So, as the child King grew day by day, the world seemed to grow fuller and fuller of wonders and beauties. There were the sun and the moon, the storm and the stars, the straight falling lances of rain, the springing of the growing things, the flight of the eagle, the songs and nests of small bird creatures, the changing seasons, and the work of the great brown earth giving its harvest and its fruits.
“All these wonders in one world and you a man upon it,” said the Ancient One. “Hold high your head when you walk, young King, and often look upward. Never forget one marvel among them all.”
He forgot nothing. He lived looking out on all things from great, clear, joyous eyes. Upon his mountain crag he never heard a paltry or unbeautiful word or knew of the existence of unfriendliness or baseness in thought. As soon as he was old enough to go out alone he roamed about the great mountain and feared neither storm nor wild beasts. Shaggy-maned lions and their mates drew near and fawned on him as their kind had fawned on young Adam in the Garden of Eden. There had never passed through his mind the thought that they were not his friends.
He did not know that there were men who killed their wild brothers. In the huge courtyard of the castle he learned to ride and to perform great feats of strength. Because he had not learned to be afraid he never feared that he could not do a thing. He grew so strong and beautiful that when he was ten years old he was as tall as a youth of sixteen, and when he was sixteen he was already like a young giant. This was because he had been brother to the storm and had lived close to the strength and splendor of the stars.
Only once, when he was a boy of twelve, a strange and painful thing happened to him. From his kingdom in the plains below there had been sent to him a beautiful young horse which had been bred for him. Never had so magnificent an animal been born in the royal stable. When he was brought into the courtyard the boy King’s eyes shone with joy. He spent the greater part of the morning in exercising and leaping him over barriers. The Ancient One in his tower chamber heard his shouts of exultation and encouragement. At last the King went out to try him on the winding mountain road.
When he returned he went at once to the tower chamber to the Ancient One, who, when he raised his eyes from his great book, looked at him gravely.
“Let us climb to the battlements,” the boy said. “We must talk together.”
So they went, and when they stood looking out on the world below, the curving turquoise sky above them, the eyes of the Ancient One were still more grave.
“Tell me, young King.”