That was the first and last time anyone in our village was captivated by the idea of “spinning straw to gold”, and life went on as it had before. Slightly better than it had before, for whatever curse had been plaguing our countryside seemed to have abated, and the spring planting went smoothly.
It was the early days of summer when the stranger returned to the village, but this time he came in far greater raiment than he had worn before. His presence- and that of his ridiculous entourage, numbering well over twenty splendidly-clad individuals- drew such attention in the square that he might have saved himself the trouble of asking for the miller, since such a spectacle was slowly but surely drawing the interest of every last person within three miles. But ask for the miller he did, and an enterprising young lad offered to fetch the man in question.
My father was, unsurprisingly for a miller, working his mill. I was out in the fields, tending to my new flock of (non-magical) goats, but the sight of the tanner’s youngest running hell-bent for leather up the lane caught my attention, and I wandered back towards the house just in time to see my father fetch up his hat and hurry out the door with the air of a person who dares not delay.
“Curious,” I said to Bezyl, the coal-gray kid who was lipping nervously at my apron. “What sort of emergency requires the presence of a miller?” Determined to find out, I followed at a brisk pace of my own.
Words cannot do justice to the scene I witnessed upon arriving at the square- the contrast of these noble strangers to our plain villagers was much like a flock of parrots having landed among sparrows, and come off the worse for the comparison. There is nothing quite like standing about in dust and dirt to make gaudy clothes look superfluous. My father was kneeling before the gaudiest of all the gentlemen, one who- to my horror- had a thin circlet on his brow.
“So that’s our new king,” grunted the baker, whom I had drawn up next to.
“That man?” I asked.