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(From Hans Christian Anderson's Tales for Children.)
Very often, after a thunderstorm, anybody walking near a field of buckwheat can see how black and scorched it looks. The farmers say "the lightning has done that," but one might ask why should the lightning do it? I will tell you what a sparrow told me, and he heard it from an old willow tree, which stood close by a field of buckwheat, and stands there still.
In all the surrounding fields there grew beautiful crops of wheat, barley, and oats. The wheat was the most favoured, and the heavier it was with golden grain the lower it bent down with humbleness and meekness. But the buckwheat did not bend at all, but stood up as proudly and stiffly as it possibly could.
"I am quite as rich as the best of them," it said, "and much more beautiful, for my flower is as lovely as the rosy apple-blossoms. Do you know anything as beautiful and stately, in short anything that can be likened to me, you sleepy old willow ?"
The willow nodded its mossy head, as much as to say, "Oh, yes, that I do;" but the buckwheat only gave itself more airs; and said proudly, "That stupid tree is so old, that grass and weeds are growing out of its trunk."
But a dreadful storm was coming on, and all the little flowers in the fields folded up their tender leaves, or meekly bowed down their faces to the
ground while the storm should pass over them; but the buckwheat held its head, if possible, higher up in its foolish pride.
Bow your heads down as we do," the kind flowers whispered.
"There is no need to do that," the buckwheat replied; for it did not like to be advised.
'Lower your heads as we do," the corn cried, "for the angel of the storm is now approaching. He has wings which reach from the clouds to the lowest depths of the valleys, and he will destroy you before you have time to ask for mercy."
"Once for all, I will not humble myself," said the buckwheat.
Shut up your flowers and draw in your leaves," the old willow tree said, in a warning voice. "Do not look up at the lightning when the cloud bursts. Even men are afraid to do that. Through the lightning men can see right into heaven; but if they do that, they would become instantly blind, and what, then, would happen to us who are far inferior ?"
"Far inferior!" said the buckwheat, scornfully; "for now I will look right into heaven."
And with impious arrogance it did so. seemed as if all the world were in flames, so vivid was the lightning.
When the storm had gone away, the flowers and corn lifted up their heads, refreshed by the rain; but the buckwheat was so scorched by the lightning that it was as black as a coal, and was now only a useless weed, to be rooted up and
burnt as soon as possible. The old willow-tree waved its branches in the wind, and large drops of water fell from its leaves, as if it were crying. So the sparrows said, "Why are you crying? It is very beautiful here. How brightly the sun shines, and how briskly the clouds sail along!"
The willow then told them all about the pride of the buckwheat, and the punishment which it had received. I, who now repeat the story, heard it from the talkative sparrows, who told it me one evening, when I asked them for a tale.
THE PET LAMB.
The dew was falling fast, the stars began to blink, I heard a voice; it said, "Drink, pretty creature, drink!"
And, looking o'er the hedge, before me I espied A snow-white mountain lamb, with a maiden at its side.
No other sheep were near, the lamb was all alone, And by a slender cord was tethered to a stone; With one knee on the grass did the little maiden kneel,
While to that mountain lamb she gave its evening meal;
The lamb, while from her hand, he thus his supper
Seemed to feast with head and ears, and his tail with pleasure shook;
"Drink, pretty creature, drink," she said in such
That I almost received her heart into my own.
'Twas little Barbara Lewthwaite, a child of beauty
I watched them with delight, they were a lovely pair;
Now with her empty can the maiden turned away, But ere ten yards were gone, her footsteps did she stay.
"What ails thee, young one? What! why pull so at thy cord?
Is it not well with thee? well both for bed and board?
Thy plot of grass is soft, and green as grass can be
Rest, little young one, rest: what is't that aileth thee?
"Rest, little young onc, rest; thou hast forgot the day
When my father found thee first, in places far away;
Many flocks were on the hills, but thou wert owned by none,
And thy mother from thy side for evermore was gone.
"He took thee in his arms, and in pity brought thee home;
A blessed day for thee! then whither would'st thou roam ?
A faithful nurse thou hast: the dam that did thee yean
Upon the mountain tops no kinder could have been.
"Thou know'st that twice a day I have brought thee in this can,
Fresh water from the brook, as clear as ever ran; And twice in every day, when the ground is wet with dew,
I bring thee draughts of milk, warm milk it is and new.
"It will not, will not rest! poor creature, can it be That 'tis thy mother's heart which is working so in thee?
Things that I know not of belike to thee are dear, And dreams of things which thou canst neither see nor hear.
"Alas! the mountain-tops, that look so green and fair,
I've heard of fearful winds and darkness that come there;
The little brooks that seem all pastime and all play,
When they are angry roar like lions for their prey.
"Here thou need'st not dread the raven in the sky; Night and day thou art safe-our cottage is hard by;
Why bleat so after me? why pull so at thy chain?