Queen Emily woke up to find the first snow of the season had fallen during the night. There was a blanket of white snow everywhere in the woods and the sun was shining and Emily thought a walk in the new fallen snow would be the perfect start to her day. She grabbed her hooded winter coat and her walking stick and headed out. The woods were silent as only happens with newly fallen snow and she was the first to walk through it at least in this area. She headed north out of the elf village and soon she was enveloped in a feeling of peace and calm.
After she had walked for several miles she came across hoof prints mingled with another elf’s tracks. She followed along with them for a ways and then as she came around a bend she was stricken to find a unicorn lying in the snow, bleeding. She raced up to the unicorn and discovered it was still alive but it had an arrow through its front right thigh. She knew she needed help so she stripped off her coat to cover the unicorn before racing back to the village for assistance.
Soon the unicorn had been moved to the village and the arrow removed. Thankfully the unicorn would be alright with rest and care, but who could have done such a thing. Unicorns were honored beings in the elf world. Who would have dared to hurt such a sacred creature. Queen Emily summoned her counselors.
“We need to discover who committed this crime,” began Emily. She held up the arrow and then heard a gasp from Silas, her second in command.
“What is it, Silas,” Queen Emily asked.
“I recognize that fletching,” said Silas. “It looks as if it is one of Jacob’s arrows. He is from the next village and has been coming over trying to woo my eldest, Samantha. But I never would have thought him capable of anything like this.”
Suddenly there was a disturbance at the door and Samantha and Jacob came hurrying into the room. Samantha pleaded, “This idiot was out shooting this morning trying to bring down a big buck that he thought our family would be grateful to receive and that we would be impressed by his hunting prowess. Instead, the unicorn galloped in front to protect the buck and the arrow struck her by mistake.”
Jacob mumbled, “I knew I couldn’t help her myself so I went to find help, but just then you came along, Queen Emily, and the unicorn was in good hands, so I left.”
Samantha snorted. “He is trying to woo me and he thought that if he just showed he was a good provider he would impress both me and my father. Stupid! He hasn’t even bothered to notice we are vegetarian! All the meals he’s had at our home and never once did we serve meat!”
“I thought that was because you were too poor and too proud so I didn’t say anything,” defended Jacob. “I love you and I wanted to help you out.”
Queen Emily pondered the stupidity of young love. “Jacob, it seems that you need to learn a lot more about us and our village. Fortunately for all concerned, the unicorn will heal completely. I know you are from the elf village over the mountain and I know your ways are different from ours, but we live in total harmony with our world and we do not condone the taking of any life.”
Jacob looked both bewildered and humbled. “I just thought you were poor and didn’t have any proper hunters,” said Jacob. “That’s what our village has always said about yours.”
“Well then,” said Queen Emily, “I think it is time for that to change. You will work here in this village for a period of one year. During that time you will live as we do. You may see Samantha if Samantha allows, but no courting or wooing. You will work in our gardens, fields, craft shops, everywhere, and you will help each village household in turn. In addition you will send weekly reports to your father, who I know is the head of your village, detailing how we live, how we work, and what our life is really like. I want it made very clear to your father that it is your free choice to do this and that we are not enslaving you. If you decide this sentence is too hard for you then instead you will be banished from this side of the mountain for the rest of your life. What do you say?”
Jacob thought for a minute but then quickly answered, “I love Samantha. I want to understand her, so I will do as you say and I will be sure my father knows that I am not being coerced into this. And Samantha,” he continued sheepishly, “I’m sorry I just assumed you were too poor to afford proper food and I’ll do my best to learn about your ways.”
Samantha smiled. “Who knows, maybe you’ll find out just how wonderful being vegetarian really is!”