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Story-tell Lib by  Annie Trumbull Slosson


 

 

IV

[37]

I
T was a sad day in Greenhills when we knew that Susan Holcomb's little Jerusha was dead. We all loved the child, and she was her mother's dearest treasure. Susan was a widow, and this was her only child. A pretty little creature she was, with yellow curls and dark-blue eyes, rosy and plump and sturdy. But a sudden, sharp attack of croup seized the child, and in a few hours she fell asleep. I need not tell you of the mother's grief. She could not be comforted because her child was not. One day a little neighbor, a boy with great faith—not wholly misplaced—in the helpfulness of Story-tell Lib's little parables, succeeded, with a child's art, in bringing the sad mother to the [38] group of listeners. And it was that day that Lib told this new story.

The Plant That Lost Its Berry

Once there was a plant, and it had jest one little berry. And the berry was real pretty to look at. It was sort o' blue, with a kind o' whitey, foggy look all over the blue, and it wa' n't round like huckleberries and cramb'ries, but longish, and a little p'inted to each end. And the stem it growed on, the little bit of a stem, you know, comin' out o' the plant's big stem, like a little neck to the berry, was pinky and real pretty. And this berry did n't have a lot o' teenty little seeds inside on it, like most berries, but it jest had one pretty white stone in it, with raised up streaks on it.

The plant set everything by her little berry. She thought there never was in [39] all the airth sech a beautiful berry as hern,—so pretty shaped and so whitey blue, with sech a soft skin and pinky neck, and more partic'lar with that nice, white, striped stone inside of it. She held it all day and all night tight and fast. When it rained real hard, and the wind blowed, she kind o' stretched out some of her leaves, and covered her little berry up, and she done the same when the sun was too hot. And the berry growed and growed, and was so fat and smooth and pretty! And the plant was jest wropped up in her little berry, lovin' it terr'ble hard, and bein' dreadful proud on it, too.

Well, one day, real suddent, when the plant was n't thinkin' of any storm comin', a little wind riz up. 'T wa' n't a gale, 't wa' n't half as hard a blow as the berry 'd seen lots o' times and never got hurt nor nothin'. And the plant wa' n't [40] lookin' out for any danger, when all of a suddent there come a little bit of a snap, and the slimsy little pink stem broke, and the little berry fell and rolled away, and, 'fore you could say "Jack Robinson," 't was clean gone out o' sight. I can't begin to tell ye how that plant took on. Seem 's if she 'd die, or go ravin' crazy. It 's only folks that has lost jest what they set most by on airth that can understand about it, I s'pose. She would n't b'leeve it fust off; she 'most knowed she 'd wake up and feel her little berry a-holdin' close to her, hangin' on her, snugglin' up to her under the shady leaves. The other plants 'round there tried to chirk her up and help her. One on 'em told her how it had lost all its little berries itself, a long spell back, and how it had some ways stood it and got over it. "But they wa' n't like mine," thinks the poor plant. [41] "There never, never was no berry like mine, with its pretty figger, its pinky, slim little neck, and its soft, smooth-feelin' skin." And another plant told her mebbe her berry was saved from growin' up a trouble to her, gettin' bad and hard, with mebbe a worm inside on it, to make her ashamed and sorry. "Oh, no, no!" thinks the mother plant. "My berry 'd never got bad and hard, and I 'd 'a' kep' any worm from touchin' its little white heart." Not a single thing the plant-folks said to her done a mite o' good. Their talk only worried her and pestered her, when she jest wanted to be let alone, so 's she could think about her little berry all to herself.

Just where the berry used to hang, and where the little pinky stem broke off, there was a sore place, a sort o' scar, that ached and smarted all day and [42] all night, and never, never healed up. And bimeby the poor plant got all wore out with the achin' and the mournin' and the missin' and she 'peared to feel her heart all a-dryin' up and stoppin', and her leaves turned yeller and wrinkled, and—she was dead. She could n't live on, ye see, without her little berry.

They called it bein' dead, folks did, and it looked like it, for there she lay without a sign of life for a long, long, long spell. 'T was for days and weeks and months anyway. But it did n't seem so long to the mother plant. She shet up her eyes, feelin' powerful tired and lonesome, and the next thing she knowed she opened 'em again, and she was wide awoke. She hardly knowed herself, though, she was so fresh and juicy and 'live, so kind o' young every way. Fust off she did n't think o' anything but that, how good and well she [43] felt, and how beautiful things was all 'round her. Then all of a suddent she rec'lected her little berry, and she says to herself, "Oh, dear, dear me! If only my own little berry was here to see me now, and know how I feel!" She thought she said it to herself, but mebbe she talked out loud, for, jest as she said it, somebody answered her. 'T was a Angel, and he says, "Why your little berry does see you,—look there." And she looked, and she see he was p'intin' to the beautif'lest little plant you never see,—straight and nice, with little bits o' soft green leaves, with the sun a-shinin' through 'em, and,—well, somehow, you never can get it through your head how mothers take in things,—she knowed cert'in sure that was her little berry.

The Angel begun to speak. He was goin' to explain how, if she had n't never [44] lost her berry, 't would n't never 'a' growed into this pretty plant, but, he see, all of a suddent, that he need n't take the trouble. She showed in her face she knowed all about it,—every blessed thing. I tell ye, even angels ain't much use explainin' when there 's mothers, and it 's got to do with their own child'en. Yes, the mother plant see it all, without tellin'. She was jest a mite 'shamed but she was terr'ble pleased.


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