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The Proud Little Grain of Wheat
by [?]

There once was a little grain of wheat which was very proud indeed. The first thing it remembered was being very much crowded and jostled by a great many other grains of wheat, all living in the same sack in the granary. It was quite dark in the sack, and no one could move about, and so there was nothing to be done but to sit still and talk and think. The proud little grain of wheat talked a great deal, but did not think quite so much, while its next neighbour thought a great deal and only talked when it was asked questions it could answer. It used to say that when it thought a great deal it could remember things which it seemed to have heard a long time ago.

“What is the use of our staying here so long doing nothing, and never being seen by anybody?” the proud little grain once asked.

“I don’t know,” the learned grain replied. “I don’t know the answer to that. Ask me another.”

“Why can’t I sing like the birds that build their nests in the roof? I should like to sing, instead of sitting here in the dark.”

“Because you have no voice,” said the learned grain.

This was a very good answer indeed.

“Why didn’t someone give me a voice, then–why didn’t they?” said the proud little grain, getting very cross.

The learned grain thought for several minutes.

“There might be two answers to that,” she said at last. “One might be that nobody had a voice to spare, and the other might be that you have nowhere to put one if it were given to you.”

“Everybody is better off than I am,” said the proud little grain. “The birds can fly and sing, the children can play and shout. I am sure I can get no rest for their shouting and playing. There are two little boys who make enough noise to deafen the whole sackful of us.”

“Ah! I know them,” said the learned grain. “And it’s true they are noisy. Their names are Lionel and Vivian. There is a thin place in the side of the sack, through which I can see them. I would rather stay where I am than have to do all they do. They have long yellow hair, and when they stand on their heads the straw sticks in it and they look very curious. I heard a strange thing through listening to them the other day.”

“What was it?” asked the proud grain.

“They were playing in the straw, and someone came in to them–it was a lady who had brought them something on a plate. They began to dance and shout: ‘It’s cake! It’s cake! Nice little mamma for bringing us cake.’ And then they each sat down with a piece and began to take great bites out of it. I shuddered to think of it afterward.”

“Why?”

“Well, you know they are always asking questions, and they began to ask questions of their mamma, who lay down in the straw near them. She seemed to be used to it. These are the questions Vivian asked:

“‘Who made the cake?’

“‘The cook.’

“‘Who made the cook?’

“‘God.’

“‘What did He make her for?’

“‘Why didn’t He make her white?’

“‘Why didn’t He make you black?’

“‘Did He cut a hole in heaven and drop me through when He made me?’

“‘Why didn’t it hurt me when I tumbled such a long way?’

“She said she ‘didn’t know’ to all but the two first, and then he asked two more.

“‘What is the cake made of?’

“‘Flour, sugar, eggs and butter.’

“‘What is flour made of?’

“It was the answer to that which made me shudder.”

“What was it?” asked the proud grain.

“She said it was made of–wheat! I don’t see the advantage of being rich–“

“Was the cake rich?” asked the proud grain.

“Their mother said it was. She said, ‘Don’t eat it so fast–it is very rich.'”