[Despair] beat them once more, and they laid all day in their dark prison, crying together and wondering whether their troubles would ever come to an end… [Christian had been given] the little key, which was called the Key of Promise, but in his trouble he had forgotten all about it.
Neither [Christian] or Hopeful could sleep that night, and after talking for some time they began to pray to the King and beg Him very earnestly to help them.
“He will hear us,” said Christian, “though we cannot see Him, and I am beginning to feel as if we should escape after all.”
The King did hear the little pilgrim’s prayer, and He sent one of His bright angels to tell them what to do. They did not see the angel, but a thought came suddenly into Christian’s mind…”Oh how silly I’ve been!” he cried, “We have stayed here all these days when we might have gone away. Discretion gave me a little key, and I believe it will open every one of the giants locks…”
They felt carefully in the darkness until they found the lock of the dungeon door, and Christian put the key of promise into it. It turned quite easily, and with beating hearts the boys stepped softly over the threshold and listened. A dim light shone down the passage and they soon found their way to the door that led into the courtyard. This Christian opened also, and not daring even to whisper, Hopeful followed him across the pavement. The moon was shining brightly and only one more door stood between the little pilgrims and the green meadow.
But this lock was very rusty and stiff, and although Christian tried with all his might he could not turn the key. Then the giant’s steps sounded upon the castle stairs… the little pilgrims thought that he would overtake them, and they were ready to faint with fear…
Hopeful put his hands also upon the key. “It is moving!” he said, and in another moment the lock gave way…the boys hastily pulled back the heavy bolts and opened the door. Then Hopeful seized Christian’s hands, and they ran as fast as they could across the broad meadow toward the stile that led into the Way of the King.
(“Little Pilgrim’s Progress”, adapted from John Bunyan’s classic by Helen L. Taylor)
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