“Once upon a time there was a man. He made violins. He came from a small village but his violins were famous throughout the land. He made the most beautiful violins. They were crafted from the most majestic and mightiest of trees. He spent hours at his craft. He started to teach his skills to his young son, when the country went to war. He was drafted early and had to leave his family. He packed one of his violins and off he went. At first he didn’t know how to be a soldier. The clunky gun was not as graceful as a bow gliding over a violin’s strings. His uniform wore him down. His violin in its case became heavier and heavier as the days passed, but still, he carried it with him. The army regiment that he was a part of marched for days and days. Every time they stopped to rest he would open up the violin case and take out that violin. He would tune it, plucking each string and adjusting the pegs at the top. Then he would take out the bow, tighten it and play a tune.
At first the tunes were lively and the other soldiers would dance. As time went on and the soldiers became wearier, his tunes became more desperate and melancholy. He missed his family and his young son. Soon enough, he wouldn’t even take the violin out of the case but would just stare at it sadly. When finally the army made it to where the war was, he had become more in tune with the gun than with his violin. The regiment he was a part of gave the men their orders. March to the front to shoot and kill the enemy. The man did as he was told even though he knew that they were being marched to their death. The regiment was out manned and outnumbered. Most of the regiment was made up of countrymen who made their living in the gentle arts, like painters and shoemakers. They did not know how to kill. The enemy made short work of most of the regiment and captured the rest. They killed the leaders and brought the rest of the men, including the man and his violin to their encampment. They told this man to play them a victory song. He took out the violin and plucked the strings. After tuning the instrument and tightening the bow he began to play. A melody broke forth, one that came from far away. It was a victorious melody, one never heard before. He did not know how or where it came from but he let it travel through his fingers and out of the instrument. The enemy men clapped for the man, admiring his skills.
The man’s regiment had been tied up, not more than twenty among them left alive. The enemy camp numbered at least two hundred. The man started to play a new melody. As he played, he felt stronger and stronger. He remembered his son and wife, waiting for him back home. He started to play louder, cutting the air with the notes. The enemy men put their hands over their ears, wailing for the man to stop, stop with his torture, but he did not stop. He continued to play and then to sing. He nodded to his fellow countrymen, their hands tied but their mouths free, to sing with him. They joined together, and the enemy men crouched down in agony, blood pouring from their ears.
The man put down the violin and untied his men and they walked out alive. The man walked triumphantly back to his village. Every night as he walked, he would take out his violin and play a tune to help him remember his family. It had been a very long time since he had been away, but when he walked into his yard, a voice cried out “papa!” and his boy ran to greet him. News of the famous violinist reached far and wide. Soon he was drafted again, but not as a common soldier, he was given a higher rank, a leader of men. He could not refuse. Once again the man said farewell to his son and wife, picked up his violin and went off to war.”
by Rachel Barnard, Featured Author Published with Permission