“Melinda, this is the last task I ask of you. Is it too much?” Mr. Faulkner asked weakly from his deathbed.
Melinda, his loyal maid, was the only one by his side as his sons lived far away. “No, Mr. Faulkner. I can do it,” she replied, holding his frail hand gently.
The sons, Robert, Penn, and Leonard, had not visited their father in years, too busy with their own pursuits. They had no idea their father was sick, let alone on his deathbed. But they finally packed their bags and returned to Missouri for the funeral.
As the family gathered for the will reading after the burial, the sons were not prepared for what was about to happen.
Mr. Faulkner’s lawyer read out his final wish and testament to his gathered sons and staff. “It is my last wish and testament that my entire estate, including my money and my precious fields behind the farm, be left to Melinda, who was by my side during the last years of my life. I hope my sons can respect my decision and move on,” the lawyer said.
The room erupted in chaos as Robert and Penn threw fits, yelling and accusing Melinda of deceiving their father. Leonard was more reserved, but he also found it difficult to understand their father’s decision. It didn’t make sense to him.
Despite their protests, the lawyer explained that there was nothing they could do to challenge the will. He urged them to leave the office and come to terms with their father’s wishes.
That night, Robert, Penn, and Leonard went to a local bar to drown their sorrows, discussing how they had not been there for their father and ranting about gold diggers.
Leonard’s phone rang, startling him out of his sleep. He answered groggily, “Hello?”
“Leonard?” a female voice said. “It’s Melinda.”
He sat up in bed, now alert. “Why are you calling me?” he asked, his tone stern.
“Please, listen. I want you and your brothers to come to the farmhouse today. Can you do that?” Melinda requested timidly.
“Why would we do that? So you can rub our faces with what my father did? I don’t think so,” Leonard scoffed, rubbing his eyes.
“No, your father had another request for you. Please, I promise. You three need to come,” Melinda pleaded again, and then hung up the phone.
Leonard shared the strange call with his brothers, and they were too curious to ignore it. They drove to the farmhouse, their childhood home that was no longer theirs, to see what Melinda had to say.
As they pulled up to the house, they saw Melinda standing on the porch, waiting for them.
Robert was offended, “Excuse me?”
Penn added, shaking his head, “You can’t be serious.”
Leonard looked confused but didn’t say a word.
Melinda insisted, looking at them desperately, “It’s the truth. You have to believe me.”
“And you would give us back millions of dollars? Just like that? With no strings?” Penn continued, crossing his arms.
Robert accused, “Yeah, you’re a gold digger. Save this sanctimonious attitude for someone else.”
Melinda pleaded, “It’s your father’s last wish. You have to do this.”
Leonard spoke up, “Ok, ok. So, our dad wanted us to have a section of these fields and grow our crops without help for a year. Whoever grows more gets the entire estate. Is that what you’re telling us?”
Melinda nodded, “Yes!”
“I can’t believe you’re actually considering this, Leonard. We’re not laborers, we’re the owners,” Robert said, his eyebrows furrowed in disbelief. He was the eldest of the three brothers, and Leonard was the youngest.
“Actually, we’re not the owners anymore, Rob. Dad left the farm to Melinda, remember?” Leonard retorted, rolling his eyes.
“Well, it’s not fair. If you want to make things right, you should divide the estate with the three of us,” Penn suggested, looking at Melinda.
“I can’t do that, Penn. Your father made me promise that I would keep the farm intact,” Melinda said, her voice tinged with regret, before she turned and walked back to the farmhouse.
Robert and Penn exchanged a look before sighing in frustration.
“This is ridiculous. We’ve never worked a day in the fields,” Robert said, his voice filled with irritation.
“I know, but we can’t exactly turn our backs on the farm now, can we?” Penn replied, throwing his hands up in exasperation.
Leonard, on the other hand, was silent, staring out at the vast fields that stretched out before them. It was as if a new idea had taken root in his mind.
“I think I’m going to stay here for a while,” Leonard said, his voice quiet but determined.
“What? Are you going to do what she wants?” Penn asked, his tone laced with sarcasm.
“Maybe,” Leonard said simply, pursing his lips.
“You’re an idiot,” Robert scoffed, shaking his head in disbelief. “We’re sharing one car, remember? We’re leaving.”
And with that, Robert and Penn got into the rented car and drove away, leaving Leonard alone in the fields.
While his older brothers left Missouri, Leonard chose to stay behind and take on the farm himself. Despite having no prior experience, he was determined to make it work. He spent his days in the fields, talking to the employees and learning how to use the large farming machinery.
With hard work and dedication, Leonard’s section of the farm was soon filled with fresh new crops. Rather than selling them to the regular distributors, Leonard took his produce to the local farmer’s market, feeling a deep sense of pride in his accomplishment.
After a year had passed, Melinda, who still lived in the farmhouse, approached Leonard.
“It’s been a year, and you’re the only one who followed your father’s wishes,” she said. “Let’s go to the lawyer. Everything’s yours.”
Leonard felt a mix of emotions as he finalized the details and signed the paperwork. On the one hand, he was now a millionaire, but on the other hand, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of emptiness. He realized that he didn’t get as much satisfaction from becoming wealthy as he did from sowing, reaping, and selling his crops. He finally understood why his father had loved farming so much.
As he prayed that night, Leonard thanked his father for the valuable lesson he had learned. He knew that his life would never be the same now that he had discovered the joy of hard work and the pride of earning an honest living.
After fully relocating to the farmhouse, Leonard decided to retain Melinda as the maid due to her exceptional culinary skills and strong work ethic. Despite her status as a servant, Leonard offered her a higher salary, recognizing her value to the household.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Leonard successfully managed the family business and expanded it through his knowledge of environmental innovations. Despite occasionally assisting his brothers, they rarely sought his help due to their reluctance to admit their error in judging Melinda’s capabilities. Had they also grown crops, they would have received a share of the inheritance, but they refused to do so.
Now, Leonard enjoyed the satisfaction of a job well done, which he believed was more fulfilling than simply inheriting a large sum of money. With complete control over the business, Leonard was able to adapt to new challenges and grow the empire further.