A Girl and Her King: From the Balcony

The story of A Girl and Her King, joins the young protagonist as she grows in her commitment towards her good king. She is young and he is old. He teaches, her watches over her, protects her. He has taken her to the battlefield, the arena, and now asks her to find her place inside the calm environment of her old home, where challenges abound to test her dedication to him in even in the smallest matters. She does not yet know what form their love will take, if he will one day bring her to live with him in the palace, or request she stay in that quiet home forever. But willing to wait, she receives the lessons he has in store for her.

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The marketplace in front of the town hall at Pontoise, Ludovic Piette

“Why do you do it?” Philothea asked.   They stood on a balcony overlooking the city. He looked down at the many peoples hurrying along with their business at the market, at the well, reading, rushing, talking, gossiping, laughing, shopping, begging, and squandering.

He looked out at all them.

“Why do you do it?” She repeated. “Why do you do all this? Why do you give yourself like this to everyone? How can you stand it? Loving, only waiting for a return.”

“I’m not desperate,” he said. “But I wait.” She felt privileged to be up there, like he had made an exception out of her—like he favored her in some strange way all out of love.

Philothea looked at his eyes as he looked at her. He did not hide the answer in his eyes. It was a very painful love, but a love all the same.

“You do not run from love,” he told her. “You never run from love.”

As the afternoon grew warmer, he said to her, “take a closer look. Look, there were your crowds and how you loved them.” She wrapped her arms around his arm.

“I see them,” Philothea responded. “I used to love them so much.”

“See how everyone runs into each other like a dance but no one can take hold of the steps. It looks so angry.”

“I see it,” she said. He brought his arm around her.

“You loved it so much.”

“I remember. I love it no more. I’m surprised by it. Surprised…that I would love it. My heart doesn’t have the patience or understanding—my heart doesn’t have anything for it anymore.”

“You are in a good place.”

The king brought her a chair to sit down. More clouds were rolling in. The light was still gentle but a little gray, a little cooler, a little more like winter.

The king seemed sad now. Not because of the winter coming, but because he was finally showing her his sadness. It might be that he carried it always. Philothea saw him sad once and assumed she had done something to hurt him. She was too young to understand that all who have suffered, however joyful they may be, always carry a certain sadness with them, a certain heaviness.

“I love you, but you do not cause me suffering.” He put an arm around her back, “actually, little girl, you give me joy.” She had always thought it was her fault. Now that Philothea did not blame herself, he trusted her with more. She told him honestly, “I see this and it makes me very sad. You’re my heart, but I don’t know what to do with it.” She wanted to hear his words. She wanted to hear him say or hint about marriage, about her vocation.

Philothea continued, “it’s because you’re so good to me that I know even this. Come, my little king, can I do anything to console you?” Realizing what she asked, it struck her heart quickly. She stood up and knelt down and asked, “yes, please, may I console you! Is there some way?” She heard many ask that through the years but she never understood what they were asking.

“Ah, my king, please.” She wanted more than to cheer him up, but to console. She did not know what the desire meant. In time, she would understand. She could love him as a bride, consoling the heart of the King.

All she could think of was her king, her friend, and her in the palace.

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