“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.
IN THE WORLD.
A parent who loved his son more wisely than most earthly parents, and who longed to see him crowned with the light of wisdom, felt that he must send him afar from himself to gather immortal truth: and his heart was moved with a deeper grief at the thought that he must send him forth alone, and unprovided with means to procure his daily sustenance; for only thus could he learn the lessons which were necessary for his soul’s development.