“So the nice mother-moth made a toilsome journey up my great trunk,” sung the linden, “and left her eggs where she knew the freshest green leaves would be coming out by the time the young ones should leave the eggs.
“And they came out indeed, somewhat to my sorrow; for instead of being, like their mother, sober, well-behaved little moths, they were green canker-worms, and such hungry little things, that I really began to fear I should have not a whole leaf left upon me; when one day they spun for themselves fine silken ropes, and swung themselves down from leaf to leaf, and from branch to branch, and in a day or two were all gone.
“A little flaxen-haired girl sat on the broad doorstep at my feet, and caught the canker-worms in her white apron. She liked to see them hump up their backs, and measure off the inches of her white checked apron with their little green bodies. And I, although I liked them well enough at first, was not sorry to lose them when they went. I heard the child’s mother telling her that they had come down to make for themselves beds in the earth, where they would sleep until the early spring, and wake to find themselves grown into moths just like their mothers, who climbed up the tree to lay eggs. We shall see when next spring comes if that is so. Now, since they went, I have done my best to refresh my leaves, and keep young and happy; and here are my sweet blossoms to prove that I have yet within me vigorous life.”
The elm-tree heard what the linden sung, and said, “Very true, very true. I, too, have suffered from the canker-worms; but I have yet leaves enough left for a beautiful shade, and the poor crawling things must surely eat something.” And the elm bowed gracefully to the linden, out of sympathy for him.
But the linden has heard the voices of the young robins who live in the nest among his highest boughs; and he must yet tell to the horse-chestnut how sad it was the other day in the thunder-storm, when the wind upset the nest, and one little bird was thrown out and killed; while the father and mother flew about in the greatest distress, until Charley came, climbed the tree, and fitted the nest safely back into its place.
How much the trees have to say! And there is the pine, who was born and brought up in the woods,—he is always whispering secrets of the great forest, and of the river beside which he grew. The other trees can’t always understand him: he is the poet among them, and a poet is always suspected of knowing a little more than any one else.
Sometime I may try to tell you something of what he says; but here ends the talk of the trees that stood in the village street.
HOW THE INDIAN CORN GROWS
The children came in from the field with their hands full of the soft, pale-green corn-silk. Annie had rolled hers into a bird’s-nest; while Willie had dressed his little sister’s hair with the long, damp tresses, until she seemed more like a mermaid, with pale blue eyes shining out between the locks of her sea-green hair, than like our own Alice.