Once upon a time, in a dismal poor land, there lived a King and Queen who wept in dismay at the state of their kingdom. Ravaged by war and famine, their people starving, the desperate king and queen prayed for the peace and prosperity of their land that the people deserved. God heard the rulers’ plea. So he sent an angel to help the poor King and Queen.
“Why have you called on me good king?” The angel said, appearing in the throne room.
“Look at the state of my kingdom,” said the king, “is there anything you can do to help my people?”
“I suppose something can be done to save your people, at a price”
“Anything! Anything at all!” wept the King.
“You will be met with three trials, once they are completed and only then will your kingdom be saved.” Explained the angel.
“What will be my first task?”
“You must travel to the highest peak in all the land and retrieve the fruit that awaits you at the peak”
“For what purpose?” Asked the king, but before he could answer the angel had returned to his home in the heavens.
So the king gathered his seven best men and traversed to the top of the highest mountain in all the land, its peak almost scraping the heavens themselves. The king then plucked a single enormous peach from a small tree at the top before returning to the castle.
“I have completed the first task!” Proclaimed the king, staring to the heavens. The angel then returned to the throne room. “What is my next trial?”
“Next you are charged with bringing the child your wife bears to the most holy of priests and have it blessed in the name of our God.”
“For what purpose?” Asked the king, but before he could answer the angel had returned to its home in the heavens.
Again, the king and his seven men left the castle with his wife in tow. They were away for three days before coming across the largest most magnificent church in all of the land. There, the queen’s womb was blessed by the highest ranking priest in the church, before the party departed to the castle once more.
Once there, the king called out to the angel once again. This time though, he did not descend from the heavens. The king called out to the sky repeatedly in vain. Every day the king entered the throne room, begging God to help his country, and every day there was no response.
This futile cycle continued for three months before the King’s usual time for pleading was interrupted by the birth of his first son. He rushed to where his wife lay to find a beautiful baby boy being cradled in her arms. The King’s disparity over his dying kingdom was replaced by joy at the sight of his son.
This was, decided the angel, the perfect time to tell the king about his third and final task. He descended from the sky once more and entered the room where the husband, wife, and child joyously convened. The king tore himself away from his family to speak with him.
“Oh, good Angel have you come with my final task?” he asked.
“What is it?” Asked the king. The angel then pointed to the boy.
“You will send that boy away to a distant land, where he will fulfill a purpose set out for him by our God.”
The king’s disparity took over him once more.
“Is this the only way only to save my country?”
“You have one week to decide, the choice is yours. If you do decide to do so, place your son in the peach you picked and float him down the river, the blessing he received will protect him. Goodbye good king.” And the angel left the castle one last time
The king sat with his wife and child and discussed what the angel had told him.
“We musn’t send him away!” The queen protested.
“We must think about our people!” The King retorted.
“I won’t let it happen!”
“The decision has been made! We will enjoy the week we have with him but our people must come first!” The queen wept at her husband’s words but accepted what needed to be done.
The short time that the family had together was full of laughter, love and joy but the time went by quickly. It wasn’t long before the two of them stood before the river, their son placed in the hollowed out peach. Both parents bent and kissed their son’s forehead with tears in their eyes before placing the peach into the water and giving it a light push. The parents stood there until the peach had left their site before gloomily returning to the castle, hoping, and praying their sacrifice worked.
An old woman strolled along a river bank before kneeling at a spot she found suitable, the water occasionally lapping over the bank, wetting the woman’s legs and dress. She began washing a bundle of clothes for a few moments before a unnaturally large peach bobbed by her in the crystal clear water.