into battle. There was no time to lose. They would set out at dawn the next day.

Before he sang the song that night, he held his daughter’s small hands in his strong ones. “Willow, you must be brave while I am away. When your mother died, I promised her I would take care of you. Now the enemy is threatening to take away everything that we hold dear. Please understand, I must go, but whenever you feel the breeze, and hear the song of the wind in the trees, remember that wherever I am, I will feel the same wind, and though we may be miles apart, the same wind that kisses your check, also kisses mine.”

Chapter 5

Now a year had passed since Father had gone away to war. Every night Willow would hum the song of the wind to herself and pretend that her Father was there, singing with her. She would close her eyes and picture him there with his smiling face and deep voice. In the daylight, she tried to be brave, and act like a good little Princess should, but the longer the King was away, the harder it seemed. Whenever she found one of the King’s advisors she would ask them, “Have you any news from my Father? Is the war almost over?” But they never had any answers for her, and seemed to avoid her whenever they could. One day when they seemed in a bigger hurry than usual to be rid of her, she had an awful thought. “What if there is no war? What if it’s all a lie? What if my father found a new Queen and a new kingdom and a new family and doesn’t need me anymore?” It was too much to bare. It couldn’t be true! Her father loved her!! But that night as she sang, the notes came out all wrong, and when she closed her eyes, she couldn’t see her Father’s face. The next morning, she forgot to brush her teeth, and no one even noticed. She wondered if anyone even cared if she brushed them or not.

Without her Father there to guide her and correct her, it wasn’t long before she was behaving more like a street urchin than a young lady of noble birth. The more time passed, the lonelier she became. She couldn’t stand to see the servants smiling and laughing when she felt so awful inside. “How dare anyone be happy when the King is away!!” She fumed. Willow decided it was her job to make certain everyone around her was as miserable as she was. This was easy enough for a Princess to do. She yelled at the servants for the smallest offense, ate with her fingers, and left her things scattered wherever they fell. If they were broken, all the better, then she could demand newer, better ones to take their place.

This went on for quite some time, and each day the Princess found some new way to terrorize and humiliate the servants and staff. No one dared to discipline the daughter of the King, instead, they ignored her bad behavior completely. This just made Willow angrier. “How dare they ignore me! I am the Princess!” She invented uglier and nastier tricks, thinking surely they would get her the attention she longed for, but nothing worked. One day she caught two frogs in the moat and dumped them in the breakfast pudding behind the cooks back. The cook had seen her do it, but blamed the servant boy and boxed his ears instead. He glared at Willow through his tears, and stuck out his tongue when she passed in the halls. The next day she left her marbles in the great hall, and the chief advisor fell head over heals, luckily he only suffered of bruised pride and a broken nose. No matter the Princess did, no one said a word to her face, but she knew by the whispers behind her back that no one really liked her. She didn’t even like herself. The worse she acted, the worse she felt inside.

Chapter 6

It might have gone on like this forever, if not for the day the message came to the Castle. The King’s own knight, covered in dust, battle worn and weary, had ridden hard from the battlefield to deliver the dreadful news. His steely gray eyes filled with tears as he told the tale. A tale of a battle against an enemy so fierce, so evil, that all seemed lost. The troops were terrified. The King commanded them to stay and fight, for their families, for their kingdom, but it was no use, the troops fell back in retreat, each man running for his life.

It was then that the King realized no words would do, no commands could force his people to obey His orders when their hearts were full of discouragement and fear. They needed more, and he was the only one with the heart to do what needed to be done.

The King had turned his mighty steed and faced the enemy alone, while even his mightiest men ran for their lives. He fought valiantly, with bravery and skill. As his men turned to watch, he fell from his steed and the enemy swarmed past him. Suddenly they felt no more fear, how could they run and hide while their own King gave his life to save them? Their hearts filled with courage and they raced back to the battle. Their King had not died in vain, his courage lived on in the warriors battle cry, in the flash of each sword and he whiz of the arrows. The enemy fell back in retreat and the battle was won. But their beloved King was gone.

The Princess, upon hearing the news of her dear Father’s death, fled weeping to her room and collapsed in a heap on her bed. She heard the people of the kingdom rejoicing over the victory over their enemies, but Willow’s whole world had turned upside down. Her dear Father was not coming home to her, and she alone was heir to the throne.

At first, Willow refused to be comforted. As she wept, she thought the tears would never stop, the pain would never lessen, and she would never smile again. But slowly, her wailing turned to weeping, then her weeping turned to sniffles. Then one day when the tears had all dried, Willow felt a soft cool breeze flit across her face, and heard a still, small voice deep inside. “Get up, my child. Look outside.” Slowly she rose from her bed and went to the window. Outside was the willow tree her Father had planted on the day of her birth. The breeze blew the leaves aside, and for the first time she looked beyond the willow tree, outside the courtyard walls she saw the people of her kingdom. A wounded soldier, begging for bread. A lonely old woman, selling candles no one would buy. A lost little boy, crying for his mother, pushed aside by the crowds. For the first time in months, she felt something inside that wasn’t mean and selfish. She felt pity, and sadness, but most of all, love.

Chapter 7

When Princess Willow emerged from her room, the servants gasped at the change. Gone were the jewels and lace, replaced by simple peasant attire. Even more astonishing than the change of clothes was the change of heart. In place of a spoiled and spiteful child in gowns of silk, there stood a girl with the true and noble heart of a Princess, dressed in the garb of a peasant.

That was the first day of the Princesses new life. Each day Willow would rise with the sun, dress in her simple peasant costume and go out among her people. She listened to their stories, laughed with them, cried with them, and sang the Song of the Wind as she rode through the streets. If their was a need, she secretly filled it. A gold coin left on a windowsill. A basket of fish. A loaf of bread. They never guessed the peasant girl with the kind eyes was their very own Princess Willow.

When the weather grew colder, the servants urged her to stay in the castle by the fire, but the Princess insisted. Her people were cold and hungry too, if she didn’t go to them, who would?

Inside the stables she was greeted with a chorus of whinnies. She paused by each of the grand war horses, the fine racing steeds, and the prancing ponies, giving each of them an apple and a pat on the nose, but Willow didn’t stop until she came to the last, smallest stable. Little Marella greeted her with a joyous bray in exchange for her favorite treat, oatmeal cookies! The small, furry donkey had been her faithful companion everyday, carrying the Princess and her precious gifts to the poorest parts of the kingdom. Sure footed and kind hearted, the little donkey never stumbled under the weight of her burdens, but carried on without complaint. Willow always felt closer to her Father when she was with the little donkey. She laughed to herself as she remembered the day he had surprised her with the faithful little friend. If only her Father could see her now! How he would laugh to see his pampered little Princess dressed as a peasant! As for the donkey, Little Marella was proud to be chosen by the Princess for such an honorable task. The Princess quickly loaded Little Marella’s saddle bags to the brim with her parcels and gifts, and then they set off.

The wind was stronger outside the city walls, but the Princess and her little donkey didn’t mind. Their first stop was the home of a lonely widow, blinded by age. Here the Princess left enough food to last through the week, and coins to buy firewood to keep her warm through the storm. By the time they left the old widows house, the wind had grown fiercer and snow was in the air. Still, the pair pressed on. With this storm, many of her people would be desperate for her care. They stopped at each of the poorest of homes, until the only weight on Little Marella’s back was that of her beloved Princess. By this time, all of the gold had been given away, and the last of the food given to a poor orphan boy huddled in a doorway. With nothing left to give, the Princess was about to turn back for the castle when Little Marella stopped short. A figure, nearly covered by the snow, lay fallen in the path. The poor child was nearly frozen, wearing nothing but rags and tattered shoes on his feet. Willow gently shook him awake and warmed his icy hands in her own. The poor child was miles from his home, and had been surprised by the storm. Willow quickly realized there was only one thing to do. The child would die if left out here alone. She gently lifted the boy onto the back of her furry little donkey, kissed Little Marella’s soft velvet nose and whispered in her great ears that she was to take the child home. Not wanting to leave her Princess behind, the little donkey hesitated and looked back through the snow, but the Princess had already disappeared.

Chapter 8

“Home.” The little donkey stood quiet and still. It was her nature to stop and think, and this would take some thinking. “Home” meant the castle stables, and warm mash, and oatmeal cookies, and fresh clean straw, and the Princess. But the Princess had meant something else, some other home. “Home…” That was it! The donkey, satisfied that she had solved this riddle, turned her nose to the wind, sniffed this way, then that, then headed for the only other place she had ever called “home.”

—————–
At first, Willow walked briskly to keep her spirits up, but soon her steps slowed. The storm had turned into a blizzard and Willow had lost her way. Without Little Marella to guide her to the castle in the blinding white, she was helpless, lost, and terribly cold. Still, she wasn’t afraid. She remembered that she was never alone, and hummed the song of the wind to herself. After all, she was bound to find shelter somewhere ahead, so on she trudged. Finally, able to go no further, she sank into a snow drift beneath a scraggly old olive tree. The branches seemed to bend low to shelter her and the snowflakes fell, covering her in their blanket of soft white. Slowly, Willow closed her eyes.

———————

The young peasant woman stared out into the blizzard, holding her lantern high. She knew the feeble light could not pierce the swirling white of the storm, but still she hoped for a miracle. She closed the door and busied herself before the fire. “He will be hungry when he gets home, and cold. He’ll want some stew.” She stirred the pot, seasoning it with her tears. She thought she heard something, through wind, but then shook her head. She went on stirring, praying, stirring. There it was again! Just her old donkey, braying in the stable. The hired man had fed her enough to last through the storm, why would she be making such a noise in the middle of the night? Unless, oh, surely the wolves couldn’t break down the door! She listened again, but there was no sound of wolves. Only, strangely, another bray. This one fainter, as if from a distance. Yes, it was another donkey, braying in return! She dropped her spoon and ran to the door, throwing it open wide to the wind. Through the gale she heard it again, her old Donkey braying into the wind, and the answering call, again and again. Then she saw it, a blur of white, a little donkey, covered in snow, with a load of something on her back. But then the snow covered load moved, and fell into her arms. “Oh, my child, my son!! My son is home!!!” The woman cried through tears of joy, and carried the boy inside.

Relieved of her burden, Little Marella went on to the stable and let out a loud bray. The hired man let her in, dried her coat, and gave her oats for her efforts. But Little Marella only nuzzled her mother and felt her familiar warmth. A soft bray welcomed her back to the home of her birth. Not even the King’s stables could compare to sharing a stall and a bag of oats with her mother again.

——————

Willow was so tired. It would be so easy to stay here forever. The icy cold seemed to sink into her very soul. She couldn’t go on. Why should she try? There was no one left to go home to. If she died, at least she could see her father again. She settled herself deeper into the blanket of snow, waiting for the end. But it didn’t come. The wind, a moment before so bitterly cold, kissed her cheek, a warm, spring kiss. She opened her eyes, “Father?” she cried, “Father, are you there?”

—————–

The hired man finished caring for the little donkey and carefully barred the stable door. No wolves would get in tonight. The blizzard had stopped as quickly as it had come. The stars twinkled with frosty light on the snowy path. He came to the old olive tree and stopped to take in the beauty. This was his favorite spot. The way the wind blew threw the trees seemed so familiar somehow…he stopped, something was there, buried in the snow. A young girl. He brushed aside the snow and pressed his lips to her cheek. She was still alive, but barely. He lifted her quickly and carried her inside.

—————–

All night Willow lay, feverish by the fire. The woman tried to get her to eat, but she was too weak to even open her eyes. In her sleep, she cried out again and again for her Father. It was dawn when Willow finally awoke. The fire crackled before her, deliciously warm. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness of the house, she realized it was not much more than a hovel. But it was clean. And it smelled like…bacon! She realized she was dreadfully hungry, having given away all of her food the day before, she hadn’t eaten since yesterday’s breakfast! She turned at a sound, a young woman sat by her cot. “Ahh, our sleeping beauty awakes. And how do you feel this morning?” Willow liked her immediately. Her eyes were tired, but kind. Then Willow noticed a bundle of furs on the floor beside her, and a small face appeared between the folds. That face was so familiar…the lost little boy, in the snow! “But how did he…..how did I…?” Before she could ask all the questions in her mind, the door burst open. A giant of a man, covered in furs, ducked his head to get through the door. He stomped the snow from his boots then dropped his load of wood beside the fireplace. Silently unwrapping his scarf, he turned to face the maiden he’d stumbled on the night before. She gasped at the sight of his face, and fainted.

It took yet another hour, and the smell of pancakes, to rouse Willow again. This time when she awoke, he was standing over her, his dark eyes looking down into her wondering ones. “Father?” She said, “Is it really you?” He looked at her blankly, stroked her hand and looked away. He didn’t want to upset the poor girl. She must be confused after her ordeal. She’d probably lost her father in the war, so many had. It was better not to say anything until she got her strength back. Anyway, when she felt better, she would realize he wasn’t her father.

“I must be dreaming,” Willow said to herself. “If this were real, my Father would never look at me like he doesn’t know who I am.” Confused, Willow sat up, grasping his face in her hands. She felt his course whiskers under her palms. “If this was a dream, I wouldn’t be able to feel your prickly whiskers! This is real, I know you’re real! FATHER!!” But her Father just looked at her with a sad smile. Why didn’t he say her name? Why didn’t he hold her in return? Willow burst into tears. This was all too much to bare! The kind woman of the house intervened. “Sweet girl,” she said, “our dear soldier has lost his memory, he came to us, wounded and confused, after the war. He has been a blessing, to be sure. My own husband was killed when the war began, we were nearly starved by the time he came along. We call him “Jean”, since he’s never yet remembered his name. I must admit, without his help on the farm, I don’t know what we would have done. He plowed the fields with our old donkey, planted our wheat, tended to everything that had a need. But through it all, his memories never returned. Now, now, don’t cry, little one.” But Willow couldn’t stop the tears. Tears of joy. Her father, the king, whom everyone had believed dead, was not dead, but lost all this time! And now he was found! But with her joy was intertwined sorrow. Her dear Father, dear, dear Father, did not even know his own daughter, did not know the castle on the hill was his rightful home, did not even know his own name. “How can I make him remember me? Not just me, but everything…everything that makes him who he is. His memories, the happy ones, and the sad ones….they are all a part of who he is. Without them, who will he be? How can I help him to remember all he needs to know?” From deep inside her soul, Willow began to sing. The melody that had once had no words, became a song with a lifetime of memories, of lost love, of renewed joy, the song of the lark, and the whispers of the wind through the willow tress.

As she sang, she took his big, calloused hands in her own small ones and looked into his eyes. Slowly, he joined his rich strong voice with her sweet one. As Willow sang, first one memory, then another, somehow, the moment came back to him, and he sang the next. The memories flowed over his heart, one by one. His wedding day. The walks through the willow trees with his beloved wife. His Kingdom. Their baby. His daughter. The war. The last battle. And now, his daughter, Little Willow!!! Everything he had lost came back to him in a whirl, and the ache in the bottom of his soul was gone. Finally, after all this time, he was a peace.

“Dear Little Willow. My dear, dear daughter.” he murmured as the tears fell down his cheeks. ” Oh, what you must have gone through! Can you forgive me for all the time we’ve lost? Do you know how much I love you?” the King asked as he gently pulled her to him. Willow could only smile through her tears, for now she was exactly where she belonged, in her Father’s arms, and no one would ever come between them again.

Co-authored by Romeo Lau & Buttercup Farm

All Rights Reserved

Anyone know a good publisher?  🙂

———————————————————————————————————————

This next one is Haley’s favorite…funny, I thought she’d be partial to the one with the donkey.

THE THREE GOLDEN HEARTS

One day, not so long ago, there were three princesses born to a queen and king.  They were named Esmerelda, Annika, and Priscilla.  On the day of their birth, a great lord gave each of the newborn babes a priceless gift….a beautiful necklace with a golden heart that sparkled and glowed when placed around her neck.  The lord told the King and Queen that this gift was special, and was to be guarded above all else. It was their duty to teach the Princesses how to protect their hearts from harm.

The girls grew up, as all girls do, and always wore their golden hearts on silver strands upon their necks.  One day, Esmerelda was out walking in the woods when she came upon a handsome prince.  He was charming and witty and made Esmerelda laugh with his jokes.  When he asked for just one small corner of the golden heart, she found she could not refuse him, and gladly gave it.  The second he held the piece in his hand, he turned and ran into the forest, laughing a wicked laugh as he went.  Too late, she realized he was not her prince at all.  Now her golden heart wasn’t whole, and it didn’t shine quite the same as it used to when it was whole, and the Princess began to think it probably wasn’t worth much now that it had lost a corner.  She found that she easily gave pieces away now, a piece to a knight who said she was pretty, and another to a merchant who gave her beautiful gowns made of silk.  It wasn’t long before all she had left was a tiny piece of her once perfect golden heart.  She became bitter and cold, and refused to leave the palace at all, afraid that someone would steal the tiny piece that was left of her golden heart.

(The same general story happens to Annika, and she is left with a tiny piece of her heart.  One gives her jewels and jewelry…one invites her to his library, he gives her books and impresses her with his wisdom, one gives her the finest ponies and horses…still need to fill in the details.)

The youngest princess, Priscilla, saw the way her sisters wept upon their pillows every night, and she silently promised the lord that she would guard her heart.  She was a beautiful princess, and there were princes from far and wide that came to win a piece of her heart.  The strongest of them jousted, and risked life and limb for her love.  Still, she resisted their advances, thanked them kindly, and sent them on their way.  The poets sent her love letters of the sweetest verse, which she read, gave them thanks, then sent each poet back to his homeland with her best wishes.  Then one day a handsome prince came and asked for her hand in marriage.  He was tall, with a face more beautiful than any she had seen.  She wondered, is he the one that I am to give my golden heart to?  But in her heart of hearts, she heard a still small voice, and she knew that this was not the one.  So she waited still, and wondered if her prince would ever come.

Years passed, and the kind king and queen died.  The two older sisters were now so jealous of their younger sister’s whole golden heart that they banished her to a far off isle so they would not have to see it’s golden glow and be reminded of their own tarnished broken hearts.

One day, a brave young Prince came riding into the kingdom.  He sent messengers far and wide across the land, he had come to find his beloved at last.  The two Princesses put on their best royal gowns with high lace necks to hide their broken hearts.  Each of them raced to meet the prince.  He smiled when he saw them, and asked if either of them had a necklace with a golden heart.  He explained that years before, his Father had given a golden heart to the one he was to marry, and he had the key.  The two sisters were so ashamed at this, that they ran weeping back into the palace with their broken hearts and locked the door behind them, not daring to look at the Prince’s beautiful shining face.  The prince knew at once what had happened, and pleaded with the Princesses to open the gates. It was no use. The two sisters refused to listen to his words. At last, he left the castle and went into the wild to search for the last Princess.

Princess Priscilla was lonely.  She had waited for her prince such a long time, her beautiful gowns had worn to rags.  She was beginning to wonder if he would ever come for her, and would he know she was a princess, dressed in rags?  But still, she knew that when he came, she would know him, and she believed that he was searching for her, even today.  She decided to take a walk in the meadow and pray.  When she found a field of buttercups, she lay down and soon fell fast asleep.

When she awoke, the sun was in her eyes, and she couldn’t see the man on the steed before her.  “Hello, my Princess.” he said, and in that moment, she knew.  She knew him just by the sound of his voice, a voice she had heard in her dreams, but never knew until this moment.  She unfastened the chain with on heart, and handed it to her prince.  It was whole and beautiful, and he smiled when he saw it and took her hand in his.

On their wedding night, he told his bride the story of her sisters.  He only wished that they hadn’t locked him out and refused to hear his message.  He had come to tell them that even if their hearts were broken in pieces, they had only to ask, and he would gladly fix them.  His Father had taught him the sacred art, and given him the tools to mend broken hearts.  All the poor, broken hearted sisters had to do was to ask his forgiveness, but in their bitterness, they had locked him out.

“You see, my love, I have two brothers, and each of them still waits for his bride. My Father sent me to bring back their bride’s for them. There is room in our kingdom for all…but they had to forgive themselves, and this was something your sisters would not do.”

Still, the Prince will not give up. His Father gave each of the Princesses a golden heart, and each has a place prepared for her in His Kingdom. So it is that each year, when the first blossoms break through the mountain snow, the Prince makes the long journey back to the castle. He always takes his tools to mend their broken hearts, and he always hopes this will be the year they unlock the gates.

By Buttercup Farm

All Rights Reserved.  Thank you very much.

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