"where's Tom?" cried Molly. She and Dad had hurried to the front to see who was there. The messenger turned out to be Peter's older sister, Tammy.
"He and Peter and a new boy went up the mountain to return a dog," answered Tammy. "They left a note at my house. It didn't say how far they planned to go. Just 'See you tonight!'"
"They went up the mountain? They know they're not supposed to go there. It's too dangerous!" Dad looked surprised and concerned.
"They know the Baron's people are hiding all over the mountain," said Mom.
"And there are mountain lions, rattle snakes...." added Tammy.
"They can't get far up the mountain and back again by this evening," said Dad. "I better go and look for them."
"My Dad would want to go with you," said Tammy, "but he left yesterday on a special errand for the King."
"Can I go with you, Dad?" begged Molly. "Please?"
"Wouldn't it be best to talk with the King first?" said Mom.
"Yes, it would," said Dad. "He'll show us what to do! Meanwhile Molly and I will get ready for whatever He tells us."
Molly, too, felt better after remembering the King. Nothing is impossible for him, she thought. He'll help us find Tom.
As soon as Tammy left, Dad and Molly began to pack sleeping bags and warm clothes. Mom packed them enough food for a couple of days. Then, after a hurried lunch, they all started out for the palace.
A royal escort greeted them at the gate. "Peace be with you, friends of the King," he said with a bow. "The King sent me to meet you."
"He did?" Dad sounded surprised. "Please take us to him, then."
"How did the King know we were coming?" whispered Molly.
"He knows everything," whispered Mom.
The escort motioned for them to follow. They went up the wide marble steps, through some big golden doors, through a large entry hall, through another set of huge doors, and finally into the largest and most beautiful room Molly had ever seen.
Large crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling and bathed the room in a soft light. They shone on beautiful golden furniture, spectacular plants, and high walls covered with paintings of men, women and children doing all sorts of exciting and dangerous things.
"Those are scenes from the King's great battles," whispered Dad. "You've heard about some of the King's special heroes--like David over there." Dad pointed across the room at a painting showing a shepherd boy saving a frightened little lamb from a lion.
"He really loved the King, didn't he?" Molly whispered back.
Dad nodded. "Some of the other heroes aren't famous at all," he continued. "But they trusted the King to give them victory in the middle of all kinds of difficulties."
Molly glanced at a painting of a girl climbing down a cliff to save a little child. She wished she could be one of those secret friends of the King. One that He would remember always....
But right now they must find Tom. Suddenly Molly saw the King sitting on a magnificent golden throne at the other end of the room. He motioned for them to come closer.
As they walked toward the King, Molly couldn't take her eyes off him. Here, He seemed more wonderful than ever. So majestic, so great--yet so kind. His hair was as snowy white as the coat he was wearing. Yet, his skin was firm and smooth, without a wrinkle. His brown eyes sparkled with love. How could he be both old and young at the same time? she wondered.
And how could such an important King be so good to them? When they reached the throne, all three fell down on their knees before Him. The King's greatness made them feel both small and special at the same time. All kinds of feelings flowed together into one big happy one.
"Dear King, I love you!" whispered Molly over and over. She couldn't think of anything else to say. He was so wonderful!
"Welcome, dear friends." The King smiled to them. "Please stand up and tell me what important matter brings you here today."
Suddenly Molly remembered how sad He looked when He passed her a few hours earlier. "Dear King," she whispered, "I'm so sorry I made you sad this morning. Thank you for forgiving me. I don't ever want to make you sad again."
"Come to me," said the King gently, reaching out for Molly's hand. Before she knew it, He had lifted her up onto His lap and held her close. "Oh King, thank you," whispered Molly, feeling so safe in His arms.
Gently, the King put her back on the floor. Then He looked at Dad and said quietly, "You want to know what has happened to Tom."
"That's right," said Dad. "You see right into our hearts, don't you?"
"My Father and I see everything that happens to our people," said the King. His voice sounded more serious now. "This is a difficult time for all of you. Until this week, you have only known the peace and safety of our Kingdom." He looked at Molly. "It is hard, especially for the children, to understand what this war is all about."
Molly nodded. He could even read her heart and mind.
"Dear King, what should we do about Tom?" asked Dad.
"Go find him. He will need your help."
"How will we know the way?"
"I will lead you."
"Are you going with us, dear King?" Molly was surprised and excited.
"Molly, even though I stay here, my Spirit always goes with you. I watch you all the time."
"But, how can we hear you when you'll be far away?"
"I will remind you of what I have already told you--the things written in the Book of Truth. I will speak to you in a gentle, silent voice in your thoughts. Sometimes there won't even be words--just a sense of rightness that tells you that you are following my way."
"What if we don't hear? What if we choose in the wrong direction?"
"Then you will feel uneasy--as if you are separated from me, just as you felt this morning, Molly."
"O thank you, King!" Molly was sure they would find Tom soon.
"Is there anything else we need to know before we start out?" asked Dad.
"Don't forget to put on the armor each day," said the King. "Let it remind you of all the truths you need to know each day."
"We will remember," said Dad.
"Come here so I can bless you." The King laid one hand on Dad's dark hair and the other on Molly's brown curls. Then He promised to protect them on their journey.
The escort, who had been waiting until now, came forward. Dad, Mom and Molly thanked the King again, then followed the escort outside. When they reached the gate, Mom kissed them good-bye and went home to pray for them all. Dad and Molly headed north toward the mountain.
Go to Chapter 9