In a place unnamed and in a time unknown, there was a small quiet town where everyone got along. Everyone always did the same thing every day and were completely content to do so.
Late one evening, a farmer’s wife had a child. It was unlike anything they ever heard of. A girl was born unto them too quickly to notify the doctor. It was a terrible thought for the farmer to lose his daughter.
The farmer steeled his mind and began to sing. He never sang in front of people because he was afraid they wouldn’t like it. No one in the village ever sang out loud. The farmer sang a beautiful love song he had been working on in secret for his wife. With tears streaming down his face, he sang of his love and devotion all the while rubbing his daughter’s body hoping to bring her back.
Time continued to pass and he was determined not to fail and sang louder until it felt as if the very house were echoing in harmony. All of a sudden the daughter began to show signs of life. Her lips regained their color and finally she cried to the heavens with a voice that proclaimed life. It was the most joyful noise either of them ever heard.
The doctor arrived the next day and was astounded at the recounting of the story. Never in all his years of practice had he heard of a child enduring such pains at birth and live. He asked to examine her while secretly hoping she was not complicated by the birth.
During the examination, he could find nothing wrong. Her lungs were healthy. She had a full range of motion and was fully alert with her senses. When he listened to her heart, he noticed something different. He listened intently for several minutes with eyes that bespoke of disbelief.
“It cannot be,” the doctor said as he slowly sat upright. He quickly gathered his things and hastily bade them all farewell.
As the days passed, the child grew quickly. Every parent is both saddened and overjoyed with their children as they advance through life. The farmer and his wife were never happier than when they saw the smile on their daughter’s face.
The farmer fell into the habit of singing his daughter to sleep in the evenings. His wife’s heart always soared when he sang. He was improving and gaining confidence and was soon singing during the long hours of work in the fields.
At times, his wife would warn him about singing near others. She said that other people may not approve of it. The farmer confidently replied, “Singing is what allows me to feel alive. Do not forget that our daughter lives because of singing. Singing brings about a stirring of life.”
That was how he always responded each time his wife tried to broach the subject. He knew in his heart that singing brought people joy and happiness.
The years went by and the girl grew every day. She was always a happy and cheerfully spirited child. The rains would come and confide them to the house, but the daughter was never saddened because she could see the growth that the water provided for the plants and animals. The school teachers also took note of her happiness and enjoyed having her in class. She never caused any commotion and was always the first to console someone in pain. Her happiness radiated outward as a shining star in the night sky.
Time passes and affects us all in the special way it does. The farmer soon noticed that the young men of the town were speaking to him more concerning his daughter. The farmer was not blind to the effects of time on his daughter.
As he gained more wrinkles and laugh lines around his eyes, his daughter developed into someone of extraordinary beauty. He could tell by how the young men spoke to him that they only saw the outside beauty of his daughter. It saddened him to see the shallowness of the young men as they would make poor husbands for her.
The next day, he spoke with his daughter about what she wanted in a husband. She would be of marrying age in a few months and the farmer worried she would not find a worthy husband that would love her for who she really was. His daughter was no fool as her parents brought her up to think matters of importance through before answering. She requested the remaining hours of the day to prepare an answer. This pleased the farmer greatly as it showed that she truly was ready for marriage.
During morning meal the following day, the daughter announced that she had an answer prepared. When the meal was finished, they began cleaning up and the girl began stating her answer.
“Poppa, I would like someone that loves me for more than just my physical beauty. Momma has taught me that beauty will fade over time, but true love is more than outside appearances. When I am older, I would also like to have the laugh lines like the two of you have,” her parents looked at each other and smiled because they knew exactly what she meant.
Her father winked at his wife and turning to his daughter said, “I would like for you to stay home and not see anyone for the next couple days.”
With a confused expression, the girl asked, “Why should I stay home? I need to get food from the town that we need for meals.”
Enclosing her hand in his, the farmer looked his daughter in the eye and said with all the love in his heart, “Trust me and do what I ask.”
After a pause, she nodded and said, “Yes, Poppa.”
The farmer had an idea in his mind and he knew exactly how to find his daughter a suitable husband. With a large smile on his face, the farmer began singing one of his favorite songs as he slipped on his boots to begin his day.
The sun was shining brightly and the gentle breeze refreshing. It was a beautiful day and after completing his chores, he set out to town to buy some food for the meals that he was unable to grow himself.
He was a crafty minded man and his plan was simple. To act as though nothing was seriously wrong when in fact he would make it sound terrible. His grandfather had taught him the art of storytelling and he loved telling his wife stories he crafted. This would be the best performance he ever exhibited.
Upon arriving in town, he went straight to the market. Knowing that the best food was sold first was a driving factor for him to get there all the sooner. He despised the bruised fruit and mishandled vegetables. It revealed the lack of care and attention of the vendors.
As he quickened his steps, some of the boys that had talked to him the weeks before took notice of him and ran to catch up.
They questioned him as they walked, “Where are you going in such a rush?”
“I need to get to the market before the good stuff is all sold out,” he told them.
“Where is your daughter? She is usually the one that comes to get the food.”
The farmer replied casually, “She is at home. Not feeling the best today.”
The boys looked downtrodden. The farmer knew what was in their hearts. They merely liked speaking to his daughter because of her looks. They were not worthy of her.
Arriving at the apple stand, he asked about his favorite apple variety.
“I’ve got some here, sir” the boy replied. “What brings you to town today? Your daughter is usually the one that comes to buy the apples. Is all well with her?” the boy nervously asked.
Acting as though everything was fine, he replied, “She is at home. Not feeling the best today.”
The boy looked as though he had been given terrible news. As the farmer said his goodbyes, the boy grabbed something from under his cart and rushed to stop the farmer.
“Wait!” the boy called out. “Please give these to her for me,” the boy said as he placed two oranges in the farmer’s bag.
The farmer returned home that day with a smile on his face.
As the farmer sat down to the evening meal with his family, he recounted his day for them. He told them all the details he noticed of the other boys that didn’t care enough to try to help. The farmer had always loved the fruit from the young man’s cart. It was always freshly picked and well taken care of. The farmer would pour over his fruit whenever he was in town just to see if he could find some blemish in the young man’s produce. He could never find anything to complain about.
The next few days the farmer continued his charade of his daughter’s illness. Each time someone asked about his daughter, he would embellish the story with more horrible and terrible details until it seemed that she was surely going to die. Eventually, the boys stopped asking about his daughter’s well-being.
The young man, on the other hand, was at his wits end. He didn’t know what else to do. Each time the farmer came to his cart, he would ask about her health and whether or not she had been eating the fruit he sent her. Hearing that she was getting worse was destroying the young man’s heart. He missed the conversations they had. The conversations were always short because he was shy around her but none-the-less, he enjoyed them. Everyone else only complained about his prices.
Finally, the young man could take it no more. He summoned the doctor and hurried him to the farmer’s daughter. Banging on the door repeatedly until someone opened the door, the young man was desperate. He wanted the young girl to be healthy. He missed seeing her smile. He longed to see her again, and perhaps gain an opportunity to talk to her.
Finally, the door opened and there stood the young girl in the doorway.
“Good morning gentlemen,” she said with a smile.
The young man was in shock. He couldn’t believe his eyes. There she stood, healthy and whole. There had been nothing wrong with her the entire time.
The doctor cleared his throat to bring the young man back to sorts.
“Won’t you come inside and have some tea? Mother is heating some water” the young girl asked the men.
The doctor responded, “I would love some.” He elbowed the young man to get an answer from him as well.
“Yes,” was all the slack-jawed young man managed to say.
The young girl escorted the men to the cushioned chairs they reserved for guests. “I will get Poppa so we can all share some tea together.”
After she left the doctor turned to the young man and said, “If I were you, I would try to manage a few more words to say to her. There isn’t another like her in all the area.”
When the farmer and his daughter returned to the house, the boy immediately questioned the farmer, “Why did you make up the story of her being sick when in fact she is not? I don’t understand.”
The farmer smiled and winked at the doctor as he replied, “The other boys merely saw my daughter as an object of beauty. But you have seen her as a person. That is what I want to see in my son-in-law.”
“Son-in-law!” the boy couldn’t help blurting out.
“Sure. I have scrutinized your produce each and every time I came to market, have I not?” the farmer questioned him.
The boy replied, “Yes, sir. But, I don’t understand what that has to do with marriage to your daughter.”
“Do you not want to marry her? I must have been mistaken to see such care and devotion to another. I do not want to force your hand nor hers.”
Getting more confused by the moment, the boy answered the farmer, “If I may, I would like to get to know her better before we jump into marriage. We have only spoken a few times. What if she doesn’t like me?”
“And what if I do?” the young girl interjected.
At this point, the young man was completely at the end of his rope. He did not know what to say or do.
Looking the young man in the eye, the farmer said, “I want you to listen to my words. No one else in all the area cares for my daughter the way you do. No one else gave me extra food to help get her better. No one else cared enough to bring the doctor to see her. No one but you. As I mentioned earlier, I have inspected your fruit multiple times to try to find some blemish. Some bruising to show signs of mishandling. I have never found anything that would signify neglect from you. You have proven yourself to be worthy of marrying my daughter should the two of you decide to.”
Momma had been silent the whole of the conversation until finally she spoke up, ” I think the young ones need some time to decide for themselves whether or not marriage would be right for them.”
“I agree,” the doctor chimed in.
After everyone finished their tea, they cleaned up and departed their separate ways.
As the following months progressed, the young adults came to know each other better. They had a regular afternoon conversation as she came to get some of her father’s favorite apples. Each time they departed, the young man could be heard humming a cheerful song to himself.
After a harsh winter ended and spring brought forth new growth of the apple orchards, the day had finally arrived. The day that the young man would meet his beautiful bride for the first time. He was both anxious and excited. He couldn’t believe that she had agreed to marry him when he asked her just weeks before. This was going to be one of the happiest days of his life.
The ceremony was held in the middle of the apple orchards. It seemed only fitting for the young couple, as it was the apples that brought the two of them together. It was a wonderful ceremony. The trees had bloomed in their full glory for the couple and the early flowers provided a stunning bouquet for the bride.
After all of the festivities were completed, the young couple lay on the rug in their new home. The sunset had been one of the most beautiful they had seen in a long while. The young woman looked at her new husband and smiled.
“I want you to hear something.” the young girl said.
Curious, he smiled back, “What is it?”
“I want you to listen to my heart and tell me what you hear.”
Hesitantly, he leaned in he asked, “What will I hear?”
“I don’t know. The only one that has ever listened to my heart is the doctor and he never spoke of it to anyone. I want to know what he heard.”
After adjusting his ear to be able to hear, she relaxed and steadied her breathing. The young man listened with great interest. What he heard was unlike anything he ever imagined.
He slowly sat back and looked at her with wonder in his eyes.
His only words were, “It can’t be.”