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<span> Now the Kingdom of Fittle was a peculiar place. </span> <span> The banquet went on day after day. </span> <span>The shops stayed open only one hour each day, and laughter and music rippled through the streets at all hours of the night. </span> <span> Everyone was celebrating the Queen s return, although, as Furello soon learned, they usually celebrated year round anyway. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Furello and Kelton were special guests of the Queen and thus were treated royally. </span> <span> Their rooms were the finest in the palace, and before they ever grew hungry, servants brought them heaping platters of food. </span> <span> At night they watched clowns and dancers, jugglers and jesters, and listened to music and funny stories. </span> <span>Time drifted by quite pleasantly. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> At first, Furello and Kelton asked everyone they met the question:  What is the most important thing in the world? But the answers were generally the same. </span> <span> Each person would admit he never concerned himself with such matters, or else would say that it was most important to enjoy being alive and having a good time --or just living in Fittle. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Furello knew this would never satisfy the old prospector. </span> <span> So, as the days passed, he asked the question less and less.</span> <span> But whenever he met the Queen in the garden, he would ask her. </span> <span> For her reply, she would just laugh and say,  Is that still bothering you? </span> <span> Never worry. </span> <span> You will find out. </span> <span> I ll tell you the answer, but not today. </span> <span> It is much too beautiful today to think of such weighty matters. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Soon Furello stopped asking.</span> <span> Just as all the rest of Fittle, he and Kelton were caught up in the festivities, celebrating day and night. </span> <span> One night Furello took Kelton away from the banquet and led him into a fruit grove. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  I have to talk to you, he explained. </span> <span>  Something has been bothering me. </span> <span> I think... he stopped suddenly. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> As though coming from nowhere, an elderly gardener in a white robe appeared on the walk in front of them. </span> <span> In one hand he carried a watering can, in the other he carried a lantern. </span> <span> What Furello first noticed were the man s eyes. </span> <span> In them was a kindness so deep that it seemed to reach into his very heart. </span> </p> <p> <center> <img id="image_09" src="image_s_09.jpg" onfocus="this.src='image_f_09.jpg';" onblur="this.src='image_s_09.jpg';" alt="Furello and Kelton meet the gardener." tabIndex = 0> </center> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Good evening, the gardener greeted them, as if they were old friends. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Good evening to you, returned Furello, who felt an instant liking for the wise looking man. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Hello, Kelton added, a little startled by the gentleman s sudden appearance. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Why are you in Fittle? </span> <span> The gardener s question was direct, but gentle. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Well...uh, Kelton stumbled, taken aback by the straightforward question. </span> <span> As a matter of fact, we are here on a mission of great importance. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  And have you met with success? he asked. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Kelton faltered again,  Uh...well, up to now I cannot say it has been very successful, but I think that now we are getting to the point where... </span> <span>As Kelton nervously tried to explain what they had accomplished in the Kingdom of Fittle, Furello looked into the old man s eyes. </span> <span> For a second he imagined he saw the prospector sitting on a lonely hill staring sadly into space. </span> <span>Then the vision passed. </span> <span> Furello was not sure that he had really seen anything at all, but he felt like telling all he knew to this strange, friendly person. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  We came here to find the answer to the question: </span> <span> What is the most important thing in the world? Furello blurted. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  And did you find it? </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  No, Furello replied excitedly.</span> <span> Then more cautiously added,  I don t think so; people here do not seem to think about such things. </span> <span> Most told me to have a good time and forget about such questions. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Then Kelton chimed in,  Some of our time was spent searching for the Queen. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Furello grew confused. </span> <span> Everyone in Fittle had just said that the Queen must be found. </span> <span>The worried, hopeless faces of the people ran through his mind. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  The people didn t seem to know what to do without the Queen, he answered finally. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Did the Queen know? the gardener asked. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> The question struck Furello deeply. </span> <span> The Queen had never told him anything. </span> <span>Furello had lived many days in the splendid palace, and still he did not know anymore than when he first arrived. </span> <span> The man seemed to realize much more than his questions indicated. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  She said she knew, but... suddenly Furello realized that the Queen didn t know either,  she really did not... </span> <span>Furello s voice trailed off, and he lowered his head in despair. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Unexpectedly, Kelton moaned.</span> <span>  Oh, we have been wasting our time... and... my ships! </span> <span> I must go see my ships! </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Raising his hand to catch their attention, the gentleman said calmly,  The Kingdom of Fittle is known to some as the Land of Forgotten Intentions. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> A smile danced in the older man s eyes. </span> <span>  You might look on the Island of Ekberg, he suggested, and in a twinkling, he disappeared. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Furello and Kelton stood silently for a minute, dumbfounded by the man s disappearance. </span> <span> Then Furello said,  Let s find that island, Kelton. </span> <span>Maybe we will find the answer there. </span> <span>But even if we don t, the important thing is to continue our search. </span> </p> <br> <br> <br> <a href="chapter_8.html">Click here to go to Chapter 8.</a> <br><br><br> <!-- #EndEditable --></td> </tr> </table> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top" bgcolor="#000000"> <table width="100%" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"> <tr> <td><a href="http://www.host-central.net"><img src="../images/template_design_r6_c1.jpg" width="773" height="22" border="0"></a></td> </tr> </table> </td> </tr> </table> </body> <!-- InstanceEnd --></html>