King Humphrey's Kind Son
by Lauren Alan
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Once upon a time, a long time ago in a kingdom far away, there lived a kindly old king named Humphrey. He lived in a beautiful palace with his son, Prince Mark, who was just as kind as his father. Humphrey was such a good man that everyone in his kingdom loved him--everyone, that is, but Humphrey's head servant, Lucifer, who was very jealous of Humphrey's power. One day when he thought no one else would find out, Lucifer snuck into Humphrey's bedroom and tried on his robe. As he looked at himself in the mirror, he said with an evil laugh, "Someday I will take the throne away from Humphrey and it will all be mine! I will make Humphrey and Mark be nothing more than servants who work for me, and I'll make them work very hard!"
Humphrey's other servants heard Lucifer, for Lucifer did not speak softly. They told Humphrey, who banished Lucifer and made him go live far away. As the guards carried Lucifer away, Humphrey told them that if Lucifer ever came back they must throw him into a dungeon and never let him out. Humphrey's guards agreed to do as Humphrey wished, and Lucifer was allowed in the kingdom no more. In the far away land that Lucifer moved to, he discovered that the people there had no leader, so he told them if they crowned him king, he would take care of them and their land and made sure they had all they needed and wanted. Well, of course the people were very happy to hear this, but Lucifer went on. "But if I do everything you need and want, you are also to do as I want. I was banished from King Humphrey's land because I was caught being in his bedroom uninvited. The people of his land do not realize what a tyrant he is. I just heard he is planning to tax them very high taxes," Lucifer lied. "You must warn the people, for no one in his palace will. Go, make signs that say Humphrey wants to raise taxes and post them throughout his land. The people must be warned."
Well, the people wanted very much to make their new king happy. After all, he promised them something they'd always dreamed about. They made the signs Lucifer requested and posted them all over Humphrey's kingdom. Humphrey's people believed Humphrey had become a tyrant, so they began a revolt and planned to storm the castle. Some of Humphrey's soldiers heard the people discussing this plan, and they told Humphrey. Humphrey was very sad. "How I love my people!" he moaned. "I do not want to punish them, but they are rebelling against me for no good reason. I must punish them."
Prince Mark overheard him. "No, Father!" he begged. "Lucifer is surely behind the posting of the signs. He is angry at you for banishing him and wants revenge! I will go into the land and remind the people of your love. I will live among the peasants and dress as they do."
Humphrey agreed to let Mark go. Mark found some clothes similar to those that the peasants wore and put them on, then went out into the land. He knocked over all of the signs and reminded the people of Humphrey's love for them and told them Humphrey did not want to raise taxes. The people soon recognized Mark as their prince and remembered Humphrey's love. They stopped wanting to storm Humphrey's castle and loved him again.
One day one of Lucifer's servants saw Mark doing this, and he told Lucifer, who ordered his men to seize Mark and bring him to his dungeon. When Lucifer's men brought Mark to Lucifer's dungeon, they flogged and beat him for three days. Humphrey, who had heard from his soldiers what Lucifer and his men had done, had gotten on his horse and hurried toward Lucifer's castle. On Mark's third day in the dungeon, Humphrey hurried to him and let him out. Just as they were leaving, though, Lucifer and his henchmen surrounded them. They all had swords in their hands and were ready to kill Mark and Humphrey! Humphrey and Mark fought all of Lucifer's men off and even managed to get swords from two of the men and kill all of Lucifer's men. Lucifer lunged on top of Mark and knocked the sword out of Mark's hand. "You meddling little brat!" he yelled. "You think you can spoil my plans!" He tried to drive his own sword into Mark's heart, but Mark kicked him off of him, grabbed his sword, and threw it into Lucifer's heart instead. Lucifer was dead. Mark and Humphrey hurried home to their people, who never plotted another rebellion.
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