In Bangkok, Siam (which would later come to be known as Thailand), in 1862 a strong-willed, widowed schoolteacher, Anna Leonowens, arrives at the request of the King of Siam to tutor his many children. Anna's young son, Louis, fears the severe countenance of the King's "Prime Minister" the Kralahome, but Anna refuses to be intimidated. She teaches her son to "Whistle a Happy Tune" whenever he is afraid. The Kralahome escorts them to the palace; he rides on a carried chair, while Anna and her son follow on foot behind him. Anna is bristling to confront the King about his broken promise regarding a house for Louis and herself outside of the palace walls. As they await an audience, the King receives a gift from the king of Burma, a lovely girl named Tuptim. The King sends her off to his harem of wives, dismissing the young man who delivered the gift, Lun Tha, who has fallen deeply in love with Tuptim. The King turns to go, so Anna marches up to him, demanding to be heard. She is taken aback by the King's dominance, as he claps his hands and orders her to "stand here" to meet the royal children. Anna plans to depart on the waiting ship if she does not get what has been promised to her, but she is so taken with the children that she decides she will stay. She announces that she will pursue the topic of the house later.
For the next several weeks, Anna proceeds to teach the children songs, proverbs, and poems all having to do with longing for a home. The King...
(The entire section is 1330 words.)
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