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A Story Of The Forest
by [?]

“It is not the gay forms he meets in the fairy-tale which charm the child, hut a spiritual, invisible truth lying far deeper.”–Froebel.

Far away, in the depths of a great green rustling wood, there lived a Fir-tree. She was tall and dark and fragrant; so tall that her topmost plumes seemed waving about in the clouds, and her branches were so thick and strong and close set that down below them on the ground it was dark almost as night.

There were many other trees in the forest, as tall and grand as she, and when they bent and bowed to each other, as the wind played in their branches, you could hear a wonderful lovely sound, like the great organ when it plays softly in the church.

Down below, under the trees, the ground was covered with a glossy brown carpet of the sharp, needle-like leaves the fir-trees had let fall, and on this carpet there were pointed brown fir cones lying, looking dry and withered, and yet bearing under their scales many little seeds, hidden away like very precious letters in their dainty envelopes.

Even on bright summer days this wood was cool and dark, and, as you walked about on the soft brown carpet, you could hear the wonderful song the pine needles made as they rubbed against each other; and perhaps far away in the top of some tall tree you could hear the wood- thrush sing out gladly.

All around the great Fir-tree, where her cones had dropped, a family of young firs was growing up,–very tiny yet, so tiny you might have crushed them as you walked, and not felt them under your foot.

The Fir-tree spread her thick branches over them, and kept off the fierce wind and the bitter cold, and under her shelter they were growing strong.

They were all fine little trees, but one of them, that stood quite apart from the rest, was the finest of all, very straight and well shaped and handsome. Every day he looked up at the mother-tree, and saw how straight and strong she grew,–how the wind bent and waved her branches, but did not stir her great trunk; and as he looked, he sent his own rootlets farther down into the dark earth, and held his tiny head up more proudly.

The other trees did not all try to grow strong and tall. Indeed, one of them said, “Why should I try to grow? Who can see me here in this dark wood? What good will it do for me to try? I can never be as fine and strong as the mother-tree.”

So he was unhappy and hung his head, and let the wind blow him further and further over toward the ground; and as he did not care for his rootlets, they lost their hold in the earth, and by and by he withered quite away.

But our brave little Fir-tree grew on; and when a long time had gone by, his head was on a level with his mother’s lowest branches, and he could listen and hear all the whispering and talking that went on among the great trees. So he learned many things, for the trees were old and wise; and the birds, who are such great travelers, had told them many wonderful things that had happened in far-off lands.

And the Fir-tree asked his mother many, many questions. “Dear mother- tree,” he said, “shall we always live here? Shall I keep on growing until I am a grand tall tree like you? And will you always be with me?”

“Who knows!” said the mother-tree, rustling in all her branches. “If we are stout-hearted, and grow strong in trunk and perfect in shape, then perhaps we shall be taken away from the forest and made useful somewhere,–and we want to be useful, little son.”

It was about this time that the young Fir-tree made himself some music that he used to whisper when the winds blew and rocked his branches. This is the little song, but I cannot sing it as he did.