The Shepherdess and the Prince

Ruin

Jonas walked up a hill behind the soccer field where his parents were watching his brother’s game. Being only six on his next birthday, he was not allowed to play.

Jonas pushed through thick bushes, stumbled and fell. When he got up, he felt as though the world had tilted and then righted itself. He shook his head, and opened his eyes. His vision blurred then sharpened. A strong, salty wind brushed his hair back from his forehead. He could hear surf in the distance.

Before him was a stone ruin, and he walked around it. He walked inside, and admired the thick walls. He had never seen any ruins near the soccer fields before. A tall window was set in a partially standing wall. He looked through, and as far as his eye could see stretched rolling hills and bright blue skies. He stepped through, and the air shimmered.

doorway

Birds circled in the gusts of wind blowing over the hills. Everywhere his eye looked, he saw very hairy sheep. Behind him, he could see only the ruin, and could not hear the sounds of the soccer game any more.

Sheep

He walked up and down three hills. The sheep followed him. Whenever he looked at them, they looked away, but they continued to follow him.

As he crested the third hill, he heard a woman’s voice and a man’s voice, raised in an argument.

“You were supposed to watch the sheep, Elspeth! Now they are spread all over the countryside. I need them for the shearing.” A man with wispy brown hair was looking down his nose at a pretty woman, with a wide red skirt who was looking angrily back.

“I have looked after your sheep, Prince Rowan! Count them, and you will see they are all still here.”

“How can I count them when they are scattered to the four winds?” The prince asked. By this time, all the sheep had gathered behind Jonas. The prince looked around, and turned to stare at Jonas and the sheep. Elspeth clapped her hands, and ran over to Jonas.

Sheep Rainbow

“You clever boy, how did you get them all to come to you? I am a shepherdess, but I don’t have the magic to make the sheep come to me and neither does Prince Rowan.”

“I don’t quite know,” Jonas admitted. “They just came.”

“Very wise! That is the best way. Come with us then.” Jonas followed them into the next valley, and the sheep came too. “Walk them into that paddock,” the prince called. The sheep followed Jonas right into the paddock. Jonas climbed the fence on the other side and circled back. “You’re hired!” Prince Rowan declared.

Elspeth gave Jonas some fresh milk and cheese. He sat on a fence munching and sipping from a horn cup.

“I have to go back to my family,” Jonas said sadly, after a brief struggle with himself about how lovely it would be to work in the sunshine walking the hillsides with sheep following him. He wondered if his family would miss him, and he quite liked the idea. Elspeth walked over to Prince Rowan who was putting on a large leather apron.

“That’s right! After I have worked for you for three years, this boy comes along, and it’s out with Elspeth, and in with a young boy! That’s gratitude for you!” Elspeth declared, huffing. “I will see this boy home while you oversee the shearing.”

The prince eyes twinkled at Elspeth, but he disappeared into the shearing shed without a word. The clicking of shears were soon heard and dirty, gray hairs rose on the breeze.

Elspeth had a nice smile. She chatted gaily about sheep, wolves, spinning and Prince Rowan’s nasty disposition the whole way up and down three hillsides. She looked dubiously at the ruin. “You live in there?” Jonas nodded and pointed at the window.

“I live just through there.” He started climbing through.

“Well, I’m going then,” she said and off she ran, lightly down the hill. Jonas never saw her, the sheep or the prince again. But he found his family on the other side of the bushes, after the world tilted and righted. That made Jonas smile, even though his family hadn’t even noticed he was gone. He dreamed of sunshine and sheep forever afterwards.

Copyright 2013 Brenda Davis Harsham

Click on this picture for a free coloring page:

Sheep on Raasay

(Note: photographs were takes on the magical Isle of Raasay, Scotland in 1997; the distant isle in the last picture is Skye.)

50 thoughts on “The Shepherdess and the Prince

  1. Good heavens, this is so sweet and tender, Brenda! Had me smiling and smiling. Of course, it will be hard for Jonas to forget the encounter.

    Thank you for stopping by my corner of the Web. Yours is worth the while and I’ll be following from now on.

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  2. okay add me to the donate button! I am going too!
    I would love wandering in Scotland with you and your writings!
    so much fun..I wanted him to stay or at least go back..
    maybe a part 2 could be worked out, after all it is magick!
    This was wonderful Brenda, I am headed to bed with your photos and words dancing in
    my head….
    Thank you what a treat!
    Take Care…You Matter…
    )0(
    me

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      • YES….!!! shall we plan for Spring, I am so there with you Brenda…
        now you have me thinking…even if it is just a small group?
        Hope you are having a great Sunday!
        Take Care…
        )0(
        maryrose

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  3. Aahh – that was lovely! I’ve always loved the idea of entering a parallel universe, and going through an old window to get to one is a great idea. I’ll let you know if I find one! 😉

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      • He’s a great author and his book “The Graveyard Book” is yet another interesting one. Here’s my review after I read it last year: “The happenings of a child placed in the setting of a graveyard created through the eyes of the author is a good read. It captured my attention from the beginning to the end. And, one of the things I found the most interesting came at the end of the book in the acknowledgements when he said that the inspiration for this book happened when his son was only two years old and then, it took him twenty-something years to write it.”

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  4. Pingback: Simon & Sonya | Mind of Mine
  5. I liked this a lot! I imagine with your boys gallivanting around there is one who is a wanderer! I hope that he loved this, as all your children will. I liked the fact you had these photos from your own trip. Wonderful inspiration. I liked the two who will come again in your future tale someday. Jonas is a bright lad, the couple “cute” in their disagreement and twinkling eyes that reflected kindness.

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  6. This is lovely! I don’t know of many who can resist imagining gray stone ruins of a castle or abbey in the mist – they call to us from someplace buried deep. You answered, and I hope you revisit so that we can all climb through the ruins again…

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  7. Sometimes in the fall when the dusk is full of mist…and the deer quietly pander through the wood and into the neighbor hood yards to get to the creek…Perhaps that is when the world is most ‘righted’. Nice tale. While on vacation we stopped at a place where the docent was spinnning yarn from a sheep that was the (several perhaps) great grand-daughter of the first sheep brought to the area near Ocean City, Maryland. And on a display board she also had samples of natural dye.

    Cheers (she said sheepishly still trying to catch up on her e-mails…), Jules

    Oh please to revisit Elspeth and Prince Rowan! 🙂

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  8. I’m relieved he came back to his own time and place – I was worried he would be seduced into staying there – as we both know things just stranger if you don’t come back right away!
    Elephant

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