Poppyseed and Sunflower
Author: Inventunus

Chapter 5
The Adventure Begins

    Everyone slept in late, they were all so tired. After breakfast, the two girls were invited to meet with the monkeys and their parents for a very important time together. The girls wondered what it was all about.

   "Poppyseed and Sunflower," their father Mark began, "inside the tunnel we found some pictures of you and Charlie leaving Safeland on a rescue mission to find George."  The girls looked at each other in surprise and excitedly smiled.  Their father continued, "We've decided you can go if you want."

   Before he could say anything else, Poppyseed jumped in with, "Oh yes, father, we'd love to go and find George, wouldn't we, Sunflower?"

   "Yes, we would," Sunflower added. "Charlie will be our very special guide and guard us well."

   "Yes, we know he will," Mark continued. "The King has promised to protect you so if there is any danger just call out his name (Adonai, El Shaddai) and we're certain all will turn out well. We will be remembering you every day. The King will give us pictures inside the throne room to show us where you are and how you are faring. Don't forget all the things we've taught you, such as finding your direction day and night.. We’ll look forward to your returning safely with George and to hearing of your adventures. Now if  you're quite certain you still want to go, we'll pack a backpack each and you can get started."

      Of course nothing could change their minds now. After a hefty lunch, both families set out for the rock door and after a good many farewells, a few tears, lots of hugs (and a few giggles!), the trio began their journey as the door opened, then closed behind them.

      Charlie paced out the one hundred steps because they decided to have a look at the pictures themselves. "Adonai, El Shaddai," Charlie called out. The door opened and in they went. Their eyes lit up as the girls raced around to find the pictures of themselves. There was picture six of them leaving Safeland, farewelling their parents and... now a seventh picture! Picture seven showed them following the stream down from the waterfall to an opening under the Great Wall.

      Charlie spoke first. "It seems we're off to Southlands, my friends. I wonder why? It's the opposite direction I was intending to go. Fancy there being a hole under the wall - but of course the river would have to go somewhere!"

       "It's a pity we can't stay here until all the pictures arrive so we know the whole story, " said Poppyseed.

       "Hee hee," Charlie giggled. “I don't think they will appear until we've left here. I think we'll be told a little bit at a time and then we must use our wisdom after that. Don't worry. The King will have a way of telling us where to go and what to do from here on."

     With that bit of monkey advice, they set off once more out into the hallway, down the red carpeted passage to the exit, through the dusty cave to the waterfall.

      "Now the fun starts," said Charlie. "Take a deep breath, dive through the water and I'll meet you in the pool on the other side." With that he dived and disappeared from sight. Sunflower was a bit hesitant but when Poppyseed dived through, not wanting to be left behind, through she went too.

      The water in the pool was warm and the girls enjoyed being out of the cave. They looked about but for the moment all they could see was water clouding their eyes, not helped by Charlie splashing the girls in fun. Being quite shallow and able to stand,  Poppyseed splashed Charlie back. Charlie had played this game countless times with Gina and he brought down his big arm with great force sending a huge shower of water back over both girls.

     They spluttered and laughed and decided to grab Charlie and dunk him under the water. So they rushed at him - but monkeys are fast and, jumping aside, both girls fell into the water. He giggled and giggled and laughed and laughed. In fact he couldn't stop laughing so this time the girls were able to grab him and all three fell in with a great splash.

     After much fun in the water, Charlie said, "Come on you two, let's explore this stream." They were glad to have waterproof backpacks and the warm sun soon dried their dripping clothes. The girls noticed that the trees were far fewer outside Safeland and rolling hills obscured a distant view. After the initial excitement of their new surroundings, Sunflower realised that the trees were not as green as those at home, nor the flowers as pretty. Their father had been right about the saying that the "grass looks greener on the other side."  She quickly came to appreciate the beauty and blessings of her home.

     They followed the river some distance and it was Charlie who spotted the hole in the wall first, since he was in the lead. "There!" he pointed with his huge hairy finger.

     "But we'll have to get wet again, Charlie," Sunflower said with a little disappointment. She liked to look pretty . "Just when our clothes have dried out."

     Poppyseed needed no further encouragement. In she jumped with a splash, wading beneath the Great Wall which towered overhead. Sunflower looked longingly for another way through but, remembering the cave picture, shrugged her shoulders and strode through too, followed by Charlie.

     On the other side, they found themselves in a wooded area. Not large trees but quite dense bush.

     "Here's a path," Charlie said. “We’ll follow the stream downhill until we come to more directions."  Climbing out of the stream, they sloshed their way along the path until the stream joined a bigger river. Beside this junction was a huge old oak tree.

      "What's that in the hollow of the oak tree?" Poppyseed asked observantly. She ran ahead and found a sign with gold lettering.

                                                           

      It read: ' King's travellers heading west turn off here for Westland. Heading south stay with this river and take lodgings at Prince Inn at Table Mountain.'

      "That's a funny place for a sign," Sunflower remarked. "No-one would see it hidden away at the back of this tree. If we hadn't come up this small path we'd have missed it altogether!"

      "Perhaps that's why it was hidden," Charlie suggested. "Perhaps it's only for the King's messengers."

      "Are we his messengers?" Poppyseed asked Charlie.

      "It looks that way to me," he replied, taking off his hat and scratching his bald head. "Though I can't think why we're any more special than anyone else. Come on, we have new directions - Prince Inn here we come."

      Southland was more or less flat but there was one more small hill to cross before they dropped onto the plains. At the top of this rise, Poppyseed, who was taking her turn in the lead, cried out "Table Mountain!"  There in the hazy distance was a mountain rising out of the flatlands that looked amazingly like a dining room table. "Where are the chairs?" she laughed aloud.

      Though it didn't look far, appearances can be deceptive. At the base of the hill, they re-entered the bush and lost sight of the mountain except for occasional glimpses. The path was easy and every mile or so they found a small seat on which to rest. They were glad of these stops. Beginning again after one such stop, Poppyseed was about to suggest they play a game as they walked when a speedy rabbit with a white bobtail and white ears sped past them.

       "What a cute wee fellow," said Poppyseed and no sooner said than the rabbit slid to a halt, did a little bow and said, "Thankyou , miss."

       "He speaks," Poppyseed said with delight.

       "Speak?” said the rabbit. "I can more than speak." And at that he began to sing:

        "I  can cook, I can sew, I can make things grow,

         Watch me thread,  watch me spin, To my home, welcome in.

         Are you sad, I'll make you glad.

         Sing -  sing to the King." 

                                                       

 

    "What a lovely song, little rabbit," said Sunflower who loved poetry and fine music. "What King do you sing of?"

      "My master the King," the rabbit replied. "You know of him, my friends, that's why you're here today." And without waiting to answer the puzzled expressions on all their faces, he added, "Come, my friends, to my home. I'm cooking a lovely dinner for you."

       "But...we're heading for Table Mountain tonight, "Charlie began to say, a little anxious not to leave the path.

      "Oh, great monkey," the rabbit chipped in, “you can't possibly get there tonight. It's another day's walk at least."

      "Then where can we stay tonight?" Charlie asked.

      "At my home, of course," said the rabbit who was a most likeable and sociable little fellow. "It's not far and I promise to put you back on this path tomorrow so you may continue your journey to Prince Inn."

       "How did you know we were going to Prince Inn?" Sunflower asked the rabbit.

       "The King told me." They didn't ask any more questions but, as usual, they had lots more they could have asked.

                                                             

       "Well, here's the spot," said the rabbit after he'd taken them through and over a series of pathways and bushes. Nowhere could they see anything resembling a house. "Under here," and he disappeared under a large oak tree, just big enough for all of them to crawl into on their hands and knees. The hole went downhill for a way and then flattened out until they could stand in a sort of oval shaped hallway.

                                                    

      "Where are we?" Sunflower asked the rabbit.

       "Well underground, my dear, safe from prowlers. Welcome to my home. I have many guest rooms here for travellers like yourselves and even a special guest room for the Prince."

       "The Prince?" asked Poppyseed. “Which Prince is that?"

       But the rabbit beckoned them further into a beautifully furnished bedroom and pointed out a large plaque on one wall. "This is the Prince's room," he said. “He gave me that plaque and suggested I memorise it . I did so and its advice has helped me many a time. I hope you can memorise it too. You can put it to music if you like. I do that to a lot of poetry."

       They each read the words:

           Belt your waist with truth and on your breast put kindness;

           Wear the shoes of peace and the shield of faith will defend you;

           Cover your head with salvation and the King's word will conquer all;

           Thank the King in everything and he'll light your every path.

      "By the way, my name's Eze, " said the rabbit. "It’s pronounced 'easy' because it's easy to remember! I was named after a good old friend of the King's. Here's your room. Please make yourselves as comfortable as possible while I  rustle up some dinner."

      The girls couldn't believe what soft beds they had to sleep on. A few hours earlier they'd wondered where they were going to sleep and eat. Now suddenly out of the blue they were honoured guests in the grand home of a delightfully likeable rabbit.

      While the girls talked in their bedroom, Charlie joined Eze in the kitchen where       delicious aromas wafted through the air. Eze asked Charlie where he was from. Charlie replied that the Great Forest was his home and asked Eze if he knew it.

     "Indeed, indeed," Eze replied. "A wonderful forest of the King's, Charlie. I have many friends there."

     "Really?" Charlie replied with surprise.

     "Many friends, Charlie. Some monkey friends, some rabbits, some birds, plus may other creatures. And yes, I know of the reason for the exodus from your home and your travels to Safeland." Eze said this all so matter-of-factly as he stirred the potato chips in the hot frying pan.

      "You do?!" Charlie replied, more and more amazed by this little rabbit.

      "And further," Eze continued," you want to know what became of your brother George, correct?"

      "Correct!" was all Charlie could say as he stared in stunned astonishment at Eze.

      "Unfortunately, I can't tell you...because I don't know," Eze said. "But the King has told me he's alive and you must pop in on the Funny Ville people. Sometimes the King's ways seem illogical but I've discovered they're always best in the end. Now, no more questions or I'll burn your dinner! Please call the twins."

       Charlie didn't remember asking any questions but he obediently fetched Poppyseed and Sunflower and the three sat at the table patiently. Shortly Eze brought out a most wonderful dinner - honey nibbles, fried chips, cheeseburgers, carrot cookies and strawberry sundaes.

      Six eyes almost popped out of their sockets. What a feast for three humble travellers. Charlie reached across the table without realising this was most rude and was about to start on a cheese burger when Eze coughed politely. Charlie caught his cough and apologised for his haste. (He was hungry.) Eze said it was OK and then explained that every meal in his home was begun with thanks to the King. Charlie wrinkled his eyebrows, remembering this practice in the twin’s home.

      Eze suggested they all hold hands while he said thanks. The twins were already familiar with this practice and Charlie enjoyed the game which followed. 

      Eze began, "King Adonai, El Shaddai, a thousand thanks for these fine friends you've brought to my home tonight. Protect them to their journey's end. Thanks for this bountiful banquet. Remember us to the Prince." He ended the speech with a little squeeze of his hands and the squeeze went round the circle, then back again, then round and round, to the smiles of all and every time it passed Charlie he called out, "Toot, toot," and they all giggled.

      In this thankful and happy mood, the foursome ate heartily until their tummies were nicely full. Eze suggested that the leftovers be packed into a rabby bag for the morrow's journey so as not to waste anything. An excellent idea, thought Poppyseed, who especially loved the honey nibbles.

     The twins went to bed straight after dinner and found copies of the plaque on pink notepaper beside each bed. They lay in bed talking and reading, trying to understand the strange poem or riddle or whatever it was. Poppyseed spoke first, "Sunflower, this riddle is sort of  like getting dressed. You put on your dress and tighten your belt round it. Then you put on your shirt, then shoes, maybe also a coat and a hat, so you're protected all over. But I can't understand the other bits." She paused still thinking hard.

     Sunflower continued the idea in her head until the penny dropped. "Poppyseed, I've got it."

     "Got what?" Poppyseed replied.

     "I think I understand a little more of what the King is trying to advise us. Belt your waist with truth - the belt keeps our dress fastened on the outside. The truth protects us on the inside. All the clothes are just a wonderful way of helping us remember how to protect our inside life - by truth, kindness, peace, faith and salvation (which I think means knowing the King is with us and trusting his promise).  The King must be a wonderful person, Poppyseed. Mind you, Eze is pretty special too."

     "He sure is Sunflower. I wonder who the Prince is though?"

     "Perhaps Eze will tell us in the morning. Let's see if we can impress him and learn this poem by breakfast.”

      And with that the twins whiled away the next hour, memorising and eventually drifted off to sleep. Meanwhile Charlie was having a long talk with Eze who filled him in on a few recent happenings around Southland.

 

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