Gateway to the Classics: For the Children's Hour by Carolyn S. Bailey
For the Children's Hour by  Carolyn S. Bailey

The Gourd and the Pine Tree

O NCE there was a very tall, old pine tree that had been growing quite slowly and carefully for a number of years. It was nearly the oldest tree in the forest, and it raised its head high above the others toward the sky like a very king of trees.

One spring day the wind brought a little seed and dropped it at the roots of the pine tree. It was a proud little seed, so it swelled and swelled itself and puffed out to see how quickly it could burst its hard coat and begin to grow. It sent out two green fingers and it clutched the bark of the pine tree. It was going to be a gourd-vine.

"I will climb to the top of the tree," said the little gourd-vine. "They shall see how quickly I can grow."

So the gourd-vine tugged and pulled at its roots until they were nearly pulled out of the ground, and it kept calling down to them: "Drink more, drink more, I say! I must grow faster." It held tightly to the pine tree and climbed and climbed until it was way up to the topmost branch.

"Now, see!" cried the little gourd-vine, loudly. "You have been growing for a great many years, and I only began this summer—and see where I have come to!"

But the old pine tree just rustled its leaves and said nothing at all, for it knew a thing or two.

After a while a great storm came upon the forest. A mighty wind swept through the trees, bringing the snowflakes, and the flowers began to hang their heads and the birds flew south. The old pine tree did not mind the cold in the least, for it had seen a great many storms, but, ah! the poor little gourd-vine! It had grown so fast that it had forgotten to grow carefully and well. Its tendrils were weak, and its stalks were soft. One cold night the frost touched it and it fell in a heap on the ground; not even the old pine tree could hold it up. And that was the end of the proud little gourd-vine.

— Adapted by Clara M. Lewis from Æsop's fables   

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