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Good Stories for Great Holidays by  Frances Jenkins Olcott

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THREE OLD TALES

BY M. L. WEEMS (ADAPTED)

I. THE CHERRY TREE


[59] WHEN George was about six years old, he was made the wealthy master of a hatchet of which, like most little boys, he was extremely fond. He went about chopping everything that came his way.

One day, as he wandered about the garden amusing himself by hacking his mother's pea-sticks, he found a beautiful, young English cherry tree, of which his father was most proud. He tried the edge of his hatchet on the trunk of the tree and barked it so that it died.

Some time after this, his father discovered what had happened to his favorite tree. He came into the house in great anger, and demanded to know who the mischievous person was who had cut away the bark. Nobody could tell him anything about it.

Just then George, with his little hatchet, came into the room.

"George," said his father, "do you know who has killed my beautiful little cherry tree yonder in the garden? I would not have taken five guineas for it!"

[60] This was a hard question to answer, and for a moment George was staggered by it, but quickly recovering himself he cried:—

"I cannot tell a lie, father, you know I cannot tell a lie! I did cut it with my little hatchet."

The anger died out of his father's face, and taking the boy tenderly in his arms, he said:—

"My son, that you should not be afraid to tell the truth is more to me than a thousand trees! yes, though they were blossomed with silver and had leaves of the purest gold!"

II. THE APPLE ORCHARD

One fine morning in the autumn Mr. Washington, taking little George by the hand, walked with him to the apple orchard, promising that he would show him a fine sight.

On arriving at the orchard they saw a fine sight, indeed! The green grass under the trees was strewn with red-cheeked apples, and yet the trees were bending under the weight of fruit that hung thick among the leaves.

"Now, George," said his father, "look, my son, see all this rich harvest of fruit! Do you remember when your good cousin brought you a fine, large apple last spring, how you refused to divide it with your brothers? And yet I told you then that, if you would be generous, God would give you plenty of apples this autumn."

[61] Poor George could not answer, but hanging down his head looked quite confused, while with his little, naked, bare feet he scratched in the soft ground.

"Now, look up, my son," continued his father, "and see how the blessed God has richly provided us with these trees loaded with the finest fruit. See how abundant is the harvest. Some of the trees are bending beneath their burdens, while the ground is covered with mellow apples, more than you could eat, my son, in all your lifetime."

George looked in silence on the orchard, he marked the busy, humming bees, and heard the gay notes of the birds fluttering from tree to tree. His eyes filled with tears and he answered softly:—

"Truly, father, I never will be selfish any more."

III. THE GARDEN-BED

One day Mr. Washington went into the garden and dug a little bed of earth and prepared it for seed. He then took a stick and traced on the bed George's name in full. After this he strewed the tracing thickly with seeds, and smoothed all over nicely with his roller.

This garden-bed he purposely prepared close to a gooseberry-walk. The bushes were hung with the ripe fruit, and he knew that George would visit them every morning.

[62] Not many days had passed away when one morning George came running into the house, breathless with excitement, and his eyes shining with happiness.

"Come here! father, come here!" he cried.

"What's the matter, my son?" asked his father.

"O come, father," answered George, "and I'll show you such a sight as you have never seen in all your lifetime."

Mr. Washington gave the boy his hand, which he seized with great eagerness. He led his father straight to the garden-bed, whereon in large letters, in lines of soft green, was written:—

GEORGE WASHINGTON


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