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Something's Worth

Summary

A long time ago there was a young woman who had suffered a lot of misfortunes in life. Her parents had recently passed away and she had no siblings or other relatives. She was left alone on her parents' small farm with no one to help her and the crops failed that year because of drought.   There was nothing to eat and she had no money left. She might be able to sell the farm but she did not want to leave the place where she could still feel the presence of her parents and all of their hard work to give her a happy childhood.   "What do I have to give to be able to keep my farm?" she asked aloud to herself.   "What do you think it is worth?" A male voice suddenly spoke and she hastily turned around, coming face to face with a handsome young man.   She was stunned speechless for a long moment, not knowing if this was truly a man or something else entirely, but she was desperate to keep the farm and not starve so she finally spoke, "A fourth of my crops every year, as long as I will not go hungry."   "That sounds most agreeable," the mysterious man said. "Let us seal the deal with a kiss."   The young woman furrowed her brow but took a step forward and pecked the man's cheek. His face lit up with a smile bright as the sun and he clapped his hands together once and vanished into thin air. The woman, feeling even more disconcerted, ran out of her house to see if it was some kind of trick but as soon as she stepped outside she saw her previously barren fields covered in healthy crops ready for harvest. The handsome stranger had made good on his promise and the woman would not starve. She got help from a neighbour to harvest the crops and allowed them to keep half. There was not enough left to sell any after that so she had no money but she could keep her farm.   Another year passed by and the seeds she sowed grew better than she had ever seen in her life and she knew that after the harvest, even if she did used some as trade for labour, she would have enough to eat and sell. She didn't see the handsome stranger for the entire year but the day after harvest he returned.   "I have gathered a fourth of my crops for you as agreed," the young woman said.   "Very well," the handsome stranger replied with a beautiful smile. "Is there anything else you desire?"   "No, thank you, I am quite happy."   So the handsome stranger took a bow and once again vanished into thin air, along with a fourth of her crops.   Several years passed by like this and the young woman was able to fix up her house and build a small barn to keep animals and she was quite content. Word spread about a beautiful unmarried woman with a farm that had the best harvests anyone had ever seen and many men showed up to ask for her hand in marriage. Many of them were nice and quite handsome but the woman always turned them down. She was happy on her own.   Then came one year when the handsome stranger returned. As always he asked if there was anything else that the woman desired and this time she said yes.   "I am of the age where I should think about having a child. That is what I desire."   "What do you think it is worth?" the handsome man asked, not actually such a stranger anymore after all the years that had passed by.   "My heart," the woman replied.   "That sounds most agreeable," the man said and they sealed the deal with a kiss.   After a night together, the handsome man vanished once more and the woman was left alone with her growing belly, knowing that she would not be alone for much longer. Now she hired a couple of farmhands to help her with the work. People gossiped about who the father of the child could be and some even asked her but when they did she only smiled at them and said nothing.   The day of her child's birth arrived and the only one with her was a harried midwife. Going through terrible pain, the woman cried out, "If only he was here with me now."   "What do you think it is worth?" her handsome man asked, appearing suddenly in the doorway and giving the midwife a fright.   "The tears of our child every time they miss their father," the woman replied.   "That sounds most agreeable," he said and they sealed the deal with a kiss.   As such the man would appear more frequently throughout the years to come until their child was all grown up and no longer cried for the often absent father. Instead it was the woman's turn to cry every night and she sleep walked through the days. Her heart was his and did not beat for anything else when he was not there. Their child took care of the farm and had no time to think about the father that never aged and should not be spoken of with anyone else, but tried to cheer up the mother to no avail.   "Perhaps this time you should go with him," their child said on a day before the harvest was completed. "I am grown and married with my own child on the way. I shall not be lonely."   "But it is I who made the promises, he will not aid with the crops if I am not here," the woman said, looking at her child with worry.   "I will be fine, mother. I cannot bear to see you so unhappy."   The mother and child embraced and together they waited for the moment that the harvest was complete. When it was, the man appeared once more, looking just as young and handsome as he always had while the woman had wrinkles and greying hair. Yet he looked at her as if she was the most beautiful thing in the world.   "Is there something else you desire?" he asked, eyes glittering like sunlight hitting the ocean.   "I wish to come with you wherever you go," the woman replied, her heart filled with happiness once more.   "What do you think it is worth?"   "All of my days to come."   "That sounds most agreeable."   They sealed the deal with a kiss and in the brief moment before they vanished their child could see the mother, her youth restored as she waved goodbye with a dazzling smile and she and her man were never seen again.


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