upon a time lived a maiden who was simply too sensitive
for this world, or so she was told.
are too sensitive for this world," her haughty stepmother
said to her so often, that the words regularly echoed in
the maiden's young mind, in nearly every situation in which
the young lady found herself.
up, girl!" the stepmother would often bark, "This
world isn't for softies!"
the maiden's father was rather different in his treatment
of her. He loved her very much, you see, and she had felt
ever so safe when she had been a little girl, sitting on
his lap, in his library full of books, listening to his
kindly words. She loved to come and visit him when he was
in the midst of his work as a writer, and he was never too
busy to see her and bestow upon her fatherly affection.
Though he was terribly beset with work, as writers are wont
to be, he always had time for his little girl, and always
made her feel that she was just perfect as she was.
the incessant negative comments of her stepmother, this
kindly treatment by her father was a wonderful blessing
and truly a revelation to the young maiden.
the young girl, came from her fathers study, smiling and
feeling very loved, her stepmother would stand in the hallway,
her hands upon her hips in a petulant way, and remark, "
Hmmmph! Your father! He's a fine one for you to listen to.
The two of you are chips off the old block!"
father wouldn't make it in this world at all, if it weren't
for the likes of me!" the stepmother would continue,
on a roll. "I am tough, you see. And you, young lady,
are just like your father! If you don't toughen up, the
world is going to eat you up, just like a ginger snap!"
the stepmother would often say something like "Now
speaking of ginger snaps, you may have some. They are on
the table," for she was not all meanness, and often
mitigated her scolding with such contradictory gifts. For
in reality, she loved the little girl too, but was simply
not able to show it in the free way her husband did. For
you see, this is how she had been raised herself, very strictly,
and the poor stepmother had a great deal of difficulty escaping
behaving the way she had seen her parents behave.
young maiden, of course, loved to visit her father the best,
for he was the kindest. And felt, somehow, that her stepmother
was rather mean, always scolding her. Yet deep down inside,
she wondered, "Am I too sensitive, too indulgent
with myself? Do I need to toughen up?"
how she struggled with the too views of the world presented
by her parents, one practical and "tough," the
other rose-tinted and full of stories, dreams, books, and
tales. It made her rather grown up at a rather early age,
thinking of and weighing such things in her mind. She tried
not to think of it too often, and just play and be a little
girl. But there it was, so often. She could not escape it,
for her parents were of course, the primary figures in her
even when the little girl became nearly grown, a "maiden"
as the people of the village called girls of her age, she
still heard two voices in her head. One was her kindly father's
which reassured her, "You are good, and being sensitive
is good." This was the voice which encouraged her to
write and to paint, and to do all manner of things which
her stepmother would have called a waste of time.
then there was the voice of her stepmother, which told her
"you'll never amount to anything if you continue to
be a dreamer!"
the maiden was not much different than when she had been
a little girl. She was now and had always been a dreamer.
In this her stepmother was definitely correct, she and her
father were "chips off the old block."
had loved to draw, to paint, and to make up stories since
she had been a little girl. It was true as well that these
things were not terribly "practical" when viewed
with practical eyes. Her father's writings did not bring
much money into the household. Would the maiden's talents
and abilities enable her to support herself or her family
when she made her way into the world?
thought the young maiden, "my stepmother is right.
Perhaps I shall come to no good. A dreamer I am: a teller
of tales, a painter of pictures." Yes, sensitive she
was, perhaps too sensitive for this world. And, if her stepmother
was right, the world did not value her talents. And, worse
yet, without someone practical like her stepmother around,
the young maiden might well flounder and do poorly in the
maiden worried over this possibility, and yet, she knew
deep inside that there was a part of herself which was
"tough," that her stepmother did not see. There
was a part of her which in an almost stubborn way clung
to the ways of a dreamer- painting, writing, creating.
day, when the maiden came into her father's study to visit,
she found her father sleeping in his chair. She thought,
"Oh, my father is taking a little nap. He has worked
so hard!" But when she went to rouse him she found
he did not awaken. Her father, who was quite elderly by
now, had simply drifted off into eternal sleep in the middle
of writing a story.
the maiden's heart was broken. Her father had been the light
of her life, and now he was gone. Her father was gone, and
she had not made her way into the world of adults and practicality.
She had stayed in her room and all she had to show for her
life was her dreams and a trunk full of stories and paintings.
was kind and good; she knew this from her father's constant
affirmation of her gentle spirit. And, in her own way, like
a very famous poetess who also stayed in her room in her
father's house, she had shown kindness to those around her
and was know for this. Like the famous poet, she was known
in her neighborhood as an eccentric and loving soul. All
the neighborhood children came to visit her and hear her
stories, and she enchanted them!
were indeed lovely stories. But the young maiden knew that
she could not stay at home and live with her stepmother,
who without the mitigating kindness of her father would
prove to be too formidable of a foe. She must make her way
into the world.
how shall I do it?" she ruminated. "Perhaps I
am too sensitive for this world!" She thought
this to herself, she even said it aloud, and it was then
that the rather tough, stubborn, inner quality (that her
stepmother could not see) kicked in. The maiden screwed
up her courage, put her manuscripts and paintings into a
satchel, and gathered a few more things for the road.
downstairs, she told her stepmother, "I am leaving
to make my way in the world. Perhaps I am too sensitive,
as you say. Or, perhaps I shall find my own way, my own
special way, of traveling through life. Either way, I bid
you love, my stepmother." And with that, after noticing
but not being distracted by the look of astonishment on
the face of her stepmother, she walked out the door.
stepmother stood, mouth agape, not knowing what to say.
Finally, all she could think to say was "Hmmph. She'll
be back. She's too sensitive for this world!"
Michael D. Purvis