Part 4

NOTE: Part of Ecclesiastes was used in modified form in this chapter.

In the meantime, Empath was being educated in the ways of his character by his two advisers, one of which resembled Polaris Psyche and the other which resembled Brainy. It amused Empath that Tapper would have the supporting characters in the story exude personalities similar to those of his fellow Smurfs, with one adviser being plainly factual without emotion and the other just being obsequious to the point of trying to curry favor with the king, as Brainy would be desiring to do anything of importance for Papa Smurf just to be recognized among his fellow Smurfs.
Empath got a brief glimpse of the Jerusalem that was in the Imaginarium fantasy setting he was acting out, and he almost felt like he had stepped back in time to living actual history that was recorded in Tapper's holy book. Admittedly, though, some liberties had to be taken as far as its presentation, for besides the city being recreated to Smurf scale, it also had elements of the Smurf Village such as certain structures having mushroom-shaped domes. Nevertheless, Empath felt that it was authentic enough to present the story as adequately as possible.
After the morning sacrifice and a breakfast that truly made Empath feel like a king, he was taken to the Porch Of Judgment where he was to discern cases that were brought before him of various matters. This job seemed a lot like his role as the assistant counselor, having to arbitrate among his fellow Smurfs on certain disputes they have among themselves. At first it seemed like it was entertainment, but after a while of settling a dozen or more cases Empath felt like it was work and that he needed a break.
The royal adviser who resembled Polaris, whose name was Zabud son of Nathan, noticed Empath staring out into the city after all the people have been sent away. "May this one know what is unsettling you, my Lordship?" he asked.
"This smurf is the king of Israel, blessed with great wisdom and also with great wealth and honor, and yet for all that, this smurf still feels somewhat empty, as if this smurf doesn't have anything of value," Empath answered.
"What do you mean, you don't have anything of value?" the other adviser named Azariah son of Nathan asked, sounding like he couldn't believe what his liege was saying. "You have smurfed very great works since you were king. You smurfed houses for yourself, you smurfed vineyards, smurfed gardens and orchards, smurfed trees in them, of all kinds of fruit. You smurfed pools of water for yourself, to water the forest springing up with trees."
"You have bought slaves and maids, and had servants born in your house," Zabud added. "You also have more livestock, herds and flocks, than all were before you in Jerusalem. You also gathered silver and gold to yourself, and the treasure of kings and of the provinces. You have men singers and women singers for yourself, and the delights of the sons of men, wives and concubines."
"This smurf knows that by heart," Empath said. "This smurf was great and increased more than all that were before this smurf in Jerusalem; also this smurf's wisdom remained with me. And whatever this smurf's eyes desired this smurf did not keep from them. This smurf did not withhold this smurf's heart from any joy, for this smurf's heart rejoiced in all this smurf's labor, and this was my share from all this smurf's labor."
"You are the envy of all the nations, your Highness," Azariah said. "The nations smurf to you for wisdom, and there's no lack of anything for you. So why do you smurf very little of everything you have?"
"Probably because this smurf has looked upon all the labor, and has seen that it was all vanity, a grasping of the wind, a striving of spirit," Empath said. "And how many wives and concubines has this smurf accumulated in all this time?"
"At the latest record, you have 300 wives and 700 concubines, which has far exceeded those of your father King David," Zabud answered.
"All those wives and concubines...and yet they are more like servants to satisfy this smurf's desire rather than anyone this smurf really wants to be alone with for purposes other than physical intimacy," Empath said.
"But what do you want us to do with the wives and concubines you have smurfed?" Azariah asked. "They're all smurfully bound to you as one flesh, according to the Word of the Lord."
"They're more for securing allegiances with other kingdoms than anyone this smurf truly loves," Empath said. "What this smurf should do is look within this kingdom for somebody that this smurf would truly love."
"What makes you so certain you will find somebody within the kingdom that will satisfy your heart in ways that your wives and concubines are unable to?" Zabud asked.
"The one thing this smurf doesn't want to repeat is the mistake of my father King David, who only married this smurf's mother Bathsheba because he had committed adultery with her," Empath said.
"What do you mean, it was a mistake? You are the king of Israel, therefore you have the divine right to smurf whoever you wish to be your wife," Azariah said.
"Not if it violates the Lord's commandments, which would have resulted in death had it not been for His mercy upon King David," Zabud countered. "If finding the female that would satisfy you completely is important to you, then we will help you in your search and make sure that you follow the Lord's commandments completely while doing so."
"This smurf appreciates your help, the both of you," Empath said. "This smurf is going to need a chariot to take this smurf to the outer villages, preferably where the Shulamites live."
"But what do you expect to find among the Shulamites, if this one may be bold enough to ask, my liege?" Zabud asked.
"Hopefully the one whom this smurf's soul loves," Empath said, leaving the two advisers puzzled as he walked off.

In the meantime, Smurfette was leading a flock of sheep out into the pastures outside of the village of her character, trying to be discreet as possible since Salome's father told her that unmarried females shouldn't be visible to every male that would catch sight of her.
"Shall I help you smurf the flock out into the fields, fair maiden?" one of the male villagers who sounded like Tracker asked her.
"You shouldn't be smurfing alongside me, unless Papa catches me with you," Smurfette said.
"Then we'll just be smurfing in the same direction, since I'm going to be smurfing some wild herbs and flowers," her traveling companion said.
"Is anyone sick in the village?" Smurfette asked.
"If you must know, most of the Smurfs my age have smurfed with a sickness only one thing could cure -- your hand in marriage," her traveling companion said.
"I mean seriously, like some sort of real illness that would have you smurfing out into the forest to smurf herbs and flowers," Smurfette said.
"Just for upsmurf stomachs, but nothing that a little faith in the Almighty couldn't cure," her traveling companion said. "Have you smurfed up your mind about who in the village you're going to marry?"
"I honestly don't know," Smurfette answered. "I feel like I'm the new Smurfette in town and I'm just smurfing to get to know everybody first."
"If your Papa even lets you smurf anyone at all besides your fellow Smurfettes," her traveling companion said. "But really, every Smurf is just wanting to make you smurfy however way they smurf fit to do so. Who else would be willing to smurf your hand that isn't in this village?"
"I keep smurfing of my beloved, who is the like the apple tree among the trees of the woods," Smurfette said. "How I long to smurf down in his shade with great delight, and smurf how wonderful his fruit is."
"I'm sure someone here in the village can smurf your fill of fruit, if you're willing to smurf a chance with him," her traveling companion said. "Otherwise, you might as well be asking the Almighty who would be the smurfect husband for you that isn't smurfing here."
Then the voice Smurfette heard earlier spoke to her again: "Rise up, my love, my beautiful one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my beautiful one, and come away!"
"O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see your form, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your appearance is beautiful," Smurfette responded.
"Who is it that you're talking to?" her traveling companion asked, looking at her as if wondering what's going on.
"The voice of my beloved!" Smurfette exclaimed. "Behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills."
"All I really smurf are just the hills," her traveling companion said, looking in the direction that Smurfette was looking in. "You sure you're not just imagining things?"
"My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag," Smurfette said. "Behold, he stands behind our wall; he is looking through the windows, gazing through the lattice."
"Okay, I think this is the part where we smurf our own ways," her traveling companion said. "I'll smurf you later, if we have the chance."
Smurfette barely noticed her companion walking off without her, for she was seeing the form of her beloved on the hill, and when she looked away for a moment to see her companion, he wasn't there anymore, and neither was the image of her beloved. Nevertheless, she felt captivated by the sight of what she had just seen.
"My beloved is mine, and I am his. He grazes among the lilies," Smurfette said to herself as she guided her flock onward to the fields. "Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag upon the mountains of Bether."

Empath had finished his business as king for the day when Zabud and Azariah directed his attention to a palanquin that was waiting outside his royal palace, carried by four strong Smurfs. "Behold, your chariot awaits, my King," Azariah said with a bow.
Empath took a moment to look at the palanquin, noting how exquisitely constructed it was. "This seems rather excessive for a simple ride out into the villages beyond Jerusalem," he commented.
"It is only necessary that to escort you on your journey, you will be surrounded at all times with sixty mighty Smurfs, who are the best warriors in Israel," Zabud said, as the group of Smurfs all dressed in warrior garb and carrying swords with them arrived to surround the palanquin.
"For the king of Israel, you can't be smurfed with anything less than the best," Azariah said.
"That would be a sensible precaution," Empath said as he inspected each of the warrior Smurfs who would be coming with him. They looked rather fearless, as if ready to handle any enemy that would come their way to harm the king. "This smurf is ready to put this smurf's life in their hands to make the journey."
"Is there anything else you will need for your journey, your Excellency?" Zabud asked. "It will be quite a journey that will take at least a day."
"This smurf appreciates your concern, but this smurf will be sufficiently comfortable, Zabud," Empath answered. "This smurf is leaving the both of you in charge of the kingdom until this smurf returns."
"This one acknowledges, my liege," Zabud said as he and Azariah bowed while Empath got himself onto the palanquin when it was lowered. He felt how comfortable the bed was, as if the blankets, the mattress, and the pillows were made of the finest materials and scented with such fragrance that filled his nostrils with majestic pleasantness.
The four Smurfs carrying the palanquin lifted it up and started carrying Empath toward the outskirts of Jerusalem. Empath saw the people in the city looking at him and wondering what's going on, some even going so far as to bow down in respect, others throwing flower petals and palm branches in his path.
Empath had to remind himself that this was part of playing the character of the king. He had a feeling that Smurfette is in the village of the Shulamites, looking for this beloved of hers from the book. He hoped that he would arrive at the location and find out from her who and what has been attracting her attention.