Short Story: Wisdom of the Father

A son went unto his father early one morn and met his eye manfully and spoke proudly to his sire. “I have met the one woman, father,” said he proudly. “I love her with my whole heart, she is strong and wise and fair, and with your blessing shall I seek to wed.”“Sit you, my Son,” the father found a shaded place of repose and soaked up the shade on this already hot day. “Do you well and truly know what it is to take a wife?”

“We two shall become as one,” answered the son brightly. “We shall live upon the land you have already set aside and it shall support us well.”

“I see,” father said wisely. “But, my son, and know that I love thee well, but what have you to offer a wife? You have land, given and not earned, you own neither house nor cot, barn nor plough, and yet you believe yourself the equal of this most demanding task of your life?”

Silence greeted this reply for a time. “I am young, strong and I have prospects.”

“My son, prospects have never fed a family nor have they clothed a child. You have saved nothing, you have made no preparation. You own neither plow nor horse suitable to the tilling. Do you then plan to live in your fields? You own a fine horse, but it is a beast of speed over the short course, it would die within a week strapped to a plow. If you wish to plight your troth you must have more than hope and love and prospects to show for it. You could get good gold for that steed and buy both plow and a draft horse. Till your land and then while still under my roof gain the wealth that you will need just to start life. Build your house, your barn and your granary and then shall you be in a position to seek a wife.”

“The road that you show me is hard, for one, but better for the strength of two.”

“Son, my son,” smiled the father. “All that is worthwhile is hard, and to be worthy of the love of another you must first prove yourself to be a man worthy of consideration. Set aside the trappings of youth. That you shave daily and speak with a low voice are not measures of manhood, even that you have spread your seed is not measure of manhood, though all thanks to providence that no crop came from these dalliances.

“Toil and effort and standing on your own two feet shall be the measure by which you are adjudged. Show the world a man and you shall be received as one. Show the world a pretentious boy and you shall be received as one. You have spoken to me of your will, and I withhold my blessing, for you are not yet fit to be husband, now, will the father of any decent woman not see you in this same light?”

He lifted his son’s chin and met his gaze with the steely wisdom of experience. “Know that I love you dearly, too dearly to allow you to cast aside your life in the frivolous whims of infatuation. If this lady be worth your life, then be worthy of her as well. Set yourself aright, through deeds, not words and plans and then you shall be at last the son I’d hoped you to be, and the husband and father that your house will need when it is built and put in order. Now, let us see to the planting.”

“Can my younger brother help in that task?” he cast his eye regretfully to the pen holding the great sleek hunter, a noble horse that was the envy of all. “I must take something to market and find its true worth, perhaps a sturdy field horse with a plow and cart.”

The father nodded and placed his hand upon the son’s shoulder, a tribute to the first decision of one becoming a man at last.

© 2009 – 2020, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.

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