He was a young book peddler. Back before the days of numerous public libraries, book stores, the Internet and various other places from where one could buy or borrow a book, the book peddlers made their living by “peddling books.”
These men would begin their livelihood by acquiring certain books, then hitching their horse to their wagon, they would start across the country peddling their books to whomever would want to buy them. The proceeds would then be used to buy more books and the cycle would start again. The service these peddlers provided to rural Americans in remote and out of the way places was invaluable in spreading the written word to many who had no opportunity to buy or gain access to a book.
One such young man took up the trade and began his career as a book peddler. It was a hard job, which often meant that the peddler would be alone, and would have to be at his best always, in trying to sell his ware. This was the time in America, when the skill of reading was not always considered a necessity. However, this particular gentleman believed in his product and would not be dissuaded regardless of a low turnover of his stock.
He was not always greeted with the utmost welcome but was often tolerated. Along with the peddler’s trade, was the custom in America that peddlers and strangers who showed up near or at meal times would be offered a decent food repast-it was just the thing to do. And, should the peddler arrive at a home in the evening hours, it was just neighborly to offer that one a place to lodge for the night with a good super, a decent place to sleep-often in the barn-and a good hearty breakfast before he would move on to another home and another hope the next day.
This peddler in question was used to all the trials and kindnesses his trade offered him and he learned to adjust to them well. All of that changed one day when he stopped at a farm house where there was a beautiful young maiden of approximately the same age, and suddenly peddling of books gave way to the courting of a bride.
He arrived early one summer morning and upon meeting the lovely lass, became spellbound for the rest of his stay. Noon time came and the two had been talking for hours on the front porch swing. Lunch was served and of course he was asked to stay. The afternoon came and went with the two barely noticing the approaching night. Dinner was served and soon he was informed by dad that it was time the daughter came inside for the night and the peddler could stay in the barn. Somehow that day was different for the entire family. Mom stepped in and did the chores the daughter normally did. Dad even took time out to corral the younger siblings from making a pest of themselves as the two young people fell for each other. To think, that their daughter who was of marrying age was being courted and “sparked” that day, made the parents anxious and yet proud. They did not want their daughter to grow into “Spinsterhood” and not have her own family.
The next morning came and the previous day was resumed where it ended late last night. However, after breakfast, the young man got into his wagon and with a slight whistle, the horse turned and down the lane he went. The family stopped all work and play and had to find out what was what. The daughter beamed from ear to ear as she announced that he proposed to her. She also said that he was going to go away, to his own farm, build her a house as he could afford it from his book sales and when it would be completed, he would return for her. She also said that he told her to live in a state of readiness. Because when he would come, he would not have time to wait. Without showing too much surprise, the family acted rather coolly to this announcement and the daughter could tell that no one believed in her intended, except she.
However, from that day forward, she was changed. Every day, she hurried and completed her work, then she made sure that her bags were packed and then she would sit by her upstairs window, looking down the long lane, waiting for his return. Over the next few days and months, she began to discard all the things that were no longer important to her. Every day she packed her clean clothes in her suitcase and then waited.
Days, then weeks, then months began to go by and still no return of her husband to be. The family turned from smiling to chiding. They reproached her for her faith in that one who came, then left, and gave such a promise of coming again, but she never wavered. Soon chiding turned to scorn and she began to feel ostracized for her faith, but she never stopped watching.
One night, as she sat watching the lane, she thought she saw a cloud of dust in the distant. She looked and as her anticipation grew, she shouted, “It is him, he has come back for his bride.” Grabbing her suitcases, she hurried down the stairs and was saying her good-bys to her now awakened family who stood in unbelief. They all cried out for them to wait, they wanted to go to the marriage, but it was too late. She ascended into her husband-to-be’s new wagon and off they rode to go to their own marriage.
She tried to tell them that he meant what he said, but time and delay deadened their hearts and they were the ones who were not able to go to the marriage, they did not know where the marriage was to be nor could they follow the bride to her new home-their unbelief ruined it all for them.