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THE COMING OF THE KING
OME children were at play in their play-ground 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 slopped their play, and looked at one another.
"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
Then one brought sweet rushes and strewed them on the
ground; and others made garlands of oak leaves and pine
tassels and hung them on the walls; and the littlest one
pulled marigold buds and threw them all abut 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 will do."
They waited all day for the coming of the
King, but he never came; only, towards 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 did not come, and now
we mean to keep it so for ourselves."
"That is good!" said the man.
"Because we think pretty and
clean is nicer than ugly and dirty!" said another.
"That is better!" said the man.
"And for tired people to rest in!" said the littlest one.
"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 shore where the gold
shells grew; and the man nodded and understood all about
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 rose 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 still shines on
his hair! it looks like a crown of gold."