The Happy Stranger of Sunville©

There was a time, long before the world had cars and televisions, when most people lived in small towns called villages. Many were located in the middle of the woods, far away from other villages. In fact, most often the people from one village never knew what the people of other villages were really like or how they lived.

Such a place was the little village called Woodville, where all the townspeople worked very hard, from morning till night, carving wood. There was little time left for them to do anything else.

One day a most unusual traveler happened by. He had a bright yellow knapsack on his back and a big smile on his face, and he was whistling a happy tune. Skipping through the narrow streets, he tipped his hat to everyone he passed and wished each one the happiest of happy days.

“Who is this happy fellow?” asked one villager of another.

“I don’t know,” answered the other, “but I have never seen anyone so happy.”

“Nor have I,” said another.

“Let’s ask him from where he comes,” said one.

And they stepped before him and asked, “Tell us, stranger, from where do you come?”

“I come from the village of Sunville,” said the traveler, “and I bring you happy greetings from all of my friends many miles from here.”

“But we don’t know your friends. How can they wish us well?” asked a villager.

“Because,” replied the traveler, “they are just like me, happy as can be. So, we wish you well.”

The villagers didn’t know what to make of this. One thing was certain: No one in Woodville was this happy. They began to wonder why. One of the villagers asked, “Could it possibly be that there are people in another village happier than we?” And they all began to worry.

Then another wondered aloud, “What if the rest of our village finds out about this? They will be unhappy and worry, too. Why, it might slow down our wood carving.”

“What shall we do?” they asked each other.

“I say let’s have him arrested and run out of town,” suggested one.

“That’s a good idea, and the sooner the better,” said the rest.

They hurried to the village courthouse. They told their story and had the stranger arrested and brought before the town judge. Word spread and a crowd began to gather.

The judge pounded his gavel and brought the courtroom to order. He turned to the town prosecutor and asked, “Why is this man brought before this court?”

The prosecutor said, “Your Honor, this man is brought before this court for being happy.”

“But,” asked the judge, “what is so wrong with being happy?”

“Well,” said the prosecutor, “no one in Woodville has ever seen anyone this happy, and the villagers will therefore become unhappy because they are not as happy as people in another village.”

The judge thought for a moment, then asked, “What do you suggest we do?”

“Run him out of town forever,” shouted everyone present.

“Very well,” said the judge. He then turned to the stranger and declared, “Stranger, the people have spoken. I banish you from Woodville forever. Have you anything to say?”

The courtroom became silent. The stranger stood up before the court and said, “Thank you . . . oh, thank you, Your Honor, for banishing me from Woodville. You have made me very happy.”

“Why would this make you happy?” asked the judge.

“Because,” replied the stranger, “by banishing me, you are making all the people of Woodville happy to see me leave.”

But they never got to know the happiness of the people in Sunville.

Happy are they who really care
To spread good cheer and wish to share.
Sun Sun