augusti 20, 2003

A meeting at the well

The farmer's wife still sat in her place by the well. She had not slept; she felt she had been turned to stone. She could not move, and she took as little notice of all that happened round her as if she really had been dead. Then she heard her husband's voice calling her name from very far away. Her heart began to move once more. Life returned. She opened her eyes, and looked around her, as if she were drunk with sleep. It was full day. The sun shone; the lark sang: it seemed impossible that even this wonderful day must drag along its burden of unhappiness. But all around her lay the charred timbers of her home, and a crowd of people with blackened hands and sweaty faces. Then she knew that she had woken to a life even worse than the old one had been; yet somehow she felt that all her suffering had ended. She looked around for the changeling. He wasn't on her lap, nor was he anywhere close by. In the old days, she would have rushed to her feet and looked for him but now she felt, somehow, this didn't matter.

Again, she heard her husband calling her from the direction of the woods. He came down the narrow path to the farm and all the neighbours who had come to help fight the fire ran towards him and surrounded him, so she couldn't see him at all. She could only hear him calling her name, over and over again, as if he wanted her to rush to meet him with the others.

The voice that called her was filled with a huge joy, but she stayed sitting, quite still. She did not dare to move. Finally the crowd was all around her, and her husband appeared from among them. He walked forward and laid a fine child in her arms.

"Here is our son, who has returned to us," he said, "and it is you, and you alone, who rescued him."
Posted by andrewb at augusti 20, 2003 05:43 EM
Thanks for posting this, I enjoyed and will read it to my children Posted by: Lorin Rivers at augusti 22, 2003 07:44 EM
Wonderful. Thank you. It has the cadence and structure of a traditional fairytale, but there's more complexity and depth in the emotions, and the morality of it is just a few degrees different to what most people think of as a traditional fary-tale. I want to read more, and will see if I can track down a full translation of Lagerlof's book. Do you know when she died? Posted by: James Wallis at augusti 24, 2003 03:31 FM
Good find.Traditional form but more empathic subjects and well written. Posted by: Peter Brown at augusti 28, 2003 11:26 FM
thank you for sharing the tale with those who happen upon it. written with an old-fashioned sweetness that has fallen to the wayside in the combustible fervor of our existences. enjoyed the trip back in time. Posted by: adrienne zedella, cleveland ohio at oktober 14, 2003 01:55 FM