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The King’s Servants

Rosie was seven now. Seven had seemed to be such a wonderful grown-up age—until Mommy had asked her to help Daniel and Irene clean the screened porch. Now the day was spoiled, for cleaning the porch wouldn’t be any fun at all! A bunch of flower pots were piled under the picnic table, and the table was stacked with dirty jars, paint cans, and Chad’s half-finished model airplane. The shelves were covered with spider webs, and boxes were everywhere.

“This is too hard to clean,” she complained to Daniel, who was poking around in a can of rusty nails. “It will take days and days to finish!”

Irene came in the back door and smiled at them. “Well, let’s try to make the best of it,” she said, as she set down a large box in the middle of the floor. “This can be for garbage, and there’s a wheelbarrow outside the door for things that go in the shed.” They both watched as their 13-year-old sister knelt down and began rummaging through a box.

“Come, Rosie,” Daniel said suddenly, getting to his feet. “We can pretend that… that this is a castle, and we have to clean it for the king.”

“Yes, let’s!” Irene agreed. “The king is gone, and we have to get it ready before he comes back.”

Daniel’s eyes sparkled with fun. “We are the servants, and a wicked enemy has messed everything up… and now we’ve finally gotten rid of him, but we have to hurry before the king gets back.” He snatched up the broom and poked it at Rosie. “I’m the Chief Guard and so you better get to work, miss!”

Rosie felt a small smile creep onto her face. Maybe this would be fun after all! She quickly picked up a jar and looked at its dusty bottom. “And we must remember,” she said, as most grown-up as she could, “that the king doesn’t like one speck of dirt!”

Irene laughed, and said, “I guess we’ll have to work hard then! Run Rosie, and see if Mommy—I mean the Chief Cook—wants all those jars clean.”

From that moment, they were no longer Rosie, Daniel, and Irene in a dirty screened porch, but busy servants in the castle of a king. And how fun it was! First, Irene, who was now Mistress Cleaner, set Rosie to work cleaning the “crystal goblets” (which were really jars), while she began cleaning off the shelves. The Chief Guard began sorting out the paint cans, tools, and other things that belonged in “the king’s store room” (or shed) and stacked them in the “horse cart” (wheelbarrow).

“Are there any more crystal goblets left?” Rosie asked as she wiped her hands on the red-checkered apron Mom had given her.

“Not a single one!” Irene called gaily from the step-ladder, after looking about the room.

“What would you like me to do now, Mistress Cleaner?” Rosie said sweetly, as she dipped low in a curtsy.

Irene smiled and pointed at a box full of dusty fabric. “Little Miss, these fine linens need to be shaken out in the court yard,” she said, waving her dust rag grandly.

Outside, the sun shown through the golden-brown maple leaves, which were beginning to cover the grass and driveway. As Rosie shook out the cloth, she could see Chad working on the new chicken house behind the shed.

“Chad! Chad, guess what!” she called, flapping a blue calico in the cool air. “Do you know what we’re doing? We are playing that we are cleaning a castle—but it’s really the porch, and we are the servants of a king, and we have to clean it real nice before he gets back, and everything!”

Chad waved and called back, “Well now, that’s a great idea! I guess I’ll be the king’s Chief Carpenter who has to build him a bedroom before he gets back!”

Rosie giggled. To think that a king would want to sleep in a hen-house! She quickly shook out the last few pieces of fabric and hauled the box back in. Rosie jumped when the door slammed loudly behind her, but it was only Daniel.

“Ha, ha!” he laughed. “Did you think the king was back already?” Then he looked around the room and grinned. “I guess if we hurry, we’ll get every speck of dirt out soon!”

Rosie looked around at their “castle.” The messy piles of boxes and cans were almost gone. It was surprising how much fun it had been to work when they had made it into a game. She clapped her hands together happily, “Won’t the king be glad when he comes back!”