Once Upon a Time… In a Land Far Away

Once upon a time in a land far away there lived a family that lived, loved, and shared there benevolence through-out the kingdom. They were famous for their ability to listen, heal, and help those less fortunate. The word spread of their kindness. Many would come to this family for assistance, commiseration, and guidance to solve issues and problems that beset them within the confines of this small village.

One such villager, Maria, was faced with a very difficult decision. She had wandered from her household and become involved with a nefarious crowd that dishonored her in ways I will not describe. But suffice it to say the scars were deep and the growing sadness within her was changing her once pleasant manner. She had spells of cursing and fits of rage that would make even the local ruffians blush.

And so it was that one night Maria and her band of scoundrels absconded with some jewelry and other valuables from a home they had burglarized. Unbeknownst to them the home they had burglarized was the home of the town crier. When John Hamlin the town crier came home after a night where he magnanimously spoke to the village with his eloquent dissertations on the past, current, and future events happening in the village. He was shocked to see his home in disarray, turned Topsy-Turvy with items strewn across his once immaculate home.

John couldn’t imagine whom had disrespected his living quarters. He was bound and determined to find the culprit or culprits that had caused such chaos. Because he was the town crier he went to the streets from his pulpits around the village to decree that an injustice had been perpetrated upon him and he wanted vengeance. He pronounced with his most determined voice that the scoundrels that had stolen from him should be flogged and dispatched from the village post haste.

Later that night in a pub just beyond the outskirts of the village the scoundrels and Maria were in full celebration mode. They went to a pub where they drank, danced, and sang until the wee hours of the night. The drunker they got the more they bragged of the riches they had and what they were going to do after selling the goods in a distant marketplace. The innkeeper, being a friend of the town crier new nothing of what had happened or the fact that the goods they were bragging about belonged to his friend.

However, later in the week several merchants stopped by with the local gossip (which at that period in time was the way news traveled). There was no other form to disseminate information, and so the most reliable source was the town gossip. The innkeeper put two and two together and realized his friend had been robed. He also realized that several nights before the hoodlums that had drank themselves silly in his tavern were, how should I say, “persons of interest”.

After asking around the innkeeper found where those hoodlums were hiding out and began a journey into town to find the local constable to take this matter to the sheriff. When hearing the egregious account from the town crier of the theft of some of his worldly goods the sheriff became involved.

In the meantime Maria was being passed from outlaw to outlaw without reproach. She was thinking of how to leave this terrible situation when a group of men led by the sheriff approached their hide-out. As quickly as circumstances could change two of the scoundrels were killed by the constables enforcing the law while the others and Maria were dispatched to the nearest hoosegow.

At the trial the whole town turned out. This was a great opportunity to throw fruit at these vagabonds and speak new disparaging remarks practiced prior to this event at the local tavern. The trial was secondary to the primary spectacle of the fruit throwing and the inane conversations. Usually the conversations would center around comparing certain parts of their anatomy to farm animals which blanketed the crowd with a cacophony of disparaging remarks.

As fate would have it the town crier announced the crimes which brought a blistering review from the villagers. Maria and the two scoundrels stood shoulder to shoulder on the precipice of a stage quickly constructed for this event. Tears were streaming down Maria’s face as the other two prisoners were stone faced looking with disdain at the crowd.

It just so happened that the benevolent family was in the crowd. They were looking to see if there was any solace they could offer the prisoners while at the same time providing commiseration to the victim of the crime. The head of the family, James, had been widowed several years prior to this event. His heart was still heavy from an accident that had taken his wife.

As he looked on he noticed the subtle innocence of Maria and her obvious regret for the event she had been a party too. His eyes locked with hers. The tears were now streaming down her face and she stared at the ground ashamed of her association with these vagabonds. James quickly found the town cryer whom had brought the charges against the group.

Fortunately the goods had been returned but there was still the flogging that had to take place, and of course the incarceration. Maria was the first to take the whip as the crowd cheered for blood. Seven lashes for the women and ten lashes for the men, in addition to that thirty days in jail.

The whip struck her back with a crack, as skin and blood shot into the crowd gathered below. The screams and the tears flowed above the cheering of the crowd. Maria had never experienced such pain and after the fourth whip she grew silent as the pain had rendered her a vacuous shell of the person she was. Being held up by restraints her head drooped and sat motionless upon her upper chest cavity.

Waking in a distant fog, as she slowly became conscious again, she was in a wagon being escorted to jail. The other prisoners were bloodied and in disarray as they were all bound together by scraggly rope tied by the constables. Finally the jail was in sight. All three were thrown in the same cell which consisted of hay on the floor, a long bench and two beds. A bucket was in the corner for their convenience to use as a receptacle for their excrement.

As the end of the thirty days approached a young man had visited Maria on several occasions. It was James from the benevolent family showing her kindness and forgiveness for the crime she had been accused of and convicted.

Knowing that the road to forgiveness through-out the village would be a difficult road to hoe he offered her a position as a cleaning lady at his home. He knew that there would be gossip but he was willing to suffer the consequences of his actions. His two children became quite enamored with the young Maria and soon Maria was considered part of the family. The gossip subsided and soon James was smitten with Maria. The attraction became mutual and after several years they were married.

Where they lived, happily ever after.