There was always that nagging feeling he had failed in so many different ways. The king had feared the possibility of recognizing his strengths and successes and the complacency that might come of it. So much worry compounded by his concern that he never really measured up to his father, who was also very much beloved by the people. Both men were selfless and caring, giving everything they had to the betterment of the kingdom. Both men were endowed with an incredible desire to serve.
The queen spent her days attending to the needs of her king. The prince took on much of the responsibilities of the kingdom, though he too was hardly found far from his father’s bed. The illness was drawn out. Eventually, the king was overcome and passed away.
Of course, the land grieved the loss of such a man. There were many who thought to send condolences to the family. The funeral was held in the fashion of the land, many remembering the great deeds of their lost king. The king’s children each shared many of their memories. Almost all who spoke suggested this king was greatest among rulers for his care of his people. They all agreed that all were blessed for knowing him. He served his people without any concern for self, stretching all available resources beyond what most thought possible. Many commented that this great king would not have thought such a spectacle over his life necessary. Indeed, he would have preferred that energy focused toward more productive activities. His dying wishes asked that instead of flowers at his funeral, people would do an act of service instead. Failing that, a donation to humanitarian charities should suffice.
The king was buried with generations of great men and women, where anyone looking at the monuments could be reminded of their great deeds.
With the ceremonies and gathering done, the prince was still consumed with grief. His memories of his father provided comfort but such was fleeting. Although the Prince knew many who had died, he realized he had only this once grieved. The prince spent his days helping manage the affairs of the kingdom but all around him knew of his grief. He seldom laughed like he used to. His wit hardly ever brought forth the mirth people knew.
One day after the evening meal, the prince had excused himself to the upper garden seeking to be alone with his thoughts. He wished to remember some things of his father and make plans for helping some of the less fortunate. The king was a man of service and that is what made him the happiest. So, the prince was trying his best to follow in these great footprints.
Although he thought he was alone, there came a visitor who wanted to help the prince feel better. The visitor was the country’s preeminent singer. Stepping forward, the rustling of her steps drew the prince’s attention to her.
“Why are you here?” demanded the prince. He wished to be left alone and found the intrusion bordering on treason. Certainly is was not but these were his feelings anyway. The prince in his grief had lost much of the charity that made his father the great man he was.
The Singer retreated a little at such brashness but said in a strong voice, “I’ve come to sing for you. You have forgotten something about your father.”
“I’ve not forgotten my father. He is why I am who I am. No. Be gone with you.”
“Your country suffers while you waste your time here. The world crumbles though you busy yourself thinking to protect it,” the singer pleaded. “Although you think to live your life as your father did, you’ve forgotten what truly made the king, Our King.”
“If I relent and allow you to sing, will you leave me alone?”
As an answer to the prince’s question, the singer began her song. Her voice was incredibly fine, cutting to the very center of the prince’s soul.
Almost immediately the artist seemed to take on another’s countenance. This visage was that of a very young girl, though her voice continued to be the same. The girl whose clothes were worn to near rags looked hungry, her eyes held a wisdom revealing a life already heaving with turmoil and grief. Though otherwise quite clean, she had a little soot on the end of her nose and a bandaged wrist. The song seemed to tell of a youngster living a meager existence with little hope of even attending school until someone recognized her needs and helped her family.
The song changed a little, whether it was a slight decrease in tempo or a change in key the prince did not recognize. The performer’s voice still as clear as it was from the start, seemed to take on a heavier tone. The little girl was gone replaced by a young boy, a couple years her senior. The boy wore a school uniform and had a look that suggested he was from a family of some substance. He stood there looking a little self-conscious. The song continued to tell of a boy whose family played a high stakes game with their wealth. When the father lost everything he fell into a deep depression from which he never recovered, ultimately leaving the boy an orphan. The boy, having never known want, was left with nothing. He was scared. The verse continued to explain the boy was reunited with a long ago lost relative who took the boy in as his own.
Again, the song’s tone moved a little different and the boy was gone, replaced by a young woman who was wrapped in a blanket. Something terribly wrong had happened to this poor girl. Her faced was bruised and she held herself as if she were sore all over. The blanket almost covered her but the prince could see her clothes had been torn. The verse explained how the girl had been abused by someone who should have loved her. She was alone in the world and needed some support and a new beginning. This someone did that for her and she was able to get back to school and start a new chapter in her life without the baggage of her past.
As the song continued the young woman was gone, replaced by an elderly man in a chair, too feeble to stand. This was a lonesome time for a man whose lifetime of experience seemed to shine and sparkle through his gray eyes. The canto continued to explain how this man’s life seemed to drag on endlessly in complete loneliness. Telling of how someone came to him and asked a simple question. Since the answer was not so simple, his gray eyes had a twinkle of pride and usefulness that was not there before.
In the final verse, the man was replaced by a lost soul whose whole world was encompassed in a small glass pipe. The addiction destroyed everything the person had, leaving him empty as soon as the contents in the pipe were consumed. Living his life to pursue that addiction, this was an empty soul until someone found a way to unlock the trap.
As she finished her song, she resumed her original visage and turned to leave. The prince stood speechless with tears streaming down his cheeks. His father knew there were people that needed to be helped. That help took the form of many different shapes and sizes. He was freed a little from his grief and was able to focus on finding the individual rather than the cause. The king hadn’t failed at all.
Books I finished, mostly today
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