The Ear

"Can I see my baby?" the happy new mother asked. When the bundle was
nestled in her arms and she moved the fold of cloth to look upon his
tiny face, she gasped. The doctor turned quickly and looked out the
tall hospital window. The baby had been born without ears.

Time proved that the baby's hearing was perfect. It was only his
appearance that was marred. When he rushed home from school one day
and flung himself into his mother's arms, she sighed, knowing that
his life was to be a succession of heartbreaks. He blurted out the
tragedy. "A boy, a big boy...called me a freak."

He grew up, handsome for his misfortune. A favorite with his fellow
students, he might have been class president, but for that. He
developed a gift, a talent for literature and music. "You might
mingle with other young people," his mother reproved him, but felt a
tenderness in her heart.

The boy's father had a session with the family physician. Could
nothing be done? "I believe I could graft on a pair of outer ears, if
they could be procured" the doctor decided. Whereupon the search
began for a person who would make such a sacrifice for a young man.
Two years went by.

Then, "You are going to the hospital, son. Mother and I have someone
who will donate the ears you need. But it's a secret" said the father.

The operation was a brilliant success, and a new person emerged. His
talents blossomed into genius, and school and college became a series
of triumphs.

Later he married and entered the diplomatic service. "But I must
know!" he urged his father. "Who gave so much for me? I could never
do enough for him."

"I do not believe you could," said the father, "but the agreement was
that you are not to know...not yet."

The years kept their profound secret, but the day did come... one of
the darkest days that ever pass through a son. He stood with his
father over his mother's casket. Slowly, tenderly, the father
stretched forth a hand and raised the thick, reddish-brown hair to
reveal... that the mother had no outer ears. "Mother said she was
glad she never let her hair be cut," he whispered gently, "and nobody
ever thought mother less beautiful, did they?"

Real beauty lies not in the physical appearance, but in the heart.
Real treasure lies not in what can be seen, but what cannot be seen.
Real love lies not in what is done and known, but in what is done but
not known.