"Do you hear horses?" asked Dad. Molly looked back.
"Yes. And there they are!" Now they could all see the man on horseback. He was leading two saddled horses. When he reached Dad, Molly and Star, he dismounted and greeted them with a friendly smile.
"Hello. I'm Tor. Where are you going?"
"To the river," answered Dad cautiously.
"So am I. Would you like a ride? Your girls look like they could use a lift."
Dad looked at the two girls.
"Please, Dad!" Molly had always wanted to ride a horse. Besides, this man looked so friendly.
Dad hesitated a moment--then asked. "How do you get across the river?"
"You take the ferry, of course. It'll be leaving soon. If you're going to catch it, you'd better ride with me."
"All right. We accept your kind offer." Dad introduced his little group.
Tor smiled. "The girls can ride this one together," he said, pointing to a light brown horse--the one Molly liked best.
"Have you ridden a horse before?"
"No," answered Molly.
"I haven't either," added Star.
"We don't have time for a lesson right now, so just hold on tight and let the horse lead you. Okay?" Tor lifted the two girls into the saddle--Star behind Molly--and fastened the loose reigns to the saddle.
"This horse knows the way," he assured them. Then he handed the reigns of the gray mare to Dad, and the two men mounted their horses and continued down the trail.
Star put her arms around Molly's waist and squeezed tight. When they started moving, Molly clutched the saddle horn with both hands. Tor was right! The horse knew what to do without her help. It just followed the other two.
Suddenly the forest cleared and they could see the river. Crowds of people were lining the river bank. The ferry must have just arrived, for men, women and children were still getting off. Were they all headed for the Kingdom?
Tor and Dad led their horses to a shed near the river bank and dismounted. They handed the reigns to a tall man who seemed to be waiting. Molly couldn't hear what he was saying to Tor, but he seemed angry.
Tor turned to Star and Molly. "Let me help you down," he said quietly.
As he lifted Molly, she noticed a strange symbol he wore on a chain around his neck. It had the head of a bear in the center, and four lines divided the rest of the circle into four quarters. What does it mean? she wondered. Tor couldn't be one of the Baron's people, could he? He's so nice! Later she would ask Dad.
Meanwhile, she could at least review the parts of the armor. She rehearsed each one in her mind:
* Truth: The King was stronger than anyone from Lucidia. He knew what to do.
* Righteousness: His goodness was in her. He would help her follow His perfect plan.
* Peace: With the King on her side, she didn't need to be afraid.
* Faith: She would trust the King no matter what!
* Salvation: The King who had made her part of His Kingdom would surely take care of her today.
* The Sword which is Truth: "Don't be afraid, for I am with you always."
"Well, I'll be heading back up the mountain," said Tor. He wasn't smiling any more.
"We appreciate your help," said Dad.
"Yes, thank you," said Molly. She sensed he was in some kind of trouble and wished she could cheer him up.
As the three walked down to the pier, the people from Lucidia stared at them. Some looked angry, others seemed curious. Some smiled to them. Molly smiled back. "Please King, help them to know you," she whispered.
"Let's keep trusting the King to get us across," said Dad. "Here we go."
As soon as they started up the steps to the boat, a big man in a black uniform jumped down from the upper deck and blocked their way.
"Where do you think you're going?" he thundered.
"We're crossing the river on this boat." said Dad quietly.
"Oh no, you're not!" shouted the man.
"Yes, we are. We come in the name of the King, and you can't stop us," said Dad.
The officer looked confused. He muttered something Molly couldn't understand and climbed back up the ladder to start the boat.
"Wow!" said Star. "When you mention the King, they don't dare pick on you."
"That's right," said Dad. "Even though they belong to the Baron, they know which ruler is the strongest."
Star was watching the people on shore. Suddenly she called out, "I see Tor. He's getting on the boat."
"Dad, Tor's coming with us," said Molly.
Moments later, Tor stepped onto the deck. But instead of joining the small group from the Kingdom, he went straight up to the captain's bridge.
"I wonder why he came." said Molly.
"His plans must have changed," suggested Star.
"Maybe they were changed for him," said Dad. He looked serious. And when Molly told him about the bear symbol, the furrows on his forehead deepened.
As the boat chugged its way across the river, Molly had time to look around. The deck seemed deserted. Was the boat empty except for the three of them, Tor, and mean officer? It must have been full going the other way.
Just then Molly's empty stomach began to growl and Dad pulled out three apples and a bag of nuts. They had barely finished their feast, when the boat slid up against the side of the dock in Lucidia.
The sky looked black, and the gentle breeze had turned into an icy blizzard. Molly pulled Tom's pancho tight around herself and huddled close to Dad.
Go to Chapter 19