The Lord of the Manor lay dying. He was not afraid to die. He had lived a good life. He had three grown up daughters. But as he lay in his hospital bed, he wondered what would happen to his beautiful Manor House. It had been in his family for generations. He wanted to leave it to one of his daughters. But which one?
One of the nurses, a wise woman said ‘Give your house to the one who will fill it’
He thought about this but it didn’t help. All three daughters had children, but they too were growing up and leaving to make their way in the world. He decided to set his daughters a challenge. ‘I am not so ill that I cannot come out for a few hours to visit my house,’ he said. ‘Whichever of you can fill it best will inherit it when I am gone.’
The eldest daughter was a successful businesswoman and a parish councillor. When it was time for her father to visit she called on all her friends and invited them to the Manor for a party. When her father arrived, the house was buzzing with activity. He looked around his beautiful house and thought to himself ‘My eldest daughter has done well. I could leave this house to her’. But as he looked further, he saw that although people were milling about in the Great Hall and the Solarium and the Kitchen some of the smaller rooms were not filled with people. His study felt empty and cold, and that made him feel sad.
A few weeks passed and the old man was fit to visit the Manor House again. This time it was the second daughter’s turn. She was an artist and decided that she would fill her father’s house with light and beauty.
When her father came to visit, it was evening. The house was a blaze of light. The walls were covered in pictures, the mirrors had been polished to reflect the light from a thousand candles.
The old man was pleased and thought to himself ‘My middle daughter has done well. I could leave this house to her’. But as he looked further, he saw that even in the brightest rooms there were dark corners where the light did not reach, and that made him feel sad.
The old man went back to the hospital to rest. He was becoming increasingly frail. When, a few weeks later, his youngest daughter heard he was coming out for a few hours she had no idea how she could fill the house for him. She was not a successful businesswoman or a clever artist. She had always been a quiet, rather mousy person. Besides, unlike her sisters, she couldn’t afford to put on a big party or buy thousands of candles as she was not very well off.
‘How can I fill the Manor for my father so that he will be pleased with me?’ she wondered.
When the old man came to visit the Manor House for the last time, the house was very quiet. There were only a few lights burning. He felt very tired. A nurse had helped him into the house and as he sat alone in the hall and waited for his daughter to come, he felt sad that the house seemed so empty.
As he waited he heard a beautiful sound. He realised then that his daughter had brought her harp to the Manor House and was playing it softly in another room. Very slowly he got up to look for her. As he walked around the house, he realised that, wherever he was, the sound of the harp followed him. His youngest daughter had filled every corner of the Manor House with music.
The old man felt very happy. ‘All three of my daughters can fill this house, but my youngest daughter’s music is the one thing that fills is completely’.
When he lay in his hospital bed that night, he knew what to put in this will and he was content.
So, when the time came, the youngest daughter did inherit the Manor House and looked after it well. But whenever her eldest sister needed to put on a big Party, or her middle sister needed to put on an Art show, they would use the Great Hall at the Manor House.
While her sisters were milling about being busy and famous, the Lord of the Manor’s youngest daughter would retire to a corner and play her harp so that the music spilled and trilled into every room, filling the Manor House with sound.