WHY THE SWEET LABURNUM COMES FIRST IN THE SPRING
 TWO little seeds were talking together one day about being planted.
"I do not think it would be nice to be planted at all," said one little
"Think of being covered over in the dark, cold ground like that! It
must be dreadful."
"You make me think of the very first seed that ever was planted," said Old
Mother Nature, with one of her sunny smiles.
"There is always somebody who must be the first to do things, no matter how
unpleasant they are, and it always takes somebody who is strong and brave.
"Now the sweet laburnum was a plant of that kind,—she showed others
and to-day you will find her frail, yellow blossoms the first to greet us in
the early spring, often blooming in old-fashioned flower
 gardens when the sleet and snow are on the ground. Her story is a pretty
"Long, long ago there was a time when on the earth there bloomed no flowers
at all. There were no lacy ferns, no waving grasses, no trees, no blossoms,
no growing plants of any kind. Everything was bare and brown.
"And, of course, all the birds and flitting butterflies and dusky moths and
tiny ants and other insects were dying of hunger and thirst, because they
could not live, you know, without something green and growing.
"The Prince of the Kingdom of Love heard of this suffering and went to the
earth himself to see what the trouble was.
"After walking for miles along barren fields and bare roads, with no sign of
anything green and beautiful along the way, he at last reached a large store
house, the floors and shelves of which were covered with seeds of every
growing plant under the sun.
 "Seeds, seeds, seeds! nothing but seeds everywhere, and every little
seed lying fast asleep.
" 'Why, little seeds," said the Prince of Love, 'how can you lie here
when the outside world is dying for your help? You are needed to clothe the
fields for hungry cattle, to deck the trees, to make the flowers, to feed
the hungry, and shelter the weak.
" 'How can you sleep? Why lie you idle here?'
" 'Because we are afraid,' said the seeds whom the voice had awakened.
would like to make the world beautiful and help those who hunger and thirst,
but we cannot bear the idea of being buried beneath the ground first in
order to do this.
" 'It is so cold and dark under the ground. Can you not change us into
flowering plants now, as here we lie, without having to bury us beneath the
ground? Then we would gladly grow to brighten the earth.'
"Then the Prince of Love was very
 sorrowful indeed, because he knew how
impossible this would be. No seed can become a fresh, growing plant without
first being buried beneath the ground. Everyone knows this.
"So, turning his kind eyes on the little seed nearest him, the Prince of
" 'Could you not, little seed, forget your sleep in the cold, dark
remember only the glad awakening?
" 'Would you rather he here in your rough, brown body covered with dust
decay, rather than sleep in the earth for a season and come forth changed
into a living, growing plant crowned with fresh, green leaves and glorious
blossoms? Only think of that glad awakening!'
"Now the little seed, which was that of the sweet laburnum, had no answer
ready for the Prince of Love; but when he had gone away she thought and
thought about his words, and the more she thought the more she felt that she
would like to change herself into a living, growing plant that would
brighten the outside world. Then perhaps, if she showed the way, other seeds
 might follow and change themselves into growing plants.
"She felt very happy when she had made up her mind about it, and touching
the little seed next to her, she said:
" 'Little brother, I do not know whether it is true that if I bury
shall rise again into a fresh and growing plant. I can only believe what the
Prince of Love has told me and trust that it is true.
" 'So I shall slip through the little crack in the storehouse and bury
in the earth. You must watch for me, and if I awake tell the others, that
they too may believe.'
"Then the little seed slipped quietly through the crack, and the Prince of
Love must have seen, and was glad, because he sent down the raindrops, who
pressed her gently beneath the earth, and the wind, who covered her snugly
over, and then as the little seed dropped asleep beneath the brown earth she
felt happier than she had ever felt before—perhaps because she was
show the way, and to help make others happy.
 "Somehow she did not feel afraid as she thought she would, and kept
singing to herself even in her sleep this soft little song:
" 'I shall arise,
I shall arise;
Some day, somehow,
I know not now,
Only, I shall arise.'
"For many days the sweet laburnum slept and dreamed beneath the barren
earth, and then one morning she opened her drowsy eyes and felt some one
lifting her up, and a voice, tender and sweet, like that of the Prince of
Love, was calling, 'Arise!'
"And then, before the little seed was fully awake, why, she found herself
growing up, up, up, right through the ground—no longer a little, hard,
seed with her beautiful life shut within, but a glorious living plant, fresh
"By and by there was a crown of delicate, yellow blossoms for her too, and
her joy was so great that she called in ecstasy to all the seeds she had
left asleep in the great storehouse; when they saw her joy and beauty they
longed to be like her, and one by
 one they slipped through the same
little crack and buried themselves in the earth.
"And so the world became
beautiful again, but the little plant who led the way is still the first to
greet us in the early spring."
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