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proud pailing fence.
From The suns babies by Edith Howes.
Start of Story
Age Rating 2 to 4.
"Such common-looking little things! Whatever are you?" asked the
He was new and very proud. He stood up so straight that he could see
all over the garden. Indeed, he thought himself the master of it. The
seeds had been planted close to his feet, so he felt he had the right
to question them.
The biggest seed spoke up from her place in the ground. "Just now we
are only seeds," she said; "but we think we shall be something bigger
and finer some day. We have a feeling inside us."
"Feeling, indeed!" snapped the Fence. "Ugly little black things that
you are, what feelings can you have? I can't think why the gardener
put you near me." He stood straighter than ever, and would not look
The little seeds felt shy and rather sad, but they said nothing. Day
after day they lay quietly in the ground, waiting for something to
And something did happen, for by-and-by they all began to swell.
Bigger they grew, and rounder and softer. One fine day several of them
cracked open, and the next day several more. From every crack a little
white shoot pushed itself out. It pushed and it grew, and it turned
down and burrowed into the earth, for all it wanted was water and
From the top of each little shoot another shoot peeped out. It pushed
and it grew, and it turned up and peeped through the top of the ground,
for all it wanted was fresh air and sunshine. At last a long row of
white little shoots looked out through their holes in the ground.
The Sun looked down and saw them. "Dear me!" he said. "This won't do.
Go down, Sunbeams, and tell those shoots to change their colour."
The Sunbeams came flying down. "You must change your colour, little
shoots," they said. "Hurry up and turn green. The great Sun cannot
bear to see white shoots above the ground."
The shoots turned green at once.
The Paling Fence was angry. "The idea of the Sun taking notice of such
common things!" he grumbled. "He has never yet sent a message to me,
though I have been here quite two months. I hope those shoots are not
going to grow tall. They will hide me if they do."
Now that is just what the little shoots did. They grew taller every
day; they sent out leaves and branches on every side; soon they
stretched out waving hands towards the Fence.
"Please allow us to hold to you," they begged. "We are not strong
enough to grow so tall alone."
The Fence stood more stiffly than ever. "No! don't you dare to touch
me!" he cried.
They turned themselves this way and that, they tried to cling to him;
but he would not help them. "This is dreadful," they sighed.
"Whatever shall we do?"
Next day the gardener came. He brought a hammer and nails and cord.
He drove the nails into the fence and tied the cord up and down and
across. Now the waving hands had something to cling to.
The Fence was so angry that it really could not speak. "Then I am to
be hidden," he thought. "So new and handsome as I am, too! The
gardener must be mad."
The sun shone, the birds sang, the green plants grew; only the Fence
was unhappy and cross. At last he was almost hidden from sight. "Oh,
well, it is everybody's loss!" he said loudly--only nobody was
Buds formed on the plants. They burst open. Out sprang bright flowers
like fairy boats to sail on the summer winds. Rose and blue and purple
and lilac, how their soft colours glowed in the sunshine! Tiny
yellow-hatted ladies sat in each boat to spread the sails. They
scattered scent about, and invited the bees to afternoon tea. The tea
was delicious, and the bees went away, buzzing their thanks. "Such
beautiful boats! Such dainty little ladies!" they said.
The Paling Fence could hardly bear it. "Stupid things!" he muttered.
"But wait till the gardener comes. He will surely cut them down when
he sees how I am hidden."
The gardener came. A friend walked with him. "How beautiful your
sweet-peas are!" he said. "They make a splendid covering for the
"Yes," the gardener said. "The Fence was necessary, but it was very
ugly. Now the sweet-peas have made it beautiful."
The Fence heard the words. At last it understood, and its foolish
pride was broken. For a long time it stood thoughtful and silent.
"Well, well," it said slowly; "I have been very much mistaken. But if
I can't be beautiful I can at least be kind and friendly to those who
are beautiful." And from that day the Paling Fence and the sweet-peas
stood happily together.