There was once a hut in the dark forests of Germany, sitting in a spot where sunlight shone only in slivers through the thickly wooded trees. It was so desolate there that one could hear nothing but the shuffle of birds and creep of snakes. An old furniture maker and his wife lived in that hut, eating and speaking very little, wishing for even less.
One day, the woman became very tired. She couldn’t lift her arms, even to embrace her husband. She wanted only to sit alone in the dark. She told him she did not want to go on living in such a place.
“Inspiration has left us,” she said. Troubled, he declared to her, “I will build you the finest throne. It will have magic in it and we will both become young again. We will be cured.”
In his eyes, she saw a flicker of genius—or desperation. She had not seen that for a long time. Over the next week, she heard sawing in the cellar. She saw him drag hides inside of the hut, saw the indentations in his fingers from sewing needles.
At the end of seven days, he led her to a low-backed sofa made of dark, sanded leather. The rolled arms and meticulous tufting were trademarks of the old furniture maker’s work, carrying an elegance and style that seemed out of place in that forest.
When the old couple sat on this throne, perfectly proportioned for two, they suddenly changed. Their features softened into the faces of they had long forgotten. Their bodies became limber, their senses more alert. Outside, the trees cleared, as if straightening themselves up. The birds burst into song. A sense of lightness flooded into the hut.
“I said I could do it!” the man cried.
The woman only nodded. She rested her hand on the leather, pressed her palm against a shiny button. This was true magic. From that day on, she understood the worth of her artisan and the value of her beloved home.