The House of the Two Trees

    It was once, a longer time ago than even the oldest of us can count, that there existed a land that was quite prosperous.  What made this land prosperous was one very special family with a very special farm that had been owned by them for many generations: it had belonged to the present owner's father and grandfather and great-grandfather and even great-great-grandfather. 
    In order to understand what made this family and their farm so very special, one has to imagine walking on the road to their farm.  In that day and age, even in the most prosperous lands,  most people couldn't afford horses, so they walked.  To reach the farm, one left the King's Highway, which was the main highway, and strolled along a very nice road through a very clean and bright woods and after a short distance the woods ended and the road then ran along an open field along a ridge at the top of a round hill.
    Not far along the road, one saw two trees, very tall and long, standing straight, one on either side of the road.  This was the entrance to the family's main yard where the house and barns and sheds were.  So this was called the "House of the Two Trees".  Looking away on either side of the ridge, and beyond the family's house, one could see the expanse of a wide valley, with a river glowing silver in the sunlight at the far end, where trees lined the riverbank and forested mountains rose on the other side.
    Cattle and sheep grazed in the fields in the valley and large square plots of all sorts of crops could be seen growing:  wheat, rye, barley and other grains; and various vegetables like tomatoes and beans; and of course potatoes.  And orchards of many sorts dotted the valley:  apples, peaches, pears, cherries, plums and other fruits.
    When one passed between the two tall, slender straight trees, one got the sense of being in an entirely different world and that there was a sense of magic about this place.  The cattle and sheep were larger, healthier and fatter here than anywhere else in the kingdom, and they gave birth to healthier calves and lambs.  The crops grew higher and produced more.  There was much more grain and vegetables and fruit and these were healthier and more free from blemishes or insects than anywhere else in the kingdom.  It was this farming family's prosperity that kept the kingdom itself so prosperous, for they paid the most taxes of anyone in the kingdom and brought the most traders in so that these traders spent their money in the inns and restaurants and even more taxes came in.
    A day came when the old king died and his son became king.  He was very young and did not know this family well enough to be friends with them, as his father and grandfather and great-grandfather and great-great grandfather before him had been.
    This new, young king brought his father's advisors before him and asked their advice about many things.  They of course, advised him wisely, as they had the young king's father, and told him many things that he really did not want to hear, because he was somewhat greedy and anxious to increase his wealth greatly and quickly.  His father, his grandfather and great-grandfather had built a wealthy kingdom on a firm foundation and did not take chances.
    He asked his advisors especially about the farming family.
    "Why should I let things go on as they have for so many years?" he asked, "Why shouldn't I just take over the land for myself and then I would have all of the wealth they have, instead of just collecting taxes?"
    "These are loyal subjects," said the advisors, "who have brought great wealth to the kingdom.  To do as you are thinking would be betraying a faithful family."  And they strongly advised him against such action.
    But his friends that he grew up with were as anxious to compile great wealth quickly as he was.  They advised him to take the land.  They all thought that magic ruled there and that's what made it such good land with such big and healthy livestock and crops.
    So the young king sent his soldiers to take over the farm that this family had worked on for such a long time, and the king set a lord over the land who built a castle and set serfs to work in the fields and they expelled the family and sent them to the poorest land in the kingdom where they were but renters.
    The farmer's sons were very angry about being forced from their land and told their father in no uncertain terms about their anger.
    "Why don't we oppose this?"  they asked, "and get the support of other lords who have been our friends in the past.  Then we might get our lands back, by force if we have to."
    "That would cause much more trouble,"  their father said, "Why risk bloodshed over a little land."
    "But it's the richest in the kingdom."  the sons insisted.
    "It's not the land that is rich," the father replied, leaving the sons to wonder what he meant.
    And the father set about directing the sons to clear forest in order the have fields to work, and sell the wood for building materials and firewood, and remove the huge stones that made it almost impossible to farm the fields, and sell those to the lord so he could build his castle on the land he took from them.  And with that, they bought this new land they lived on and hired workers to help build a house for them and raise sheep that could graze on land that was hard to grow crops on.  And they also raised pigs because pigs can rummage about the forest and forage for food.
    And they made more money and bought more land from owners who thought it was too poor to use and sold the timber and sold the stone and raised more sheep and pigs and made more money.
    Other farmers and lords around them saw their success and wondered how they, also, could become just as successful.  They came to the father for advice.
    "Oh wise sir,"  they begged him, "we would give anything to know how you prosper on such poor land."
    And yes, even the lords begged him in this manner, because for all their power and all their riches, they could not get their great holdings to produce as bountifully as this common farmer.
    "I will gladly help you," he told them, "in exchange for just a small portion of your land that is right next to mine."
    And so the neighboring farmers and lords agreed to give the farmer parcels of their land in exchange for advice and help in getting their own lands to produce better.
    But the farmer did more than give advice.  He and his sons went to the different neighbors and worked with them and showed them and taught their laborers how to produce bigger and better and healthier livestock and grains and fruits and vegetables and potatoes. In return the family asked to be given sheep and cattle and other livestock and seed for growing grain and such on their own farm.
    Thus, with more land and animals, the family again prospered.  Ten years passed and their new farm was as prosperous as their old farm had been.  And what, you ask, had happened during this time to their old farm that the lord took over and the young king wanted all of the income from?  As the family's new farm prospered, so their old farm fell into a state of ruin.  Crops no longer grew so tall, livestock that once was so strong and healthy was now puny and weak, the fruit on the trees was small and eaten by insects or had other diseases that put brown blotches on it and made it rotten and no good to eat.  The two tall trees that grew so beautifully on the road developed dead branches and had more dead, brown leaves during the spring and Summer.
    And because of this, trade with other kingdoms fell off quite a lot and the young king's kingdom became poorer.  He brought his advisors before him, as he had done so many times past.  Of the older, wiser advisors that once served his father, only one was left.  The rest had either died or quit in frustration because the young king always listened to his young friends rather than to their advice.  Not that their advice wasn't wrong sometimes, but even when it was so obviously right, they weren't listened to.
    "What do we do now?"  asked the king, "the kingdom suffers while this farming family again prospers."
    "We do like we did before,"  said his friends, "We take their farm away from them -- they must have taken their magic with them -- this time we force them to give it up."
    The king and his friends had gone on for some time in this manner, talking and blustering and ranting and raving.  All this time, the old advisor just sat silent.  Finally, when the young men all were exhausted, they finally noticed the old man not saying a word and they all turned to him.
    "Why are you so silent?"  asked the king, "I'm sure you disagree with us."
    "That I do," said the old man, "You've tried this before and it was unsuccessful.  Do it again and you'll have the same results."
    "Then what do we do?"  asked the king.
    "The wise thing to do is ask the family why they are so successful."  and that's all he said.
    It took the young king several weeks to make a decision, but when he did, it was to follow the old advisor's advice.  So, one sunny day, he put on his finest clothes, mounted his finest horse and got his finest retinue together and proceeded right to the family's new farm.
    The sons of the farmer, when they saw the king and his procession, thought they were going to lose their farm again and they went right to their father.
    "Now, let us fight!"  they said.
    But the father replied, "Then we would lose our lives as well as our farm.  What good is that?"
    The young king rode right up to the house, got off his horse and walked right up to the farmer.
    "What magic is there," he asked, "in the land that makes it so good?"
    The farmer replied simply, "The magic is not in the lands, but in the hands.  It is hard work and persistence that makes it work.
    "Another thing, we give our hired workers fair pay for what they do and they work gladly for us.  Your serfs are like slaves, that work because they are forced to, so their work isn't glad.
    "Willing hands and glad hearts have made our prosperity."
    The young king asked the farmer if he would help make the whole land like the family's farm.  The farmer replied that he would if he could be given back the old farm that his family had owned for so long, with the two trees on it. The king agreed, and in a short time the whole land was more prosperous than before and the farming family was put in charge of farming for the whole kingdom from that time on.
    And the young king brought the older advisors back and they and the younger advisors learned much from each other by cooperating.  Thus this kingdom really did live happily ever after.

A Very Good Story

Reminds me of my Tree stories. I enjoyed your story very much. It was filled with simple wisdom much needed today.
May Your Light Forever Shine

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