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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Selfishness (02/14/05)

TITLE: The Whipping Boy
By Corinne Smelker


Prince Henry III, heir to the English throne settled into his seat in the Reading Room waiting the arrival of his tutor. Simon sat quietly in the desk behind him, motionless except for the clenching and releasing of his fists under the table.

Mr. Matthews strode in, serious as ever. “Good morning your Highness, I trust you are well?” he said as he placed his books on the large school desk at the front of the room.
“Quite well, Mr. Matthews,” Henry answered with a confidence that belied his eight years.
“Good. Before I start the lesson, I would like to go over the work I assigned you for today…” An almost imperceptible movement from Simon caught his eye, but he ignored it as he waited for Prince Henry to respond.

“I didn’t do it.” Henry said unconcernedly.
“May I ask why?”
“It was such a lovely day, and my father had bought me a new mare, and I wanted to ride her instead, so I chose not to do it.”
“Ah. I see.” Mr. Matthews reached automatically behind the desk and brought out a switch — a mean looking hazelwood whip, four feet in length. “Simon. Approach please.”

Without a word, or even a sideways glance at the Prince, Simon quietly rose from his seat, his only sign of nervousness was the way his hands were twisted together. Although the same age as Henry, Simon did not share the same robust build as his liege, neither did he have the same bearing.

Uncomplainingly Simon stood before Mr. Matthews. He knew what to do — he turned to face the Prince and bent from the waist. Mr. Matthews raised and lowered the switch four times on his lower back. Simon flinched with each strike, but did not cry out. This was his lot in the life — to be the whipping boy for the future King. The King after all was God’s representative on earth, he could not be touched, he could do no wrong, but punishment still had to be meted out for wrongdoing.

He straightened back up and thanked Mr. Matthews for the whipping. As he painfully walked back to his desk, he caught the eye of Prince Henry. Arrogance and self-righteousness jostled for place on his face as he looked at Simon. He didn’t even have the decency to feel sorry for him.

Henry loved having Simon — it made him a free boy! There were no repercussions to his actions! He never had to worry about lessons— he failed a test, Simon got the rap on the knuckles; he broke something, Simon took the beating. Life didn’t get much better for a little boy who knew he was entitled.

From Henry’s earliest memories, Simon had been there — his faithful little shadow, always one step behind, unfailingly kind, courteous and long-suffering. And the older Henry became, the more he appreciated what he could get away with!

Simon also had to obey his every command, or he’d face the wrath of the King for not listening to his sire. He was caught between a rock and a hard place — he disobeyed and felt the whip, or he obeyed and felt the whip as a result of his wrong actions.

Mr. Matthews concluded the morning lesson, but was careful not to assign any homework. His sympathies lay with the whipping boy who had to endure the brunt of the Prince’s selfish actions. Mr. Matthews silently prayed that one day Henry’s eyes would be open to what he was doing instead of taking such pleasure in hurting someone so innocent.


Today these roles are reversed. A King, resplendent in all His glory, left His Kingdom and willingly became the whipping boy for millions of men and women, boys and girls. He took the beatings soundlessly, and met the taunting with silence.

The question that remains is this: Will I continue in my selfish way, thinking that because my actions have been taken care of by the King I have a license to behave in whatever manner I choose, or will I allow my eyes to opened to my selfish ways?


In medieval times, until the early 1700’s the Royalty of England forced whipping boys and girls into service, to bear the brunt of their actions. Thus many of these royals never understood what it meant to be kind.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Claire Lowes02/21/05
Wonderful! Opened up to me the gospel in a new way without being 'preachy'. thankyou.
Karen Deikun02/22/05
This was a tremendous entry. I kept hoping the young king would get the picture but he never did. Your knowledge of history was used perfectly and the reversal at the end which applies to us was superb. Blessings for the important picture you painted, and the lesson given.
Melanie Kerr 02/23/05
I really enjoyed reading your article. I liked how you turned the tables when you talked about Jesus. It made me think of my own selfish actions and how sometimes someone esle suffers from them.
donna robinson02/24/05
I knew where you would take the story and yet, felt my heart reach out to the whipping boy just the same. Excellent read
Marjorie Arrowood02/25/05
Reminiscent of the novel "The Whipping Boy." I read it to a group of youngsters in summer school several years ago and the impact was great, as your article will be in the lives of your readers.
Helen Dowd03/01/05
Connie, this is a touching story. Although I knew that "whipping boys" were a reality in British Monarchy, this hit home a wonderful point. Christ, who was innocent, was the "Whipping Boy" for us, the guilty; yet, like the little whipping boy in the story, Christ never condemned, only loved. Great story.
Debbie OConnor03/04/05
This is a wonderful story! Thanks for the history lesson and the wonderful tie in with Christ. Awesome.