The Kidnapping of the King
Once upon a time there was a great King. His name was King Edward I. He was much loved by all his subjects. If subjects could vote to decide their king, he is the one they would all choose. He thought first of the people. He was careful with the money they gave him in the form of taxes. He adored the people, and they adored him.
Edward's one big fault was his parenting. He loved his son Frederick so much that he just wanted him to be happy. He mistakenly thought that denying him nothing in life and caving to his every whim would make Frederick happy.
Unfortunately, all it made Frederick was selfish. And when the time came that King Edward I died and his only son, Frederick was crowned King, the kingdom wept. Stories of Frederick's nature and selfish ways were well known in the kingdom. The subjects feared that he would be a selfish, uncaring king. The kingdom was right. While Frederick was not an evil king, he thought of himself only. Whenever he spent too much money and the royal treasury was getting too low, he simply taxed the people more. The people mourned the loss of the great King Edward I even more.
Frederick's reign as king did not last long, however, as less than a year after his coronation, Frederick died suddenly, leaving his only heir Edward II to be crowned king. Edward II's mother had died in child birth and now, at the age of 3, Edward was orphaned, alone and King.
As there was no one to actually raise Edward, he was being allowed to grow up under the not so careful supervision of his father's advisors. No one ever told the little king "no". He was allowed to do anything, eat anything, say anything and mistreat anything and anyone in his path.
King Edward I had had a very close friend and trusted Royal Advisor named William. Though William had not been an advisor under Frederick, he had been allowed to remain living in the palace with his lovely wife, Maude.
Though William and his dear friend Edward I had shared a common vision of the kingdom, they had disagreed in only one area, how he had raised Frederick. William saw that Edward II was growing up to be exactly like his selfish father. William could not imagine the kingdom having to suffer at the hands of a second selfish king. The kingdom could not survive such a reign.
The decision was made. William must kidnap the king. He went to his wife, Maude, and told her of his plan. Maude was concerned. This was a dangerous idea.
"William, are you sure? What are you thinking? This is dangerous!"
"Maude," William answered in his low, gentle voice "It is the only way."
"Very well, then let's get to it," was Maude's only reply.
The two trusted member's of the palace household had no trouble leaving past the guards in the dark of night, with a bundle in their arms. They walked, and walked and walked. For four days they walked, keeping the whining child pacified with "Just a little further" until at last they arrived at the cabin that had been Maude's childhood home.
In short order they had stored the deserted cabin into a home for this small family.
At first, Edward was his normal spoiled little self. He would demand "Bring me duck!" at dinner time.
Maude would quietly place a plate of fish in front of him and say, gently but firmly, "We are having fish for dinner."
"I want DUCK!" Edward would demand.
"We are having fish," was Maude's soft reply. When he refused to eat it, William and Maude would eat his portion, to avoid wasting it, as there was no real refrigeration in those days.
The young king would go to bed hungry. He would awake in the morning demanding "Bring me EGGS!" When Maude would place the porridge in front of him, he would push it away demanding "I said EGGS!" William and Maude would eat his porridge.
When lunch came around, he would demand "Bring me Pork!" Maude would say, "We are having stew." And when he would refuse to eat it, William and Maude would eat his portion.
By dinner, this young king would be hungry. He would demand "Bring me duck!”
Maude would gently place the fish in front of him, and he would unhappily eat the fish. This cycle continued off and on for a few days. Eventually it gave way to conversations such as, "I would like eggs."
"That's nice, Edward, but we are having porridge."
Then slowly it became, "May I have eggs?" to which Maude would reply, "No, sweetheart, we are having porridge".
Until the day came that Edward, getting out of bed, said to Maude, "What's for breakfast today?" Maude replied in her usual sweet voice with "porridge, dear".
Edward responded with "That sounds very good, thank you."
Gradually, Edward began to grow to be a very good helper. He would help Maude cook and clean. When he got just a bit bigger, he began going hunting with William. He was a great hunter. He could catch a rabbit or squirrel by himself. He was the best fisherman of the two. He could out fish William any day.
As the young boy grew, he forgot about his years in the palace. He no longer remembered that he was a King. He was happy living with his parents, William and Maude in this little cabin in the woods.
But all too soon, the day came when William and Maude knew it was time to return this boy king to his palace home. They knew that by law, the royal advisors would not be able to declare a new king until the boy had been missing for 5 years and 6 months. That date would be in one month.
They sat Edward down to talk.
"Edward, what do you remember of life before we came to live in our little cabin here?" Maude gently asked the now 8 year old boy.
"Haven't we lived here always?" he asked, somewhat confused by the question.
"No, son. Think. What do you remember?"
Closing his eyes and thinking hard, he replied as if dreaming "I remember a really big house. And a lot of people. They were really big people! Parties, food, singing. Where was that, Mom?" Edward asked opening his eyes.
"Son," William answered, "That is the palace in which we lived before coming here."
"Palace? Why did we live in a palace?"
"William was once the closest advisor to a king and worthy king, the king of this whole kingdom," Maude replied.
"Dad! You were an advisor to a king! What happened to him?" The boy was excited, perched on the edge of his seat.
"Well, Edward, this king was also named Edward. King Edward I. He was a most wise and noble king." And with that, William described the heroics and many chivalrous deeds of Edward's namesake and grandfather. He told of glorious battles, of wise hearings held of disputes of his subjects, and in general of the king's love for his people and the people for their king.
"And when Edward I died, it was a sad occasion for the entire kingdom. It was even sadder when his son, the spoiled and selfish Frederick was coronated," Maude added.
William continued to tell the tale of how Frederick was a self, terrible king. How the people disliked him because his heart was only for himself, not for them. Then, he explained, Frederick suddenly died, leaving only a small child as his heir. A three year old boy, named Edward.
"Wow!" Edward exclaimed! "Did the evil king Frederick kick us out of the castle? What happened to the little boy? Who is king now?"
"Edward, it is important that you listen carefully to me. First, Frederick was not evil, just selfish. He didn't seek to hurt others, but only to make himself happy regardless of others. Second, you must be careful how you speak of King Frederick. Selfish king or not, Frederick was the king, and more importantly, he was your father." William let that last piece of news sink in for a few moments.
"Uh, um, I mean, uh, what do you mean?"
"You remember that Maude and I told you that you could call us Mom and Dad but that we weren't your 'real' parents?"
"Oh, yeah, sort of."
"Well, when you were 3 and your father died, no one in the castle would ever tell you 'no'. You were being left to grow up with no parenting and you were becoming terribly selfish. You were becoming much like you father. As a friend of your grandfather and a loyal subject of the kingdom, I knew it was my duty to bring you here, to raise you and make you ready for your kingship. Now, we must return to claim your kingdom."
You can imagine that the boy was in shock. His whole life was being turned upside down and he didn't much care for it. He tried to convince William and Maude to let him stay, let someone else become king. But they insisted that he must claim that which was his due to birthright and was his obligation due to honor.
As they walked for 4 days, returning to the palace, William and Maude told him as much as they could to prepare him for palace life. When Edward insisted he had no idea how to be king, William would explain, again, that he would have trusted advisors to help him. When Edward insisted that William must be one of his advisors, all William would say was "That will not be possible."
Just before entering the view of the palace guards, Maude stopped and gave Edward one last hug and reminded him that she loved him very much. William embraced him and gave him a pep talk fit for a king. They continued walking until the guards caught sight of them.
Knowing at once who William was, the guards pointed their swords at him and whisked the young boy away. The next day or two were all a blur. Edward was quizzed and questioned about his "kidnapping". He was confused, scared and alone. He did not know what to do or to whom he could talk. All he knew was that when he asked for William or Maude he was told he could not see them.
On the second evening of his return, he saw a Paige boy in his chambers.
"What is your name?" he asked.
"My name, your highness? You just need call me 'Paige' and I'll come at once."
"Yes, yes, I know, you are prompt. But I would like to know your name."
"Henry, sir, my name is Henry."
"Henry, where are my par-- my friends William and Maude?"
"Why, in the dungeon of course!" He replied, not realizing that this information was being kept a secret from the young king.
"What!" the king shouted, incredulous.
"Well, sire, it is treason to kidnap the king. They must be placed in the dungeon until their execution at sunrise tomorrow." By the look on the young king's face, Henry the Paige boy realized he had made a grave error.
Immediately, Edward ran to the head of security. He demanded to be allowed to see his friends. The head of security refused. Edward ran past him, down the stairs to the dungeon and to the guard on duty. After demanding to be let in, he finally made his way into the damp, cold, dark, smelly dungeon to see his friends, his parents.
"William! Maude! They tell me you are to be executed at sunrise!" He could scarcely believe the words coming from his own mouth!
"Yes, dear one," Maude replied, in her usual gentle tone.
"Edward, it is only right that we be executed, son." William replied. "We willfully and knowingly committed high treason against the throne and kidnapped the king. This is the only just punishment."
"Kidnapped? You just raised me! Just! This isn't just! You mean you KNEW they would arrest and execute you when you returned with me?" The rage in his eyes softened and turned to sadness as he saw the only parents he ever knew nod slowly and sadly hang their heads, eyes downcast.
"There must be something I can do! I am the king!" He shouted!
"Edward, you will be a great king, worthy of the name of your grandfather. You will rule with justice and love, mercy and kindness. You will be great! But now, you are powerless. Your coronation is not set for a few days yet. You have no real ruling authority. If the royal advisors desire to execute us for our crime, it is well within their rights. Now, my son, please say your final farewells, and retire to your chambers. Prepare yourself for this next step in the story of you life. And if you remember us fondly, tell your grandchildren tales of your childhood with us."
Slowly, sadly Edward climbed the stone stairs to his chambers, his steps echoing the loneliness of his heart. He sat awake all night, wondering what could be done. When morning came and it was nearly time for the execution, he dressed still wondering what he would do, but certain there must be a way.
He made his way to the gallows, to the king’s box to await the event. The head of security pleaded with him to retire, but he stubbornly sat, waiting. When William and Maude were brought out, the crowd that had gathered to witness the gruesome affair became excited. This angered the young king, who finally knew what he needed to do.
The young king rose from his seat, hands raised to his people. The crowd instantly hushed and bowed, awaiting the words of their boy king. He looked around the crowd, seeing the hunger for revenge in their eyes. Slowly he spoke.
"Loyal subjects, dear friends and countrymen. We are here today to witness the death by hanging of these two vile kidnappers. These two people who once called themselves friend to the throne under my Grandfather King Edward I." A hushed murmur of "may he rest in peace" was heard being muttered by all the subjects who had so dearly loved the former king.
"William was one of Edwards most trusted advisors, a dear friend for his entire life. How did William choose to repay his kindness, his trust? By kidnapping his grandson and heir to the throne!"
This caused a great uproar within the crowd. Again Edward II raised his hands and the crowd grew calm. "Now, I say to you, what punishment is fit for these two traitors?"
"Death!" "Hang them!" "Execution!" came the cries from the crowd. William looked at Edward, perplexed. He could not understand what he was doing, but he trusted the boy he had raised. He again looked at the ground below him. As he looked at the ground, he heard these words:
"Before we continue, I must tell you a little of my time with these people." The head of security was growing weary and anxious, but the crowd was enraptured with this young king.
"While I was with them, they taught me to read write. They demanded I learn manners and chivalry. They taught me of the ways of the good King Edward I and of the ways of the King Frederick. They loved me. They cared for me. They helped me learn to think and make judgments. They taught me about God and His love for all of us and His plan for wise and kind kings. In short, these two 'villains' as you would have them labeled, taught me to be the king that our beloved Edward I was and saved me from the selfish ways I was being allowed to follow. They saved me from becoming like King Frederick, my father. They saved you from having another selfish, spoiled king. This one young enough to reign for 80 year, bankrupting and destroying the entire kingdom to satisfy his selfish whims." Looking around, Edward could see that the people were stunned at this sudden change. They didn't quite know what to think or do.
"You see, I owe William and Maude, my parents, a great debt of honor and a 'Thank you' that I can never fully proffer. I owe them my life, my whole being, my kingdom and my honor. And you, dear subjects, owe them a huge debt of gratitude. Therefore, I declare that before they can be hanged, each of you who turned out to watch their execution must first pass in from of the gallows and utter a 'Thank you' to this man and woman who, knowing death awaited them as payment for their troubles, saved this great kingdom by first saving its king from the ravages of spoiled, arrogant, selfish pride."
The crowd stood hushed. Unsure what they were truly expected to do. Edward watched, amazed. Then, catching movement out of the corner of his eye he turned and gasped, afraid of what he thought he was about to witness. Quick as a flash his head of security pulled his sword! Before any other guard could have stopped him, had they been willing to do so, his sword struck first he ropes holding Maude, then William, knocking them to the ground with the force of his sword.
Then, before anyone could comprehend what he had done, he moved to stand in front of his second in command. He handed his sword to the guard and said, "I will pay the price for their crime. Hang me as punishment for this brave deed they have done. I had not the courage to stop the cycle of selfishness I saw, I will pay for their crime."
The second in command looked stunned. Then, regaining his composure, he turned to the next in charge and handed over both his and his comrade’s swords. "No, I will pay for their crime. Hang me." And so down the line it went, each guard refused to hang anyone for this "crime", each offered his neck for the rope, to satisfy the decree of death.
When the last guard stood before the king, tears in his eyes, and knelt declaring, "Wise King Edward II, I am unworthy of such a command or such an honor but I would gladly pay the price for the courageous deed these great people have done. Consider me for the scapegoat, paying for their crime of loving their country."
With this, the King again turned to his people. "My loyal people. You see before you a group of men, willing to give their own lives for the establishment of a loving, generous reign as was known under my grandfather King Edward I. I ask now, if anyone here still feels that there must be a death to pay for the so called "crime" in question, that he or she step to the gallows and take the punishment for the kingdom's benefit." He stood, watching the crowd.
When it was clear that no one was intending to make an issue of the lack of an execution that fine morning, he declared, "Then, by royal decree, I offer a pardon to William and Maude, my parents. Further more I say, let's celebrate! I'm home!"
The kingdom rejoiced as they had not in many years. The royal advisors, who had the legal authority pending Edward II's coronation, officially issued his decree of pardon.
William and Maude lived as the King's parents in the castle. They both sat as his advisors, helping him to be the kind of king his grandfather would have been proud of. Edward II had three boys, all raised in the manner in which his real parents had raised him. They each had children and grandchildren and a long line of kings and queens reigned in the kingdom, showering the people in love and grace.