What was that? I span around to see a shrieking woman with a crying baby in her arms and a furious Lord raising his whip. I run. How can I let a young mother and possibly new born be trampled by a raging horse and have a whip crack on their backs? I just can't let that happen! I shove the woman out of the way and shout to her a single, yet sharp word, "RUN!" I feel a slash across my back like a burst of fire. I struggle to keep from screaming out in pain. I roll out of the way just in time to miss the hooves of the horse as they thrash the ground next to my head. I scramble up as the Lord curses and throw his fist in the air as he lays another burst of flames on my spine, but this time I don't fall, I keep running. I run with all the strength I had left after the woman who's slowing from the weight of her baby. My back is screaming in pain! I know it's bleeding, but I have to get the two to safety. I catch up with the crying girl and snatch the babe from her arms and cradle him in one arm while grabbing the hand of the girl in the other. I hear harsh voices and trampling hooves behind us. They are catching up to us. We turn into a dark alley and hide behind a stack of boxes and crates as we hear the guards ride past. The girl looks at me surprised that a twelve-year-old girl just saved her life! My back is screaming and we are both gasping for breath. I hand her the sleeping babe. "Thank you, for saving us," she said.

"You're welcome," I reply as I check to see if the guards have found us. They haven't.

"What's your name?" she asks. I have a bleeding back, out of breath and she wants to know what my name is! I don't mean to be rude or anything, but what would really be useful right now would be if she could bandage up my wound.

"Sam," I simply say instead of the other remarks I really wanted to say.

"I'm Elizabeth and this is Peter," she said as she hugged her baby tighter.

"Do you know where you live from here?"

"Yes."

"Then you should probably get there as soon as possible, before the guards come back."

She nods and says "I hope we meet again," then she ran off with Peter asleep in her arms. "

"I really doubt that will happen," I mutter under my breath. My eyes follow her until she turned around the corner and vanished.

I decide that the coast is clear and stroll out the way we came in a while ago. As I turned around the corner I quickened my pace…. Big mistake! I ran into a huge man, a guard! He shouted something I didn't understand and the next thing I knew, I was surrounded by about fifteen guards and in the middle of it all was the angry Lord! His face was as red as a cherry and his belly as round as a pumpkin! Lord Cherry Face was huffing and puffing with anger and exaggeration. He points is sausage finger at me and says," She's….. The… one. Give….. Me… the…. Whip!" One guard hands Cherry Face the meanest looking whip I've ever seen! The Fire! Its pain was like nothing I've ever felt before. I try to escape only to be grabbed by two guards and have another flame catch on my back. The pain is way too much for me! It splashes again and again! My knees give way from beneath me and I collapse on the floor. The dark is closing in. I don't think I can take it anymore!

"Stop!" Who was that? Well, whoever he is he made Lord Cherry Face stop the whipping. I struggle to stand, my knees are shaking, my back is screaming, tears are rolling down my face and the blood from my back is seeping through my shirt and will probably be bloodstained until I find another one in the garbage. I look up and see a man. An important looking man on an important looking horse. As the rest of my tears fall, I notice a crown sitting on the man's head. King Richard! I study his features. His beard was neatly trimmed and his clothes were elegant, but the thing my eyes kept falling on was his eyes. I haven't seen eyes look at me so tenderly and lovingly in a long time. When people do look at me all I can see is "look at her," "oh look, another street rat." But these eyes spoke something different. They showed love. Love that I've only seen looked on another, never on me. I never wanted him to stop looking at me like that.

"What is your name, child?" He spoke, in such a loving tone.

"Sam," my voice was nothing more than a squeak. I cleared my throat, "Sam."

"Ah, Samantha. I saw what you did to protect that woman."

"Yes, um… Sir. I, uh…." I stammer.

"And I congratulate you! It takes great courage to give your back to save another. You will be rewarded greatly."

I was shocked! "Um… that's not necessary, sir."

"Hmmm, I see," he's pondering over something. What? How he's going to punish me? How he's going to make my life even more miserable than it already is? No, his eyes speak differently.

"Samantha, do you have any family?"

"No," I say softly. I look at my feet and try to forget the question.

"I'm sorry to hear that," he scratches his chin and again I wonder what he's thinking. "Samantha, do you know my wife, Penelope and I don't have any children?"

I really wish he stopped calling me Samantha. Wait! What did he just ask me? "Yes?"

"Would you like to be our child?"

That question made me forget all about Lord Cherry Face, my bleeding back and even Elizabeth and Peter. Have a family again, with the king! I haven't had a family in four years! Now I have the chance to be in one again. Am I going to pass up an offer like that? No way! I put a smile on my face and answer "Sir, I would love to be part of your family."