King Turtle was called many things by his subjects: Your Highness, His Majesty, the Wanderer King, and sometimes even foolish, but the title he wore best of all was the Fun King. Gatherings every Saturday, Sunday morning races, and sometimes even the Frog Circus on Fridays. His royal song was the laughter of the Youngers, his motto the jokes of old that never grew tired or faded with time. And most important of all, were it not for his single red stripe on the left side of his face–which he often covered–you could rarely spot him in a crowd, for he placed himself above none of his subjects and walked beside his friends like equals.
One day, however, the king grew tired of the balls and breakfasts and circus troupes, longing for something new and exciting to entertain his kingdom. So, with only his closest friends, his friend the Gulp the carp, and his eldest son, the king mysteriously canceled all activities for the weekend and left the kingdom. No one knew where he was going, nor when he would return, just that the festivities would resume next weekend as usual.
The week crawled by for the Youngers, and the Olders gathered in ever-growing groups that spoke of an ever-growing fear that the Fun King had finally ran out of fun, and thus ran out on them all. Still, when the sun began to fade on Friday, the crowds gathered at the base of the king’s favorite pedestal, patiently waiting to see if the king would indeed return.
The last shadows crept toward the far shore with no sign of the king or his entourage. The first stars twinkled above and the crickets began to grow quiet with still no sign of the king. And as the youngest Youngers began to drift toward sleep where they stood waiting, still no sign came. Finally, a mother with two weary-looking children turned toward home when one of her children–the less tired of the two, of course–shouted loudly enough for everyone to see: “Momma, look! That star is moving!!”
Everyone turned their eyes toward the sky, and sure enough, a star had broken free of the dark sky and was now dancing its way toward the king’s pedestal. Then, from below the and to the left of the dancing star, another broke free and wandered toward the pedestal. The sleepy Youngers now watched each star carefully, hoping to see another escape the darkness, and they were not disappointed, for soon there were more dancing stars then there were static ones, and they all seemed to be heading toward the pedestal.
Soon a hundred-thousand stars were swirling around the pedestal, all dancing in a melody that was both chaotic and magical, both elegant and anxious, slowly building to something. And then that something was clear, for all of the stars came together atop the pedestal in a blinding ball of fire, and just when the glow was almost too much to bear, a hundred-thousand strands of light shot from the pedestal into the sky, and in a moment the dancing stars had taken their place in the sky again, leaving the crowd breathlessly clapping with joy.
Then came a familiar voice from deep in the crowd: “In all my years, I’ve never seen anything quite like that! Who knew the stars could dance so beautifully?! Thank you, stars, for that beautiful treat!” And as everyone looked toward the king, the stars began to pulse in and out with appreciation. The king began clapping once more at the sky, and soon the whole of Turtle Kingdom was clapping with him, but more than a few were clapping at him as well, for never in their life had they ever seen anything quite like that either, and they knew if it weren’t for their king, they probably never would have.