king ignored the sodden guests,
Awash in ale and mirth
Who'd gathered to commemorate
Three decades since his birth.
Instead he gazed upon the moors,
A goblet tipped in hand,
And contemplated secret thoughts
Too deep to understand.
What happened to those merry times
Since first becoming king?
When did the sound of clinking gold
Deny his heart to sing?
Where were those vast exotic feasts
Which tempted taste and smell,
Or clever winks from ladies fair
Beguiling with their spell?
His goblet clattered to the floor,
A symbol of his shame–
Adorned in gold and precious jewels,
Yet empty all the same.
He sank defeated to his knees
And bowed his throbbing head,
With anguished groans between his lips
From prayers remained unsaid.
From somewhere close to heaven’s heart
In answer to his plea,
A song sprang forth where shadows danced
Down in the scullery.
It drifted up the kitchen stairs
With clear and measured tones,
Whilst torches flickered in delight
Against the blackened stones.
Despite the pandemonium
Which howled beyond control,
The king caught snatches of the song
Which soothed his troubled soul.
"What singing, this?" he
Amid the drunken din
As he listened o'er the strains
Of flute and mandolin.
Determined to unearth the source,
The king stalked forth alone
Through murky halls and corridors,
Then down steep steps of stone.
The song grew sweeter with each step;
The king increased his stride
Until he found the proper door–
He stopped and peeked inside.
The scullery was dark and damp,
The stench was quite acute;
A young girl bursting forth with song
Was sorting vats of fruit.
She sang of profound happiness–
The very thing he sought!
He must learn what this peasant knew
Which he, the king, did not.
"You there!" called the
"Have you a hidden flask?
Methinks you are too overjoyed
For such a mundane task."
"Oh no, m'lord!" She
"I have no taste for wine–
This happiness within my soul
Flows from a different Vine;
would not see my Master's face
With vision dim and blurred,
Or sing clear praises of His name
With lyrics thick and slurred."
replied the king,
But quickly lost his fleeting thought
Due to a brash disruption.
Outside the doorway in the hall
A flock of maids appeared,
Their aprons filled with filthy plates
From tables they had cleared.
They scorned and mocked the lowly girl
The whole time they were there,
And heaped foul insults at her feet
Among the tableware.
Asked the king, "Why do you stay
Upon your own accord?
This is a drab and thankless job
With no perceived reward;
fear someday you’ll scheme to steal
A golden cup or plate
And pawn it for a tidy sum
To flee your hopeless fate."
A wave of horror bleached her face,
"Oh no, m'lord!" she
"I have no need to rob or steal–
My Master will provide;
my days are long and cruel,
To leave would be remiss–
If this is where my Master wills,
No grander place exists."
No sooner had she spoken thus,
There came a plaintive cry;
A hungry cat limped through the door
And caught the maiden's eye.
Without delay or second thought
She scraped the scattered dishes
And soon produced a kitty meal
Of mutton, fowl and fishes.
The king scowled at the feline fare,
"Why waste food on that
You could have kept it for yourself
And had a fancy feast."
"Not me, m'lord," the
"I heed my Master's voice,
And help those weaker than myself–
I have no other choice;
me to gorge while others starve
Would seem a bit absurd–
I’d rather read aloud tonight
And feast upon His Word."
The king reached out and took her hand,
"You are what I desire–
I've never seen such overflow
Of virtues I require.
beg you, teach me how to live
you will give your heart to Him
A more abundant life
And help me be a better king
By sitting as my wife."
"I'm truly flattered,"
"But I'm not whom you seek;
It is my Master who supplies
These things of which you speak;
And for your sins atone,
My Master will abide within
The man upon the throne."
She threw the king a gentle kiss
Then like a dream was gone...
...And to his chambers he retired
To learn the Master's