Chapter Four: In which we learn a bit more about Christopher

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You may remember that this story is about three people. Arnesse and Claralinda are two of themand as you are fairly well acquainted with them it is time to take a closer look at the third person, Christopher.

Christopher was the eldest son of King Perseus and Queen Andromeda of Utrecht. He had two younger brothers, Albertus and Armand, who he loved dearly even if they were hugely annoying almost all the time. It was because he loved his family so much, and because his parents had taught him well to always do the right thing that a great many things in this story come to pass.

Christopher had, like a great many princes, been educated through various tutors hired by his parents to teach him the many things that a Crown Prince ought to know. Not surprisingly, there were some of these tutors that Christopher liked and others that he didn't, but the one he liked best was Professor Atherton. Professor Atheron had a round face and twinkling eyes behind a pair of very large, round spectacles. At first glance he reminded you of someone's jolly uncle, or perhaps what Father Christmas would have looked like when he was younger. But if you started to speak to him, his appearance pushed these thoughts right out of your head and replaced them with the realization that not only was Professor Atherton an academic genius, but he was also in full possession of his faculties when it came to common sense and practicality. He was, as the saying goes, both book smart and street smart.

It was because Professor Atherton was so capable that he was permitted to take Christopher, Albertus and Armand on an educational trip to the forest that formed the border between Utrecht and Villanova. The forest was full of all sorts of interesting and educational things, according to Professor Atherton, and when he said this he was not just referring to the ordinary flora and fauna. The trip to the forest was indeed interesting and educational. Unfortunately it ended up being the unpleasant sort of interesting and educational that most people will go out of their way to avoid. 

It started out all right, these things always do. Professor Atherton and the three young princes set out from the castle accompanied by two guards and a pack horse and made for the forest. There was a great deal of effort made on the part of the guards and the good professor to impress upon the boys the importance of two very key things: one, that they must listen closely to the grown-ups at all times and two, that they must not, under any circumstances, touch anything without permission. But boys will be boys and they were so excited that they did not listen very well, although they did try. But Armand, in particular, was very excited and only eight years old and was really only giving Professor Atherton half of his attention. No one blamed him for what happened, any more than they blamed Professor Atherton, or the guards. Sometimes things just happen. 

"Professor! Professor, is this The Forest? Are we there?" Armand tried to leap up in his stirrups in order to gain a better vantage point as his pony was, in his opinion, far too small. He succeeded only in startling the poor animal.

"Armand, you asked that at every single tree we've passed. Could you be more silly?" Albertus glared at his younger brother in irritation. He had wanted to ask that question but was bent on proving that he was far more grown up than his silly little brother. He looked resolutely away from Armand's rambunctious energy. Christopher rode up beside his youngest brother and caught the pony's bridle so Armand's antics wouldn't send it bolting. The pony was the calm, stolid sort of pony that grown ups give to excitable young children, specifically because they are unlikely to do things like bolt or throw children off their backs. It looked quite relieved that it was no longer being directed by the excitable human on its back.

"No, Armand, this is not the forest, but if you look over there," Professor Atherton pointed down the small, winding road and a bit to their left, "you will see where the last of the fields end and the trees grow more densely and that, my lad, is the forest."