A Fairy Tale
Once upon a time there was an old man who lived alone in a forest. He was very lonely because the forest was so dark and deep that no one ever ventured near his home. Because he had no one to talk to he often would sing to himself while he cooked his bread and tended his garden.
One day a passing songbird heard his voice and wandered to his windowsill. “You sing such a sad song,” the bird said to the old man. “What could be wrong?” The old man wandered over to the bird and said to him, “Little bird, I am lonely. All of my children have died and my wife went away.” The little bird told him, “The Lord takes care of you here, the Lord shall make you happy.” The old man nodded and the songbird flew away.
Some weeks later the old man had run out of wheat to make his bread. Though he had money to buy more, he worried. He was not sure if he could make it through the forest to the market. He began to cry, but then the words of the songbird came to him. He prayed to the Lord for help.
Now, when the man was ready to walk through the forest to purchase some more wheat, he spied a white horse galloping toward him along a path he had never seen before. The horse stopped immediately in front of him and said, “I am a gift from the Lord. He has heard your prayers and has answered them. I am to take you to the town and bring you back safely.” The man smiled at the horse. He climbed on the wonderful animal’s back and rode to the town. He bought his wheat, but while in the marketplace he spied a lovely jewel-encrusted ring that he wished he could have. In his whole lifetime he had never seen such fine jewelry. He offered the white horse in trade for the ring and the merchant accepted.
On his way back toward his home in the deep forest, the Old Man became lost and very tired. He prayed again to the Lord for help, hoping that again he would send him another horse. Many hours did pass, but another horse did not come. The Old Man was singing to himself, as he often did, and the songbird came down and landed on his shoulder. “Where has your beautiful horse gone?” asked the bird. “I traded it for this ring” said the old man. He took the ring from his pocket and showed it to the bird.
But the Lord had become angry with the old man. The ring had been turned into a stone in his pocket and his wheat had turned to mold. Now he had nothing, and all his money was gone. The Songbird said to him, “If you pray for forgiveness then perhaps the Lord shall pity you and help you again.” The old man did this, but he did not get help, for the Lord was still very angry with him. Instead a bear was sent to scare him and make him show remorse.
So it was that when the old man walked a little further on he saw the bear that the Lord had sent. The old man became very scared of the bear and tried to run away. But the bear chased him and cornered him against a tree. The bear growled and the old man began to cry for mercy. “Please, Lord, let me live.” he said. “I shall return to the market and find your horse.” The Lord did pity him now, and he spoke through the Bear. “Return my horse to the forest and you shall be happy and never go hungry again.”
So the old man returned to the market and told the merchant that he must have his horse back. The merchant agreed, but when the old man tried to return the ring that had been turned to stone, the man grew very angry and threatened him. “You nasty old man” he said. “You are trying to trick me. I shall never give you back the horse now!” The old man was despondent; he did not know what to do. Now, though, the talking songbird landed on his shoulder and said to the merchant, “The Old man does this for his beloved Lord. Please return the horse to him.” The merchant had never heard such a sweet voice as that of the songbird. He was entranced and did just what the bird asked.
When the horse was returned to the forest the old man felt healthy and strong and was able to walk home without growing lost or tired. At home the old man was greeted by his long lost wife. He kissed her and asked where she had been. She had been turned into the songbird by bad fairies but the Lord had broken the spell and now they could live together in happiness. And that is just what they did. When they died some years later, the Lord claimed them and brought them up to Heaven to be happy forever in eternal paradise.
The Old Man and the Lord: copyright 1999-2020 by Adam Trionfo. All rights reserved.
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