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Laura E. Richards

The Wheat-Field

dropcap image OME children were set to reap in a wheat-field. The wheat was yellow as gold, the sun shone gloriously, and the butterflies flew hither and thither. Some of the children worked better, and some worse; but there was one who ran here and there after the butterflies that fluttered about his head, and sang as he ran.

By and by evening came, and the Angel of the wheat-field called to the children and said, "Come now to the gate, and bring your sheaves with you."

So the children came, bringing their sheaves. Some had great piles, laid close and even, so that they might carry more; some had theirs laid large and loose, so that they looked more than they were; but one, the child that had run to and fro after the butterflies, came empty-handed.

The Angel said to this child, "Where are your sheaves?"

The child hung his head. "I do not know!" he said. "I had some, but I have lost them, I know not how."

"None enter here without sheaves," said the angel.

"I know that," said the child. "But I thought I would like to see the place where the others were going; besides, they would not let me leave them."

Then all the other children cried out together. One said, "Dear Angel, let him in! In the morning I was sick, and this child came and played with me, and showed me the butterflies, and I forgot my pain. Also, he gave me one of his sheaves, and I would give it to him again, but I cannot tell it now from my own."

Another said, "Dear Angel, let him in! At noon the sun beat on my head so fiercely that I fainted and fell down like one dead; and this child came running by, and when he saw me he brought water to revive me, and then he showed me the butterflies, and was so glad and merry that my strength returned; to me also he gave one of his sheaves, and I would give it to him again, but it is so like my own that I cannot tell it."

And a third said, "Just now, as evening was coming, I was weary and sad, and had so few sheaves that it seemed hardly worth my while to go on working; but this child comforted me, and showed me the butterflies, and gave me of his sheaves. Look! it may be that this was his; and yet I cannot tell, it is so like my own."

And all the children said, "We also had sheaves of him, dear Angel; let him in, we pray you!"

The Angel smiled, and reached his hand inside the gate and brought out a pile of sheaves; it was not large, but the glory of the sun was on it, so that it seemed to lighten the whole field.

"Here are his sheaves!" said the Angel. "They are known and counted, every one." And he said to the child, "Lead the way in!"