The horse held his head very high while the donkey was talking; then he replied:
“Go on, you lazy beast! I am not a burden bearer. No, I will not take one ounce of your load.”
The donkey groaned and moved forward a few steps, then fell to the ground dead.
The load was taken from the dead donkey’s back and placed upon the horse.
At the close of the day the horse reached the end of his journey. Every bone in his body was aching, and he was so lame that he could hardly walk.
“We cast cool shade upon the green grass,” whispered the fluttering leaves. “We dress the tree in fresh and quiet green. It is bare and brown without us. The tired traveler and the panting beast are thankful for our shade. Children love to play under our shelter. At night the song birds of the woods fly to us for our protection. We hide the nests of mother birds. The light winds stay with us and caress us.” And the leaves felt very proud and important.
“What you say is all very true, but you should not forget us,” said a voice from the earth. “We are surely worth something.”
“And who are you? Where do you grow?” asked the leaves.
“We are buried deep in the ground, far below you, but we feed the stem and make you grow. We are the roots. You owe your beauty to us. We are not beautiful as you are, but we do not die. Winter does not change us, but when it comes you fall. The tree stands firm, for it is held in place by us. If we should die, the tree would die and you would die with it.”
A gnat perched upon the horn of a bull. “Dear sir,” he said to the bull, “I am sorry to trouble you, but I am too worn out to go any farther. Does my weight tire you? When you can bear it no longer, I shall go on.”
“You need not leave on my account,” said the bull. “I did not know when you sat down and I shall not miss you when you leave.”
A farmer who had worked hard all his life was taken sick. He knew that he must soon die. He called his three sons about his bed to give them some advice.
“My sons,” said he, “keep all of the land which I leave you. Do not sell any of it, for there is a treasure in the soil. I shall not tell you where to hunt for it, but if you try hard to find it, and do not give up, you will surely succeed.
“As soon as the harvest is over, begin your search with plow, and spade, and rake. Turn every foot of earth, then turn it again and again. The treasure is there.”
After the father died, the sons gathered in the harvest. As soon as the grain had been cared for, they planned to search for the hidden treasure. The farm was divided into three equal parts. Each son agreed to dig carefully his part.