The Easy Life

There was once a young man by the name of Gideon. He lived with his parents and two elder brothers in a small village nestled at the heart of a great valley, and he was known locally as a simpleton. Children used to delight in running after him, asking him questions and then hooting with laughter when he gave the most obvious response. He was too good-natured to reprimand them, however, and would just smile weakly and carry on about his business.

Eventually, his brothers married two sisters, also from the village, and a great celebration was held. As the wedding feast wore on, Gideon sat with his parents, enjoying the fine food. He avoided the sparkling drink though, as it made his head feel dizzy, which he did not like.

His father, who had perhaps partaken too much wine, gave him a hefty dig in the ribs with his elbow. He nodded to the newlyweds.

“How would you like to be married one day, Gideon?”

Gideon looked at the head of the table where his two brothers sat with their wives. One of the sisters was scolding her husband for smiling at a younger maid, while the other sister had slid halfway off her chair and could not seem to stop giggling. Her husband looked a little red in the face as he tried to haul her up again.

“Not very much, thank you,” came Gideon’s simple answer, and his father cuffed him round the head for such speech.

Over the next few weeks, his father and his mother kept asking Gideon this question. His reply was always the same, and the response from his parents did not differ much either. Then one evening, he came home from his job tending to the sheep to find a determined-looking young woman sat next to his mother at the dining table. The moment she laid eyes on Gideon, she leapt to her feet, strode over to him and planted a kiss on his astonished face.

“Yes, I think we will be very happy together.”

At her declaration, Gideon (who was not as simple as people believed) turned as white as a sheet, and his mother had to lead him to bed early for the night. When she went to wake him the next morning, she found a neatly-made bed, an empty closet where his clothes were kept and a note, explaining that he wished to see a little more of the world than he had previously.

After the scandal had settled down, everyone was content. Gideon’s parents were pleased to have their small cottage all to themselves once again, and the maid went on to marry a widower twice her age and with a healthy income. His brothers and their new wives slowly learnt how to manage their expectations of what marriage was actually like, and as for Gideon – he travelled far and wide, learning a good deal of sense along the way. He still came over a bit funny if a woman looked at him too closely, hence the reason why he never stayed in any one place for too long.

©2020 by Nicola Niemc