2017-10-29 / Family

The Merchant and the Vine

By VALERIE EGAR
Author

A long time ago, a rich merchant, Samir, owned a store filled with wondrous objects from all over the world. Turquoise and saffron silk adorned his shop window, silver wind chimes tinkled in his doorway, gold and red lacquer boxes invited customers to take a closer look. His store was popular with people near and far and Samir grew richer and richer.

Samir dreamed of expanding his shop. Late at night, he envisioned owning the whole street. Both sides, all his! Never did he wonder where the baker might go, or where people would buy their fruits and vegetables, or how the village would manage without its tea shop. He only thought about how rich he would be.

One day a mysterious man walked through the village and stopped at Samir’s store. He fingered the soft leather slippers and admired brass candlesticks that shone in the sunlight.

“You have a very nice shop,” said the man.

Samir nodded. “Thank you.”

The man reached into his pocket and took out three bright red seeds. “These are for you,” the man said. “Plant the first seed in front of your shop.  It will grow a tree taller than any around. People will see it from miles away and know where your store is.”

“Thank you,” said Samir.

“The second will grow a beautiful red rose bush. Plant it near your door. Its blooms will fill the air with fragrance and invite people into your shop.”

Samir nodded. “This man is very good for my business,” he thought.

The man handed him the third seed. “I cannot predict what this one will grow. Whatever sprouts shows what’s in your heart.”

Once again, Samir thanked the man. He waited until the dark of the moon and planted the seeds.

Surely they were magic, because by the end of the next day, the seeds had sprouted and matured. A tall pine, higher than the tallest building, stood in front of Samir’s shop. It was visible from hundreds of miles away and would make finding his shop easy.

Next to his door, a bush covered with roses red as the finest rubies bloomed with a scent so pure, people would surely wander up to the front door and walk into the store.

The third seed sprouted a vine that snaked up and down the street, knotting itself around every building, except Samir’s. Wanting to own everything up and down the street was in his heart, and that is what the vine showed.

Soon, the whole village was at Samir’s door. “Your vine is a nuisance!” the people yelled. “It covers our doors and windows, creeps into our houses and wraps itself around our tables and chairs.”

“It was twisted around my cow this morning!” yelled another. “I had to untangle her from it.”

Samir shrugged. “Trim it back. How a plant grows is how it grows.”

All day, men and women who should have been tending their stores, baking bread or serving tea chopped at vines. Only Samir’s store was open, but business was terrible, even though his new roses were inviting. People in the village were too busy working to notice them. People from far away left the village quickly when there was no place open to have a cup of tea or buy a sweet roll.

 That night, Samir spent a lot of time thinking. Maybe it was the fragrance of the roses, or the thin peel of moon shining through the tall pine, but Samir’s heart started to ease. All the shops in the village attracted people — if Samir’s shop were the only one, even if it was huge, few people would visit. Without the tea shop and the fruit seller, the apothecary and tailor, no one would come to the village at all.

In the morning, the villagers awoke to find the vine no longer encircled their homes and businesses. Instead, it wove itself into a leafy canopy that arched over the street and shaded people from the hot sun. Butterflies fluttered around the hanging golden flowers.

Samir opened his shop and smiled. It was going to be a beautiful day.

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