The subject of the Kingdom worked hard keeping Great Park beautiful. Some were gardeners. Some were Foresters. Some were vinedressers. Some were experts on animal husbandry. Some were guides for strangers. Some were healers. But no matter how hard they worked, they loved to play. The game the children played best was seek-the-King….
“I saw the King!” exclaimed Amanda as she burst breathlessly into Mercie’s cottage. Two little red foxes came bounding through the door after her, one bumping to a halt on top of the other. “I saw the King on Sighting Day!” she repeated, proud of her success.
“How wonderful!” replied Mercie, who had just walked Man-Who-Sat-Like-Stone to a chair by a window where the sun shone in. Once seated, the man didn’t move. He didn’t turn his head. He didn’t say a word. Mercie said he must have experienced some awful grief in his life.
Hero’s little brother often crawled into the man’s lap and patted his cheek, but still he didn’t move. In a way, they were two of a kind. Little Child never said a word and the man never laughed. Often the two sat quietly together in the sunshine.
“Sighting Day means the King takes time to play,” Amanda said, turning to explain to Hero, who was still too cautious for the lively girl.
“The children try to find the King all over Great Park on Sighting Day,” Mercie explained further. “It is a huge game of seek-the-King. He appears in disguises, and once a child makes a sighting, he can go to the practice field where the King and the children play the rest of the afternoon. Why don’t you try to sight the King, Hero?
Hero shook his head no, so Amanda bounded out the door without him. She laughed as she ran, and the boy watched the foxes gamboling at her heels down the path toward Wildflower Woods.
It was no use. He would never “sight” the King. Every time someone had whispered, “There’s the King!” Hero had only seen a beggar or a woodcutter or a gardener. Never a King. [Chapter 8 – Sighting Day!]