THE YOUNG KING Part One: The Old King's Secret There was once an old King. He had no son to be King when he died. His people were very worried. "Who will be the next King?" they asked. But before the King died he revealed a secret: his only daughter, the Princess, had a child. In secret, she married an ordinary man and they had a son. Some people said her husband was an artist and some people said he was a musician. But his identity was a mystery and nobody knew about their secret son. When the baby was a week old some men took him while his mother was sleeping. The Princess died immediately. Some people said for sadness. Other people said someone gave her poison in a cup of wine. The men left the baby with a very poor family. This poor family lived in the forest and the boy became a shepherd. He looked after goats all day. The old King made an important decision: "The boy must be the new King when I die," he said. He sent his servants into the forest. "Find the boy and bring him here." The servants found the boy and brought him to the palace. When the boy arrived he was very happy. He immediately fell in love with all the beautiful things around him. He took off his old leather tunic and put on his fine new clothes. Then he began to explore the castle. He ran from room to room admiring all the beautiful statues, paintings and jewels in the palace. The people of the city talked about him: "The young King spends all his time admiring statues," they said. "Beauty and art are the most important things for him." In fact the young King was so fascinated with beautiful objects that he wanted more of them. He sent merchants to India to buy ivory and jade. He sent men to Persia for silk carpets, and others to find amber in the north. He sent servants to look for green turquoise in the magic tombs of the Egyptian kings.
The young King thought about all these things but most of all he thought about his coronation robe. He was sixteen and it was his coronation day the next day. He was very happy because he had a beautiful coronation robe of gold, a crown of rubies and a scepter of pearls. He ordered men to work night and day to prepare his coronation robes. "Search the whole world for the biggest rubies for my crown and the most beautiful pearl for my scepter," he said. The young King was in his beautiful bedroom and he was thinking about his coronation robes. It was night time and he looked around him. The room was full of silver and gold and beautiful colors. Through the window he could smell the perfume of jasmine, he could hear a nightingale singing and he could see the moon shining. Servants arrived and put flower petals on his pillow. He was very happy. Tomorrow was his coronation day. He played beautiful music on his lute and at midnight he closed his eyes and went to sleep. That night the young King had a dream.