"Halov!" Dan called out.
Victory got up from the dirt and walked over to Dan. For once the crazy old man was smiling. Victory wondered briefly what he was up to. Did he have some other sadistic chore in mind for him? Then again, it was Tuesday, the last day Victory would have to spend on the farm. Maybe the man planned on killing him before he left.
"My wife and daughter went to town for a few hours," Dan said, and I'm glad because I have a few things to say to you."
Oh great. Stuck alone with the girlfriend's father, who hated his guts, for who knows how long, and any stray farm hands who might easily beat him up at the father's slightest word. It was not a great situation for Victory, and he was a bit uneasy.
"What do you have to say, sir?" Victory asked.
"I have to congratulate you, Victory. I'm impressed," Dan said, with a broad smile on his face.
Dan slapped Victory paternally on the shoulder. Victory was confused. Actually, he was frightened. This was the first time Dan had called him by his Christian name. It was also the first time he had said anything even remotely complimentary.
"What?' Victory said, growing a few shades paler, and wondering if any of the hired helpers were sneaking up behind him with a blunt instrument.
"I treated you like shit and you're standing there smelling like roses. You've impressed me, my boy. I want to let you know that I approve of your relationship with my daughter, and I would be proud to have you as a son-in-law, if you ever choose to propose."
Victory just stared dumbly at Dan. He smiled a little bit broader.
"You're wondering about the sudden change of heart?"
Victory nodded with a blank expression on his face.
"Well, it's not so much a change of heart as a change of manner, if you understand my meaning, Victory. I liked you the moment you stepped into my house. Strong, polite, well groomed, certainly a pillar of virtue on the outside. What I really wanted to get at, Victory, was your insides. I wanted to see if you genuinely love my daughter.
"I know I've treated you harshly this whole time, but now I see what you're willing to go through out of love for Dina. If you'd given up before now, I'd've known you weren't the man for her. But now I see you're determined, hard working, honest, and very genuinely in love with my girl. Now take this."
Dan took out an ugly puke green tie from his pocket. It was wrinkled and hideous. He pressed it into Victory's hand.
"On the day when you propose to Dina, wear this. If she says yes seeing you in this tie, you'll know it was meant to be."
Dan smiled at Victory's bewildered looked.
"I know how you feel, Victory. Thirty years ago I felt the same way when Esther's father said the same thing to me. I went to his home and treated him as well as I could, and he spat in my face the whole time. I thought I had lost Esther forever.
"Then, one rainy night, her father knocked on my door. He told me that he had treated me gruffly to test my resolve. He said that I had withstood terrible treatment, and that he could see that Esther and I were meant to be together. Then he handed me this tie and said to wear it the day I asked for Esther's hand. And he told me a story just like this one. Some day you'll be saying the same thing to your future son-in-law, Victory.
"You know another thing that my father-in-law said that the bad treatment would also draw Esther and myself closer. I didn't understand what he meant, but I saw it was true. It seemed like Esther loved me more because he acted like he disapproved of me."
"So we'll keep up this facade?" Victory asked.
It was the first thing he'd said.
"Until you're married at least," Dan said with a smile, "Now take a break until the ladies get back, and then get back to work."
Victory nodded. He was still stunned.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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