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The Old Tree And Its Lesson
by [?]

THERE is a story about that old tree; a biography of that old gnarled trunk and those broad-spread branches.

Listen.

Many, very many years ago,–there were forests then where now are cities, and the Indian song was borne on that breeze which now bears the sound of the Sabbath bell, and where the fire of the work-shop sends up its dense, black smoke, the white cloud from the Indian’s wigwam arose,–yes, ‘t was many years ago, when, by the door of a rough, rude, but serviceable dwelling, a little boy sat on an old man’s knee. He was a bright youth, with soft blue eyes, from which his soul looked out and smiled, and hair so beautiful that it seemed to be a dancing sunbeam rather than what it really was.

The old man had been telling him of the past; had been telling him that when he was a child he loved the forest, and the rock, and the mountain stream.

Then he handed the lad a small, very small seed, and, leading him a short distance, bade him make a small hole in the ground and place the seed within it. He did so. And the old man bent over and kissed his fair brow as he smoothed the earth above the seed’s resting-place, and told him that he must water it and watch it, and it would spring up and become a fair thing in his sight.

‘Twas hard for the child to believe this; yet he did believe, for he knew that his friend was true.

Night came; and, as he lay on his little couch, the child dreamed of that seed, and he had a vision of the future which passed with the shades of the night.

Morning dawned, and he hastened to water and to watch the spot where the seed was planted.

It had not come up; yet he believed the good old man, and knew that it would.

All day long he was bending over it, or talking with his aged companion about the buried seed.

A few days passed, then a little sprout; burst from the ground; and the child clapped his hands, and shouted and danced.

Daily it grew fairer in the sight of the child, and rose higher and higher. And the old man led him once more to the spot, and told him that even so would the body of his little sister rise from the grave in which a short time before it hid been placed, and, rising higher and higher, it would never cease to ascend.

The old man wept; but the child, with his tiny white hand, brushed away his tears, and, with child-like simplicity, said that if his sister arose she would go to God, for God was above.

Then the mourner’s heart was strengthened, and the lesson he would have taught the child came from the child to him, and made his soul glad.

A few weeks passed, and the old man died.

The child wept; but, remembering the good friend’s lesson, he wiped away his tears, and wept no more; for the seed had already become a beautiful plant, and every day it went upward, and he knew that, like that, his sister and his good friend would go higher and higher towards God.

Days, weeks, months, years passed away. The plant had grown till it was taller than he who had planted it.

Years fled. The child was no more there, but a young man sat beneath the shade of a tree, and held a maiden’s hand in his own. Her head reclined on his breast, and her eyes upturned met the glances of his towards her, and they blended in one.

“I remember,” said he, “that when I was young a good old man who is now in heaven, led me to this spot, and bade me put a little seed in the earth. I did so. I watched the ground that held it, and soon it sprang up, touched by no hand, drawn forth, as it would seem, from its dark prison by the attractive power of the bright heaven that shone above it. See, now, what it has become! It shades and shelters us. God planted in my heart a little seed. None but he could plant it, for from him only emanates true love. It sprang up, drawn forth by the sunlight of thy soul, till now thou art shadowed and sheltered by it.”