walking along the side of a hill, on his way home, paused to look at
the road at the foot of the hill. At this location, the road was its
narrowest, running between two hills.
was sad. This country road served his small town for, at least, a
thousand years before his time. Without this road, the family farm,
run by his parents, would never had been a market success. He had
walked along it countless times. He had driven their farm wagon-load
of produce, pulled by the family's one horse, many, many times along
had playfully, on foot, chased small wild animals along it, countless
times. He had always failed to catch any.
spent time enjoying thoughts of a time in the future when he will
walk and play along this road with his children. And, hopefully, with
the help of his children, catch a small wild animal on this road, to
let it go; just to show it who is king of this road.
now the Government, far away in a big modern City, had announced its
plan to make all roads in the country capable of accommodating the
new invention that was taking the world by storm, automobiles.
had not seen even a picture of a real automobile. Dad and Mom, along
with other farmers were planning a trip to the nearest City that
announced the arrival of the first automobile.
the little information he had so far, it seemed that when this road
eventually was modified, it would look very, very different. That
heard the trot of a horse approaching. He expected a horse-drawn
wagon to come into view. If from his left, it would be coming from
the town market; if from his right, the wagon would be loaded with
farm produce on its way to the town market.
approached from his right. A magnificent stallion, mounted by an
important-looking young woman, gloriously accoutred: scarlet riding
gloves; scarlet long-sleeved tight-fitting waist-length jacket;
riding trousers, its leggings tucked into shining highly polished
instinctively took cover behind some bushes. He did not know who she
was. He knew the nation had a royal family. He had never seen any
members this close-up. He dismissed the fleeting thought of the
presence of royalty on a wild country road, this far from dignified
wild small animal scurried across the horse's path. The horse reared.
The rider was thrown backward to the ground. She lay motionless. The
horse bolted away down the road. Ruhan hurried down, somewhat
untidily, to help the unconscious rider.
sat on the ground near her. He resisted touching her because he
guessed from her clothing that she was far wealthier than a farmer.
slowly regained consciousness, and sat up on her own. She saw Ruhan
sitting near her on the ground.
"Hello." "Where am I?" "Your horse was
spooked by some small animal, and threw you." "I was on a
horse?" "Yes." "Who are you?" "A
farmer. I just happened to be here on my way home." Ruhan stood
up. "If you are not injured, I will be on my way." She
stood, unsteadily, "I will come with you."
hesitated. She did not look like someone who would be comfortable in
a farm home. "Perhaps it would better if you walked along the
road after your horse. He looks like one that will come back."
horse?" "Yes. It galloped that way." "I do not
remember being on a horse. I do not think I can ride a horse."
realized, she must have bumped her head when she fell off her horse.
He was now frightened. She looked at him, and saw he was frightened.
"What is the matter, sir? You are not thinking I will harm you,
are you?" "No, no, not at all." "Good. Then let's
go to your home and find out just who I am. Okay?" Ruhan nodded.
"Good. Lead the way, please."
minutes, they were on the farm. Ruhan's Dad and Mom were sitting on
the verandah. They readily and pleasantly greeted the woman. "Welcome
to our home." "Dad, Mom, she does not know her name. She
fell off her horse. It ran off. She bumped her head when she fell to
the ground." Mom got up and spoke to the woman.
with me, dear. We will have some tea. That will bring back your
memory." They went inside the home.
they were alone, Dad jumped up and addressed Ruhan in a near whisper,
urgently, "Ruhan, you should not have brought her here. In
clothes like that, she is too wealthy to be associating with poor
farmers!" In matching voice level, "Dad, I did not bring
her here; she insisted. She said we could help her find out who she
she is, we will find out by taking her back to where she was last on
her horse." "Dad, how is that going to help?" "She
would have been riding a well-trained horse, Ruhan. After it recovers
from its initial spook, it will return to where she fell off. Had she
not bumped her head when she fell, she would have known that, and
remained on the spot. Besides, if we do not get her off our hands
before someone comes looking for her, we will be in a lot of
Dad. I'll take her back." "Let's use the wagon. We will
take Mom along. If we meet anyone looking for her, let them see it's
a family that is involved."
was not taking chances. He persuaded the woman to accompany the
family on a tour of the farm, by wagon. The woman was as excited as a
teenager to explore the farm.
the wagon came into sight of the spot on the road where the horse had
been spooked, there it was, on its belly, with a number of wild small
animals climbing all over it.
the horse saw the woman, it eagerly got to its feet, and went up to
her. While she was glad when the horse came up to her and nuzzled,
she was reluctant to mount it. It was Mom who coaxed the woman to
give it a shot since the horse liked her.
woman mounted the horse. She nervously took hold of the reigns. The
horse trotted off along the road. The wild small animals followed it.
The woman was too nervous to remember to say farewell to the farm
family, waving at her.
family remained there in their wagon a minute or two after horse and
rider and wild small animals had passed out of sight.
spoke softly and wistfully, "Ruhan, had you walked her along the
road to her returning horse, in the first place, there might have
been a reward large enough for us buy a second wagon horse."
They sat in silence.
spoke softly. "That could still happen. When we were chatting in
the kitchen, she gave me keepsake."
author's name in
of the message we
won't know where to send it.)