Not everyone in that lovely glass fortress was so enthused to be there. On a lower floor, in a back corner of the basement to be exact dwelt two naysayers who rarely mingled with the others. That their section of the glass wall had gotten smudged goes almost without saying. After all, they didn’t want to be there, so why bother polishing windows?
Gilbert and Arthur were involved in something that looked similar to a game of Chess. They laid out their game pieces to plan their strategy.
“We will be cut off from friends and family if we leave,” Arthur pointed out, moving one of his men.
Gilbert shook his head. “They’ll get over it. They’ll be disappointed, of course, but we’ll keep in touch”—
Arthur snorted, “If we get around to it.”
For a few minutes, all that could be heard was the shuffling of game pieces and the occasional squeak of a chair.
“They say that the Outside World is flat and there is a tremendous drop off at the edge.”
Gilbert grimaced. “And that we will fall and fall and never stop falling even while being engulfed by flames.”
`”Sure it does, but we’ll stay well away from the drop off point—if there is one.”
“Granddaddy says one can be sucked in quite unexpectedly just about anywhere.”
“How does he know?”
“He was there: escaped by the skin of his teeth as it were when a friend was sucked in.”
“We’re sitting here scaring each other. That desert looks so beautiful with the setting sun and there’s hardly any chance of sinkholes there. We are much too confined in here—and bored: let’s just go. We can always come back.”
Gilbert swept all the game pieces into a cloth bag and tossed it into a drawer.
“OK, let’s go.” They let themselves into the hallway and looked both ways before continuing.
“Where are you going?” a sister paused while scurrying down the hall with a tray for an invalid. “It’s almost suppertime.”
“We’ll be back,” Gilbert answered evasively.
She leveled a thoughtful look at them but didn’t try to block their way.
“Let’s try to go out by the concealed trapdoor. That way we won’t be noticed by so many.”
“Help,” Arthur yelped, “I didn’t know the descent was so steep!” They looked over the embankment, almost chickening out.
The castle was built on top of a cliff with slick embankments on all sides. “I didn’t mean to descend so rapidly,” Arthur muttered, trying to keep his balance while slowing his pace.
Windows flew open here and there.
“It’s Arthur: looks like he’s in trouble!”
“And Gilbert: throw out the lifeline!”
“No, no, that’s okay,” Gilbert muttered, grabbing on to a thick, twisted root that reminded him ominously of a huge snake. “We’ll make it.”
Prayers ascended up to the King while they picked their way carefully down the steep embankment but they didn’t listen.
“It’ll be better after we get on to the level ground,” Arthur said. He took the liberty to glance back. My, the castle had never looked so beautiful…so strong…and secure…before.
Now that they have faded from our view we will check back at the castle.