The Willow

: Fables For Children, Stories For Children, Natural Science Stori

During Easter week a peasant went out to see whether the ground was all

thawed out.

He went into the garden and touched the soil with a stick. The earth was

soft. The peasant went into the woods; here the catkins were already

swelling on the willows. The peasant thought:

"I will fence my garden with willows; they will grow up and will make a

good hedge!"

He took hi
axe, cut down a dozen willows, sharpened them at the end,

and stuck them in the ground.

All the willows sent up sprouts with leaves, and underground let out

just such sprouts for roots; and some of them took hold of the ground

and grew, and others did not hold well to the ground with their roots,

and died and fell down.

In the fall the peasant was glad at the sight of his willows: six of

them had taken root. The following spring the sheep killed two willows

by gnawing at them, and only two were left. Next spring the sheep

nibbled at these also. One of them was completely ruined, and the other

came to, took root, and grew to be a tree. In the spring the bees just

buzzed in the willow. In swarming time the swarms were often put out on

the willow, and the peasants brushed them in. The men and women

frequently ate and slept under the willow, and the children climbed on

it and broke off rods from it.

The peasant that had set out the willow was long dead, and still it

grew. His eldest son twice cut down its branches and used them for

fire-wood. The willow kept growing. They trimmed it all around, and cut

it down to a stump, but in the spring it again sent out twigs, thinner

ones than before, but twice as many as ever, as is the case with a

colt's forelock.

And the eldest son quit farming, and the village was given up, but the

willow grew in the open field. Other peasants came there, and chopped

the willow, but still it grew. The lightning struck it; but it sent

forth side branches, and it grew and blossomed. A peasant wanted to cut

it down for a block, but he gave it up, it was too rotten. It leaned

sidewise, and held on with one side only; and still it grew, and every

year the bees came there to gather the pollen.

One day, early in the spring, the boys gathered under the willow, to

watch the horses. They felt cold, so they started a fire. They gathered

stubbles, wormwood, and sticks. One of them climbed on the willow and

broke off a lot of twigs. They put it all in the hollow of the willow

and set fire to it. The tree began to hiss and its sap to boil, and the

smoke rose and the tree burned; its whole inside was smudged. The young

shoots dried up, the blossoms withered.

The children drove the horses home. The scorched willow was left all

alone in the field. A black raven flew by, and he sat down on it, and


"So you are dead, old smudge! You ought to have died long ago!"