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Good Stories for Great Holidays by  Frances Jenkins Olcott

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THE WONDER TREE

BY FRIEDRICH ADOLPH KRUMMACHER (ADAPTED)

ONE day in the springtime, Prince Solomon was sitting under the palm trees in the royal gardens, when he saw the Prophet Nathan walking near.

"Nathan," said the Prince, "I would see a wonder."

The Prophet smiled. "I had the same desire in the days of my youth," he replied.

"And was it fulfilled?" asked Solomon.

"A Man of God came to me," said Nathan, "having a pomegranate seed in his hand. 'Behold,' he said, 'what will become of this.' Then he made a hole in the ground, and planted the seed, and covered it over. When he withdrew his [372] hand the clods of earth opened, and I saw two small leaves coming forth. But scarcely had I beheld them, when they joined together and became a small stem wrapped in bark; and the stem grew before my eyes,—and it grew thicker and higher and became covered with branches.

"I marveled, but the Man of God motioned me to be silent. 'Behold,' said he, 'new creations begin.'

"Then he took water in the palm of his hand, and sprinkled the branches three times, and, lo! the branches were covered with green leaves, so that a cool shade spread above us, and the air was filled with perfume.

" 'From whence come this perfume and this shade?' cried I.

" 'Dost thou not see,' he answered, 'these crimson flowers bursting from among the leaves, and hanging in clusters?'

"I was about to speak, but a gentle breeze moved the leaves, scattering the petals of the flowers around us. Scarcely had the falling flowers reached the ground when I saw ruddy pomegranates hanging beneath the leaves of the tree, like almonds on Aaron's rod. Then the Man of God left me, and I was lost in amazement."

"Where is he, this Man of God?" asked Prince Solomon eagerly. "What is his name? Is he still alive?"

[373] "Son of David," answered Nathan, "I have spoken to thee of a vision."

When the Prince heard this he was grieved to the heart. "How couldst thou deceive me thus?" he asked.

But the Prophet replied: "Behold in thy father's gardens thou mayest daily see the unfolding of wonder trees. Doth not this same miracle happen to the fig, the date, and the pomegranate? They spring from the earth, they put out branches and leaves, they flower, they fruit,—not in a moment, perhaps, but in months and years,—but canst thou tell the difference betwixt a minute, a month, or a year in the eyes of Him with whom one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day?"


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