A large shade-tree grew near a house, and under its branches the children played every summer day. It seemed to take great delight in their voices, and shook its green boughs over their heads, as though it would join in their sports and laughter. But, alas! one day it got a foolish idea into its head–it grew discontented, and felt that its sphere of usefulness was too limited.
At that moment dark clouds gathered, a fearful tempest arose, and a strong current of wind, soon set the giant tree swinging with such violence that it was torn from the earth and lay like a broken column on the ground.
“Now I shall be something: I’ve got my roots out of the old earth. Bah! such a heap of old black loam, to be sure, as I have been in! I’ll soon shake it off, however, and then the world will see that I can soar as well as other things.”
There was a terrible quaking and noise as the old tree tried to rise from its recumbent position. The sun’s rays were fast parching its roots, causing sharp pains to shoot through its branches.
“Oh, dear!” said the tree. “I hope I shall be able to get on my feet soon, else people will be laughing at me for lying here so helpless.”
The golden sun went down behind the hills. Its rays could not gild the top of its branches now, and the tree missed the benediction of its parting rays. A feeling akin to homesickness came over it, and a longing, as the dews of evening came, to be once more rooted to the earth.
A wild wind sang a dirge all through the night, and ceased not till day darted over the hills. It was not very pleasant for the old tree to hear the children’s regrets and words of grief as they came around it in the morning to play and sit as usual under its pleasant shade. It had hoped to have been far away by dawn, and thus have escaped the sound of their voices.
“I’ll wait till they are gone, and then I must be off,” said the tree softly.
“Papa will cut it all up into wood, I know,” said the youngest of the group, a bright, three-year-old boy.
“I am going to have a piece of one of the boughs to make a cane of,” said another.
“And oh, dear me!” sighed little blue-eyed May. “I can’t have any more autumn leaves to make pretty wreaths of for mamma.”
Poor old tree! how it had mistaken its mission and its relation to the earth! So it is with people who lament the position in which Providence has placed them. In vain the old tree tried to rise: its branches withered, its leaves dropped one by one away, and rustled on the lawn. It found, to its sorrow, that it was not made for the air, and that the once despised earth from which it drew its nourishment was its true parent and source of life.
Out of respect to its former protection and beauty, its owner had its wood made into handsome ornaments and seats for the garden to keep its memory alive in the minds of the children.
When any of them repined in after years at the lot which God had assigned them, the folly of the tree was alluded to, and all restlessness was allayed.
Over the spot where it stood a beautiful rustic basket made of its own wood was set, from which bright flowers blossomed throughout the summer day.