Part 7

NOTE: Part of 1st Corinthians chapter 13 is used in modified form in this chapter.

By morning, Salome's father has appeared at the guard house where Smurfette was being held in custody. He paid the fine for her release and brought with him a robe to cover his daughter with when she was released from her cell.
"You are really beginning to worry me, Salome," her father said. "I can only wonder what has smurfed you to go smurfing out in the middle of the night without your clothes on."
"I only thought I heard somebody smurfing to me, Papa," Smurfette said. "I didn't think he would just smurf up and leave me when I opened the door."
"It's possible that you were just hallucinating because you're nervous about the Smurfs you're going to meet tonight," Salome's father said.
"But none of what I smurfed was a hallucination, Papa," Smurfette said. "I smurf that I could see this person even in the marketplace. I feel so attracted to him that I want to smurf out and meet him."
"Perhaps then it could be an angel or a demon or something," Salome's father said. "All the same, I want you to be careful that you do not let yourself be smurfed astray. I don't want to have to smurf the worst that a father in Israel has to smurf to his beloved daughter."
"You would exile me from Israel?" Smurfette asked.
"It would be much worse, my child," Salome's father said. "The Lord has commanded that children that are constantly disobedient to their parents should be smurfed to death. The same punishment should also be smurfed unto daughters who would smurf the harlot in their father's house."
Smurfette gulped when she heard that. "Oh, please, Papa, I would never want to disobey you in anything, let alone smurf the harlot in your house."
"That's why your brothers are only smurfing out for you and your sister, Salome," her father said. "They may be younger than you, but they want to make sure that you're smurfed to the right Smurf without them having to smurf an issue of your purity. That is also my duty as your father, to keep you safe and protected for the day of your marriage."
"I understand, Papa," Smurfette said. "By the way, may I have your permission to go to the garden of nuts this afternoon when all my chores are done?"
"Normally I should have you smurf at home for the things you have smurfed," Salome's father said. "But somehow I feel smurfed to give you permission to do so, as long as you promise that you will return in preparation for the feast that we shall be smurfing tonight. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Papa, and thank you," Smurfette said as they approached their house together.
Salome's brothers and sister greeted the two upon their arrival. "So, Salome, did you smurf your beloved in the village last night?" Asher asked mockingly.
"Yeah, and what did he smurf to you when you finally smurf him?" Akan asked, also in a mocking tone, before he and his two brothers laughed.
"That is not funny, you Smurfs," Eden said, sounding very displeased.
"Hey, we're not the ones who went smurfing out in the middle of the night with hardly any clothes on," Adna said.
"It only smurfs her right that the guards caught her when they did, or else she would be smurfing in much worse trouble right now," Akan said.
"That's enough, my little Smurflings," Salome's father said sternly. "Your older sister is back among us and should be treated with respect. You will not smurf on about this incident as long as you're still smurfing in my house. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Papa," the three boy Smurflings said together.
The four male Smurfs left Eden to talk to her sister. "What were you smurfing in the middle of the night anyway?" Eden asked. "Was that your beloved who was really smurfing out to you?"
"I thought it was, but then he just suddenly disappeared," Smurfette said. "I'm not sure what I'm really smurfing after anymore."
"If it's really your beloved, I'll help you go and find him, sister," Eden said. "I would want to smurf him in person and see if he's everything you ever smurfed about, even more than the king of Israel himself."
"Yes, even more than the king of Israel himself," Smurfette said, as she thought about Empath playing King Solomon.

Meanwhile, Empath had woken up and is now dealing with the people in the village who were visiting him for his judgments on settling various types of matters when one of the guards have returned. "My lord, I would want to speak with you in private on the matter you have smurfed me out on," he requested.
Though Empath couldn't sense what any of the characters in the Imaginarium setting were thinking, he had a feeling that the guard had some news about Smurfette. He had the other guards dismiss his visitors from his chambers in the lodge he was staying in.
"Now pray tell this smurf what it is you have found out about the Shulamite woman that has been imprisoned last night," Empath told the guard.
"From what I have smurfed, she is the daughter of a local farmer who also has three sons and a younger daughter," the guard said. "There's also some talk of a feast that they're going to smurf tonight, and something about her father smurfing the right kind of Smurf for her to marry."
"So the father is planning to marry her off to one of the Smurfs around her age in the village," Empath said as he pieced what he heard together.
"What shall we do?" the guard asked. "This seems to be a very private affair among the people of this village."
Empath thought about that for a minute. "We shall keep ourselves out of this affair, since this is a private matter. We will return to Jerusalem by tomorrow morning to see after more important matters of the kingdom."
"You do not wish to smurf after this Shulamite woman that you inquire of?" the guard asekd.
"What this one wishes to do with this Shulamite woman is this smurf's own personal matter," Empath said. "You are simply to obey this smurf's orders. We will be leaving this village by tomorrow morning. Is that understood?"
"Yes, my King," the guard said, bowing respectfully before he left the king's chambers.
Empath sighed, for he wondered what this "beloved" of Smurfette's that was drawing her towards him wanted of her and also of Empath. What seemed to be a very unusual love triangle going on among himself, Smurfette, and this "beloved" was becoming more complicated the more he continued to play out this scenario. He had no idea that this "beloved" was also calling out to him, as if he himself was being pulled away from Smurfette unto the same person that was drawing her unto himself.
"You seem worried about what I am doing to Smurfette," a familiar voice spoke. Empath turned to see that it was the same person he met in his dreams.
"This smurf is more concerned about your intentions for her," Empath said to the person. "How does this smurf know that you will not bring any harm upon Smurfette?"
"It is the thief that has come to kill, to steal, and to destroy," the person said. "My purpose here is to give life, and to give it more abundantly."
Empath seemed to know just who it is that is speaking. "Then you must be Jesus."
"That is one of my many names, child," the person said.
"So...what's your purpose of going after Smurfette?" Empath asked. "Are you desiring to offer her your salvation?"
"She is greatly loved, as are you, of my Father," the person said. "Only he can offer you both the kind of love that neither of you will be able to find in each other, a love that is beyond your ability to completely grasp."
"But why wouldn't she able to give me the kind of love that this smurf desires?" Empath asked. "And why wouldn't this smurf be able to give her the kind of love that she desires?"
"You are both born of the flesh, and the flesh can only offer as much love as it can provide to another person," the person said. "The love that comes from the one and only God of heaven and earth is an everlasting love that is longsuffering and is kind. This love does not envy, does not boast itself, and is not puffed up. It does not behave indecently, does not seek its own, is not easily provoked, and it thinks no evil. It does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. It covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. And most of all, this love never fails."
"This smurf fears that this smurf will fail her," Empath said. "That there will come a time when this smurf will not be able to rescue her, and this smurf fears living with that regret. But to ask that this smurf should put my trust in you for her safety..."
"If you truly love Smurfette, you must put your faith in the fact that she will be protected until her appointed time has come, Empath," the person said. "For you as a creature of flesh can only know in part and can only prophesy in part. It is only when the complete whole comes that those things which are in part will pass away."
"Then what do you ask of this smurf to do in this fantasy scenario?" Empath asked.
"I will bring her through it to its intended conclusion, Empath," the person said. "The only thing I ask of you is to simply believe and trust in me to do it."
And then suddenly the person vanished, and Empath was left alone in the king's chambers wondering if going back to Jerusalem was the right choice in playing out this scenario.

In the afternoon, after her chores as the character she was playing were completed, Smurfette went out to the place that her beloved was calling her to.
"How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince's daughter," the voice of her beloved spoke. "The curves of your thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a skilled artist."
She saw him up ahead and raced over to embrace him. "Oh, that you were like my brother, who nursed at my mother's breasts! If I should find you outside, I would kiss you; I would not be despised. I would lead you and bring you into my mother's house, to teach me; I would cause you to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate."
"Your navel is like a round goblet; it lacks no mixed wine. Your belly is like a heap of wheat set about with lilies," the beloved said. "Your neck is like an ivory tower, your eyes like the pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath Rabbim. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus."
Smurfette felt like she couldn't stop kissing him. "Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as Sheol; its flames are flames of fire, a flame of YAH."
"Your head is like Carmel, and the hair of your head is like purple; the king is held captive in its tresses," the beloved said. "How beautiful and how pleasant you are, O love; so exquisite!"
"Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the rivers overflow it," Smurfette said in the heat of passion. "If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be despised with contempt."
"Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts like its clusters," the beloved said. "I said, I will go up into the palm tree, I will grasp its stalk. Let now your breasts be like clusters of the vine, the fragrance of your nose like apples, and the roof of your mouth like excellent wine."
Smurfette couldn't believe that this was her pouring out her heart and soul to someone besides Empath. She felt so ashamed of how she acting in the presence of her beloved that was calling to her. She suddenly backed away as if she was fearful of what she was becoming.
The beloved reached out and touched her face gently. "You are greatly beloved, my child. There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and virgins without number. But my dove, my perfect one, is the one, the only one of her mother, the pure of the one who bore her. The daughters saw her and called her blessed, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her."
"How can I love you more than I love Empath?" Smurfette asked. "He is the one that I find that smurfs out among the hundred of my fellow Smurfs in the village. No Smurf can ever compare to him."
"I will always be here for you, my love, long after the ones that you love in the world are gone," the beloved said. "When Empath is but a memory, you will know that I am the only one that you will ever need."
Smurfette shed a tear at the thought of ever losing Empath, but she felt that the words of her beloved were sincere and that she could believe him. "Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine has budded, whether the grape blossoms are open, and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give my love to you."
"Come and rest with me for a while before you return to the village," the beloved said as he directed her toward an apple tree.

While Smurfette slept in the arms of her beloved, she could find herself dreaming of a marriage scene in heaven where all her friends in the Smurf Village would be attending, including Empath. Standing next to her at the altar was her beloved, wearing a shiny white robe and a crown that seemed to look like many crowns stacked on top of each other, making it look like a miter. He looked at her with the look of love, as if he was ready to take her into his chambers to make her marriage to him complete.
Before them, a massive person sitting on a grand throne presided as the minister of the wedding. "Do you, my Son, take Smurfette to be your lawfully wedded wife, to love, honor, and cherish her, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, for as long as the heavens and the earth shall stand?" the person asked.
"I do, my Father," the beloved said.
"And do you, Smurfette, take my Son to be your lawfully wedded husband, to love, honor, and cherish him, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, for as long as the heavens and the earth shall stand?" the person on the throne asked.
"I do, your Highness," Smurfette said.
Then the beloved took a cup that the person on the throne had handed to him. "This is the cup that you both shall drink from, which shall seal the covenant between you as husband and wife," the person said. "You shall both make your vows before you drink of this cup."
"I vow unto you, Smurfette, that my life shall be yours if you shall have me," the beloved said as he drank from the cup and then passed it to Smurfette while looking at her.
"I shall vow unto you, my beloved, that my life shall also be yours if you shall have me," Smurfette said before she drank from the cup.
"Then by the power that is within me, that none can swear an oath by anything higher than myself, I shall pronounce you to be both husband and wife," the person on the throne said, to which all the assembled guests cheered. "You shall now kiss your bride."
"You who dwell in the gardens, the companions listen for your voice; let me hear it," the beloved said as he pulled Smurfette close to him.
"Make haste, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices," Smurfette said as she leaned her face to close to her beloved's to kiss him.
"Salome, your father has called me to look for you, to say it is time for you to prepare for the feast," a voice broke in.
Smurfette woke up from her dream and found herself lying under the apple tree with nobody there beside her but another character in the Imaginarium setting, probably one of the people from the village.
"I'm sorry, but I don't know who you are," Smurfette said.
"I'm only your uncle, child," the character said. "Your relatives have come to attend the feast, so that they will know which one you will choose to be your husband and that they may come and celebrate your happiness with you and your family."
Smurfette sighed, realizing that this was part of the Imaginarium setting. She picked herself up and followed Salome's uncle back to the village.