The Handsome Farmer

Once upon a time, there was a farmer who lived with his aged father and mother who loved him dearly. They owned a simple farm, and being found in a pleasant valley, it was ever fruitful, and they lacked no good thing.

The farmer’s parents, being both aged and poor in sight, could not help with the chores, and so the farmer was left to work the fields alone.

He would work from first light to the setting of the sun, tending to the fields and the few animals they had.

The farm lay close to a tiny village, and often while in the fields, the farmer would see people coming and going out of the village. To the passersby, the farm and the farmer were about as plain as any in the whole country, and so they would never stop long to talk with the farmer or admire his farm.

This displeased the farmer. He was lonely in the fields, and wanted to be noticed and admired. And while his parents could not see him or his work, they loved him dearly and expressed their pride in him for his service to them in their old age.

But the farmer grew more and more displeased and decided to visit the witch who lived in the dark forest just outside the village.

Seeing him approach her cottage, the bended witch cried out, “What is it that you wish for? To you it can be given!”

“I wish to be the most handsome farmer in the land, and to have the most exquisite farm.”

The witch approached the farmer and reaching out her withered hand, touched his face and arm: “To you it has been given!” she said, and disappeared in a cloud of smoke from before him.

Leaving the witch’s cottage and passing through the village, all the villagers remarked on how handsome the farmer was–in their eyes, he was the most handsome farmer in the land.

When he arrived back at his farm, the farmer was amazed to see that his fields had grown the most exquisite vegetables; even his animals had grown more plump and hearty than any he had seen before.

Calling his parents out of their home he wished to show them the amazing changes to himself and the farm; however, being aged and poor in sight, they could not admire all that now made the farmer so very proud.

Waking up at first light the next morning, the farmer saw there were many villagers that had gathered to admire his farm. On seeing him, the villagers stood in awe at his handsomeness. This pleased the farmer immensely.

“What do you think of my farm?” the farmer asked them.

“We think it is the most exquisite farm we have ever laid eyes on!” they replied.

“And what do you think of me?” he asked.

The villagers opened their mouths, but no words came out, for his handsomeness had made them each speechless.

This continued on for many days; the villagers would gather together to admire the farmer and his farm, and the farmer grew proud and arrogant.

The farmer’s aged parents soon began to notice this change in their son, and it caused them sadness, for their son was no longer simple and happy, but proud and arrogant.

One morning though, the farmer began to experience the ill effect of the witch’s magic. His senses of smell and taste and sight and hearing changed; the pleasant valley began to smell like rot to him, the exquisite vegetables became tasteless to him, the appearance of the villagers were disfigured to him and their voices now frightened him.

The farmer was no longer proud and arrogant, but frightened and sad.

Weeping, he confessed to his parents his sadness at never being noticed by others, his visit to the witch to ask her to make him handsome and his farm exquisite and the maddening change to his senses.

His parents were saddened all the more to hear this, and begged their son to pass through the dark forest again, but this time to pass through it to the desert caves on the other side, and to find the wise man, who might be able to reverse the witch’s dark magic.

At first light, the farmer began his journey. He ran through the village, as the faces of the villagers were now disfigured to him and their voices frightening.

He passed through the dark forest. There, the bended witch recognized him as the man she had tricked not long before. She mocked him and frightened him, yet each time she came close enough for him to strike with his dagger, she would disappear in a cloud of smoke.

After much travel and many days searching, the farmer found the cave of the wise man. He explained to him all that had happened, and humbly asked that, by his good magic, the wise man would remove the witch’s work.

“To do this,” replied the wise man, “will require some loss. You will lose one eye, one ear, one arm and some of your tongue and teeth.”

Desperate to regain his senses, to return to the simple goodness of his former life and be rid of the witch’s curse, he agreed.

The wise man nodded, and handing the farmer a mirror, showed that the change had already occurred; the farmer indeed was hardly recognizable now, having suddenly lost one eye, one ear, one arm and some of his tongue and teeth.

Thanking the wise man, the farmer left the desert cave, and after many days, passed through the dark forest again.

The bended witch, seeing him approach from a distance, did not recognized him as the man she had previously tricked.

The witch cried out, “What is it that you wish for? To you it can be given!”

“I wish to regain my one eye, my one ear, my one arm and the part of my tongue and teeth that are now missing,” he replied.

The witch smiled and as she approached him she reached out her withered hand to touch his face and arm. Quickly, before she could touch him, with his one arm the farmer reached for his dagger and struck the witch dead.

Passing through the village, the villagers remarked at the sudden change to the farmer’s appearance. He explained in honesty his whole story, and how in the end he himself had fooled the witch and slain her dead. The villagers rejoiced, and ever after loved to visit him in his fields to hear again of his tail.

Returning home he saw that the once exquisite vegetables and animals had all recently been sold so that his parents could be cared for in his absence. The farmer knew that, though he was now one-armed, he would be able to restore the farm back to at least half of its former glory, because the pleasant valley the farm lay in was so fertile.

On hearing him return, his parents received him back with joy and gladness. And they, being both aged and poor in sight, noticed only that their son sounded happier now than ever he had been before.

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