The Maiden Tree
A Short story by Rodney A. Brubaker
Back in the days of old.
When lords and ladies ruled the lands.
A young man left his home and family to go work the orchards of a neighboring baron.
As he began to tend his new lord's trees, he came upon a wonderful discovery.
A young tree that appear to have a face on it.
The man decided to watch this tree as it grew.
In time his work begin to produce fruit.
His liege tasted the them and thought well of his skill.
As time went by, the young tree grew.
Soon its branches reach the height of a small barn.
But what was most surprising was the shape of its trunk.
For it had grown into the image of a beautiful maiden.
The man could not believe his luck!
People would want to come from all round to see this tree.
And they did.
Pilgrims and merchants, even some lords and ladies came to see his tree.
But of course they didn't see it without a price.
He began to make much more than he needed to pay off his taxes to his lord.
And for a time his life was well.
But all time passes.
The old lord dies and is replaced by a new one.
But still the man tended the lands.
As the years went on, the maiden tree grew with them.
Slowly it lost the shape of a young lady as its trunk became wider with age.
Fewer and fewer people came to see the tree.
Soon all that was left of the tree's former shape was a face still present in its surface.
Meanwhile times grew harder for the man.
Soon he was spending the last of the money made from the tree.
Then one night a storm came.
Lightning and wind raged through the orchard and struck at the trees.
In the morning the man came to see the damage done to the orchard.
He found the old maiden tree had lost much of its foliage.
The man thought to himself....
*This tree once served me well. Yet now it's old and useless. If I grow a new one in its place, it will give me more fruit.
Perhaps it may even look like a young maiden as this tree did so long ago.*
The man didn't waste any time.
He went to get an ax to cut down the tree.
Soon the ax was biting into the bark and the tree began to shake from the force of he's swings.
The quivering of the tree shook the water from the storm loose and it started to drip from the leaves.
Some of the water had gather near the tree's face.
With a shake of the tree it ran down the face between its nose and eye.
The man saw this and thought it look like a tear.
Though he knew well it was not.
Yes only water, for trees can't cry.
And so the man finished his work.
A stump was left where the tree once stood.
It would stay there as time passed once again.
In a few years a new young tree was growing next to what was once the maiden tree.
It show no sign of growing a face.
Thus the old man was very disappointed.
He was having a hard time paying his tax to the baron.
And had put much of his hope in this tree.
He return to his home to find the baron himself there with his men!
Immediately he began to plead with his lord to give him more time.
He promised he would make the money to pay his taxes.
But the baron would not hear him.
The old man fell to his knees and with tear begged his lord.
But the guardsmen grabbed him.
They lifted him up and through him out of the door to his own home.
He had now lost his place as the caretaker of the orchard.
After getting up, he slowly walked, as if in a daze.
He had lost all he'd known.
Everything that was his life now gone.
Finally he came to the place among the orchard where the young tree grew.
So use was he to this spot, that he came to it without even thinking.
Still not paying any attention to where he was, the old man sat upon the stump by the young tree and wept into his hand.
Many moment go by before he raises his head.
Looking at the tears that linger on his now wet palms, he thinks to himself.......
*To some people, tears are just water.*
And so time passes..................................
Copyright 2001 by Rodney A. Brubaker
Appreciate the thing you have in life, even after their original use is long gone.
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