Monday, 4 April 2016

To have it all

The path to ones truth is sometimes fraught, but always worth it.”

There was once a noblewoman who thought she had everything in life (and who knows, maybe she did). Why, she was beautiful and because of this she was well thought of, married a rich man of high standing.
One day she heard that visiting her town was an old wise woman. Although she was wise she was poor and lowly, living only off what other people gave her, and because of this it was frowned on to visit her.
Despite this, the noblewoman visited her one day as she gave a talk to the towns people. At the end of the old woman's speech the noblewoman put up her hand and spoke. “I have heard all that you say, but I don't understand how one such as you can have all the answers when you have nothing. Look at me; I have a husband who loves me; I have wealth (more than I know what to do with) and am adored for my beauty, and loved by all. Surely I have all the answers.”
The old woman pondered this and then said, “No, not yet you don't… but you will, soon.” And the crowd dispersed leaving the noblewoman and her friends puzzled, but in good cheer none the less.
As they departed the noblewoman felt a stirring in her stomach and tingling over her face, as if she had been stung by a nettle but she slept soundly that night thinking no more of it.

The next morning the mirror brought forth the face of a complete stranger. Where once was a maiden, beautiful and fair now showed a drawn and haggard face; the features on one side drooped as if it was wax melted by a candle flame.
She tried to scream but only an unholy moan escaped her formless lips. The housemaids that came to seek the source of distress turned and fled in horror at the intruder who sat at their mistresses bedside table now.
The husband, who was made of sterner stuff -as men were back then- could not bare to be seen near her. He called for a physic but not even letting or leaching could cure her. She could not even communicate to him, barely able to make anything more than a grunt or groan now.
But her husband did not want to know, for in truth he had been unfaithful to her for a long time and now he had the excuse that he'd been looking for. Having heard of his wife meeting the old woman (despite it being frowned upon) he accused her of trafficking with the Devil. As the evidence was so obvious and there were no other reasons why she could be so cursed, he divorced her easily leaving her with no money or means.
Her church, which she had always kowtowed to, banished her, not only for trafficking with the Devil, but for being divorced as well and her friends paid her no heed; so she was ostracised; banished to the far woods where no one would see her again.
And so she stayed for many years.

Life was hard, but not impossible. In everything she did she surprised herself and found herself capable of more things that she had ever dreamt of. Always she had let her husband tell her things, do things for her and always they had been wrong. (back then it had mattered not for they had been so rich) But now she realised that she was wise in her own way.
She was resourceful and carved a new life for herself. She taught herself to talk again by listening to the sounds of the animals and birds; taught herself how to weave by the birds and their nests and taught herself to prepare food by learning what berries and roots were safe and good to eat.
She had no money but soon her weaving became known and people travelled far and bartered with her; and whilst she wove for them they would speak to her and ask her many questions. She would reply and explain the ways of the wood to them and the people would leave warmer but also wiser as well.
And soon the people came just to hear her speak and she thought nothing of it.

One day the old woman visited her and smiled when the once noblewoman asked her about the cryptic comment she had made last time they had met.
You thought that you had everything back then.” The old woman spoke. “Wealth, beauty.. you thought you had it all. What did you really have?”
So what did you lose then?” The old woman asked.
And yet despite having nothing now you are the one people travel miles to hear. Now you are the one with answers.”

But the story does not end there. Fate is full of quirks and twists and turns.
And just as things seemed happy ever after for the nobleman, her once husband, he soon realised what he had let go in divorcing such a woman.
Then news travelled to him of the wise woman who spun tales as intricate as the weaves in her hand, that lived in the farthest reaches of the wood, and he knew it was his once love.
And he knew that she would be his once again.
So imagine his disappointment when she refused him; not once, not twice but three times.
Not for the riches; not for the beauty -for medicine could now cure her supposed ills- and not for the social standing.
What need have I for riches?” She explained. “I have all I could ever need and more. Are we not all beautiful, especially to those who do not judge? And whilst I sit here with nothing people come to me from miles around for advice. Advice? All I can tell them is the ways of the wood yet they leave content with that. What more could I ask for?”
The once-husband, faced with something far beyond his ken was distraught. “But my love,” he said, anguished, “I don't understand how you can be like this. I have it all and am offering it to you on a golden platter. I don't understand at all.”
No. You don't understand it.” The once betrothed replied. “..yet.”

And she smiled knowingly. “But you will. Soon.”

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