ORPHAN3  9' The orphan and the gold ring

Once upon a time a long time ago in a land far far away, a
monastery full of monks all ran outside just before dawn and
pointed to the sky.

"Look! It's Venus and Jupiter! They're going to collide!"
shouted one monk.

"Nonsense!" shouted the oldest and wisest monk. "Those planets
will never collide. They're millions of miles apart."

"Then what are they doing?" asked a monk.

"It's called a convergence." replied the wise one, "It's a sign
of things to come."

"What kind of things?" asked another monk.

"The planet Venus means a female is involved." explained the
wise one. "And the planet Jupiter means something important will
happen. When the two planets converge, something very important
will happen to a female."

Two mornings later when the two planets were close enough to
look like one bright planet, all the monks awoke before dawn
again to see the convergence. But when they opened the front
door of the monastery, they saw a wicker basket on the door

"What's this?!" exclaimed a monk.

"There's a blanket in the basket." said another, "See if there's
anything inside of the blanket."

Sure enough, there was a newborn baby wrapped in the blanket.

"She's so tiny!" exclaimed one monk.

"I've never seen such a tiny baby!" exclaimed another.

"Me either!" exclaimed another.

"Why leave a baby at a monastery?" asked another.

"Is there a note in the basket?" asked another.

"Yes, see if they left a note!" exclaimed another.

When they unwrapped the baby, one of the monks asked, "What's
that on her wrist?"

"It's a gold bracelet." replied another monk.

"Maybe there's a message on the inside of the bracelet."
suggested a monk.

"Yes. Take the bracelet off and look for a message inside." said

"This isn't a bracelet!" exclaimed a monk as he slipped it off
of the baby's tiny wrist, "This is a gold wedding ring! The
baby's wrist is so tiny that a wedding ring fits on her wrist."

"Any message inside the ring?" asked a monk.

"No message." replied the monk.

"What will we do with her?" asked a monk.

"We're not an orphanage! We can't keep an orphan here!"
exclaimed another.

"We MUST!" shouted the old, wise monk.

"But why?!" exclaimed a monk.

"Because of THAT!" exclaimed the wise one as he pointed toward
the sky.

The planets Jupiter and Venus looked like one bigger brighter

"It's a sign. This is the female of the convergence!" exclaimed
the old, wise one, "We shall give her the name VENUS."

Venus grew quickly both in body and in mind. By the time she was
three years old, she was as big as a girl twice her age. And she
had learned to read!

"This is why the girl was given to us." explained the wise one,
"Our monastery has the most books and scrolls in the world. With
them, this girl shall me a leader in wisdom."

Sure enough, as her twelfth birthday approached, she was not
only as tall as most of the monks in the monastery, she had read
and understood every book and scroll in the entire library. She
was also an expert in map reading. But her favorite books were
those describing the battles of the greatest conquerors in

One night, as Venus was studied the maps late, late into the
night, she played with the gold ring on her finger. Without
thinking, she took the ring off and played with it some more.
Suddenly, she noticed that by looking at parts of the map
through the ring, she could see things she couldn't see before.

"That's curious!" she exclaimed to herself.

The map was written in black ink, but the secret markings were
written in red. The gold ring had told her where she must go! At
that moment, outside of the library window...

"There it is again!" shouted one of the monks as he pointed to
the sky just before dawn.

"Is it another convergence?!" asked another.

Sure enough, on Venus' twelfth birthday, the planets Venus and
Mars came together close enough in the sky to look like one
bright star.

"What does it mean, wise one?" they all asked.

The wise one wiped away the tears from his eyes and replied, "It
is bad news for us. Mars is the sign of war. The convergence of
Venus with Mars means that our beloved Venus will be going to

"But we all love Venus!" exclaimed a monk.

"Why would she leave us?!" asked another.

Then all eyes turned to Venus as she came out the door of the
library. She wiped the tears from her eyes and said, "As you all
know, I have been studying the maps and battle plans of the
conquerors. I believe it is my destiny to lead an army into

"But you're just a girl!" exclaimed a monk.

"How can a girl lead an army?!" exclaimed another.

"I don't know." replied Venus, "I just know that it's my

"But where will you go?!" asked a monk.

Venus unrolled a map and pointed to the mountains far away,
"There. The soldiers of a wicked king have formed their own army
to overthrow the king. They are training and preparing for war
in these mountains. I will go there and teach them what I have
learned about how to win battles. They will teach me how to

So, Venus said her tearful goodbyes to all of the monks she had
grown to love. She traveled for several days, sleeping in open
fields at night. Finally, she arrived at the camp of the new
army. When she told the soldiers of her plan to lead them in
battle against the wicked king, they all laughed.

"Why would we let a girl lead us in battle?" asked a soldier.

"Because I have studied the battle tactics of the greatest
conquerors in history." she replied.

The soldiers resisted. They let her stay in the camp while they
trained and prepared for battle. But they only let her cook
their food and wash their dishes. But Venus was very smart. She
was able to learn to fight with a sword by merely watching the
best sword fighters fight. She learned to shoot a bow and arrow
by watching the best archers. She learned to fight bare-handed
by watching the best hand-to-hand fighters. And by looking at
them through the gold ring, she could watch them in slow motion
and learn every detail of their fighting.

Finally, as the day of battle approached, Venus saw the leaders
of the new army pointing at a map and discussing how they would
fight the wicked king. Venus looked over their shoulders and
watched for a while, then said, "I disagree."

The soldiers all turned and laughed, "Who are you to tell us
that you disagree with us?!"

Venus replied, "It has been my destiny to lead this army since I
was born."

"Go back to doing your dishes!" exclaimed the leader.

Venus replied, "If I can beat you at swordsmanship and
hand-to-hand combat and archery, will you let me show you how to
defeat the wicked king's army?"

Venus didn't wait for the soldier to reply. She pulled the sword
from the waistband of another soldier and said, "En guard!"

Normally, this leader wouldn't fight a girl. But her boldness
made him mad. He drew his sword and attacked Venus with his
sword slashing and thrusting. She skillfully blocked and parried
each slash and thrust. This only made the soldier madder. He
slashed and thrusted his sword even harder. But she matched his
every move for five minutes, until he was exhausted. Finally,
she saw her opening. She sidestep and with one thrust whisked
the sword out of his hand.

Next, she dropped her sword and put up her fists.

"Now, hand-to-hand combat." she shouted.

Though he was exhausted, the leader was madder still. He ran at
Venus and tried to wrap his arms around her to push her to the
ground. But she side stepped, let him run by, then stuck out her
foot in front of his foot at the last second, tripping him. He
fell face first into the dirt.

When he stood up, she threw him a bow and an arrow.

"Now archery." she demanded as she pointed, "See if you can hit
that tin cup on the table yonder."

All eyes were on the soldier. Everyone in the camp knew that he
was the best archer in the camp. He aimed at the cup and let the
arrow go. But before his arrow hit the cup, Venus' arrow pierced
it and sent it flying.

Now, all eyes were on Venus.

"How did you do that?!" asked the soldier, "You're not even
holding a bow!"

She picked up another arrow and inserted it into her gold ring.
She held the arrow in one hand and the ring in the other, then
let the arrow go. It flew through the ring, through the air and
hit the leaders arrow and split it down the middle.

All of the soldiers gasped and turned to Venus.

"How did you do that?" they asked.

"It's my destiny." replied Venus.

The leader was embarrassed that he had been beaten by a girl in
swordsmanship, in combat and in archery. But he swallowed hard
and pointed to the battle map saying, "Tell us how YOU would
defeat the king's army in battle."

She pointed to a valley near where they had planned to battle
the king's army. She suggested that they lure the king into a
trap by showing him just a few soldiers at the far end of the
valley. When the kings army marches his troops through the
valley, the archers would fire down on his army from the hills

The battle went just as Venus had predicted. But when the
archers and swordsmen came out of hiding in the hills, the
king's soldiers threw down their swords and bows and
surrendered. Not one man was killed.

But when the leader of the rebel army announced that he was
taking the throne from the king, the king reached up his sleeve
and pulled out a knife to stab the new king.

Just then, there was a sizzling sound and what sounded like
broken glass. An arrow shattered the blade of the king's knife!
All eye's turned toward Venus. Venus' gold ring had save the new
king's life. And they all lived happily ever after.

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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