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THE ANXIOUS LEAF
Henry Ward Beecher, in "Norwood." Reprinted through the courtesy of Mr. W. C. Beecher.
ONCE upon a time a little leaf was heard to sigh and
cry, as leaves often do when the wind is about. And
the twig said: "What is the matter, little leaf?"
And the little leaf said: "The wind just told me that
one day it would pull me off and throw me to die on the
The twig told it to the branch on which it grew, and
the branch told it to the tree. And when the tree
heard it, it rustled all over, and sent back word to
the leaf: "Do not be afraid; hold on tightly, and you
shall not go till you want to."
And so the leaf stopped sighing, and went on nestling
and singing. Every time the tree shook itself and
stirred up all its leaves, the branches shook
themselves, and the little twig shook itself, and the
little leaf danced up and down merrily, as if nothing
could ever pull it off. And so it grew all summer long
 And when the bright days of autumn came the
little leaf saw all the other leaves around it becoming
very beautiful. Some were yellow, and some were
scarlet, and some were striped with both colors. Then
it asked the tree what it meant; and the tree said:
"All the leaves are getting ready to fly away, and they
are putting on these beautiful colors because of joy."
Then the little leaf began to want to go, and grew very
beautiful in thinking of it, and when it was very gay
in color it saw that the branches of the tree had no
color at all in them, and so the leaf said: "Oh,
branches, why are you lead color and we golden?"
And the branches said: "We must keep on our work
clothes, for our life is not done; but your clothes are
for holiday, for your tasks are over."
Just then a little puff of wind came, and the leaf let
go without thinking, and the wind took it up, and
whirled it over and over, and tossed it like a spark of
fire in the air, and then it fell gently down under the
edge of the fence among hundreds of other leaves; and
it fell into a dream and never waked up to tell what it