chapter 1
Adventures of patch panda

 Most panda bears in the land of Yot had a ring of black fur around each of their two eyes. A few pandas of Yot, however, had been born with a ring of black fur around only one eye, and Patch Panda was one of them.

Having a ring of black fur around only one eye didn’t trouble Patch Panda, most of the time, because he was a very handsome panda bear, but pandas with a black ring around only one eye, were not allowed to go to palace parties. Poor Patch wanted, very much, to go to the King’s Yearly Birthday Ball. He was sad that he would not be allowed to go to the biggest party of the year in Yot. 

     One-Ring-Pandas were not even allowed to talk to regular pandas in public places. Also, they were given all the worst jobs in panda land. They had to pick up all the dirty old candy wrappers and newspapers that naughty pandas threw in the streets of Yot.

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     Patch fans beetles off the King's rose bushes. Princess Panda throws down a cloak

All summer long, while other pandas could spend their time at the beach playing in the sand and sea and drinking cool lemonade, One-Ring-Pandas had to chase all the beetles off the rose bushes in the King’s Palace Gardens. In the cold winter, they had to chop all the wood for the big palace fireplaces and shovel all the snow from the streets of Yot. Other Pandas were warm and cozy at home drinking hot chocolate and raspberry tea, cooking tasty, hot soup and warming their feet by the fireplace.
       Poor Patch Panda! It was not much fun to be a One-ring-panda in the Land of Yot, but it was not the work Patch had to do that bothered him. He was a healthy and strong young panda bear with plenty of energy for work. What did bother Patch was that he would not be able to go to the King’s Birthday Ball and meet Princess Pandora Panda as all the other young men-pandas could do. Not being able to dance at the party and say hello to the beautiful Princess Pandora Panda made him very sad, indeed. The strangest things were to happen to change all that. 

     One summer day, as Patch was chasing beetles off the King’s rose bushes, he had seen Princess Pandora Panda walking through her father’s Palace Gardens, and, he had fallen in love with her, at first sight! She was the most beautiful young lady-panda in all of Yot, and she smiled and spoke very sweetly to all the One-Ring-Pandas who worked so hard in the King’s Gardens. Patch had seen her pick up a bird that had fallen from its nest and return it to its mother. He had seen her sneak lemonade from the palace kitchen to give to the One-Ring-Pandas on hot days in the garden. She had brought him cool lemonade many times, and he had fallen in love with her kindness, because it matched her beauty.

     King Percival Panda of Yot was very strict with his subjects, and Patch didn’t dare break the Laws of the Land to speak to Princess Pandora, for if he did he would certainly be punished very badly. He only bowed, like the other One-Ring-Pandas working in the garden when she served him lemonade that she sneaked from the Palace Kitchen to be kind to the poor workers. 

     King Percival Panda was not just any old panda!

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   King Percival on his throne by Grandma Daniela

He, of course had been born with three black rings. The middle one was on his head under his crown. His crown was not just any old crown, either! It gave whoever wore it magical powers. All questions could be answered correctly, and any problems solved just by wearing The Magic Crown. Every thing the King said was considered to be true, even it if wasn’t. What the King said was the Law of the Land was the law, even if it wasn’t fair. 

     Many of the little pandas who went to school wished that they could wear King Percival’s crown while they did their homework. Patch Panda wished he could wear it to figure out why all pandas of Yot should not be treated fairly and be allowed to palace parties, no matter how many rings of black fur they had around their eyes. No one but King Percival ever got to wear The Magic Crown for even one second.

     One fine summer day, Patch Panda was chasing beetles off the King’s rose bushes just under Princess Pandora’s window. As he worked, he daydreamed of how nice it would be at the King’s Birthday Ball. All the important pandas would be there in their finest capes. The handsome young panda-men would dance with Princess Pandora. Everyone would drink raspberry punch, pink lemonade and eat chocolate-chip cookies. There would be ice cream and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They would laugh and talk and play “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” and sing “Happy Birthday” to the King. 

“What a good time they will have!” thought Patch. “How I wish I could go!”

     He sighed loudly and drooped his head, fanned and fanned, chasing away the beetles in the hot summer sun with his tired paws, under Princess Pandora’s window.

What Patch didn’t know was that Princess Pandora was watching him! She was sitting in her window just above the garden where Patch was working.

Princess Pandora was sewing pretty patterns of stitches on a fine purple cape she was making for her father’s birthday present. She heard a loud sigh and looked down and there was Patch looking very sad.

“That poor young panda-man,” thought Princess Pandora. “How sad he looks chasing beetles in the hot summer sun and sighing so! I wish he were not so sad!”

Then Princess Pandora had a wonderful idea. She quickly finished the last few pretty stitches she was sewing on the fine purple cape, and, without thinking twice, she held the cape out the window as far as she could and said loudly, as if she were talking to someone: 

“Oh, I am just going to throw this purple silk cape right out the window! These stitches just didn’t come out looking the way they should. Whoever finds this purple cape is certainly welcome to keep it, because I certainly don’t want it. I am going to toss it right out this window for whoever wants it!”

     With those words, she let the cape go, and it floated down and landed lightly on Patch’s head, covering his eyes. Before he could pull it away and look up, the Princess was gone from the window.

     Patch looked at the beautiful cape and thought how lucky he was to have been the one to find it there in the garden. “Not only is it a beautiful cape, but it is really stitched very nicely!” thought Patch. “Anyone can see that this cape is good enough for a king! Why, it’s probably nicer than any cape that will be worn by any young panda-men at the King’s Birthday Ball!”

     Then, suddenly, Patch Panda had a wonderful and daring idea!