They finally came to the end of the path, which dropped into the moat that separated them from the castle. The drawbridge was raised against invaders.
“What was the second part of the riddle?” the king asked, dismounting.
“A smile.” Emily answered, as he lifted her out of the saddle and placed her on the ground.
“Shall we try smiling, then?” he asked.
Emily already wore a grin that seemed to light up her beautiful face.
They smiled at each other, looking around waiting for something to happen. Emily’s cheeks were already starting to hurt.
“I feel rather silly right now,” admitted the king through clenched, bared teeth.
Emily frowned. “Maybe there is something more.” She looked around. There, by the opposite side of the dead end path, a lone beggar sat, watching them. Because it was still dark, Emily had not noticed him at first. She pointed him out to the king.
“I did not see him there,” remarked the king, still smiling.
The two walked over to the beggar, towing their horse along and wearing friendly smiles. The beggar sat where he was and did not smile back. In fact, he had the saddest look on his face that Emily had ever seen.
“Hello,” Emily greeted the beggar. “What’s your name?”
The beggar said nothing.
The king looked around. “Good sir, could you please tell us how to get to the castle? We need to drop the drawbridge. Something about a smile, we think.”
The beggar still wasn’t responding.
“How do we make him smile?” Emily asked the king.
“I’m not sure his smile is the one we want.” Edward replied. “But I suppose it’s worth a try. Perhaps we should tickle him, or give him a present.”
Emily thought for a moment. “We should tell him a joke,” she decided.
“Excellent plan!” agreed the king. “Do you know any good jokes?”
“Just one,” replied Emily. “But it’s a knock-knock joke, and the man won’t speak.”
“That’s easy,” the king assured her. “I’ll speak for him.”
“Okay,” Emily grinned. “Knock, knock.”
“Interrupting cow wh—”
King Edward was shocked at first, then he started to chuckle. “Ah, I understand!” he exclaimed. “You were an interrupting cow and you interrupted me!” He let loose a hearty laugh.
They watched the beggar’s expression, closely, but it didn’t change.
King Edward sighed. “I guess we’re going to have to find another way into the castle.”
“Wait!” Emily exclaimed.
The king looked back at the beggar in time to see a wide grin spread slowly across the man’s dirty, unshaven face. They heard a loud slam and felt the ground quiver beneath them – the drawbridge now spanned the width of the moat.
Emily and Edward grinned at each other and jumped onto the horse, galloping over the bridge in seconds.