She opened her eyes… her kingdom was gone. The smells of the dank dirt floor cell brought her quickly back to the reality of where she was in this world. Pricilla’s face and long black braid was dirty and her belly was empty but when she closed her eyes she knew who she really was, royalty.
Most days were the same. The prisoners in her small hut were brought outside at day break, fed three small spoons of rice then forced to carry water, stir mud, and bake bricks in open pits. Memories kept her during the long hot hours.
Pricilla had been born in the same house that her grandfather’s grandfather had been born in. They were a poor farming family known throughout the region for sharing of their harvests with the poor. When possible they shared their faith.
She looked into the fire and remembered her Poppa’s hushed whispers reading aloud from torn pieces of paper. These contained scriptures copied carefully from the Bible many in their village secretly shared. He had taught her to love God above all else.
Then came the day when her family was summoned to the courts of the King. He had heard of their generosity and the prosperity of their fields and chose her father to manage the King’s crops. What a day that had been, she smiled and her teeth shined through the dirt.
“Get moving! What are you smiling for?” squawked an equally dirty guard with a bamboo rod that he slapped across the young girls back. “There will be no smiling here.”
Pricilla only held tighter to her thoughts as she picked up the stones she had dropped when he hit her. She thought of the days she helped her mother bake bread in the Kings kitchen. How lovely that had been, she imagined the smells. Yet, even then, she would constantly beg to help her father and brothers in the fields.
Her family had never been afraid of hard work but nothing prepared them for the invasion. They were peaceful, but their enemies were not. They overthrew their King and took women and children captive. The men, they killed. Everyday her thoughts would turn to her Poppa, the tears would come and they would beat her more for this than for smiling. Still, today she cried.
At night fall they would return to the huts, have a little more rice or broth if they were blessed, and go to sleep. They were not allowed to speak. Even if they could they were too tired.
She closed her eyes and the dreams came. Always the same, she was a part of a beautiful Kingdom where everyone was royalty and there was plenty of food. The people were full of constant kindness and love. She was no longer lost. Her family was together. They worked the fields joyfully, not as servants, but children helping their Poppa and their beloved King who greeted her every evening with great hope.
Morning came too soon. Like every other day they lined up. When the others were released Pricilla tried to go. She was grabbed around the neck from behind by a soldier. Another gave her a worn shovel and took her into the hut. They moved the dirty straw mat that was her bed and made her dig in the soft dirt.
How had they found out she wondered. She had been so careful in the times she had taken out the torn pieces of paper. But how could she withhold the knowledge of such love, of such a King? She had shown the others in her hut, and one by one they had come to know the love of God who sacrificed His Son for them.
Soon she scraped the dirt off the tiny burlap sack which she had tied underneath her dress, the day she heard the soldiers coming into her village. It was there when she watched her Father and brothers being shot down. It was there when they took her from her mother, and it was there now, her sentence to both death and life.
Pricilla, no more than eleven was lined up in front of the men at arms. The shots were fired and she fell, cheek to the ground, eyes open, forever a princess.
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