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He was a strong, robust young man; easily the strongest man in the town and perhaps the strongest man in all the world. Whenever there was hard work to be done, he would be called upon to help, and he could do the work of two or even three men quite easily. His strength was matched only by his appetite; he ate as much as three men, and had to in order to power his immense muscles.

Word of his prowess spread throughout the town and beyond. Soon, people from villages a day’s ride or more away would come to beg for his assistance. He found himself so busy that he could barely find the time to rest. Still, even with no more than a few hours sleep each night, he was stronger than any other man he’d ever met.

Finally, his parents decided that it was time he find a wife. They would lay on a great feast, and all the maidens of the town and surrounding villages should attend. There he would choose the woman who would be his bride.

The day of the feast came, and people from all over the kingdom arrived. The tables were heaving with food, and musicians played a gleeful tune. There was much merrymaking, but the young man sat with his chin in his hands, and did not dance.

His father pointed out a beautiful young maiden to him. She had golden blonde hair and delicate pale skin, a smile that lit up the room and sparkling eyes of blue. He told him that she was thought to be the most beautiful maiden in the entire world, and she had come to the feast in the hope of becoming his bride.

“Does she not appeal to you?”

The young man sighed. “She is beautiful, true,” he told her father.”So beautiful that she might have come down from heaven. But she is so delicate! I fear I would break her if I so much as took her hand.”

His mother pointed out another maiden to him. She was dark haired and dark skinned, with wide brown eyes and a slow but enchanting smile. She told her son that the maiden was thought to be the wisest woman in the world, and she had come to the feast in the hope of becoming his bride.

“Does she not appeal to you?”

The young man sighed. “I had heard of her, and I have spoken to her,” he told his mother. “She is wise indeed, but I am not. I have no time for learning, and I fear she would make me feel stupid for the rest of my days.”

His parents sighed, and left him to sit at the table enjoying the feast while they hunted for more suitable brides.

The young man sat with a chicken in one hand, watching the ladies dance. They were all so dainty, so delicate, so well educated. He was a practical man, and he wanted a bride that would match him.

His father returned to the table with a grin on his face. “Third time is the charm,” he said to his son. “I have found a woman you’re sure to like!”

The young man sighed. He drank down a mug of beer, and finished the chicken he had been eating, wiping his hands on his shirt as he stood up.

“Very well, father,” he said in a resigned manner. “Where is this one? I suppose she is the most talented singer in the world, or a wonderful seamstress?”

His father shook his head and pointed. At the far side of the room, a tall, curvaceous maiden with fiery red hair was crossing the room with six pint jugs of beer in her hands. The young man watched as she delivered the drinks to waiting tables without spilling a drop, then retrieved a large pile of empty plates to return them to the kitchen.

“She brewed the beer herself, and cooked most of the food here too,” the young man’s father said. “She came to the feast to work, not to catch your eye, even though she is unwed.”

The young man smiled. “A woman who can brew the finest beer and lay on a feast for hundreds, a woman who will work as hard as I? Father, I think I’m in love.”

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note- This story was inspired by the prompt at Three Word Wednesday.)

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