It was long ago when the Golden King reigned for 150 years. Born to a woodsman, he was not of noble blood. His mother dead, the small boy followed his father into the vast forest. His father taught him the skills of a woodsman. Every day he learned to track animals and to fell trees. His hands soon became accustomed to cleaning carcasses and tanning hides. Though it brought them little money, the father found such joy in his work, and in his beloved son.
When the boy had barely a hair upon his chin, his father was killed by a fallen timber. Orphaned, the young lad worked- as his father had- in the forest. On a rare trip into town the young man first witnessed the passing of a rich man’s coach. The young man had never seen such wealth; his heart grew hollow with envy. He overheard two widows commenting on the wealthy man’s shallow nature.
“All he does is count his gold!” One said to the other.
“He’s worse than a tax-collector!” The second responded.
“Or a king!” The old women laughed heartily.
However, the young lad was moved by their jests. He vowed to himself never to let his heart grow cold if he were blessed with wealth. After his hands had become thick skinned with long hours of work and his face tired from exhaustion, he took a fair young bride. She was a slim and frail girl but she was also an exceptional beauty.
Her long blond hair was nearly white. Her eyes were a brilliant emerald green. She was the youngest daughter of a poor goat farmer. The hardworking orphan loved the timid girl dearly, and he kept his bride in the woods within the cabin that his father left him.
They were married at the first hints of spring; by late fall the young girl was very swollen with a child. The young man fell more and more in love with her as the days went on; he was excited with impending fatherhood. When the frail woman found that her duties became increasingly difficult, her husband understood and told her to rest in bed. Leaving his love in bed, every morning the woodsman would venture out into the trees. He would return by nightfall with hares and firewood. When he entered the doorstep his loving wife would rise from the bed, kiss him and say breathlessly “Oh my darling! How I missed you.”
The chill of winter was lingering in the morning frost; the leaves had all fallen from the trees. The woodsman became increasingly nervous; they did not have enough food for even three months let alone a full winter. He would have to bring home more than just a few hares, more than just an armful of wood. In the very early hours the sun was just peeking over the mountain side. It illuminated the woodsman as he prepared for a long journey and woke his wife.
“My dear, I must go.” He whispered softly into her ear. Her slim arms clung around his stout neck. He could feel her tension through her embrace.
“Please do not leave me.” She pleaded. Motherhood petrified her young heart; she did not wish to face even a minute of it without her beloved. “Can you not hunt in the cold?” She asked desperately trying to convince him to delay his trip. The young man’s heart weighed heavy in his chest. He wanted to stay with her, but he knew that he must go.
“I know of a large boar in our neck of the forest. It can provide enough meat for us to last the first few cold months. I will take the cart your father gave us and fill it with hardwood. When I return, I will stay with you as long as the supplies last.
Although she knew he was correct, her embrace did not waver. The man looked into his wife’s brilliant green eyes and sighed. He looked at the moon which defiantly hung three-quarters full in the dim morning sky. The woodsman’s voice was low, “I will return when the moon shines down upon you with a full face.” He placed a hand upon her stomach and kissed her soft lips.
“Oh my darling, how I will miss you.” She whispered through her silent tears.
“I will not be gone long.” He reassured her. As she watched him exit the front door, she said his name as a prayer to the wind. “Bartholomew.