Prompt 30: Color yesterday I wrote a Fairy Tale for this prompt…then rereading it, it seemed that a few changes had to be made. This is the result:
Justin and Sophia
Once upon a time..a long long time ago in a land far away here lived a weasel.
He was black unlike his brothers and sometimes he was mistaken for a cat, so bushy was his tail. He went by the name of Justin, though none of his relatives knew why, as this was typically a human’s name.
Justin loved being near mankind. He was always attracted to their warm fires. Now, you should know that weasels are not man’s favorite beast. Well, of course dog is, and sometimes cat but weasels rate a very low position on mankind’s list of favorites. This is because Justin’s brothers and sisters are great hunters…and sometimes, they hunt chickens and you know what that means!
Justin though was very particular about what he ate. He wasn’t at all attracted to chickens. He found their noisy cackling ways very boring. He was really attracted to the white houses of men, and their yellow warm fire in the cold winter days.
One day Justin came upon an abandoned house which he found inviting. The walls were high and no chicken sounds came beyond those grey walls. So, as the rain came pouring down, he ran from the bushes and right up the wall! He stood at the top of the wall for a few moments, then hopped onto what was left of the porch.
The courtyard was large but the house had been burnt to the ground and was in fact a shell. Once a beautiful woman had lived there but she had been condemned and burnt as a witch along with her home. She’d refused to sell her land to the Blacksmith, who was an avid man and who had instigated the witch hunt in the first place, thinking to take her land once she was no more. But she defeated him in the end because she put an enchantment over the courtyard. A warm inviting red glow vibrated through the night, but everyone was afraid of the place, even the Blacksmith, and none would ever step foot in her courtyard by day or night.
Inside the walls, Justin found a warm spot and looked on as a phantom feast took place. Men and women dressed in red danced around a blazing fire, as a beautiful woman sat on a dais looking down upon them. There were tables full of the most lovely smelling roasts and sweet confections. The music had blue tones to it…mystical haunting flutes and sitars…Justin found it very inviting. He too decided to join the dances!
He ran up to a swaying lady and went quite ignored. He’d half expected to be shouted at or to hear the lady scream at the very least, but this was not the case. So he danced to the enchanted music, until the woman spoke to him using his name.
“What are you doing here Justin? Who invited you to my party?” she asked not unkindly.
Justin was very surprised. He was attracted to humans but had never understood a word they yelled to him.
“Ah, fair Lady, I was invited by your fire and the warm red glow of your courtyard. I came to take shelter and was invited to dance by your lovely music!”
She laughed a tinkling laugh, “And my dear Justin, are you having fun?”
“Oh yes sweet Lady!” he said with a bow. “And I would never want this night to end!”
“You are such a pleasant guest! Some have come in the past; they had black hearts and wanted only to steal my hidden treasures. Is there something I can do for you?”
Justin was quite happy. He could speak with and understand this lovely human, which was all he could have ever wished for he told her this quite truthfully (it’s difficult if not impossible for animals to lie, did you know this?)
“Justin, you will from this day, always to be able to understand and speak to humans, but I’m afraid I do you no service!” She waved her hands across his head and transformed him into a handsome, slim, black boy. She also put a sleeping charm and a forgetting charm on him, so that when he awoke, he only knew that his name was Justin, but knew nothing of his past.
The inhabitants of the village found the strange young black boy wandering in their village the next morning and because he was black would have burnt him as a demon. The Blacksmith, though, who was always eager to have a little free labor, saved him and took him into his service.
Justin was a gentle person and seemed to know nothing about the ways of men. He learnt to be a blacksmith and spent long hours over the yellow fire he’d once been attracted to making horseshoes and tools. Unlike a normal apprentice though, he would never be freed from his master and was forced to work there or know the feel of the whip and would have been hanged if he ran away.
Over the years, the Blacksmith grew richer and richer, thanks to Justin’s work, everyone needed farming tools and the smith put a very high price on his wares. He’d also lent money for seed, at very high interest rates, so over time many fell in debt to him. He became crueller and his greed grew, the wealthier he became. He was the most hated and feared man in the village. He’d been able to acquire most of the land in the village for himself and now the villagers were little more than his surfs. If someone refused to be bought, he would have them hanged or at best exiled as debtors.
Justin learned more and more about all aspects of men, and soon realized that often they were deceitful and spiteful towards each other especially when they were afraid. He learned about the selfishness of the rich and the envy of the poor. He learned about cruelty and hatred. However, he also learned about love and gentleness, of generosity and altruism, of truth and openness. People were usually very kind to Justin, without knowing why, it was actually hard to be otherwise. They no longer felt that he was in cahoots with the demons.
There came a long dark winter and there was little food left in the larders, much having been given to the Balcksmith as payment for the use of the land and much hunger. The people went to the Blacksmith asking him to give them some of the food he’d taken from them during the harvest season.
“And why should I give the likes of you anything!” he said laughing, “if you’d been more industrious and intelligent, you wouldn’t now be in this situation! You should have grown enough to face the cold winter!”
The people at first saw some logic in what the Blacksmith had said and went away with their heads hanging in shame.
Justin looked on and shook his head. As he’d grown older, he also grew very wise. The people began to love and respect him over the years and went to him when they had problems or misunderstandings. He could usually help them understand what they should do although all he would do was ask one question. So it was that winter.
“Justin, what should we do?”
He looked at the people and asked his one question: “Who grows the grain?” and ras usual efused to say more.
The people became hungrier and some became ill. They couldn’t even light a fire, because the firewood was owned by the Blacksmith. Then during a terrible snow storm, someone repeated Justin’s question. “Who grows the grain?” and added “Do the birds of the fields ask permission to eat their fill when they’re hungry? Are we less than the beasts that we should die when abundance is near?”
They arose as one man and went to the Blacksmiths house again, this time with pitchforks and stout sticks. The people broke into the warehouse and began to distribute food among themselves. The Blacksmith seeing the crowd became afraid and with his family slipped out a back entrance and ran away. He went to the lord of the land asking for soldiers to take back his possessions, but the Blacksmith’s reputation was so black indeed, that not even the lord would take up his battle for him and so, he was forced into exile and was never heard from again.
Justin became the town’s blacksmith, but he never became wealthy nor did he ever marry. Following his suggestions, given in the form of one question at a time, the villagers organized their village in such a way, that no man had any more than another and each shared when there was a time of need.
Justine grew quite old and was about 90. He lay on his pallet thinking it was about time to move on from this world. He called a young man to him and asked this young man to accompany him into the forest just beyond the village. Passing by the grey wall of the house that once belonged to the beautiful lady, Justin wondered why he’d never remembered seeing it before!
He had the man lay his pallet under a shady tree and asked him to leave and go and get some mulled wine. The man hesitated, worried that Justin might pass away whilst he was gone.
“Go, go my son. I’m fine laying here under the shade of this tree, listening to the whispering of the wind in the leaves. If I should follow the wind, know that, all will do the same one day so don’t be sad!”
The young man left him and once he was gone, the beautiful lady came to Justin.
“Ah, my sweet Lady! I see you once again before I die!” he sighed suddenly remembering her and that magic night and his former existence.
“Nay, nay my Justin dear, die you will not. You will live forever in the hearts of these villagers you were attracted to. Are you happy that I granted you your wish?”
“Yes my dear, quite happy and fulfilled. Life as a human has been…interesting!”
“Is there anything else I might grant you?”
“Most precious of Ladies, I would kiss your lips one time before I go on my last journey.”
So, she got upon her knees and caressed his face and he gave her his longed for kiss.
At that moment, a great golden light surrounded them both and they transformed into golden spirits!
They walked hand in hand to another forest, in another time and another world, forever together as they had always been.
“Wasn’t that a lovely adventure dearest Justin?”
“Oh yes it was my dear Sophia, and now, where shall we go?”
*The etymological root of Justin is Justice, Sophia means wisdom.