Against the rocky hill, surrounded by the trees, and a wall of stone, lived an old king. Behind the walls, orchards and vineyards wreathed the slopes behind. The king sold the wealth of the fields, but he never tasted its produce. People who lived outside the wall, worked on the terraces, but they were poor.
THe king was very cranky. His partner had died; his children had left. There he sat year after year, crown on his head, bitterness in his heart. The outsiders came and worked his fields. The guards in their rock-hard armour protected him, although there was no threat.
One day, two strangers came to the walls. They asked to speak to the king because they had good news. The guards said, “Our king has no need of good news.” One of the visitors planted a flower in a crack of the soldier’s armour. They waited while the flower grew and bloomed. That soldier said, “It can’t hurt. Maybe it will cheer the king.” So they took the strangers to meet the king
The king said,”Who are you and what are you doing here?” The strangers replied, “We have great news! The time of your loneliness has ended. It is time for your castle to be filled with music and rejoicing.”
But the king was afraid of the message and he threw the strangers out of the castle, beyond the walls. Before they left, the strangers touched each of the soldiers wearing the rock hard armour with a seed of joy.
Late in the night, the king was awakened by the sounds of music and laughter. He peered out of his window at the top of the castle and he saw and heard beyond the walls. The farmers and the soldiers, the strangers and the families, were playing music, dancing and having fun. It made him furious and he felt his power slipping away like sand.
In the morning the king called his soldiers but only six came. Their appearance was worrisome. Their armour had flowers in the creases, and coloured ribbons on the corners on the breastplates. He commanded them to escort him to where the villagers lived. They hesitated. “You won’t like it Sire. They are all really, really happy.” “Why are they so happy?” The king demanded. The soldiers said that the strangers had brought a message of freedom and hope. “Hrrmmph.” said the king.
When the party got beyond the walls, the hard armour simply fell off in the sunshine. The king marched up to a table where people were eating and talking. When they saw the king, they invited him to sit down. But he said, “Those better not be my peaches that you’re eating.”
“Oh no, said the villagers, “we will grow our own now. You can keep yours.” At that the king noticed no one was paying any attention to him at all. “What can I get you to do to work on my fields again? Who will keep the terraces so that the plants don’t slide in the sandy soil?” The villagers replied, “First you have to share this meal with us. Then you can dance with us. Then we will talk about how to help you.” The king said, “I don’t know how to dance” but the villagers taught him the steps. To this day, there are no sweeter peaches grown anywhere and the king renamed his kingdom, “the Dancing Land”
You may ask what happened to the strange visitors. Well, they slipped away during the dancing. Two of the villagers went with them. They move from place to place, teaching people to dance and changing the hearts of kings.