“Are you a wizard?” Violet asked in wonder.
The old man smiled as he poured the tea. “I certainly am… the Good Wizard, in fact, and friend and faithful servant of the Great King. But-” he handed a steaming cup to his guest, “you may call me Judson – no! Uncle Judd. Because no one else does.”
“Uncle… Judd?” she tried out the name cautiously as she studied the cup that fit so comfortably in her hand. “You have the very same tea set that I had back at the castle.”
“Oh, really?” the wizard tried to act surprised, but used a tone that revealed that he was not surprised at all. “I collect tea cups on all my travels, and the Great King gave that one to me as a gift long ago. I thought it might comfort you to hold a little reminder of home, my lady.”
“Home…” Violet murmured as she breathed in the familiar scent of jasmine. “I’m not sure what that really means. I don’t really know where I belong, though I have been trying- wait, how do you know who I am? And why were you expecting me?”
“Why, the Great King told me about you! He said you were heading my way and could use a place to rest. Sugar or honey?”
“The Great King! He knows me and where I am… and even what I need? But I have been gone for so long, and I am nothing really special, so I don’t know why he would miss me…”
“Nothing special! Oh dear, this is more serious than I thought…” the wizard’s eyebrows knitted together and he frowned with concern into his cup of tea. “You really don’t know who you are, do you?”
Violet blinked back tears and took a sip of tea. “I’m working through that… trying to figure it out… processing it all, you see?”
“I see,” said the wizard carefully. “And how is it coming along?”
Violet’s tears splashed into her tea and she sniffled. “I’m so tired… and I feel so alone, and I want to go home, but I don’t know where that is or what I will do with myself when I get there.”
“But my lady, your home is the Great Castle-”
“But for years I have lived at the castle, and sewed, knitted, read books, drank tea, and kept my private rooms in order, because that is what a good girl of noble blood does – I acted like a Lady because that was what I was supposed to do. And everything I do makes me happy, but I never feel fulfilled. And I don’t want to just live happily – I want to live fully. But I have been everywhere and seen everything and tried everything, and nothing truly satisfies, so I am afraid that ‘happily ever after’ is all I will ever know…”
Uncle Judd cleared his throat and rubbed his bald head nervously, as he was not accustomed to comforting weeping young women. But he reached into his pocket and drew out a small envelope. “This is for you,” he said and handed the card to Violet.
She opened it and found a card inside that simply said:
Please come home and see me.
~ Your loving King
“I think,” Uncle Judd said slowly, “that if you obey the King, all your questions will be answered.”