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disobedient sunbeams.

From The suns babies by Edith Howes.
Age Rating 2 to 4.

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The story ended only to-day, but it began thousands and thousands of years ago. In those days the sun shone as he shines now, and the Sunbeam Children had their work to do before they were free to play, just as they have now. Some had to coax the flower-buds out of their cosy blankets; some had to stroke the round cheeks of the berries till they turned red; some had to slip through the clear water to nurse and comfort the fish babies. But in those days there were five little Sunbeam Brothers who liked play much better than work. Day after day they played at hide-and-seek between the leaves of a tall tree, instead of doing the tasks that were set for them. Time after time they were warned, but they would not reform; at last the Sun in his anger punished them with a terrible punishment. "Enter into the trunk of the tree," he commanded. "Now," he said, when they had tremblingly obeyed him, "you shall remain there as long as the tree remains. When it falls you shall be free, but not till then." This was a dreadful sentence to the Sunbeams. To be shut away from the light and the air and the other Sunbeams was bad enough, but to have to endure it all through the life of the tree was worse. They dared not rebel, however; they had to submit quietly to their imprisonment; the years went by and the tree lived on.

But a worse fate came. Just when the tree was growing old and their freedom seemed near, the whole forest sank, and the sea flowed over it. Tons and tons of sand and gravel were brought by the waves and flung upon the forest, choking it up till the tops of the great trees were covered. The five crouched in despair at the foot of their tree. They could not die, for death is impossible to Sunbeams; but how were they to be delivered now? Under this great weight of earth and water they might be imprisoned for thousands of years before anything happened to release them. And that is just what happened. For thousands of years the forest lay under the sea, not decaying, but slowly changing from wood to coal. Then a change came. The land was pushed up again by heat from below; by and by it rose high above the sea. But now the trees were hidden by the earth above them, over which grass and plants soon grew. The Sunbeams were still imprisoned. Then one day men opened the earth and dug out the coal, and the piece containing the Sunbeams was placed on the fire and burnt. At last freedom had come. Quivering with joy, the five Sunbeam Children sprang out and danced on top of their prison house. "How bright those flames are, and how they jump!" said the children sitting round the fire. The coal burned to red embers and fell to the bottom of the grate. Spark! spark! Up flew the five Sunbeam Children out through the tall chimney to live again their life of work and play. "It was a dreadful punishment, but it has taught us a lesson," they said. "I am glad to hear it," said the Sun.


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