A man in a farmer’s field was cutting wood into large planks from a pile of logs he’d collected earlier. It was a fairly quiet morning and he wasn’t expecting any visitors until the afternoon. The sun warmed his back as he worked, though it was cold on the ground beneath him.
A boy approached the farm carrying a small brown rucksack slung over his left shoulder. He was a fairly meek boy; pale skin and less than four feet tall, his light brown hair softly fluttering in the wind. In the cold light of the morning you could mistake him for a man, if you were to see him from far away. The man looked up over the piles of wood to see the figure approaching up the long dry path. He stepped away from his tools for a moment and squinted slightly to look at him as he walked.
What felt like several minutes past in silence, as the boy walked towards the man. He couldn’t have been very old, thought the farmer, maybe eight or nine at most. When he was near enough, the boy looked at the pile of wood, and then at the forest beyond it. He held his bag with a firm tight grip and looked into the man’s eyes with infantile determination. “Are you the farmer?” he said. “Yes, I am” replied the man, with caution. “I want you to teach me how to cut wood” said the boy. The farmer looked at him up a down. What a weakling, he thought. He will never be a carpenter. He thought for a moment, and then, he spoke again. “Very well” said the farmer, and gestured to the woodland behind him. “Count all the trees in the forest, and when you return you tell me how many you find.” And with that, the man returned to work. The boy turned dutifully towards the woodlands and walked away in silence.
No less than two weeks later the man was sowing seeds into the brown earth of the pumpkin fields. It was the fall of July, and he needed them growing by August or they’d never reach the autumn. He’d almost finished ploughing the whole field when he heard footsteps behind him on the old dried path. “There are 4000 trees in the forest” said the voice. The man turned, and saw the face of the young boy staring back at him. Patient, thought the farmer. “Very well, I will teach you to cut wood” he said, without a flicker of hesitation. “No I don’t want you to teach me that anymore” said the young boy, confidently. The farmer looked bewildered, and approached the boy, still clasping at the remaining pumpkin seeds in his right hand. “I want you to teach me to plough the field” he said, looking into the aging eyes of the farmer. He backed away a little, and nodded to himself. Thin, he thought. He will never be a greengrocer. “Fine then, my boy.” He turned to the field and cast the remaining handful of seeds across the brown earth. “Count all the seeds in the soil” he ordered to the boy. He nodded once more and rushed towards the edge of the field, as the farmer smirked to himself callously.
Every day the farmer checked the field, and watched to his amazement the young boy counting the seeds one by one. He waited; soon would the boy give up and return home, he thought. Days went by, nearly a week. What felt like months. One early august morning the farmer lay sleeping in his armchair by the remains of a long burning fire. A hand tapped him lightly on the shoulder and he woke with a start. A soft voice spoke above the crackles of the embers. “There are 20,000 seeds in the soil, but one of them has died” said the young boy. He looked at the man with tears in his youthful eyes, and held out in his hand the one dead seed. The farmer took it from him, and after a moment of mournful silence thanked him. “I will teach you to plough the field” said the man, humbled. But the boy shook his head gracefully. He sat down on the rug beside the fire, until the man drifted back into a gentle sleep.
The farmer waited for days for the young boy to return to the farm. Once all the fields were ploughed, and all the wood was cut he waited still. Weeks passed, what felt like months, what looked like years.
On a cold November morning, an old man was painting a wooden fence that bordered a farmhouse on top of a high hill. Beside it, rich fields grew with pumpkins that skirted the land that surrounded the barns. A long brown path stretched from the land to the outside village, though it had been withered through years of neglect and decay. As the man painted the fence a simple white, he noticed a tall figure approaching a farm from the old pathway. A tall and lean figure, with fair skin and soft brown hair that wavered in the light. Unmistakably a man. The elderly man stopped for a moment, and squinted in his direction until he remembered.
The young man approached the farmer, with his old brown rucksack still placed firmly on his left shoulder, if slightly worn with age. “Hello again” he said, with admiration. “Hello” said the farmer, as if being reunited with an old friend. “Have you come to plough the field?” The young man took a moment to consider, looking around at the old farm, still rich in colour and in crops. Until finally, he shook his head: “I want you to teach me how to build a house” said the young man, eagerly. The old farmer looked at the boy as he had done all those years ago, and laughed. “Count all the bricks in the wall” he said “and then we’ll see.” The young man simply nodded, and smiled benevolently.
Far up on the hillside, a young man farms a field. He planted 4000 trees in a nearby forest, and sowed 20,000 seeds into the pumpkin fields that surround the farmhouse that sits on the hill and overlooks the village. A long gravel path connects the two together, and a white wooden fence borders the land between them. It was a beautifully quiet morning, and the young man was waiting for his guest. The sun shone down on the quaint little farm and warmed the farmer as he worked, until he heard the sound of wise old footsteps tread the gravel path slowly and gently. Slowly, almost delicately, the farmer looked out over the wooden fence, a look of breathtaking hope on his face.
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