There once was a young man who lived in a big old city. One day, he fell in love with a beautiful woman. He learned too late that she had an ugly heart. She treated him very unkindly and then left him, breaking his heart. Because he’d been treated so badly, the young man began treating everyone the same way.
Most people didn’t like being treated that way and left his life. The ones who stayed treated him as badly as he treated them and he became miserable.
It seemed that people only brought pain, so he decided to go as far away from people as he could; he went deep into the forest and built a cabin.
At first, he was very lonely, but, at least, he wasn’t being hurt anymore. He studied the animals and plants of the forest and noticed how they often worked together. Squirrels buried nuts so other squirrels could find them and none would starve in the winter. Birds or other animals who sensed danger raised alarms that all animals could hear so all kinds of animals would be safer. Trees protected many animals and provided them with homes and shade. None waited to be treated well by the others before taking care of them.
The young man learned much from the forest and became friends with the many living things that shared it with him. He was happy, but he was lonely for a mate. Night after night he asked the stars to bring a young woman to him, and, night after night, he fell asleep alone.
Then, one day he heard a woman crying for help. He ran through the forest and found a beautiful woman, sobbing. One look, and he fell in love with her.
“Hello. My name is Andrew. May I help you?”
The woman stopped sobbing and said, “I’m Lucinda and I’m lost. I was picking berries but saw a bear and got scared and ran and ran.
Now, I don’t know where I am.”
“You’re in the middle of the forest. You must be hungry. He reached into a pouch that was tied to his belt and offered some food to her. She liked being taken care of and decided to stay with him. That made him happy, but it didn’t take long for the ugliness in Lucinda’s heart to show. No matter how hard Andrew tried to please her, she complained and wanted more. She never helped with anything. He was miserable again. To his surprise, he felt lonely despite living with someone.
Even his animal friends avoided her.
It seemed he hadn’t yet learned some lessons well enough.
One day, when Lucinda was away from the cabin washing in a nearby creek, another woman came into the clearing where Andrew had built his cabin. “Hello, I’m Lori. My sister got lost in the forest, and I’m trying to find her.”
“Hi, I’m Andrew. Your sister has been staying here. She’ll be back shortly. You must be hungry. Would you like some food? He reached into a pouch on his belt and, as he handed some food to her, he noticed she had kind eyes and a friendly smile. She noticed the same thing about him and the first seeds of love took root in their hearts.
The animals came out to welcome her.
Lucinda walked up and the animals scattered. She saw Lori and snarled, “Oh, it’s you. What are you doing here?”
“Dear sister, I went looking for you when you didn’t come back from picking berries. I thought you might be lost and in danger.”
“I’m not lost and the only danger I’m in is of being bored to death. I’m sick of this place, and sick of HIM,” she scowled, pointing to Andrew.
“I tied red ribbons on my trail into the forest,” Lori said. “If you are so miserable and want to leave you’ll be able to find your way out.”
“Good! Are you coming with me?”
Andrew’s heart skipped a beat, and he blurted to Lori, “You’re welcome to stay here if you like.”
“I think I’d like that, at least for a while.”
Andrew provided food for Lucinda’s journey and wished her well.
The sisters hugged goodbye and Lucinda left.
Andrew and Lori didn’t live happily ever after. As in all lives, there were times of sadness and illness, but their joy greatly outweighed their sadness. And, they never took for granted all the blessings they shared.