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on the hillside.

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

Start of Story

The sun shone gaily, the skylark sang her morning song, and the crickets chirped their merriest; but the things that usually lived so peacefully on the hillside were quarrelling. It was the wind who began it. As he lifted the pollen from one patch of grass-flowers and carried it to the next he cried boastingly: "What a friend I am to you tiny creatures! If it were not for me you could bear no seed. I am indeed useful. I am sure nobody does so much good." "How absurd!" cried the bees. "Anyone would think you did all the work of the world. You certainly carry the grass pollen, but think of the flowers whose pollen we carry. What would the clover here do without us? And the wild flowers, and the flowers in the gardens and orchards all over the world. We are certainly the most useful." At this thousands of earth-worms popped their heads above the ground. "If you are talking about usefulness, don't forget us," they said. "You see very little of us, for we come out at night when most of you are asleep. But think of all the work we do. We burrow and burrow here in our millions, ploughing the ground day after day till every inch is opened up to let in the sweet air and drain away the water from the surface. How could the flowers and grasses live if we did not do this? Think how fine we keep the soil, powdering it as we do in our burrowings! And how rich we make it by dragging down decaying leaves into our holes every night. The world would be a sorry place for everything that grows and lives if we did not work so hard. We are surely more useful than anybody."

The grasses waved their flowered heads. "All that is true enough," they said; "but nobody can possibly be more useful than we are. Think how we clothe the land and give food to hundreds of animals and shelter to millions of insects." A little cloud sailed softly down on to the hill-top to listen. "What could any of you do without the clouds?" she asked. "You all depend on our rain for your lives; you must confess you are less useful than we are." "Ho! ho! ho!" laughed the merry sun. "Fancy quarrelling this fine morning! Now I will tell you, and this will settle it once for all. You are all useful, and not one of you could be spared, and not one of you could do well without the other. Everything helps everything else. The worms help the grass, and the grass feeds the worms; the bees help the flowers, and the flowers feed the bees; the wind helps the clouds, and the clouds become rain and help the wind in its work. And I am here over you all, and if it were not for me nothing could live, so, after all, I am the most useful. If I did not shine there would be no grass, no worms, no flowers, no bees, no wind, and no clouds. Now go on with your work."


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