Once there was a wise and just king who ruled over a walled city. The wall was made of huge stones cut from a mountain. It was too high to see over and there were no windows and no one could climb it because it was so high. So the citizens of the city were safe inside, but they didn’t know what was outside the wall. There were stories that the world outside the wall was full of danger and people that were not like them. Most of the people were happy to stay inside the kingdom and let the king take care of them.
The king knew all about the outside world because he could see over the wall from his private tower. It was indeed full of enemies, traps, and tricks. The king had an army of loyal soldiers working for him outside the wall and when they rescued someone from danger, they would offer to catapult them over the wall to safety. The king’s servants would catch the person and carry them to the king where he would welcome them to his kingdom. Sometimes the people were afraid to get in the catapult even though they were in danger in the world. But those who trusted the king’s servants were flung over the wall where they found that the promises were true.
But, one day a brave young man who had been born in the kingdom to a woman who had been rescued from the world requested to speak to the king. The king welcomed him into his throne room and asked him what he could do for him.
“If you please, my king, I would like to go outside our beautiful city. “, said the young man.
The king replied, “Why do you want to go?”.
“Because, my king, I am very grateful for your kind and loving care for me, and I would like to go and tell others of your greatness and work for you.”
“That is very honorable, my boy”, said the king, “but if you go outside these walls you will face enemies and dangers that could cost you your very life.”
“My lord, I trust that even outside these walls, you will protect me for I have heard that you have armies and spies at your service. I want to join your army. ”
“But have you met these armies or spies yourself?”, asked the king.
“No , but I will put my faith in you alone.”, he said, trying to stand very tall.
“My son, I will grant you your desire to go and serve me. But there is only one way out of the city. You must climb into the catapult and be flung out into the world.”
“But will I be killed by the catapult?”, asked the young man with a tremble in his voice.
The king looked into his eyes. “My son, if you are willing to climb into the catapult to serve me, I will make sure that you arrive safely. And I will give you a guide to assist you in your journey.”
The young man considered the possible risks and how his king had never lied to him and the promise that he would have a guide going with me.
“Yes! I trust you. Lead me to the catapult.”
“But, son, what do your friends say? Are they going with you?”, asked the king.
“No, my king, they want to stay here where it is safe and they tell me that I am foolish to believe the stories of your armies and protection outside the wall. They say I should remain and enjoy the comforts of your kingdom.”
The king smiled. “But you believe the stories. Who told you about the world outside the wall?”
The young man reached into his pocket and pulled out a book. “My lord, my mother taught me about you from this old book. It tells about the great things you have done. It tells that you own the whole world and that even outside these walls, you have the authority to protect your subjects if we honor you.”
The king was very pleased that the boy had studied and believed and remembered the stories about him. They were all true, but not many people read the book anymore. It had been put aside for tales of vanity and fantasy and studying about the king had been replaced with entertainment.
The king stood and reached out with the scepter in his hand and touched it to the young man’s shoulder.
“My son, today I send you out into the world. You will never be alone as long as you remember why you are there, to honor and serve me. Remember what you know about me. Go in peace.”
“But where is the catapult, my lord?” He had never seen it before.
“Look to the right. You will find a door. Go through that door.”
The young man had not seen this door until now. It must have been hidden from his sight by his fears.
“Thank you and all honor and glory to you, my king.” he said as bowed. And then he stood and began to walk to the door.
“Go in peace.” the king said softly.
Through the door the young man found a garden where he saw a very old and dusty catapult beside the wall. The wall was so high he could barely see the sky. There was a servant standing next to the catapult holding the rope. The servant smiled at him.
“When you are ready, you may step into the bucket. Then, say “ready”, and I will send you over the wall to your destination.”
The young man hesitated for a second as he thought of his family and life here inside the wall. He knew in his heart that his king was worth giving up everything. Climbing into the bucket, he felt no regrets. If I die, I die for my king, he thought.
“Thank you, sir, I am ready.”
Seconds later the servant let go of the rope and beheld the glorious sight of the young man flying over the wall into the great unknown.
He looked back at the king who had been standing in the shadows watching.
“Another soldier joins your army, oh king, hallelujah!”
The king’s heart was full of joy that the young man had chosen to serve him, but he shed a tear as he replied, “Yes, and he will die in the battle because the world outside is growing more violent and they will hate him because he came out of my kingdom. But I will never leave him alone. And he will return to my kingdom to reign with me because he loved me more than his own life.”
“Amen, lord. May it be so. But tell me, how did the young man’s mother come to have the book about you? I thought they had all been lost.”
“I wrote another copy and I gave it to her. I have been waiting for this boy.”, said the king.
THE END By Paula Adams