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"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

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    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
Submitted by Dave Free on 1 December 2006 - 6:05pm.

And so Jessica, the Princess fo All That is Pink, and her strong little brother, Jake, Knight of the Great Smile, raced up the hill to the palace of Joe, King of the Land of Happy Families.

As they arrived at the Palace, the King was busy loading his chariot with supplies and equipment (in the kingdom of happy families there are no servants or slaves). When he saw the children approach he called out, "Ah children of my handsome brother, there you are! I was afraid I would miss you. Jake can you help me with this last big bag?"

Jake grabbed the bag and tossed it up to the King who nearly toppled off the chariot trying to catch it. The king chuckled and said, "Jake, I can see your strength hasn't suffered at all from the food in my kingdom. Come, site on the steps so I can talk with you and your sister." The king motioned to the wide steps that led up to the gate of the palace.

Obediently the two children climbed onto the steps and waited to hear the words of the king. The king jumped off the chariot and began, "We have enjoyed your stay here in our kingdom while your mother was bringing your new little brother into the world. I know you are anxious to see your little brother as am I. In fact, I was looking forward to returning with you to the kingdom of your father, but as you know that is no longer possible." The king hesitated and looked away to the north before continuing.

"The straight and narrow road from here to your father's kingdom has been cut off. The road is impossible to travel until we drive Contention from the kingdom." At this Jake interrupted, "Sir, I have heard my father and his warriors talk of a shortcut to your kingdom. A route other than the straight and narrow road. Jess and I could take that route!"

The king nodded in agreement, "It is true, there is another route and it is shorter but it goes directly through the Swamp of Selfishness and is much too dangerous for you to travel alone. If you were to become lost in Selfishness, you would never see your family happy again. I must ask, therefore, that you remain in my kingdom until I or one of my warriors can return and accompany you home."

On having their hopes of returning home dashed once again, the faces of Jess and Jake gave up trying to show emotion and went blank. The king waited for a moment in silence and then asked, "What say ye? Do I have your commitment?"

"Please let us try the shortcut, Sir." Jake said pleadingly, "I'm sure we can make it." The king shook his head disapprovingly and Jessica reached over and gave Jake's hand a squeeze. Jake looked at her for a moment and then turned to the king and with what appeared to be great effort said solemnly, "We'll stay."

The king smiled and proceeded, "Good. I have not time for further instructions. Please say inside the palace with the rest of my family until we can rid the kingdom of Contention. As soon as I can, I will come and accompany you home. Now I must go and say goodbye to your aunt and cousins and be on my way." He started up the steps but before he reached the top he turned and added, "I know it won't be easy for you to sit around and wait, but try to think of your family first. How would your parents feel if you were lost in the swamp forever?" Not waiting for a reply he turned, climbed the last few stairs, and entered the palace.

Jess and Jake sat silent for some time after their uncle road off in his chariot. They couldn't decide whether to be happy or sad and their faces were again having a hard time keeping up. When they thought of their new little brother they were happy and smiled but when they thought of their uncle's kingdom being invaded by Contention they were sad and frowned. To a passerby they looked quite peculiar sitting on the steps of the palace with alternating expressions of joy and sadness on their faces without saying a word. They weren't left to look peculiar for long before the palace guard announced that the gate was about to be shut and asked them to enter the palace. They both stood and took a long look around before climbing the steps to the gate and the palace within.

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