17 February 2007
"So it's true," he thought, "it's really true." Jacob had finally seen Marisol, the Nymph his mother had prayed and made offerings to his whole life. A walk through the woods with Wolf, his grey dog, had turned into a sight to behold. There she was. Her graceful fingers moving across the harp with ease, as her voice moved along with the chords.
On her beautiful long brown hair sat a mock crown of leaves and vines. The light dress she wore was the same color as the delicate crown. "She is just as Mother described her to me all these years," Jacob thought to himself as he stared in awe. He never thought he would ever actually see her.
Wolf, realizing there was something over there, let out a bark. Marisol heard it and looked straight at Jacob. "Her eyes," was the only thing he could think. They were a beautiful golden honey color. Seeing a person was there, she fled. She was so quick, he thought her feet could not be touching the ground.
As she fled he noticed something ripple the water. He stood there a moment, still in shock. He finally walked up to where the harp stood and looked in the water near it. There, in the shallow waters of the spring sat a ring. A petite silver ring, with a stone the same color as her eyes. He picked it up to examine it closer.
He, for a moment, didn't know what to do with it. "I could take it in hopes of coming back one day and seeing her here again to return it. No, I can't. I'll leave it by the harp with the flower mother gave me as an offering to her. But what if someone else comes and takes it with greed?"
Then in a moment he knew how silly the idea was. No one could take her ring. She would not allow that. She had ways of making sure things went right. He put the ring on the stem of the flower and laid it next to the harp, then he began to pray for his mother.
"Mother, Daniel, I'm back," Jacob said as he walked through the door. He looked at his mother with sadness. She was sick with a fever that wouldn't break. She had asked him to go to Marisol's spring with the flower in hopes that it would help. "Daniel will stay with me," she had reassured him. Abigail, Daniel's wife, had come over too. She didn't look much better than she had when he left though.
He decided he should tell them what he had seen. "I saw her," he told them, "Mother, she was beautiful, just as you described her." He continued to tell them the whole encounter.
"This is a good sign," his mother told them, "she will surely have heard your prayers, and she will help."
The next day Jacob went back to the spring. He wasn't expecting her to be there, but he hoped she would. "She's simply beautiful," he thought. "There is no other way to put it." When he arrived there he saw nothing but the sunlight dancing though the trees onto the moving water.
He walked over to the spot where he had put the flower and ring. They were both gone. "Ah, so she's been here again." He placed another flower next to the harp and began to walk back home. Then he saw her sitting there on one of the rocks.
"You are the man who found my ring yesterday and left it with a flower," she said to him matter-of-factly. "Tell me, why did you not try to take it? Many others would have."
"I could not have been so foolish as to try," was all he could think to say. It was true. He'd heard stories from other places about people who were punished by Nymphs for less.
"I've heard of your want for help for your mother," she told him. "Follow me, I can help."
Before he could say anyhing else she was on her feet and moving along swiftly. He followed without saying a word. She led him through the forest to a tall tree, which apparently her leaf crown had come from. She disappeared behind it, and then reappeared holding a small bag.
"Dump this into a stew and give it to your mother. Her health should improve within a day or so," Marisol told him as she handed the bag over.
"Thank you," Jacob said.
She looked into his eyes and smiled. "You are welcome."
"Her smile," he thought as his breath left him.
Marisol told him how to get back to the spring, and he left quickly, wanting to get home to help his mother.
"Abigail!" Jacob called softly as he walked into the house. "Abigail, are you making stew for my mother?"
"Yes, I am. Why?" she replied from the kitchen.
"I need you to dump this all into the stew and give it to her. It will make her better." He handed her the bag and went to sit by his mother.
Over the next day and a half his mother's fever went down, and she was able to go outside to see the birds. "Thank you Marisol," she could be heard saying softly. Jacob decided to go back to the spring. He had to see Marisol again. Not just to thank her once more, but he couldn't stop thinking about her.
He walked to the spring, and when he did not see her there he walked to her tree. She was there, sitting on a branch singing.
"She has such a lovely voice," he thought.
"I had to come and thank you again," he told her when she had finished her song.
"And you are once again very welcome."
"May I ask you a question?"
"Why do you sing all alone?" He had wondered since he first heard her singing.
"Music helps the forest grow. And when the forest is healthy, so am I," was her answer. "And now I have a question for you. I know you did not come here just to thank me once more. Why, have you really come?"
"You are the most beautifu thing I have ever seen. More beautiful than the sunrise, or the most delicate flower." He hadn't meant to say all that. He felt like a fool, but it was all true.
"I love you too," she said and smiled.
Jacob went back to the forest every day. He brought Marisol flowers and gifts. He sat and listened to her sing, he heard her play the harp. Once while she was singing, a bird came by, and they sang a hartbreakingly beautiful song together. She told him that when she was singing she could feel the forest growing, and see the trees swaying along.
One night during a storm lighting struck. Jacob, at home in his bed, thought nothing of it. Until he heard men shouting outside, "Fire! Quick, it's spreading! " He rushed out of bed and ran to help the other men. They put out fires in five homes, but at least six more were lost. The forest was buring before their eyes, and they could do nothing tostop it.
The fire smoldered itself out, but most of the trees were black and still smoking. Marisol's tree was gone, and so was she. Her harp, which had been near the spring for years and never moved, was nowhere to be seen. Kicking away the ashes, Jacob saw that fowers were already growing and bringing new life to the forest.