“ Grandpa! Please, please tell us a story,” the young children exclaimed.
They were seated in the lap of a man who had seen many, many years. His gnarled, rough hands were like the branches of an oak tree, and his hair was thick and full, and white as snow. His face was a harvest apple in January—wrinkled and browned, but sweet to the taste. He was old as the hills and yet his eyes…full of light and joy, tears and grief, brokenness made whole… they made this old trooper seem like an eager child on Christmas Eve! He gazed down at his grandchildren, Young Frederick on his right knee, sweet Caroline on his left.
“So!” he boomed. “‘Tis a story you be wanting, is it my sprites? Well then! ‘Tis a story you’ll be getting, only then you’ll have to run off to your beds! For tomorrow we celebrate HIS birthday, and GLORY what a celebration we’ll have, eh? Frederick, throw some more wood on that fire whilst Sweet Caroline and I scoot closer to it.”
Frederick jumped down to obey. The old man rose with his granddaughter under one arm like a kitten, and with a casual flick of his wrist he tossed his huge oaken chair about three feet closer to the fire, like it was made of twigs. He sat down, and Sweet Caroline squirmed up his chest and wormed her arms around his corded neck. “Grandpa,” she said with a solemn face, “Tell us about your journey. Tell us about Him.”
“Yeah!” Frederick chimed in excitedly as he launched himself upon his grandpa. “Tell us about when you were The Light King, and when you went to see Him when He came, and about Gillae and Brownie and—“
“Whoa, slow down my bumpkins,” interrupted the old man. “You’ve heard that story so many times it must be nearly worn out from the telling! Surely you’d rather hear about how your papa, the King, killed the ugly dragon, Ba’alzamon,
or about how he rescued the beautiful Princess Katherine
and made her his Queen and your mother?”
“NO GRANDPA!” they shouted in concert.
“Tomorrow ‘s the Day–—His day and it’s your day too, said Frederick.
“Yes, Grandpa,” said Sweet Caroline. “It’s my favorite story, to hear how you met Him and everything. Please, Grandpa, oh please?”
The old man sat looking back and forth between them as if caught deep in indecision. He glared at them in mock irritation while delight danced in his eyes. The children sat in suspense, hardly daring to breathe, hearts straining with desire to hear the magical story.
Sweet Caroling looked at Frederick, and had a giggling fit. Frederick shushed her with an agonized frown and the darkness of the night pressed in through the windows as they huddled close to the fire. The room was full of lamps, all of them unlit and dormant. The fire popped and crackled fiercely. The old man drew in a deep breath, held it, just to build the suspense and then exhaled in mock resignation and secret gladness.
“Oh very well you smooth talkers. The tale is yours for the telling.” Frederick let out a whoop and Sweet Caroline accompanied him with gleeful clapping. “I swear! You two could talk an elephant out of his trunk while making him feel he was the talk of the town for the bargain! Okay then—gather close and settle in, and you shall hear the telling of
THE HEALING OF THE LIGHT KING
He took a deep breath, and began…