Once upon a time, lived a beautiful girl who sailed the seas with her father. She had spent her whole life living aboard her father’s ship and knew of no other life. As a young woman she was comfortable among the seas but grew curious about the world beyond. Things changed for her one night, when her father, who was always good at predicting the weather,looked up in the skies and saw that a tremendous storm–the worse they had ever seen before–was coming.
As a precaution, he had his daughter pack all their things, and the two huddled together beneath the ship’s deck to wait for it to come. When the violent sea-storm came upon them, a single stroke of lightening came down onto the ship, cracking it in half. The father rushed to lower the lifeboat from the davits and into the water. His daughter grabbed the large sack of coins and clothing, and the two then jumped into the ships only lifeboat. They rowed away from the only home they had ever known.
The two rowed and rowed against the brutal waves brought on by the storm, and all the while they prayed to God to help them survive and find land. They rowed all night. By early morning the storm had passed, and they came across a small piece of land. They anchored the lifeboat, gathered their things, and went ashore. After only a short walk, they came to a small village.
The daughter had only ever interacted with her father—and the occasional men he traded and bartered with—so her father told her, “I reckon’ that in this place you and I will stand out, since we are from the seas. We will be kind to any soul willing to help us and cautious of all others. Do not get comfortable in this small village. We will only stay here until I find a new ship. And once I do, we will leave.”
The girl nodded her head in agreement with her father, and the two then went inside the village.
With their wet and muddy clothes that clung to their skin, bare feet, and dirt-covered faces, the two were an eyesore! There were only a few villagers out, and when they saw the father and daughter in their ragged state, they knew these two strangers were coming from the seas. An older woman, out placing clothing on a wooden clothesline, took pity on the dirty-looking strangers and called out, “Are you two in need of a warm place to stay?”
The woman then gestured for them to come over and led them inside her home. She allowed the man and his daughter to wash up and change clothes, and prepared a hearty breakfast for them. Once they were nice and full, she allowed the two to go the back room, which had two small cots, so they could rest. They rested the rest of the day, and the following day too.
When the daughter finally woke up, she yearned to be outdoors. She was used to breathing fresh, salty air.
The old woman was knitting in the main room and when she saw the girl heading for the door, she said, “I’m glad that you’re up! And, now that you’ve ate a good meal, cleaned up, and got some rest, I can see that you’re a very beautiful girl. Your father mentioned that you two came from the seas, I reckon’ that it was that storm that brought you two here?”
The girl nodded, and because the woman was kind to her, and she remembered what her father told her, she said, “Yes, we are from the seas. We’ve lived on a ship, that was wrecked in the storm, so we came here. We will not be here for long. My dad will purchase a new ship, and once he does, we will leave. But, we appreciate the kindness you have shown to us since we’ve arrived.”
The old woman nodded. “No need to thank me. I could see that you two needed help, and I am glad to help you! Are you on your way outside?”
“Yes. This is my first time being off the ship for so long, and I’m used to having fresh air. I just wanted to step outside for a bit,” the girl said.
The old woman chuckled. “I have no experience sailing the seas, but I imagine that it’s much different than what you’ll experience here on land. Get some fresh air. Just keep in mind that this is a very small, simple village. We do not have much here, I’m afraid.”
The girl went outside. The village was very different from the large seas that always surrounded her ship, and the girl was curious to explore it. She took in her surroundings, noting the pretty willow trees, the thick green grass, and the blooming array of hues in the flowers that surrounded each home. She was so fascinated by these beautiful elements of nature that she did not look in front of her, and bumped right into a man coming from the opposite direction. This man was tall, with a strong body and a tough face, and he did not look kind.
She immediately apologized to the man for being so careless.
“I can only accept your apology if you tell me who you are, and what occupied your attention, causing you to bump into me in the first place,” said the man.
“I’m from the seas; I only arrived here two nights ago. Once again, I am sorry, sir. I am not used to being on land. I’ve only lived aboard a ship and I find your village so beautiful—between the trees, and the flowers–that I must confess that I was not paying attention to where I was going when I bumped into you. Please excuse me.”
“You think this is beautiful?” the man asked, gesturing toward the trees and the flowers. “You can find trees and flowers in any village. I fear for you, if these common things are so fascinating to you that you are unable to walk without bumping into someone like me.”
The girl did not know what to say to the rude man, and felt silly for admiring things that he said were common on land. Since this man was not being kind to her, she frowned at him, and walked around him to continue on with her walk. Yet when she did this, the man gently grabbed hold of her arm and pulled her toward him. The girl was mortified by his touch, and yanked her body out of his grip.
He laughed. “I was merely going to take you to the only place on this land that is truly beautiful and unique, sea-girl.”
She ignored him and walked around him. This time, he allowed her to continue walking. She walked a few moments before she stopped and turned around to see if the rude man was following her, but he was gone. She was alone again, and though there were some villagers out, they did not say two words to her—they simply stared. She felt uncomfortable.
After walking around for a while, she realized that there was not much else to the village, and decided to return to the woman’s home. When she arrived back at the house, her father was up, and he was eating a meal with the old woman. He was rested and seemed at ease.
The kind woman told the father and daughter that they were welcome to stay at her home for as long as they needed. So long as they were both willing to do chores around the home. But the father was set on getting another ship. Yet, as it turned out, the nearest port where he could get a new ship, was a long journey away. He decided that he would take the lifeboat and row it to this far away port on the following day. Because this would be a long journey he wanted his daughter to stay behind in the care of the old woman—who he now trusted—this way she could briefly experience life on land.
After her father left, the other villagers warmed up to her, though none were as friendly as the kind old woman. When she wasn’t helping the woman with chores, she was often outside exploring the village by herself. She marveled at the differences between life on the ship and life on land. On the ship, she always thought it was a beautiful sight to see the sun making the water glisten like crystals; on land she found green grass, blooming flowers, wooded forests, and murky water to be beautiful in their own ways. She was still eager and fascinated to learn more about this village, so she said to the old woman, “I was told that there is a very unique place in this village. Do you know where it is or can you take me?”
“A unique place?” the old woman chuckled. “This is a simple village, as I’ve told you many times. If you’d like something unique and different, you’d have travel to a much larger village. Just as your father has, I’m afraid.”
The girl sighed. “I supposed that I hoped that the man who told me so, was telling the truth…Because I’d like to see other things, before I go back to the seas, but as he was rude anyway, he must have lied to me.”
“I don’t know any unique places in this village, and I’ve lived here my entire life. Describe the person that told you this, and maybe I can identify if he can be trusted, or if he is lying. If he can be trusted, then perhaps he can show us both this unique place.”
The girl described the rude man, and the old woman immediately frowned.
“Please stay away from that man! He is not a good man, and will lead you astray. He is banned in most parts of this village because of his wickedness. The place he offered to take you does not exist!”
The next day she went for her daily walk, and like most days, there weren’t many villagers outside. As she made her way into the forest, however, she heard loud commotion. Curious about the noise, she crept down the trail to see what was causing it. She grew closer to the noise, and saw from a distance that it was two very large men fighting one another. The girl had never seen a fight, so when she was close enough to see it, she stood there silently, just watching. She could not make out the faces of the two men, but one was lying on the ground with his arms shielding his face as the other man was bent over pummeling the man over and over again with his fists. The man that was lying on the ground was begging the man to stop hitting him, but the other man—kneeling on top–would not stop. Even once the man on the ground stopped yelling and grew limp, the kneeling man continued to hit him.
“Please stop!” she cried out. “You will kill him!”
The man landed one last punch before he stopped and looked up. It was then that she recognized that the violent man was the rude man she had met a few days before.
He smiled at her, and stood up, not bothering to look down at the bloody man that lay on the ground beneath him.
“Ah! Sea-girl. I guess I should not be surprised that you would be walking along this trail, since you find common trees and flowers fascinating—and as you can see, trees and flowers are everywhere in this forest.” He gestured with his hands.
She ignored his teasing and asked, “Why have you beaten this man? Is he even still alive?”
He walked around the body and came toward her. “I don’t like to bring harm to others. However, this man thought it was wise to partake in an activity I detest. Though it may seem to you that I’m a brute, make no mistake: I am a moral one, and I expect others to abide by my moral code. This may not seem fair, but I am not always a fair man. He will live. In fact, it is because of you that I have spared his life.”
She was now speechless. She remembered the warnings the old woman gave her about him and how rude he was that first day they met, and seeing that he’d just beat a man to a bloody pulp, she feared for her life. She backed away from him.
“Do not fear me. I will not harm you,” he said firmly, walking closer to her. “And, you should know that this time, I will not let you walk away without showing you what I intended to the last time we met.”
Before she could respond, he reached out and gently took hold of her arm, leading her around the body of the beaten man. As they walked, she desperately tried to break free from his grasp, but this only caused him to tighten his grip on her arm. After a few more unsuccessful attempts to break away, she realized that he was not going to let her go. She looked up at him, and he stared back at her with such intensity it made her uncomfortable, and she looked away. As he led her to their destination, he did not take his eyes off her nor did he loosen his grip.
His possessiveness caused a stirring of emotions inside of her that she did not understand. She felt as if they already knew each other, as if perhaps they had met many times before. With each step they took, the feeling grew stronger—enveloping her mind, her soul, and heart, and assuming complete control. This frightened her so much that she was not in awe with the trees and flowers along the trail, as she normally was during walks in the village.
The two then walked in silence until they reached the end of the trail. There was a long, wide ebony log right at the edge, separating the land from the sea. The man let go of her arm and knelt down to lift the very heavy log out of the way. When he did, the girl saw an opening in the ground wide enough to fit two large bodies.
“Do not tell anyone about this. The log covers this hole for a reason,” he said to her.
He then gestured for her to come with him. Though she felt she should run away, she was curious about what was in the hole, and so she went over to him. Inside the hole was a very tall hand-made wooden ladder; he gestured for her to go down this ladder. She was hesitant, but she found herself climbing down anyway. It was quite deep, and took her a while before she made it to the ground. Moments later, the brute was on the ground beside her. He told her to look behind her, and though she hated that she was doing whatever he told her too, she found that she could not help but look behind them.
She saw a mass of green vines attached to the walls and hanging from the ceilings, and several tropical trees. Beyond the trees was a trail of thick green grass that led to small waterfall. At the very bottom of this waterfall, there was a shallow turquoise lake, surrounded by different flowers that were pink, red and blue. It was the most beautiful place that she had ever seen.
“I told you that there was a unique place in this village, didn’t I?” he said from behind her.
She turned to face him. “Why does no one else know about this place?”
He shook his head at her. “I discovered this place, all by myself, when I was a young boy. This is where I go, when I want to be alone. So no, I have not told anyone.”
“So you just want to keep this hidden away from everyone forever?” She asked.
“Yes, I want to keep this hidden away from those who live in this village. Because unlike the village, this is a place where there aren’t labels of good or bad. All that exists in this place, and outside of it, is nature, and all of it is connected,” He began, “Look closely at the shallow water, and below the waterfall, you’ll see many fish. On the other side of waterfall is a wall of rocks that are a barrier to the ocean. And, that very ocean, on the other side of the rocks, is the very same ocean that you sailed upon to get here. Above us, is the ground—the village ground—but once I step onto that ground, it all ends. The peacefulness, the quiet, and that connection–it all stops, because of those people. I have been banned from nearly every location in that village, beyond where I live, and the place where I fish. This place—the only place where I’m not forbidden—is mine. I will not allow them to take it from me too.”
Though she did not know what happened between him and the rest of the villagers, after hearing his words, she understood that this place was more than beauty to him, it was where he felt he truly belonged… It was his true home.
“It is beautiful here,” she said as she walked to the waterfall. “You’re lucky that you have this all to yourself.”
She let her toes touch the water, and gazed down at the shallow lake surrounded by flowers. He walked up next to her and handed her a red flower.
“I’ve invited you into this place, so it is yours now too.”
“Why did you invite me? We don’t know each other, and I have not been very kind to you,” she said, remembering her father’s advice to be cautious. “Though I’m thankful for the invitation, after hearing what this place means to you, I don’t know why you would want me to have this place too.”
“You have an openness that allows you to see the beauty in the things. That is rare here. The very first time I laid eyes on you, though you did not know it, all I saw was that you were beautiful. When you spoke to me about the beauty that you saw in this village, I knew you were different. I knew you would love this place. And, every day after the day we met, from afar, I watched you take your walks, and I detected your curious nature. I had to bring you here to show you that there is more to the village than what you’d seen. And, I suppose I also brought you here because after we met, I wanted you to see me differently. I wanted you to see beyond what you thought I was—the brute that everyone thinks I am—and see me in a way that no one else has.”
The girl stopped gazing at the beauty all around her and absorbed the brute’s words. She then looked at him, and looked beyond his rugged exterior, the rude behavior he had demonstrated many times, and beyond the horrible stories that she was told about him, by the old woman. She looked into his large eyes and they had a softness that she had not seen before. She looked at his rough face, and in his pained expression, at the moment she saw wonder and hope. She looked at his big body, and saw that in its strength there was a gentle warmth. She remembered the way he looked at her when he first brought her here, as it was the very way he was looking at her now–as if she was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. She realized that he saw her the same way she saw the beauty in the village, and that he was quite tender and sweet. And seeing all these things about him, filled her heart with warmth and acceptance.
She reached out and touched him, and when she did this, the rude man’s heart softened.
“I do. And you were right to bring me here. I’ve been wanting to see something more. Even before we got here. My dad did not understand it, he was comfortable where we were at, but I wanted to know there was more, and now I do.”
The brute knew then that he made the right decision in allowing her come to this place. The two remained in the place for as long as they could that night. They spent their time talking about their lives, while marveling on the nature of this place that made it beautiful. When they left the place to go to their homes, they promised that they would return to meet the following night.
From then on, after the girl finished her chores, she would leave the old woman’s home to meet the man at the log. Then the two would go inside the hole together, and while in the hole, in this place, they were able to shed their identities—he did not see himself as a brute, and she did not see herself as the sheltered girl that had only ever lived in a ship—and they felt free.
One day, when they lay in the shallow lake right under the waterfall and allowed the water to shower over their bodies, the brute took sea-girl’s hand into his, and said:
“I’ve done many bad things. Stealing. Harming people who I felt wronged me in some way. Bullying those that I thought were weak. Creating havoc because I enjoyed it. Many in this village wrote me off as evil, but truthfully, any evil I ever caused was because I was angry at the plight of being an unwanted poor orphan. I never had the opportunity to right these wrongs, nor did I want to try. I did not think that I would ever have the luck in getting a woman beautiful and loving like you, to accept me. Yet you do, despite how tainted I am. Why?”
“The people here don’t understand that there is more to you. In spite of the bad that you’ve done, it was you who brought me here to this place. It was you who told me that in this place there is no good or bad—just nature–and that nature is in everything, to me…So when I see you, I see beyond the things you say makes you tainted. I don’t see bad or good. I just see you. The beauty in this waterfall, these flowers, these trees and these green vines is the same beauty that exists within you, and that is all I need to know,” she said.
He swore then that since she saw this beauty in him, that he would do everything in his power to make sure she always did. He promised her that he would always love her, and accept her just as she was. His only request was for her to promise that she would never leave him. Though she made the promise to him, she was uncertain if she would actually be able to keep this promise. Especially when her father returned in a brand new ship.
He had been gone for so long! While she had not forgotten that he would come for her, she was too in love to think about what this would mean for her love with the brute.
Her father could tell that she had changed the moment he saw her.
“You seem very happy here, are you?” he asked her the day after he returned.
She nodded her head. “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.”
“While I am glad that you’ve been very happy while I’ve been gone, I worked very hard to get this new ship. I did it all for you, to give you back your home. I do not want to get in the way of your happiness, but come tomorrow we are sailing away from here so we can continue on with our lives as we always have.”
The girl cried, “I have fallen in love, Papa. I cannot leave him!”
“How have you fallen in love? I warned you when we arrived here not to get too comfortable because we would leave as soon as were able to. You don’t know what love is anyhow; being in this new place is confusing you. Perhaps we need to leave tonight!” her father said angrily.
The old woman heard the father yelling and the daughter crying and rushed into the back room. “This should be a happy occasion for you both! You finally have a ship. Why are you upset?” she asked.
The father was so angry that he could no longer speak, so the girl explained the predicament to the old woman, who was not surprised by the revelation. She had noticed from the start that the girl had been much happier too.
“Which man has taken your heart?” the woman asked.
The girl told the old woman who the man was, and this caused the old woman to become just as angry as her father. And, once her father learned from the old woman, that his daughter had fallen in love with an awful man, he had her immediately gather all her things so they could leave right away. The poor girl did as she was told.
Before she left for the new ship, she whispered many words into the old woman’s ear, and hoped that the old woman had truly listened. And before her father could grow any angrier, she climbed aboard the ship and sailed away.
Later that night, the brute waited for the girl by the log, but she did not come. She did not come the next day, or the day after, and when several days passed and he still had not seen her, he knew in his heart that she had left him. This meant that she had broken her promise—the only promise that he had ever asked of her. When he considered her inability to fulfill this one promise, so soon after she made it, he believed she was more tainted than he was! He soon believed that everything that had ever happened between them was not true or real.
With such dark emotions, he grew very ill. The illness made it difficult for him to get out of bed and function as he normally did. He felt a deep sense of hopelessness, and while he had always considered himself a strong man, he now felt weak. He didn’t know how to treat this illness and could not bring himself to go down the hole into the place that had always brought him peace.
Eventually, the brute returned to his old ways. He fought anyone that so much as even looked at him. He stole goods and earnings from those weaker than him. He was unkind to anyone that thought to talk to him, and he went to all the places in the village that had once banned him. One day he was in one of these prohibited places, preparing to rob an old man selling bread, when an older woman saw him and, sensing what he was about to do, came over to stop him.
“Please do not steal from that old man. He has worked very hard all day long in this hot sun, selling his bread, so that he can feed his family. If you take his money from him he will not be able to feed them. There has already been a bounty placed on your head for all that you’ve done! I’m sure you know that the person that turns you in will get a hefty reward. And once you are turned in, you will be killed. So, I beg of you, please leave now, or else I will be forced to tell the men searching for you, that you are here, and your fate will be death.”
The brute shrugged his shoulders. “Do what you must, old woman, and tell these men that I’m here! This will only result in me killing each and every one of them. And, after I’m done, any man still brave enough to turn me in—if there is such a man—will receive my personal blessing. If this man has survived the wrath of a heartless brute, then he deserves this hefty reward. I do not fear death, in fact I have little to live for. So, I will rob that old man, and do whatever else I would like to do that displeases you. Your threats do not worry me. Be gone, or I will hurt you too!”
“I don’t see how she could ever love you, how she could cry over someone that is as evil as you are,” the old woman spat, before she turned to walk away. “I’m glad her father took her away from you. You would’ve surely tainted her poor heart.”
The brute froze.
“What did you say?”
The old woman regretted saying anything to the brute. She tried to walk away, but the brute grabbed her.
“You knew sea-girl?” He asked. “You are the old woman she was living with?”
The old woman looked away.
“Answer me! And do not lie! What do you mean, that her father took her away? Or that she was crying over me?”
The old woman sighed and told the man the events that took place that led to sea-girl’s departure. When she was done, the brute’s demeanor changed. He let go of the old woman, and fell down to his knees in shame. The man began to sob. The old woman did not like this brute, but watching him cry the way he did over sea-girl, reminded her of a love she had once shared with a man who had left her too.
“Right before she left, she told me to go to you and give you a message. I’m sorry that I did not come to you. I can see now that she brought out something in you that makes you more like me than I would’ve ever thought. I too, once had someone I loved deeply leave me, but when they left it was of their own will. This was not the case for your sea-girl. If I tell you the message she wanted me to give to you, you must promise to leave right away and to stop committing these horrible acts,” the old woman said with a sigh.
“I swear. And I am a man of my word. I will stop all my wrongdoing if you tell me the message she asked you to relay to me.”
“Very well,” The old woman began, “Your sea-girl said that the beauty you both recognized in your special place is what connected you two to one another. And she wanted you to know that every living thing is connected by the same beauty. That beauty is love. And you must find it in your heart to feel the very love that you feel for her, and for that place–within yourself. Accept yourself, and know that you are not bad or good, that you are love. And in return, you will find the love that you saw in her, and in your place, everywhere. So, no matter where you are, or where she is, love will always flow through you, as long as you remember to find it in as many things as you can; remember this and you will never be alone again. The last thing she asked of me is to tell you to travel the world. Seek the beauty and the love that exists and appreciate all that is unique in every single part. During your travels, you will eventually come to a place that speaks to your heart strongly, the same way your special place in this village has. And she will find this place, because she will travel too, and search every unique and beautiful place until she finds you.”
After the brute heard the message, he kept his promise to the old woman and left without committing any crime. He then went to the special place under the log once more and gazed at all the parts that made the place beautiful. He felt a strong sense of love that reminded him of the connection he felt to his sea-girl. When this love filled his heart, he felt strong again.
After taking one more gaze around the place, he left. With only a few possessions and his faithful heart, the brute got into a rowboat that he had stolen years before and sailed away. He sailed all over the world, observing and exploring the beautiful elements of nature in each location. He came to many places that reminded him of the place he once shared with his sea-girl. Yet, while these places were beautiful and unique in their own right, there was not a place that struck his heart the way his place under the log once did.
One day he came to an island that existed right in the center of the world. The island looked like many of the islands he had seen. While he was on this island, he came across a forest. It was an ordinary forest, but as he walked deeper inside it, he felt a strange stirring in his heart. The feeling grew stronger as he edged along, until he came across a hidden grassy protrusion near a mass of trees. It looked to be a very large mound, covered in ruin. He took his time cutting through the barriers that had formed over the mound. Once he removed them all, he saw that this mound was really a cave. When he went inside the cave, he saw a mass of red rosebud vines hanging from the ceiling of the cave, and underneath these vines were several tropical trees with exotic fruit hanging from them. Beneath these trees was green grass full of pink, red, and blue flowers and butterflies swarming on top of them. He smelled salty seawater, and so he continued across the cave until he got to the very end. He saw a large waterfall that descended down into the sea. He felt a strong connection to this beautiful place and decided to stay.
Many days later, sea-girl, who had left her father years before to explore the world, came to an island. She walked around this island and came across a forest. When she walked inside this forest she began to feel an uncontrollable energy in her fingers and toes. This energy caused her to feel shaky and overwhelmed with emotion. She had only felt this way once before, and she knew that it was not a coincidence that she felt this way again. The feeling became more pronounced, causing her heart to thump as hard as frozen rain hitting the ground. She came upon a grassy protrusion. With one hand over her shaky chest, she used her other hand to feel the protrusion, and when she pushed through the ruin, she saw a cave. When she went inside the cave and saw its unique beauty, she understood why her body reacted as it did. She found this place so beautiful and special that she decided to stay. That evening, the brute came inside this cave, as he always did at night, and there he saw his sea-girl. When they saw each other they both felt joy, and though the years had aged them both, they still saw the beauty in each other, and the love they felt remained the same. The two spent the rest of their life together in this place, in love.