“I have something for you,” said the Master Craftsman weakly as he lifted a withered hand to point. “Over at the desk, in the top drawer.”
The young man rose from his bedside seat and moved to the desk. Opening the drawer, he found what appeared to be official documents inside.
“What are these?” he asked after seeing his name on the paper.
“There is nothing left for me to teach you, my friend. You have built things the likes of which I could only dream. Such art is in you… it needs only the proper tools and materials to be expressed. And it seems there is little time left in me.”
“No master,” exclaimed the youth. “You mustn’t say such things. Your health could turn. The doctor has said…”
“If not today, then very soon. I see a shadow approaching. There is no need to fear it. Death comes to us all in its time. I merely wish to speak honestly of my desires so that you know.”
The younger man shut his mouth and lowered his head sadly.
The Master Craftsman tried to speak several times before faint words finally issued forth.
“The shop where you have learned, and all that is in it is yours,” said the old man slowly. “I have but one request.”
The young man sat back down and took the old, rough hand in his. “Anything, Master.”
The old man laughed feebly. “You agree too quickly. Know what is required before you accept…”
A sputtering cough interrupted him. When he finally settled, the young man said quietly, “Even when I did not understand your charges, I trusted that they were for my good. That trust has never been misplaced. Therefore, I accept this request without knowing what it might be.”
The old man smiled warmly and patted the hand of the younger. “You are now the master craftsman. I ask only that you select an apprentice from the orphanage as I did you. Teach him not only the ways of wood, but how to be a man.”
Through tears of memories, the young man readily agreed. He would be nowhere if it were not for this gentle, wise man lying beside him. Quietly he watched the rise and fall of the old man’s chest, fearful that it would stop at any moment.
Just when he thought sleep had come to his friend, the old man turned his head and a most contented smile rolled across his weathered face.
“I was just thinking about my beloved,” he whispered. “I am happy I will soon see her. It has been too long.”
“I had hoped you would be here to guide me into marriage. The day grows close.”
“Ah yes. I fear I will miss that joyous day. Remember the day you gave her the sun?”
“She was very young then – and very sick. She has grown strong and healthy… and also kind and beautiful.”
The old man looked out with a last twinkle in his eye. “Keep pointing her to the light, my young friend. And do not be surprised when she also rescues you from darkness.”
And then the old master relaxed.
In his grief, the young man spent the next day aimlessly in the shop they had shared. Death always brought an unfortunate duty for the master craftsman of the village. He held a worn chisel in his hand just to feel the old man’s presence as he considered what needed to be done. At some point late in the day, he remembered the old, worm-eaten lumber in the very back of the shop… the walnut from his first days with his friend.
And he instantly knew the purpose for which it had been saved.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the story. If you want to start at the beginning, click HERE.