Once upon a time when Old Mother Nature was busy planting her seed babies,—long, long ago, when the world was very new,—a beautiful red-bird brought her two, small, brown seeds and told her to plant them well.
"If they are brave seeds and grow their best," said the red-bird, "they shall have blossoms like the sun, and be almost as beautiful." Then the red-bird flew quickly away.
Now Old Mother Nature loved the sun because he never failed to send the sunbeams when she needed them to help her care for the seeds,—he even drew water-drops from the rivers and made clouds of them that the rain-drops might help her, too.
So she felt very glad that these two new seeds might some day bear blossoms that would look like the sun, and she covered them over very gently, near the tall fence, and left them to grow.
Every day she visited them and whispered softly:
"Wake little seeds, wake and grow, higher and higher to the top of the fence. Wake, wake, and look first for the sun, for your blossoms will be large and bright like him; wake, wake, I say!"
By and by the sleeping seeds heard, and stirred in their brown beds.
"Come," said the little sister seed, "some one is calling; don't you hear?"
Now the little brother seed was very fat and very lazy,—he wanted to sleep all the time. So when he heard dear Old Mother Nature calling to him he rubbed his eyes drowsily and said:
"I don't want to get up! I am not going to try to grow. It is too much trouble to reach to the top of the fence, and I don't believe any plant can grow so high.
"And I don't believe we will have blossoms to look like the sun, either; no I don't!"
"Why-y!" said the little sister seed, "I believe what dear Old Mother Nature says, and I am going to try my very best to grow—try, try, try, try,—try to climb even higher than the fence.
"You try, too, little brother; there is always somebody to help, you know." "We'll help," sang the sunbeam fairies. "We'll help," sang the rain-drop fairies.
"We'll help," sang the dew-drop fairies.
So, you see, all were ready to do their part if only the little brother seed would just try.
But he would not, and turning over in his soft, brown bed he lay still night and day, night and day, sleeping, sleeping, always sleeping.
Now the little sister seed began at once to grow. She stretched her tiny foot roots down, and her tiny hands up, and pushed and pushed until she pushed right through the brown earth covering into the light of the bright outside world, with the blue, blue sky and white clouds sailing overhead,—and the grasses and flowers below.
Then she remembered what dear Old Mother Nature had told her about the sun. And just then he came from behind a gray cloud in all his glorious splendour and shone down on the little sister seed, making her feel warm and glad.
"Oh, you wonderful sun!" she said, "to think that a little brown seed may some day have a blossom to look like you! Oh, joy, joy, joy!"
All day she kept her face turned towards his golden light, and longed for her blossom which was to be like him.
Then she thought again of the little brother seed asleep in the earth, and felt so sorry that he, too, was not with her in the beautiful outside world.
As she climbed higher and higher, she kept calling to him:
"Wake, little brother; oh, come up and grow! Such wonderful things I see up here in the light! Come out of the dark and climb with me."
But the fat little brother seed would not, though she begged him so. He only stretched himself lazily and turned over for another nap—forgetting about his beautiful blossom and all.
Higher and higher and higher, against the tall, dark fence, climbed the dear little sister plant, reaching out her broad leaves for the sunbeams to flit across, and the rain-drops to bathe.
And one morning she found herself so tall, why,—she peeped right over the fence!
"We told you so," said the sunbeam fairies.
"We told you so," sang the rain-drop fairies.
"We told you so," carolled the birds.
But though the little sister plant had now reached to the top of the fence she did not stop trying, but grew still taller and taller as she kept watching the sun and thinking of the beautiful blossom which had been promised her,—yellow and bright like the sun.
By and by a green bud came, growing larger and rounder each day, and again the happy little sister plant whispered to the fat little brother under the ground, begging him to come. But he would not try.
Another bud came to the little sister, and another, until there were a cluster of buds tucked away in their green hoods, waiting for the sun to open them.
Then, one happy, happy morning when the flowers in the old garden woke, there stood the glorious sunflower plant, bearing high her cluster of wide open blossoms—each one beautiful and yellow like the sun.
But, though they always smile at the sun, the beautiful yellow blossoms keep their heads bowed towards the earth-watching for the little brother, calling for him to try.
And so to-day you see them still, ever bending, ever watching for the little brother who would not come.