After finding their way out of the pitch-black castle and selecting a good horse from the royal stables, Emily and the king rode to the far end of the kingdom. The night was dark and stormy, but big wool cloaks kept them, for the most part, warm and dry.
By the time they reached the forest, Emily’s rear end was very sore from sitting on the saddle, but she was a big girl and didn’t complain.
“The gate is somewhere here in this forest,” the king explained. “It cannot be found except by using magic. How did that riddle go again?”
Emily recited the rhyme with only one yawn in the middle. It was, after all, very much past her bedtime.
“A song,” repeated the king. “I don’t hear any music, do you?”
Emily listened, but the only sound that met her ears was the soft thud of the horse’s hooves on the dirt path. “Perhaps we should sing a song,” she suggested.
The king laughed in surprise. “What a clever idea!” he exclaimed. “It is a very good thing that you are with me. Which song shall we sing?”
Emily sang the first song that popped into her head:
Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
The king joined in with his enviable tenor voice, and magic began to prickle in the air. Emily didn’t even notice at first that the trees had begun to move. She gasped, but then remembered to keep singing, watching as they danced to the song. Two trees came up on either side of the path before them, bending until their branches touched. They were creating an archway!
“The gate!” cried the king, “We did it!”
They continued to sing until they had passed through the magical archway. On the other side, they saw that the forest no longer existed, only a long stone wall stretching as far as the eye could see across the border between the kingdoms.
Ahead, they could see a castle, very similar to the one they had just left, also on top of a hill and surrounded by a moat. The king urged his tired horse forward towards it, where Celeste was waiting to be rescued.