A great king; a greater man
There he was. The King. King Arthur. I went up to him even though he was already talking to some adults.
Envision now. A little girl with pigtails, dressed in a pinafore dress with white tights and Mary-jane shoes tugging on the edge of his sword. He turns, and the child is entranced, but manages to curtsy saying in a very small voice, "Excuse me, your Majesty."
He didn't laugh or say he was busy, but instead, turned to me and came down on one knee. Eye level, I could see tear-stains running down his face.
"Oh, your majesty," I said with six year old fervor and utter belief, wiping at a tear stain, "I'll remember. I'll tell everyone the story of Camelot. I'll tell everyone and it won't be just one shining moment, but will go on forever!"
He smiled at me. Then he stood up and told me to get on my knees. He pulled his long, long sword, Excalibur, from his side and said, "Any young lady who believes so fervently in the ideals of Camelot should become a princess of the realm."
He touched his sword to each of my shoulders and declared, "From this day forward, I, King Arthur dub you a princess of Camelot for ever and a day. And you will tell the stories of Camelot to all. For I have commanded it. Tell the stories of all that is good and right in the world and never forget the magic of this night."
Now I was crying, but they were happy tears. About that time, my parents arrived and gently led me away. I was entranced, but more, knew that that was my quest in life. I would be a teller of stories. The King had told me that was what I had to do.
Now, to quote Paul Harvey, I shall tell you 'The rest of the story.'
Fast forward forty years. I am in a Christmas Eve line at a bookstore, arms loaded with books. So is the lady behind me as we stand in the line halfway through the store from the registers. Another customer pushes through and both of us drop our arms-full of books. Sorting out whose were whose, I noticed she had a book by Graehme Jenkins. As did I.
(Now back when I was six, the king was King Arthur. No more, no less. I didn't know he was Richard Burton until years later. I now knew he'd been born Richard (called Dickon) Jenkins. Graehme Jenkins' book was a biography of Richard Burton. )
The lady and I began talking about the book. Turns out she is the adopted daughter of Hilda (Richard's sister) Jenkins from Pontrhydyfen, Wales. So, of course, I told her my 'Camelot' story. She began grinning. "That was one of Dickon's favorite stories!" she told me. "I always wondered about that little princess. But I bet you don't know the rest of the story."
I didn't know there was a 'rest.'
Turns out that the three gentlemen that King Arthur had been talking to were the producer, the director and Ed Sullivan. They'd been talking about the poor ticket sales and were discussing the possibility of closing the show. But Ed Sullivan was so entranced by the little girl that believed so in the King, that he invited Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet to be on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' the following night singing some of the key songs from the play. By the time the show was over, shows were sold out for the next six months.
Heck of a rest of the story! And yet, for me, the story is of a king of men who charged me with telling stories. And I have done it ever since. Any time I would think of giving up, I remembered and would push on. After all, I was commanded to by King Arthur. As the lady in line told me, "Rich always said that that little girl sparkled." And, she added, “You still do!”