Chapter Twenty-Three

As he entered the throne room, it was packed with people. The King sat on his throne but he was visibly troubled. His nervousness was apparant to all. "Old Fox," he said, "there must be a solution to this problem we have, and soon. Neither of our peoples can endure this situation much longer without there being dire consequences. I beseech you again, make some fair bargain with me, that I may, with a joyful heart, tell you to take your people and go."
2 "Your Majesty," answered The Old Fox, "if I could bargain with you, I would. But I cannot bargain with what is not mine to bargain with. What is my peoples', will stay my peoples'. But Your Majesty has asked for proof, he has asked that The Lords prove that They can do what They say. So they have decided to answer his request." The Old Fox clapped his hands, and a servant entered carrying a strange package. The Old Fox uncovered it, and came to The King, who looked at the thing with interest. "This is a new invention," explained The Old Fox, "recently developed by our craftsmen."
3 The King looked at the thing; two large balls of glass connected in the middle by a narrow neck. Inside the bottom ball was fine sand.
4 "We call this a sand clock," continued The Old Fox. "Turn it over like this, so the sand is on the top, and it runs into the bottom chamber. When all the sand is gone, an hour is passed. Now, hear my words. Your Majesty; come the first light of dawn tomorrow, it will start to rain. When it does turn the glass. It will rain until the sand stops running. And then, it will rain no more until you let my people go. Now, with Your Majesty's permission, I will depart."
5 Now, without waiting for a reply, The Old Fox left. The King's councilmen and Wise Men gathered around him for a glimpse of the strange gift The King had been given. And there was much murmuring in the court over what might happen in the morning.
6 The King spent a troubled, restless night, and was risen with little sleep long before sunrise. As he entered his throneroom he found he wasn't alone. Most of his council was there, looking as haggard as he felt. The King sat upon his throne, ordered the curtains open, and watched his balcony. His breakfast was brought, but he had little apetite.
7 It was well light, when he heard a sudden gust of wind, and then the smack of several large raindrops on the balcony! The few drops grew in number until they became a pouring, steady rain. The King nodded to a servant who turned the sand clock. Then he sat back to watch.
8 One of his favorite women came to him and began to rub his head, but he pushed her away. The rain continued to fall as did the grains of sand. When the sand was very low, The King got up and walked to the edge of the balcony. He kept looking to the sand and then the rain, and back to the sand again. He watched the last few grains of sand trickle into the bottom chamber, then looked back to the rain, but THERE WAS NO RAIN! It had stopped. The sky was getting bright as the clouds began to thin.
9 Suddenly, the clouds parted for a moment, and a beam of sunlight pierced through, lighting the part of the city where The Old Fox lived. A cry of dismay rose from all on the balcony. After a moment, the sky closed again, and it became almost as dark as night. The King returned to his throne and sat down. His women seated themselves at his feet, staring up at him, desiring some way to comfort their lord.
10 Suddenly a priest entered the throne room. "Your Majesty," he cried, "I have been sent by The High Priest, who does, even now, that which you bid him. But he asks if Your Majesty has just seen the sign that Tr has given. His anger is great. These people who question his power must be destroyed. My master bids you, send forth your army, destroy these heretics while there is still time!"
11 The King rose. "Get out!" he screamed, "If your master asks me to send out my army one more time, he is a dead man! Now, GO!" The King again seated himself. He looked up to see one of The Old Fox's servants standing by the door. A page was speaking to him. A moment later the page came to The King.
12 "Your Majesty," he announced, "The Old Fox sends word that he has sold his home and that his family is moving to his peoples' encampment by the harbor, and if you wish to speak with him, to send your messengers there." The King nodded, then continued to stare at the floor.
13 Meanwhile, in the temple of Tr, much was happening. The High Priest walked back and forth screaming his voice out. "The King must act!" He roared, "He must! He must act now!"
14 "But he will not," said an aide. "If anything, I think he may be ready to concede, to let The Old Fox and his people go."
15 "We cannot allow it!" screamed The High Priest. "It will be the end of Tr if we do. Summon the leader of the temple guard." The man quickly entered. "How many of our troops have you brought into the city?" asked The High Priest.
16 "I have an entire group," the guard told him.
17 "How many of The King's soldiers in the city will act if I tell them to?" The Priest inquired.
18 "Three group leaders are at our disposal," the guard told him.
19 "And how many men can we hire in the city that will fight for gold?" asked The Priest.
20 "At least the equivalent of another group," the guard told him.

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