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Bitter Tears

Once there was a maiden of plain folk living in the ancient lands of Ithir on the moorland of Rinceoiri. Her house was an old, dying farmhouse who’s great bones were brittle with age. Outside in the yard was a dead garden and a deep well and an empty barn; all around was unused land and dead fields. Heavy clouds hung over the land, and inside the house the young maiden, Welkin, would sit and watch them grow and grow until the sky was black, and inside her heart she would feel pain as she imagined herself as bare and ugly and cold as the moor.

“Never will my soul fly as the birds do,” she would say as tears fell from her eyes like precious diamonds wasted.

Every morning she would weep, for she would not look at the sunrise in fear of its beauty compared to hers. Every afternoon she would cry, for the sky would begin to darken and the clouds would gather. Every evening she would sob and hide away to miss the sunset, and every night she would lament at the darkness, for it reminded the maiden of her own soul. Never once had she left the house in fear of the world laughing and mocking her for her plain soul. As she cried the clouds would gather and rain would fall, and never once did she leave her home.

One day Welkin of the plain folk saw something curious and ventured out onto the old porch. The wind touched her skin, and the sunlight brushed her hair, and the girl found herself staring at a patch of green on the ground. Her eyes welled with tears at the beauty of the sun and the wind and the small bit of green grass before her, and she wept bitter, bitter tears over the earth. When the land tasted such bitter tears that sank into its small patch of grass it threw the bitterness back in the form of life, and a plant shot out of the ground. The maiden saw that the plant held berries, and she gathered them quickly thinking that if she were to eat them her soul would become as colorful as they. Inside she cut one open to find an odd seed, and knowing the benefits of earth seeds she harvested them from the rest of the berries. They were placed in a pot over the fire, and for a time she stirred them. An earthy, green smell burned into the air and flooded her heart, and she knew that they were done. Welkin set them out to cool and ground them up with a pestle and mortar. The fine grinds she had made she strained into a pot of boiling water, and at the first sip she tasted her own bitterness stream down her throat and wash over her soul, and in moments the young maiden’s tears stopped.

“I am comforted by the warmth and taste; the earth has taken my pain and turned it into bliss. My bitter happiness shall be called coffee, and I pray it will ever bless the earth and bring warmth and high spirits,” she said.

From then on the rain stopped, and the grass grew once again. The moor flowered, and the maiden’s once sad, aching soul flowered and bloomed into peace and prosperity. For years the coffee plant blessed the land, and for generations to come her children would drink their own ancestor’s bitter tears that became her joy.

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