Prince Columbine hung his head like the flower he was named for. His father, King Pine, wanted him to become a judge in the court, but Prince Columbine never had the right words. His sister, Princess Starflower, could talk rings around him.
“I would give anything to sit in the court like you do,” she said, failing to understand how he could be sad about it, her golden hair falling in petals around her glowing face. “If you had just told Farmer Wednesday that you would check the records and get back to her about the boundary marker, all would have gone well. Why did you have to tell her that a foot one way or the other doesn’t matter? Of course it matters to her.”
“Well, when you put it like that, I get it. She was so angry. It just didn’t seem that important.”
The princess huffed and gave up on him. “Ugh, if I see one more bleeding cut, I’m going to throw up!” she insisted.
“Why don’t we switch for a day?” Prince Columbine had always enjoyed assisting the healer when he had the chance. He knew his father would disapprove, but he did not think he would be angry. “Let’s tell the healers and ministers we have father’s approval, and then hope he’s busy all day. Then he won’t notice! He has plans to tour the castle walls with his architects.”
“I love the idea!” And so they switched.
The very next morning, Prince Columbine’s head was high and proud. He patched up cuts, splinted breaks and dosed headachy patients, side by side with Healer Salvatore, his old mentor.
Princess Starflower was not surprised when Farmer Wednesday came back in a rage, demanding another hearing, this time with pictures and witnesses. Princess Starflower smiled. Here was a problem she knew how to handle. In fact, she had looked up the plans herself the night before, just out of curiosity. She reached behind her for the map.
“You are right, Farmer Wednesday!” Princess Starflower said calmly. “The creek must have flooded and undermined the boundary marker. You have our permission to move it back into compliance with this map.”
King Pine, tall and strong like his namesake, was out meeting with his architects when part of the rampart crumbled, and they were all tossed into a livestock enclosure below. The angry bellowing of the sow brought the kitchen staff running, and soon the king and his architects were carried to the Healer’s Guild.
King Pine was unconscious. His legs were trampled and his arm broken. One of the architects had a stave of wood through his side, and needed the healer desperately.
“I trust you to take care of your father. You know how to do what he needs.” Healer Salvatore told him. Prince Columbine gulped, and suspected he would be in trouble but was also proud to use his skills for his father. He cleaned him thoroughly first. Then he straightened and splinted King Pine’s arm. He rubbed a mixture of arnica, poppy and pennywort into the wounds on his legs where the sow had trampled the King. The prince probed the bones, but they were sound. He fitted two splints together around the left leg and hinged them at the knee. He knew his father would not remain long in bed, but his left leg would need support as it healed because of all the damage. Then he looked at his father’s beloved face, and realized his father’s blue eyes were open and fixed on his own. King Pine had been watching his son for some time.
“Father, how do you feel?” Prince Columbine asked. He had put aside his worries to care for his father in the ways of the healing guild. “Your legs will be sore, but they are not broken. Your arm broke cleanly, and should heal well.”
“You are very skilled, my son.” King Pine seemed pensive. Healer Salvatore walked up behind the prince.
“Your son has a real gift, sire.”
“How are my architects?”
“They will all recover. Balistrode has a serious puncture wound, but I cleaned it and treated it with my pennywort salve. He will do well but he won’t be touring the walls anytime soon.”
“Why are you not at court?” King Pine asked his son. At that moment, Princess Starflower came rushing in with the court ministers and Farmer Wednesday close behind.
“Father, we heard about your fall. Are you okay?” The princess’s eyes gleamed with pooled tears.
“Your brother tells me that I will be fine,” King Pine managed a thin smile.
“Well, if that’s what he said, it must be true.” Princess Starflower’s smile was like the sun bursting from the clouds. “He is a much better healer than I am!”
“And your daughter is a much better judge!” Farmer Wednesday chimed in. “Sire, we are all so relieved you are well. I just want to tell you that your daughter is a marvel and should sit as judge more often!” With a sharp nod of her head, Farmer Wednesday marched away.
With time and because of his son’s care, King Pine returned to the strength of his namesake. He came to see that Prince Columbine’s place was among the healers and his daughter’s was among the lawgivers. None was prouder than he of his children.
Copyright 2013 Brenda Davis Harsham