Gateway to the Classics: The Golden Ladder Book by E. Hershey Sneath
 
The Golden Ladder Book by  E. Hershey Sneath

Climbing Alone

"Here, wind," cried an impatient voice, "come and help a friend in trouble, will you?"

"Certainly," replied the good-natured wind, and on arriving at the front of the cottage, he found a long branch of a climbing rose striving to get loose from some bands that held it fast.

"Oh! help me, do," it said, "help me to drag out this provoking nail, that I may get free."

"Nonsense," said the wind. "That nail is there to train you properly, so that you may grow up to be a beautiful rose, covered with white blossoms."

"Just as if I didn't know my way up the wall without any of these stupid nails and strips of cloth!" exclaimed the rose, angrily.

"Well, but even if you know your way,—and I'm not so sure of that,—I doubt whether you have strength enough to climb without any help."

"I don't care. I don't choose to be tied," cried the impatient branch again. "And if you don't help me to get loose, I'll tear away the nails myself."

"Have your own way, then," answered the wind, sorrowfully, and with a little force, he bent the branch forward until the nail was drawn from the wall and the rose dropped to the ground.

A heavy shower fell that night; it bent the untied branch down to the ground.

"That delicious shower has done us all good," cried every blade of grass, every flower, every tree.

"It has not done me  much good," muttered the foolish branch, as it lay stretched on the soaking ground, splashed all over with mud.

"Well," remarked the wind, "what do you say now to a few nails and a few shreds of cloth to keep you up out of the mud?"

"I don't choose to be tied," the rose answered obstinately. "It is not at all great or grand to be tied up and nailed up. The sun isn't nailed up!"

"Why, my friend," cried the wind, "nothing that I know of in the whole wide world is more obedient than the sun. A time to rise and a time to set are given to it day by day; day by day a path is marked out for it in the heavens, and never does it stray from its appointed course."

For an instant the rose branch felt foolish. Then it said sulkily: "Leave me alone, if you please," and the wind went away. . . .

"Friend," said the branch another day to the wind, "I can sometimes get a glimpse of the rose tree high above me, and when you move by me, I smell its blossoms, and I haven't a blossom nor a bud upon me. I want to be beautiful and grow to the top of the wall."

"Take my advice, then," said the wind; "and next time a kind hand fastens you up, don't break loose again. The rose tree would never have been anything but a straggler in the mud if it had not been for these many bonds."

"Then lift me up, good friend, lift me up against the wall."

"Nay, that I cannot do, but I will do what I can." Then the wind went off, whistling loudly. It went to the drooping ash and knocked its branches against the window-pane, until the man who lived in the cottage came out with a hammer and some nails, saying:—

"There must be a creeper loose somewhere," and he looked about till he saw the poor rose branch trailing piteously in the mud. "It needs a nail terribly," he said. So he lifted it up and fastened it against the wall, and the bough clung humbly to the supports.


[Illustration]

"Oh! what Would I not give to be pure and white and sweet like the roses above me," it cried, "as I might have been if I had not been falsely proud."

The next night a gentle shower cleansed and freshened its soiled leaves.

Time went on, and lo! one summer morning there hung upon the branch a cluster of blossoms, pure white and very sweet.

"Would you not like me to draw out all those 'provoking nails'?" asked the wind, in mischief; one day. But the rose branch only loaded her old friend with fragrance, answering playfully:—

"What! and let me down into the mud again? No, thank you."


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