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J. H. Stickney

The Peasant and the Apple Tree

A PEASANT had in his garden an Apple Tree which for year after year had borne no fruit, but served only as a harbor for sparrows and grasshoppers.

Seeing no good to himself in the tree, he resolved to cut it down, and, taking his ax in his hand, he made a bold stroke at its roots.

Each in his own way, the grasshoppers and sparrows entreated him not to cut down the tree that sheltered them. "We will do our best to make up to you the worth of the wood, if you will spare it," they said, "lightening your labor by our cheering songs." But he paid no heed to them and gave a second and a third blow with his ax.

When he reached the hollow of the tree, he found a hive full of honey. He tasted the honeycomb and at once threw down his ax. From that time the greatest of care was taken of the tree, and the sparrows and grasshoppers still found shelter in it. They could not forget, however, that the man had only saved their home for them from self-interest.