Helen, Age 10, Calgary, AB

This story is about a girl of 15 who is married to the Lord of the Sican Tribe, which is later on conquered by the Incans. The Sicans' main god was Naymlap (say Name-lap) and was very sacred.

Akia walked slowly, practicing a procession. Thirteen-year-old Akia was married to the Sican lord, and therefore was expected to attend to all religious ceremonies with the Lord. Many other young girls would be jealous of Akia, but she sometimes wished that she was still a goldsmith’s apprentice.

“Akia!” called a servant. “Our lord wants you.”

No-one ever called the Lord by his own name. He was always called “My Lord” or “Lord”. It was considered impolite to address the Lord as “Lord Sican”.

Akia hurried down the elaborate hallways of the palace. Finally she reached the Lord’s chamber.

“What is it my Lord?”

“As you certainly know, today is the most sacred procession of the Sican, and you are probably familiar that we pray to the idol of Naymlap. Earlier I checked to see if everything was ready for the ceremony.”

“And,” the Lord said in a rush, not is his normal authoritative voice, “The statue has been stolen! Whoever did this will be found and severely punished.”

 “Tell me you are mistaken!” pleaded Akia, for she, as every other Sican, valued their gods as much, and sometimes even more than their own lives.

“No, I am not lying, Akia. All we can do is to ask the gods to return the idol as soon as possible.”

She nodded and replied, “Yes, my Lord.”

Akia rushed to her room. She arranged for a servant to contact the adviser as soon as possible.

“The best I can do to advise you is that you should not fret, and be patient.” The adviser’s soothing voice rang in Akia’s ears.

“How can I be patient when the most sacred statue in the Sican tribe has been stolen?” cried Akia.

A sharp knock interrupted Akia’s thoughts. The Lord paced in.

“What is it?” questioned Akia.

“May I ask you something?”

“Of course you may.”

“I am asking you this question because you were a goldsmith’s apprentice. How long would it take to create a statue, made completely out of gold and a cornstalk tall in length?”

Akia knew immediately that the Lord was speaking about the idol of Naymlap. Reasonably tall and made entirely out of gold, it was the most valued object of the Sican people. “You would never be able to construct something that large in less than three seasons.”

The Lord sighed. “Thank you for your instruction.”

He trudged out of her chamber.

Akia glanced out of the skylight. The sun was high overhead in the sky. “Oh, no!” gasped Akia. “I’m late for prayers!”

Akia arrived earlier than she had expected. She was filled with sorrow for the loss of the idol. She paced to the statue next to where the empty pedestal that Naymlap was supposed to rest on. Just as she began to pray, a shimmer of gold caught her eye. Akia glanced beside her. What she saw was absolutely shocking.

It was the statue of Naymlap.

“See?” cried the young goldsmith’s apprentice. “I fixed the statue!”

“You – fixed it”, said Akia blankly.

“Yes, I did. Is there anything wrong with that?” asked the apprentice worriedly.

“Well, er-” Akia tried to break it to him easily. “Everyone thought it was . . . stolen.” Akia said the last word quickly.

“Do you realize that you did not have permission to remove the statue?”

The little boy was now almost in tears.

Akia tried to sooth the apprentice. “I’ll go explain to the Lord, and he’ll probably thank you for fixing it.” Inside, though, Akia trembled with fear for the boy’s life.

The apprentice sniffled. “All right.”

Akia raced to get the Lord.

“My Lord, the statue has been found! And it was not stolen after all. It had to be repaired”, explained Akia.

“What? Where? How do you know?” demanded the Lord.

“Inside the temple, my Lord. And, please, do not punish the goldsmith’s apprentice. He really meant no harm when he fixed it.”

“I will think about it, but I don’t know . . .”

Quickly they strode into the temple. There stood the gleaming statue, and the apprentice nervously shuffled his feet nearby. Akia’s husband stopped. Sternly he said “Are you responsible for the removal and repair of the statue?”

The boy nodded.

“And you know that you should have asked me or your teacher’s permission first.”

“Well my teacher said I was supposed to look for dents or scratches on sculptures, and I found a dent on this one, and I thought I could fix it, so I did”, stuttered the apprentice.

“Thank you for fixing the statue. I praise you for a job well done. Now, if I find a statue that needs repair-work, I will always call you.”

Akia smiled.

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