When the letter "C" is stolen out of the Royal Alphabet, the Kingdom of Atoz is thrown into a panic. No one can say or write the letter, and it has vanished from all the books in the kingdom. Heedless of the danger that awaits him in the Forest of Spells, a young page named Wordsworth sets out to recover the letter on his trusty steed, Klause, a goat-like creature called a cavabok.
Once the letter
was safe again in the royal treasury, King Omicron ordered a day of
celebration. The knights marched through the village of Atoz. At the head of
the parade rode Wordsworth on Starfire, the king's favorite horse.
I am the
luckiest boy in the kingdom, Wordsworth thought, patting Starfire's glossy
black neck. Even so, he found himself wishing that he were riding on Klause
instead. He wanted everyone to know what the cavabok had done. But Klause had
made him promise not to tell. He was afraid people would find out he could
talk, and that would cause all sorts of problems.
After the parade,
the citizens of Atoz gathered in the courtyard for a party. The town's
merchants piled food and drink of every kind on large tables. When it was time
to eat, the king came out on a balcony in his royal robes. Wordsworth, Sir
Clooney, and Lord Reading stood behind him. Wordsworth smiled when he saw the
signs over the banquet tables. One read "Chocolate Chip Cookies!"
Another said, "Fresh Carrots and Cabbage!" "Roast Chicken"
was written on a third. The letter "C" was back where it belonged.
"This is a
great day for the Kingdom of Atoz!" the king declared. "The letter C
has been restored to us. We have learned a hard lesson about the true value of
the Royal Alphabet. Henceforth, guards will be posted not only outside but
inside each room of our treasury. The windows have been sealed up. Never again
will we allow one of our letters to be stolen!"
The crowd clapped
and shouted its approval. The king raised his arms to quiet them.
"We owe our
thanks to the Royal Knights and to my young page, Wordsworth, whose courage has
made it possible for me to say the word courage!"
Everyone laughed. King Omicron turned
and drew Wordsworth forward to stand beside him. The crowd cheered. Wordsworth
was filled with a confusing jumble of feelings.
I don't deserve
this, he thought. If it hadn't been for Phrasia and Klause and Rho and
But what could he
say? As far as the king and most of Atoz were concerned, there was no dragon.
Klause was a beast of burden. Princess Rho was the king's daughter, not a
sorceress who could change herself into a falcon. Phrasia was an ordinary
servant woman who had loaned Wordsworth her cavabok, not a friend of a dragon
or even a witch (the townspeople figured a witch wouldn't have needed
Wordsworth to save her!)
As much as
Wordsworth hated it, he knew that was how it had to be. That was the way his
friends wanted it. His hand went to his chest. He could feel the Dragon's Troth
stone through the material of the pouch around his neck. Soon after the letter
had been returned to the treasury, the king had given him a new pouch and a new
royal emblem. Wordsworth had summoned the stone to him using the words Phrasia
had taught him: I summon thee from far or near. Dragon's Troth, thy way is
The people in the
courtyard grew quiet, waiting for Wordsworth to speak. He had to say something.
you!" he shouted. "You are all very kind! But I didn't do it by
myself. I had a lot of help!"
modest lad!" boomed the king. "Such a brave, humble lad!"
The crowd started
my boy," said Sir Clooney, shaking Wordsworth's hand.
Sir..." Wordsworth hesitated out of habit but quickly recovered.
"Clooney," he said firmly.
The knight smiled.
He shook Wordsworth's hand again and clapped him on the back. Lord Reading
stepped to the front, an open book in his hands. He cleared his throat and
began to recite his favorite poem in a loud, proud voice: "While chipmunks
scamper through the dale, we'll linger till the sun grows pale, to hear the chirping
crickets praise the simple charms of summer days!"
extremely relieved when the program was over. He sat with his parents at the
king's banquet table and kept his mouth stuffed with food so no one would
expect him to say anything.
That evening, he
and Princess Rho got together to play cards. Lady Craddish sat knitting beside
the fireplace. Princess Rho's spaniel, Bracket, was curled up on the hearth.
"I know I
can't talk about what you did," Wordsworth whispered to Rho. "But I
wanted to. Everybody thinks I'm a hero, but I'm not."
giggled. "Papa would be so angry if he knew about me using that spell, he
would zoom straight up through the ceiling of the throne room and land on the
moon. Besides, you are a hero, Wordsworth. I know how you snuck into the
Village of the Muddletongues and I heard about how you tried to rescue Phrasia
from the cage. You were very brave."
"But you're a
hero, too," Wordsworth insisted. "And Klause. And Dash."
He laid a Jack of
Hearts on the table.
know," Princess Rho said. "But we all know what we did. We can be
proud of ourselves and of each other. That's enough. So--do you still want to
be a knight, Wordsworth?"
Wordsworth said. "Only not the kind who fights dragons."
He leaned closer
to the princess so Lady Craddish wouldn't hear him. "How did you get Queen
Mu's book, anyway?"
braid fell forward. She flipped it back over her shoulder. "I was in the
Royal Library one day," said Rho, "and I pulled a book of poems off
the shelf. That's when I saw it. It was wedged sideways behind the other books.
I took it and hid it in my jewelry box."
teach me how to turn into a falcon?"
smiled and placed a Queen of Hearts across his Jack. "Maybe," she
Bracket gave a
frightened yip and scooted under Lady Craddish's chair.