Monday, June 17, 2013

The Sack Knight, part 4

Ignatius’ potato sack was caked with mud and his golden hair was streaked with dirt, but the little white flower shone clean and bright against his breast. Ignatius had been in such low spirits that he hadn’t realized how much he’d longed for a pretty thing to look at all this time. The little flower delighted him so much that he stopped thinking of it as an undeserved reward and started seeing it as a generous gift to be very grateful for. The creek had given it to him out of the goodness of its heart, when it just as easily could have given him nothing at all. For that, he was grateful.
            It was nearly dawn. Ignatius made his way back along the bank until he reached the spot where he’d first heard the weeping creek. The creek was silent now; its waters were all asleep and dreaming pretty dreams. Ignatius set himself down and said, “Thank you, creek, for your kind gift. It has brought me an unexpected joy.” Then he fell asleep and dreamt that he was holding the little white flower out for the king to see.
            When Ignatius awoke, the sun was at its highest point and the creek was laughing and babbling merrily. Ignatius blew it a kiss and set off on his way. His stomach ached and gurgled, and he toyed with the idea of returning to the palace to receive the good breakfasts he had always been given. But he decided against it; he knew the king would not be angry with him, but he didn’t think he could bear the scorn of his fellow knights or of the citizens he had deserted. A rumbling stomach was surely preferable to that!
            Ignatius’ luck prevailed, however, for somewhere along his way he discovered a beautiful wild cherry orchard. He let out a joyful cry and ate until he couldn’t anymore. Then he let himself rest under one of the lacey pink trees, feeling considerably healthier and in higher spirits than he had the night before. He was just thinking of how nice it would be if he could only find a nice, cool spring to take a drink from, when he heard an odd noise coming from behind the tree. It sounded like a cry, and it was so pained and mournful that it hurt Ignatius to listen to it; he was reminded of the cries of the child with a broken leg. He took a look behind the tree and found a poor little red squirrel, crying from the pain of a large bloody gash on its tail.
            “Who has done this to you?” Ignatius asked the squirrel.
            “It was the wolf,” the squirrel choked out weakly. “He…he growled and pawed at me until I was too frightened to move, and then he snapped up my tail in his horrible teeth. He’d been planning to eat all of me…but my senses returned and I escaped. I thought…I thought this might be a peaceful place to die…it is so beautiful…with all the white lacey blossoms…”
            Ignatius shook his head. “You shall not die,” he told the squirrel. He tore off strips of the potato sack and took the squirrel into his hands. He pinched the squirrel’s wound with his fingers before tightly bandaging it with the strips of potato sack. “Can you tell me where the nearest stream is?” he asked the squirrel.
            “Leave this orchard,” the squirrel told him, its strength beginning to return, “and walk straight down the slope of the hill…until you reach the end of it. Take a turn to the right, and keep walking…and you should come upon the stream.”
          Ignatius gently cradled the little squirrel in his arms and set off on his way.  

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