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The Oak And The Reed

from Boys And Girls Bookshelf - MODERN FABLES





ADAPTED FROM THE FRENCH OF LA FONTAINE


One day the Oak said to the Reed: "Nature has been indeed unkind to you.
She has made you so weak that even the tiniest bird that flies bends you
to earth beneath her little weight. The gentlest breeze that scarcely
moves the surface of the lake has power to bend your head.

"My head, which rises like a mountain, is not content to stop the
blazing rays of sunshine, but braves even the tempest; the wind that to
you seems to be a hurricane, to me is but a gentle sigh of wind at
eventide.

"If you had grown beneath the shelter of my leafy crown, with which I
cover all the ground around, I would have saved you from the storms
which make you suffer. Alas, you are most often found along the marshy
borders of the kingdom of the winds. Nature, it seems to me, has been to
you unjust."

"Your pity," said the Reed, "comes from good nature, but have no care
for me. The winds for me hold far less danger than they hold for you. I
bend but do not break. You have till now resisted all their powerful
blows and never bent your back. But wait the end."

Just as the gentle little Reed ended these words, a great north wind
rushed down from the horizon and flung itself on them with fury. The
Reed bent low before it, but the tree defied the anger of the blast and
held its head upright. But the strong wind drew back, doubled its force,
and with a furious rush tore up the oak tree by its mighty roots.

The blast passed on and in the quiet that it left behind, the Reed
raised up her head, and looking sadly at the giant tree whose stately
head lay in the waters of the stream, she sadly said:

"It is often well to bend before the storms that threaten us."





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