Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Vines
by [?]

They grew side by side. The most casual observer would have said that one was far more beautiful than the other. Its height was not only greater, but its foliage was brighter.

“I should think,” remarked the vine of superior external appearance to the other, “that, for the gardener’s sake, you would try and make a better appearance. I heard him remark this morning that he almost despaired of your ever bearing fruit, or looking even presentable. I am sure we each have the same soil to draw our nourishment from, and one hand to prune away our deformities.”

“I think I can defend myself to the satisfaction of both yourself and the gardener; and if you will listen to me this evening, as I cannot spare any of the moments of the day, I will tell you what labor occupies so much of my time.”

“Both myself and the gardener would be delighted to have an explanation; for it has been a wonder to us both what you can be doing. You certainly have not attained any height, nor put forth foliage of any account for the past year.”

The full-leaved vine spent the day fluttering her leaves in the wind and listening to the praise of passers-by.

“What a difference in these vines!” exclaimed two gentlemen as they walked past the garden.

“Just what every one remarks,” said the good-looking vine to herself; and, raising her head very high in the air, she put forth another shoot. Yet, with all her fullness of conceit and vainglory, she grew very impatient for the hour to arrive when her sister would be at leisure to talk with her.

At sunset, after the gardener had laid his tools away and closed the garden gates for the evening, her sister announced to her that she was ready to explain her strange life for the past year.

“If you can call anything ‘life’ which has no visible sign of growth or motion,” pertly remarked the gay vine.

Her sister took no notice of the remark, though it wounded her, and some of her leaves fluttered and fell to the ground. Had her sister been more sensitive, she could have seen her tremble in every limb, though her voice was sweet and clear as she commenced, saying, “I have been very busy the past year, but in a direction which no one but myself could perceive. Knowing that we are subject to periods of drought, I have been, and I think wisely too, occupying all my time in sending fibres into the earth in every direction. I have already got one as far as the brook, the other side of the wall. I heard the gardener say it was never dry, so I struck out in that direction, and expect to bring forth fruit next year for all.”

“But could you not have put forth some leaves, at least, and made a more pleasing appearance?” inquired her sister.

“No: it took all my strength to strike into the earth. I hope to see the time when no one will be ashamed of my appearance.”

The vain vine grew quite thoughtful. Was she, after all, ahead of her sister? Was a good external appearance the sure sign of merit?

These questions kept her busy for many days. She reasoned them in her mind, but did not act on the lesson they taught. She, too, would like to have made preparation for seasons of drought, but her pride stood in the way. She feared to lose her lovely foliage; and the month sped on.

Another year came. The earth was parched: no rain fell on the dry plants and leaves. The once lovely vine lost all her foliage, while her sister was full of leaves and promise of fruit.

“I declare,” said the gardener, “it does seem strange. I expected this vine had lost all its life; yet it is now bright and vigorous, while the one I looked to for much fruit is fast fading. What can be the reason?”

Later in the season, the vine which had worked so long out of sight had the pleasure of seeing not only the table of its owner supplied with delicious fruits from its branches, but also of hearing the gardener remark to visitors that the sick and feeble of the neighborhood were strengthened and refreshed by the cooling grapes which she had, through so much exertion brought forth.

The other vine bore no fruit, and had to be pruned severely; but pride stood no longer in the way of her progress. She began to send forth her fibres into the earth, as her sister had done. It was hard at first for her to be obliged to listen to the praises of one whom she considered her inferior; but she at length attained that glorious height which enables us to rejoice when the earth has been made richer, no matter by whom or by what means.