Molly heard the doorbell ring even before she had dressed. Who'd be here so early in the morning? she wondered.
"Molly, someone is here to see you," called her dad.
Molly pulled on a blue jumper, fastened her sandals, and brushed her brown hair into a pony tail. Then she ran to the door.
A girl her own age stood at the doorstep. Molly recognized her at once. Just a few days ago she and Tom had watched her family move into the green house down the road.
"Hi, I am Lucy. Can you play with me?"
"Let me ask." Molly ran to the kitchen and told Mom and Dad about the visitor.
"Molly, you can go with Lucy as long as you promise to be at the palace for the reading at eight o'clock," said Dad. "I don't want you to miss the King's message."
"I know, Dad. I'll see you there. Maybe Lucy and I can go together."
The two girls ran to Lucy's house.
"My mom is making pancakes. Do you want to eat with us?" asked Lucy.
"I can't. I have to go to the palace and hear the reading. Then we'll all eat breakfast with the King. Do you want to come..."
"Do you have to be there every day?" interrupted Lucy with a frown.
"Yes," answered Molly. She was beginning to feel uncomfortable.
"Does your King make you go?"
"I don't think so," answered Molly. "We just always go."
"It won't matter if you miss just once. Your parents won't care. Wouldn't they want you to spend time with a new friend?"
Lucy sounded so sincere--and the pancakes smelled delicious. They made Molly feel very hungry. Suddenly she found herself sitting at the table and eating breakfast with her new friend. She had completely forgotten about the King--and her father's warning.
When Molly walked home later that morning, she didn't feel so good. She had had fun with Lucy, but... why did her stomach feel funny--as if she was afraid? She thought about her Dad. Did he know that she had skipped the reading? "Probably not," she told herself. But the unhappy feeling didn't go away.
Suddenly she heard the bells on the King's coach. She ran to the side of the road and hid behind a big tree.
"Why am I hiding?" said Molly out loud to herself. "I always love to see His beautiful horses. And my King and I always wave to each other... But today I don't feel like waving."
Molly felt so sad and lonely that she began to cry. She wanted to wave to the King but didn't dare. She just peeked out from behind the tree.
There He was, looking right at her. Her kind and wonderful King! He waved to her, but today He didn't smile. He looked sad. Almost as if He too were crying. Then He was gone.
Go to Chapter 3