Chapter 3: In Which the Adventure Begins, or Doesn’t, it All Depends on You

Since that walk, Madison hadn’t stopped thinking about the things her uncle  had  said. And  although  Madison  knew  that  her  uncle  would  not approve of her disregarding her studies, she knew  she must escape. Her wrists were sore, and the sun was shining, and there were so many things to do that were more exciting than parade tutorials. So, after a light lunch on the palace lawn, Madison fled from  her tutors. Her heart pounded as she slipped silently into a rarely used palace door and down the hall away from her teachers.

(Now, as we all know, a young girl reading this story would never do such a thing. But, I would hope, a young girl reading this story would not be forced to attend a school where all she learned was how to smile and wave. So I feel quite comfortable telling the remainder of this story, knowing that any reader will not get grave and frightening ideas in her head.)

The  Princess  successfully  escaped  her  caretakers,  but  she  soon discovered they were looking everywhere for her. When she arrived at the library to get a book, they were already there,  their  foreheads wrinkled in worry and anger as they searched under every desk and in every corner. Madison knew she couldn’t hide away in there today.

Madison snuck away from the library and decided to take a walk in the valley. But as she peeked hopefully out a palace window, the sky turned dark and menacing. Within seconds, it began to rain. It was far too wet for a walk, and knowing that this is the kind of story where it can be sunny and fine for lunch on the lawn one minute, then stormy and gloomy the next, we both  know  that  it  will  be   wet  for  some  time.  Madison  was  quite disappointed, and had forgotten entirely that she was a fugitive from justice, a phrase which means here that she was supposed to be hiding from dull adults, and exercising her imagination without getting caught.

Bookless and bored, Madison Jayne went to see her father in his office, deep inside the  maze of the castle, a maze which she knew very well—fortunately, even better than her teachers.

“Daddy,” she said as she entered the room. The King looked up from his work and replaced the quill pen back in the ink pot. Four servants were lined along one wall, waiting for the King to command something. He loved commanding  things,  and  they  spent  all  day  waiting  for  one  of  those commands. Sir Sting, the court musician, was plucking away at his lyre, a kind of stringed instrument like a guitar. A lyre is also rather like a zither, but almost no one plays a zither, so there is no point even mentioning it.

Everybody  stopped  what  they  were  doing,  or  waiting  to  do,  and looked at Madison Jayne.

“How’s my princess?” The king said, smiling—not his kingly smile, but his fatherly smile. “Aren’t you supposed to be in school?”

“Well, I couldn’t be here in your office if I was in school, could I?” Madison answered. Now, you and I will recognize this answer as a kind of lie—not a real lie, exactly, but a “kinda, sorta lie” that was pretty far from the truth—not the kind of thing either of us would ever say. But for Madison Jayne, she felt like it was a clever answer. If her father was not too busy, he would question her further, and she would probably get in trouble. But if he was distracted with work, he would smile fondly at her and give her a kiss on the forehead.

The king smiled fondly at his daughter, and got off his throne to give her a kiss on the forehead. Madison smiled to herself and looked around the room. The servants gave her a wink; they were quite bored, but very glad she had escaped her own boring fate. Sir Sting did not wink, but smiled mischievously and began to play very mysterious music that made her feel funny in her stomach, and a little bit frightened.

“What can I do for the greatest Princess of all the land?” the King asked. Madison was the only Princess in the land, but she always felt special when her father said things like that. Her father loved her, and would indulge her almost anything. The word “indulge” means…well, if you have a parent sitting  down with you reading this story when there are dishes to do and floors to sweep and a little brother to take care of, you know what the word “indulge” means.

“I’m bored Daddy,” she said. “And the library is….” Madison almost told her father what was  going on, but realized that would end her entire adventure.  She  corrected  herself.  “They  must  be  fixing  the  library  or something. Do you have any good books?”

“Books, eh?” the King responded, scratching his head, accidentally knocking his big crown to the ground. Four servants jumped to catch it, and fell over one another. Madison giggled at the sight.

“Well,” he continued, after his crown had been properly placed upon his kingly head. “I don’t usually have any books in the office, but I do have this old book here. I have never read it, and I don’t really know where it came  from,  but  I’m  sure  it’s  fine  for  you  to  read.”  Instead  of  books, Madison’s father preferred  musical theatre where adults dance around in tight paints and bright costumes. He handed her the tattered black book. The title was worn off, and it smelled like pavement just as the rain begins to fall. Madison, shrugged her shoulders, thanked her father, winked at the servants, and headed to an empty room to read.

Fortunately, castles are filled with empty rooms, and Madison pulled a dusty blanket off of an old  couch in a room that must have once been a bedroom. She sat down, placed the book on the couch and opened it, ready for a long afternoon of reading.

There was nothing written on the first page, which is often the case. So she turned the page. Where the title of a book and the author is usually written, the page was blank. She turned another page, and then another. It seemed all of the pages were blank. Madison, quite frustrated, rolled her eyes and picked up the book in both hands. She bent the pages and scrolled through them.

The book was entirely blank.

What kind of book doesn’t have words? Madison thought to herself. She sat and stared at the empty book, as the rain fell on the window outside. A beautiful afternoon of reading was ruined.

On a whim, Madison picked up the book and leafed through it again. Although the pages were blank, something caught her eye. She went through the book once again, slowly, looking for what she  might have seen. Just

when she was about to give up, she found what she was looking for.

On a single page, about halfway through the book, there was written a single paragraph:

Dear Princess Madison,

If you are reading this note, it means you have found this book. Otherwise, you would have no idea this note existed, and I would be writing to no one in particular, which would be very disappointing, don’t you think?

The world you live in is full of ideas and imagination. The life before you can be one of adventure and wonder, or one of hand waving and sweet smiles. If you would like the life of adventure and imagination, I would encourage you to look inside a book that has been secretly hidden behind your books, on your white bookshelf, within your bedroom. It is a brown book about a Duchess, which is like a Duke, but a girl.

I have two words of serious warning. The first warning is that the book about the Duchess is terrifically boring and unimaginative, and if you fall into the temptation of trying to read it, your brain may melt entirely. I have no scientific proof of this, but I give you the warning nonetheless. You should, however, look inside the book.

The second warning is that if you do choose to look inside the book, your life may change forever. Changes may be good, but every adventure in search of gold has its dragons or giants, so there may be difficulties ahead.

So, Little One, what will you choose?

Yours Truly and Mysteriously

A Friend With a Scraggly Beard

Well, what are you waiting for? Go look in the bookshelf. Seriously. Go. Find the book.

Published in: on June 22, 2010 at 4:32 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I really enjoy this tale… I just need more time to read more.
    However, I was wpmdering if you meant for ” adults dance around in tight paints and bright costumes” tp read this way, or if it should read “tight pants.” Madison is one lucky princess to have an uncle like she does 🙂

    • sorry, my keyboard was being wonky. *wondering… *to read

    • I just have to find the time to finish! Classic, I got caught on plot.
      I did mean the “tight pants” thing at the time, but could do it better now, focussing on how best mock Frozen type things instead of Broadway. 😉

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