THE COMING OF THE KING
Laura E. Richards, in "The Golden Windows,"
by permission of the author and Little, Brown & Co.
SOME children were at play in their playground one day
when a herald rode through the town blowing a trumpet
and crying aloud: "The King! The King
 passes by
this road to-day. Make ready for the King!"
The children stopped their play and looked at one
"Did you hear that?" they said. "The King is coming.
He may look over the wall and see our playground—who
knows? We must put it in order."
The playground was sadly dirty, and in the corners were
scraps of paper and broken toys, for these were
careless children. But now one brought a hoe, and
another a rake, and a third ran to fetch the
wheelbarrow from behind the garden gate. They labored
hard till, at length, all was clean and tidy.
"Now it is clean," they said; "but we must make it
pretty, too, for kings are used to fine things; maybe
he would not notice mere cleanness, for he may have it
all the time."
Then one brought sweet rushes and strewed them on the
ground; and others brought garlands of oak leaves and
pine tassels, and hung them on the walls; and the
littlest one pulled marigold buds and threw them all
about the playground—"to look like gold," he said.
When all was done, the playground was so beautiful that
the children stood and looked at it, and clapped their
hands with pleasure.
"Let us keep it always like this," said the littlest
one; and the others cried: "Yes, yes; that is what we
They waited all day for the coming of the King, but he
never came; only, toward sunset, a man with travel-worn
clothes and a kind, tired face passed along the road
and stopped to look over the wall.
"What a pleasant place!" said the man. "May I come in
and rest, dear children?"
 The children brought him in gladly and set him on
the seat that they had made out of an old cask. They
had covered it with the old red cloak, to make it look
like a throne; and it made a very good one.
"It is our playground," they said. "We made it pretty
for the King, but he never came, and now we mean to
keep it so for ourselves."
"That is good!" said the man.
"Because we think pretty and clean nicer than ugly and
dirty," said another.
"That is better!" said the man.
"And for tired people to rest in," said the littlest
"That is best of all!" said the man.
He sat and rested, and looked at the children with such
kind eyes that they came about him and told him all
they knew: about the five puppies in the barn, and the
thrush's nest with four blue eggs, and the seashore,
where the gold shells grew; and the man nodded and
understood it all.
By and by he asked for a cup of water and they brought
it to him in the best cup, with the gold sprigs on it;
then he thanked the children and arose and went on his
way, but before he went he laid his hand on their heads
for a moment, and the touch went warm to their hearts.
The children stood by the wall and watched the man as
he went slowly along. The sun was setting and the
light fell in long, slanting rays across the road.
"He looks so tired," said one of the children.
"But he was so kind," said another.
"See," said the littlest one, "how the sun shines on
his hair! It looks like a crown of gold."