THE ELDER BROTHER
H. G. Duryee. Copyright by the "Christian Register."
HE was one of a big, big family living on a hilly road
near a white house.
The people in this house, who wore funny pink dresses
and pink sunbonnets and thick shoes, called his mother
"That Beautiful Oak"; and his mother smiled at the
name, for she liked the pink sunbonnets and knew that
they were friends.
 Near by were the children of a plump neighbor
whom the pink sunbonnets called "Our Maple"; and, for
companions, the sunshine that came and went, and the
rain that splashed over them; and, above all, there was
the family itself. So big a household could never be
lonely, and at almost any hour of the day or night one
who listened could hear a soft murmur, which meant that
most of the children were trying to talk at once.
All the time they talked and laughed they were growing
up, with many stretching and twisting, into bigger and
bigger children; and one day this especial Elder
brother—for they were all Elder Brothers, when you stop
to think—felt something pressing against his foot. He
knew just what it was and what was coming, so he
stopped his talk and listened.
Presently he heard a wee, wee voice.
"Elder Brother, Elder Brother," it called, "you are
standing on my head."
"I know it," said Elder Brother, "and it's good for
"But I want to get out."
"You can't; it isn't time."
"But I want to see the world."
"You will when you are old enough."
"When will that be?"
"Oh, by and by, when you've grown more and we have
changed our dresses."
"Will you tell me when it is time?"
"Yes, Little Brother; now go to sleep and grow."
So Little Brother cuddled down into quiet, and the
weeks went by. Then, when he had had a nice long nap,
he called out:
 "Elder Brother, Elder Brother, is it time?"
And Elder Brother answered cheerily: "Not yet. The
birds haven't gone and the nights are warm, and our
dresses are still green. Sleep some more."
So Little Brother cuddled down again and more weeks
went by. And then he roused once more.
"Elder Brother, Elder Brother," he called, "is it
And Elder Brother answered cheerily: "Not quite yet.
The apples are red, and the winds are sharp at night,
and some of us have begun to change our dresses, but I
haven't. Just a little longer."
Again Little Brother cuddled down and slept, and this
time it was Elder Brother who spoke first.
"Little Brother, Little Brother," he called, "wake up!
It is time. My dress is all scarlet and yellow, and
the wind is calling me. Wake up!"
Little Brother roused. "Is it really time to go?"
"Yes; I am going to leave you."
"Oh," said Little Brother, "is that the way?"
"Yes," said Elder Brother, "that's the way."
"But I shall miss you," said Little Brother.
"No, you won't, for there is so much to see; and,
besides, you will be an Elder Brother yourself. But,
before I go, let me tell you something. You must only
peep out at the world for a long time yet, remember
that. After many months there will come a soft wind
telling you it is spring, and no doubt a sunbeam will
try to persuade you, but be careful. Sometimes they
don't know, and while they are talking wet snow will
scurry around. Be patient and wait until you feel all
warm inside and your brothers and sisters look fat and
pink, and the snow is all gone from the shady hollows;
then it will be time to put on your first dress.
 Good-bye, and good luck to you, Little Brother. I'm
off to try my fortune."
Little Brother felt something stretch and lift about
his head, and in another moment the light was shining
down upon him, and he knew he was out in the world at
last. He laughed aloud with pleasure.
"Elder Brother, Elder Brother," he called, "it is good
to grow, and I am very happy. Are you happy?"
"Yes," came from far down the road, where Elder Brother
was dancing and romping along. Several grown people,
who saw him as he went, said: "What a beautiful oak
leaf!" But one of the wearers of the pink sunbonnet
picked him up. She knew that he was an Elder Brother;
and, looking at the base of the slender stem, she
found, sure enough, a tiny hollow, round as a cap, in
which Little Brother had snuggled as he grew.