Part One: The Unhappy King (cont…)
Next day was soon come and passing, relentlessly reminding the king that he was treading through a passage of history’s most unforgiving hour. The forest thickened with each hour, but the merchant seemed to pay it no mind and so the king kept moving on.
“What do you know about these woods?” The merchant asked the king as he pushed his shabby cart over a tough root that protruded from the mute earth.
“I know of the battles fought here,” king responded. “I know of the brave men who died to protect our people- our kingdom.”
“You were there?” merchant pushed on.
“I have read. I have heard,” king began to express slight indignation at his companion’s questions.
“You are still quite young.”
“I am nearly thirty.”
“Such a youth for a king. And how are you king at this age?”
“I have been king since my father left- four years since that day, I have been king.”
“Who were you before you became king?”
“I was prince of course. Haven’t you got kings and princes and courts and such in your land?”
“Oh, we have indeed. But I am not interested in your royal position; I want to know about your actual person. If what you were was prince, then who were you?”
“I don’t quite follow what you’re after, nor am I particularly interested,” the king showed obvious boredom with the merchant’s meddlings. “When shall we eat next is a question that I would care to have answered. Enough of your silliness already.”
So they made on in silence, as the merchant pushed his cart and ignored the king’s complaint.
Nighttime soon came to fill the remaining patches of forest sky with its solid ink. The treetops lost their definition and were therefore united and one. The path could no longer be made out, nor could the brush even bear testimony to the secrets it hid. The darkness of night had made all secrets equal- hidden together, yet exposed by the very thing that they hid- darkness itself.
The king was now quite uncomfortable, and had yet to have his belly contented by even the slightest of joys.
“Tomorrow we sleep under a roof?” king waited for the reassurance of his guide.
“Tomorrow will provide us with a roof,” the response hung in the darkness before both men slept.