Over the next few days, Violet learned how to weed the vegetable garden, harvest the fruit from the orchards, and prune the King’s famous golden roses. Every plant she tended grew and blossomed, and what she didn’t realize was that she was inching further and further away from the castle every day.
“Maybe this is who I am?” she pondered with Loyala one evening. They were sitting on her favorite window seat, admiring the sunset over the kingdom in crimson, lemon, and golden hues.
“Maybe…” Loyala said thoughtfully, “but the world is a very big place. Maybe you should explore it more, and seek who you are in the Great Kingdom Beyond.”
And so, the next morning, Violet took a small bag of belongings and left the castle. She found a job in the village nearby at a bakery, where she learned all about how to bake bread and craft delicious pastries. Then she spent some time helping the local librarian organize and catalogue a mound of musty ancient books. Then she substituted for the school master while he went on a six-week quest of research, assigned by the Great King.
Violet became more brave and adventurous, and as time passed, she went even further away – caring for orphans in the Elvish colony, clearing paths in the Great Forest, and making dresses for duchesses in other realms. Even then, everything she put her hand to brought delight to Violet’s heart and blessings to others. But when she was alone at night, she would drink her tea and search the dim eastern horizon for a glimpse of the Great Castle, and wondered, “Is any of this who I am meant to be? Who am I?”
After weeks and months of traveling, working, trying, and wondering about her identity and purpose, Violet was weary and frustrated. She could not understand how she could enjoy so many things but at the same time feel like she didn’t belong in any of it. She came upon a cottage in the forest, and decided maybe it was time for her to stop searching and rest a while.
As she approached the door and before she could knock, an elderly man with a bald head and long, white beard opened the door and exclaimed, “There you are, Violet! And not a moment too soon! The kettle has just started to whistle. Come in, come in, for a cup of tea!”
Violet did not know what to think of this greeting. She was sure she had never met this person before, and was nearly as certain that she had never planned or been invited to have tea at his house. But he was so warm and welcoming, and the idea of tea time was so pleasing, that it seemed very natural to go inside the wide open door. The room was rather dim, lit by several tall candles on stands and shelves, because there were no windows at all. There were cabinets full of crystal bottles that were corked and carefully labeled, and when Violet looked closer, she saw that they were everything from “Raspberry Cordial,” to “Iocane Powder,” to “Pixie Dust.” Beside the cabinet was a bookcase stuffed with fat textbooks, the titles of which were as peculiar to Violet as the labels on the bottles: How to Transform Bad into Good, The Joy of Potion-Making, and The Particular Recipes of the Great King.