The Very Old Man came out with more swiftness than one might expect.
“So, you brought me a flower, eh?”
Without a word the young man opened the bag and picked out the flower – now just a gray, crumpled stem with wilted petals attached to a small handful of dirt.
“I did the best I could do for this flower but it has wilted” he said sadly.
“Oh, never you mind that” came the answer. “It was not killed through thoughtless haste, nor did you take it only for yourself. You did well in such a little matter for no gain to yourself but for the good of something other. The sign behind the action – that’s all that matters to me, as you suspected. Don’t look so surprised, the flowers always tell me what they have seen and heard.
Look here, in this dirt. The beauty seen above the surface has only diminished for a time and the roots are well, living and good. From them will spring leaves and stalks and flowers but only after some work and patient care. Come in, come in! I’ll introduce you to my granddaughter. Can I fix you something to eat?”
As they passed through the door of the house the Very Old Man turned and whispered to the young man, “She is sickly, like the plant you have brought her though no less beautiful than when it was flowering. Take care of this flower with her and when it has grown, she will be well, for I expect it will do for her what you have done and will do for it. What one puts into something is often the same as what is returned.”
There is a story of how the two young people grew in love for each other, but they are the only ones who know it. I am just a storyteller after all, an outsider. I can give in words only what comes to me. Not all stories are to be told to all, and it is not my place to collect every one; only the ones that should be retold. That’s the difference between a story-teller and a gossip.
What I can say is that thousands of little blue flowers which grew and quickly spread over much of the yard and woods by the house had a remarkable ability to heal or lessen many diseases except for those of the heart.
As one might hope, the young man and woman were eventually married and lived happily for the rest of their lives, caring for each other, their children and their flowers.