Part 8

It is evening in the village of the Shulamites, and Smurfette was looking her best as she sat with her character's father as well as with her younger sister and her three brothers at the table when the guests have assembled for the feast.
"Answerin' aardvarks, this is sure going to be an exciting feast," Eden said. "Salome's going to be smurfing the Smurf who will someday be her husband."
"Well, I have a feeling it's going to be a really long feast if our big sister doesn't smurf up her mind as to who she's going to pick, Eden," Akan said.
"Why don't we just pray together to the Lord to see which one He would want Salome to have as her husband?" Asher suggested.
"I don't see how that couldn't hurt, but I just hope our sister will be happy nonetheless," Adna said.
"Well, let's smurf hands and pray right now," Asher said. As the four young siblings joined hands together, Asher prayed. "Oh, God our Father, we humbly ask of you to smurf our sister the one that you would want to have to be her husband, the one who will always love her and care for her no matter what happens. We smurf you all the glory and all the praise that is smurfully due unto you, in your holy name. Amen."
"Amen," the other three Smurflings responded. And then came the sounding of the trumpet, which signaled that their father was going to make his speech.
"Fellow villagers and family members, I am pleased that you have smurfed to this wonderful festival tonight, for tonight my beautiful daughter Salome is now old enough for a young Smurf her age to smurf her hand in marriage," Salome's father spoke. "I know how eager most of you young Smurfs are in wanting to please my daughter, but only she can accept which of you will be the one that she will marry. But regardless of her choice, we will celebrate the moment together and be happy for the two that the Lord shall bind together in a covenant that shall last for as long as the Lord himself shall live."
"Here's your big moment, sister," Eden said to Smurfette. "I can't wait to see which one's going to be the luckiest of them all."
Smurfette sighed. "We might as well smurf through the candidates to find out."
And so one by one, the young Smurfs of the village presented themselves to Smurfette, giving her a present that they hope will make her happy. While this was going on, unnoticed by any of the guests, Empath watched the whole scene from a distance, seeing how unhappy Smurfette was with all the candidates that presented themselves along with their offerings. To Empath, it was like watching Smurfette go through watching all her own fellow Smurfs to find out which one she would like to marry someday.
The person standing next to Empath said, "This will be your moment. Get ready."
After a long while, Salome's siblings were getting impatient. "Gee, Salome, it smurfs like you've turned down all the villagers' sons. You're not interested in any of them."
"I'm sorry, my brothers, but I just don't feel that any of them would be the right one to someday be my husband," Smurfette said.
"Unfortunately, this means that Papa will have to choose the Smurf that you're going to have to marry someday, Salome...and you're not going to like that," Eden said.
"But what else can I do, Eden?" Smurfette said. "They're all very nice, and I'm sure that they would smurf me children and a home, but how can I give heart and soul to a Smurf that I don't even love?"
"Papa, there's got to be something you can smurf about this, can you?" Eden asked.
Salome's father sighed. "I'm afraid that I don't have any choice, Eden. It is the age for Salome to be married, and if she has willingly turned down all of her suitors, then that leaves me to smurf the decision for her."
"There is one more who wishes to present himself to the young maiden," a voice broke in. Everybody turned to see the one whom Smurfette herself had recognized, approaching the table where the family was sitting.
"It...it...it's my beloved!" Smurfette shouted, sounding excited.
"That's your beloved?!?" Eden asked, sounding very surprised.
"I am here because there is one who has come to satisfy the heart of this maiden whom my heart and soul loves, and I would want the two of them to be joined together in binds of matrimony that no one can ever break," the beloved said. "And so, may I present to you, the one who has sought after Salome..."
The beloved stepped aside, as did most of the guests, while Empath made his entrance to the feast. Everyone among the guests was in wonder and surprise as they saw the king of Israel making an appearance at a humble celebration.
Smurfette herself was rather surprised. "Empath! You've come...but why are you here?"
"This smurf is here because the beloved has told this smurf to come, to present himself to you as the one that you will marry...if your father is willing to accept the invitation, that is," Empath said, taking Smurfette's hand in his as she reached out toward him.
"But...but...I thought that I was going to marry the beloved," Smurfette said, sounding a bit disappointed.
"He said that you will someday when you're ready for him, Smurfette," Empath said. "For now, though, he is offering this smurf as the one that you will want to satisfy your heart, if you are willing to accept."
"Wandering weasels, Salome, what are you waiting for?" Eden said.
"Hold it, Eden," Akan said. "Don't you think that Papa should smurf his say in this? After all, Salome is still his daughter."
"Well, this is quite unusual for the king of Israel to smurf all this way from Jerusalem just to ask my daughter's hand in marriage," Salome's father said.
"There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and virgins without number," Empath said to Smurfette. "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."
Smurfette found herself captivated by Empath's words. "My beloved is dazzling and ruddy, standing out among ten thousand," she said as she rose up from her seat to look into Empath's eyes. "His mouth is most sweet. Yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."
Salome's father saw the look of love in both their eyes. "In the interest of what best smurfs my daughter's future, I hereby grant her to be the wife of our noble king Solomon, the son of David. May they both be happy together and may their lives be blessed with children from the Almighty for the rest of their days."
Everybody among the assembled guests cheered and applauded as Empath took Smurfette into his arms and kissed her. Eden and the three brothers joined around the couple as they gave them their best wishes for a future together.

And then suddenly, the Imaginarium fantasy setting had ended, with Empath and Smurfette back to their normal appearances. But Smurfette noticed something that isn't right. "Why is the beloved here with us outside the fantasy?" she asked.
"This smurf senses that he isn't part of the fantasy setting, but rather took part in it because he wanted to communicate something to us," Empath said.
"You have spoken the truth, Empath," the beloved said. "Smurfette has been looking for a love beyond that which any Smurf can provide, and I have become part of the fantasy setting to help Smurfette find the peace within herself that comes from knowing the One who loves her with an everlasting love. Smurfette has also wanted the same for you, Empath, to know a peace that is beyond the one that you think you have found now that you have left Psychelia."
"So that's why you couldn't tell me anything about why you were reading the book, Smurfette," Empath said. "All this time, you were wanting me to know where this smurf can find peace within myself."
"I'm sorry that I never smurfed any of this to you, Empath," Smurfette said. "I was afraid that you were going to smurf this the wrong way and think that I would ever be unfaithful to you."
Empath nodded with some understanding and acceptance. "This smurf does admit that there are some things that neither this smurf nor you can offer each other, which only this beloved of yours can offers us both, Smurfette. This smurf also apologizes for ever having such suspicions about you. But how do we deal with the fact that we may both be seeking after the beloved now?"
"As I live, you will find me when you seek me with all your heart," the beloved said, before he disappeared.

Sometime later, Empath and Smurfette met with Tapper in his tavern. "So have you both found what you were smurfing for in this fantasy setting that I have smurfed for you two?" Tapper asked.
"It was...very educational, Tapper," Empath said. "And this smurf did find out the reason that Smurfette's heart was being drawn to the character from that part of your holy book."
"I see that he's been smurfing after your heart as well, Empath," Tapper said. "The one good thing about having the Almighty as part of your love triangle is that He wants to be part of your relationship together as well as with Him. As the writer of Ecclesiastes has eloquently smurfed it, 'if one overpowers him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.'"
"And you're smurfing that the Almighty is part of this threefold cord in our relationship together, Tapper, am I right?" Smurfette asked.
"You are indeed, my dear Smurfette," Tapper said. "The Almighty wants us to be happy in our relationships with people, whatever our relationships happen to be, as long as we invite Him to smurf part in those relationships. He is the one who will always be a friend that smurfs to us closer than a brother when all other relationships in the world will fail for whatever reason."
"It's the hardest thing for this smurf to ask the Almighty for an everlasting relationship, Tapper," Empath said. "But this smurf hopes that He will always be there for us when we need to turn to Him for anything this world can't give us."
"I can only pray that one day you and Smurfette will smurf a commitment to the Almighty for a relationship that will last longer than a marriage, for that is what marriage is a picture of...the Almighty's relationship with man, with Him as the husband and us as His wife," Tapper said.
"I thank you for smurfing that scenario for both me and Empath, Tapper," Smurfette said as she gave Tapper a kiss on the cheek. "It did turn out to be a fun adventure for the two of us."
Tapper felt himself getting a bit rosy again from the kiss. "Anything for you, Smurfette. I just want to make sure that your heart will be satisfied."
After they have left the tavern, Empath and Smurfette talked with each other in private. "I hope that in your role as the king of Israel, you weren't distracted by all those pretty females that were smurfing in your palace as your wives," Smurfette said.
"Of course not, Smurfette," Empath said. "They were just creations of the Imaginarium fantasy setting. What this smurf wants is the only other real thing that was in the setting."
"And what about my beloved?" Smurfette asked. "Are you also seeking after him?"
"To be honest, this smurf wasn't seeking after him, but he was seeking after this smurf," Empath said. "It is probably how this Almighty works, that he goes after those whom he wants to be in a relationship with him, if Tapper's holy book has anything to say about it."
"So will you smurf with me to help find my beloved again, Empath?" Smurfette asked.
"This smurf will be honored to help you find the one that your soul loves, even if it isn't this smurf, Smurfette," Empath said.
Smurfette smiled at that thought. "Solomon had a vineyard at Baal Hamon; he leased the vineyard to keepers; everyone was to bring for its fruit a thousand pieces of silver. My own vineyard is before me. You, O Solomon, may have a thousand, and those who tend its fruit two hundred."
"You still think that this smurf is truly Solomon?" Empath asked.
"I think that you may be better than him, Empath," Smurfette said. "Who needs a grand palace and a lifetime with a king when all I need is you by my side?"
"And your beloved, Smurfette?" Empath asked.
"Yes, even the beloved," Smurfette said as they walked on together.