The Prince, the Farmer, and the True Value of Clovers
There once was a prince and a farmer, walking through a field of clovers. The prince searched for hours ravenously for a four-leafed amidst the millions of three-leafeds. But the farmer strolled lightly, admiring the beautiful sun and sky. The prince knelt down hastily and fingered every one, slobbering with greed, ripping the tiny plants from the earth in frustration. The farmer looked down casually once, eyes scanning a hundred clovers, and they suddenly stopped at one. A big, perfect, beautiful four-leafed clover stood in the middle of a patch, winking magically at the farmer, waiting to be found. But the farmer distinctly felt that this four-leafed clover was simply happy to find him. He knelt down and gently plucked the smiling beauty, and vowed to honor it and take care of it his whole life. He placed it delicately between two fingers and carried it home.
Meanwhile, the prince devoured all the tiny plants he came to, razing patch after patch until quite suddenly he came upon a small, innocent four-leafed clover hiding under an enormous three-leafed. He brushed the perturbing three-leafed out of the way, and ripped the four-leafed out of the earth violently. He stood up, and screamed for joy. It was an animal-like scream, like a wolf that had caught up to his prey. After dancing with maniacal pleasure for a moment, the prince jammed the prize into his pocket, stuck his nose back into the ground and continued searching blindly for more. By the end of the day, he had collected many indeed, and smiled greedily as he counted them on his way home.
The farmer carefully placed his new treasure on the brick mantle over his fireplace, next to the little wooden toys he used to play with when he was a boy. When his father died, the farmer mourned, and took over all the work he had once done. He plowed the fields, fed the animals, harvested the crops, and chopped the firewood. Once, the farmer met a beautiful woman and fell in love. Sometime later they were married, and she lived with him to feed the chickens, milk the cows, clean the farmhouse, and cook delicious meals. At the end of every hard day, the farmer returned to his house, kissed his wife with quiet affection, and ate his supper thankfully. Every night before he went to bed, he would look over at the mantle and smile to think of his perfect little four-leafed clover watching over his day and his life, like a little secret charm.
The prince went out each day to scour the land for more and more four-leafed clovers, and in time he had amassed a great many. Every evening he returned with swelling pockets that he emptied into jewelry boxes. When the old ones withered and rotted, he threw them out to make room for new and fresh ones. When his father died, the prince leaped for joy, and became king over the land. He became so busy conducting his political affairs and counting his gold, that he made it a hobby to dispatch servants every day to collect new clovers for him. He ordered them to sweep entire fields and gather every four-leafed clover that could be found, then burn the field of the remaining three-leafeds. He took wives, as was his kingly right, many wives, and new ones each month. Every night before he went to bed, he slept with his favorite wives and smiled richly at the box of that day’s four-leaved clovers, small reminders of his incredible luck and wealth.
As time went on, the farmer grew weary of his work, but continued in the face of his great exhaustion. No matter how tired he grew at the end of each day, he returned home humbly, ate his meal thankfully, kissed his wife with love, and crawled into bed, after winking at the wilted little four-leafed clover he had found ages ago. The farmer grew old with the time, and his wife aged with him. She became weaker and lost the shining beauty of her youth. But the farmer took care of her, and did her chores, and always smiled at her and kissed her, because he still loved her just as much as the day they wedded, and in his eyes she still looked just as beautiful. But one day she took ill, and before long, she died. He mourned greatly for the loss, and on that sundown, his four-leafed clover withered into dust, dropped into the fire, and disappeared. The lonely farmer went to bed that night sad for his incredible loss, yet distantly happy remembering all the long years of love with her.
Meanwhile, the king grew weary of his trite powers and numb to the hundreds of mistresses in the lands. The only thing he took pleasure in any longer was walking up and down his halls, admiring his enormous collection of four-leafed clovers. As the years passed and the king aged, he became bored and cynical. He grew into a kind of slovenly tyrant, senile to the worst degree. But one day he had an idea. The only thing in the world he cherished anymore were his precious four-leafed clovers, so he held an exhibit. He invited every man, woman, and child in the kingdom to tour his halls and admire his clovers. Most would consider themselves lucky to find a single one, and he had amassed thousands. But few people showed, and those who did barely looked at the walls. They huddled in corners for warmth, kissed the king’s feet and begged for food. The king was overwhelmingly disappointed. He thought that in some small way he would be revered as the richest man in the land, and no one gave him a single bit of acknowledgement. In his grief, the king took his own life. His last thoughts were that he, a great king, had died a pauper.
The farmer heard of this exhibit of the king’s halls, and decided to come. He walked up and down the halls casually, looking at all the thousands of four-leafed clovers. Then suddenly, his eye caught something out of place. The farmer saw a big, beautiful three-leafed clover winking up at him, like a jewel. He knew the king had destroyed all the other three-leafeds in the kingdom, that this could very well be the last one. He felt so lucky to have found this solitary being, amongst tens of thousands of ordinary ones. He had found a special one. Something pure and unique and unspoiled. The farmer secretly plucked it from the wall, took it home, and when he went to bed, held it in his hands against his heart. The farmer’s old heart worked slower and slower, until finally it gave out. He had been thinking about the decades spent with his beautiful wife, and the luck he had finding a special clover not just once, but twice in a single lifetime. He was the happiest man in the kingdom the night he slipped away. He died a king.
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