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proud pailing fence.

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

Start of Story

"Such common-looking little things! Whatever are you?" asked the Paling Fence. 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 down again. 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 happen. 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 darkness. 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 listening.



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 Fence." "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.


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