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Full Online Book HomeShort StoriesThe Birds, The Thorn-bushes, And The Sheep
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The Birds, The Thorn-bushes, And The Sheep Post by :clawHAMMER Category :Short Stories Author :M. (arnaud) Berquin Date :October 2011 Read :3439

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The Birds, The Thorn-bushes, And The Sheep

Mr. Stanhope and his son Gregory were one evening, in the month of May, sitting at the foot of a delightful hill, and surveying the beautiful works of nature that surrounded them. The declining sun, now sinking into the west, seemed to clothe every thing with a purple robe. The cheerful song of a shepherd called off their attention from their meditations on those delightful prospects. This shepherd was driving home his flocks from the adjacent fields.

Thorn-bushes grew on each side of the road, and every sheep that approached the thorns was sure to be robbed of some part of its wool, which a good deal displeased little Gregory. "Only see, papa," said he, "how the sheep are deprived of their wool by those bushes! You have often told me, that God makes nothing in vain; but these briars seem only made for mischief; people should therefore join to destroy them root and branch. Were the poor sheep to come often this way, they would be robbed of all their clothing. But that shall not be the case, for I will rise with the sun to-morrow morning, and with my little bill-hook and snip-snap, I will level all these briars with the ground. You may come with me, papa, if you please, and bring with you an axe. Before breakfast, we shall be able to destroy them all."

Mr. Stanhope replied, "We must not go about this business in too great a hurry, but take a little time to consider of it; perhaps, there may not be so much cause for being angry with these bushes, as you at present seem to imagine. Have you not seen the shepherds about Lammas, with great shears in their hands, take from the trembling sheep all their wool, not being contented with a few locks only."

Gregory allowed that was true; but they did it in order to make clothes, whereas the hedges robbed the sheep without having the least occasion for their wool, and evidently for no useful purpose. "If it be usual," said he, "for sheep to lose their clothing at a certain time of the year, then it is much better to take it for our own advantage, than to suffer the hedges to pull it off for no end whatever."

Mr. Stanhope allowed the arguments of little Gregory to be just; for Nature has given to every beast a clothing, and we are obliged from them to borrow our own, otherwise we should be forced to go naked, and exposed to the inclemency of the elements.

"Very well, papa," said Gregory, "though we want clothing, yet these bushes want none: they rob us of what we have need, and therefore down they shall all come with to-morrow morning's rising sun. And I dare say, papa, you will come along with me, and assist me."

Mr. Stanhope could not but consent; and little Gregory thought himself nothing less than Alexander, merely from the expectation of destroying at once this formidable band of robbers. He could hardly sleep, being so much taken up with the idea of his victories, to which the next morning's sun was to be witness.

The cheerful lark had hardly begun to proclaim the approach of morning, when Gregory got up, and ran to awaken his papa. Mr. Stanhope, though he was very indifferent concerning the fate of the thorn-bushes, yet he was not displeased with having the opportunity of showing to his little Gregory the beauties of the rising sun. They both dressed themselves immediately, took the necessary instruments, and set out on this important expedition. Young Gregory marched forwards with such hasty steps, that Mr. Stanhope was obliged to exert himself, to avoid being left behind.

When they came near the bushes, they observed a multitude of little birds flying in and out of them, and fluttering their wings from branch to branch. On seeing this, Mr. Stanhope stopped his son, and desired him to suspend his vengeance a little time, that they might not disturb those innocent birds. With this view, they retired to the foot of the hill where they had sat the preceding evening, and from thence examined more particularly what had occasioned this apparent bustle among the birds. From hence they plainly saw, that they were employed in carrying away those bits of wool in their beaks, which the bushes had torn from the sheep the evening before. There came a multitude of different sorts of birds, who loaded themselves with the plunder.

Gregory was quite astonished at this sight, and asked his papa what could be the meaning of it. "You by this plainly see," replied Mr. Stanhope, "that Providence provides for creatures of every class, and furnishes them with all things necessary for their convenience and preservation. Here, you see, the poor birds find what is necessary for their habitations, wherein they are to nurse and rear their young, and with this they make a comfortable bed for themselves and their little progeny. The innocent thorn-bush, against which you yesterday so loudly exclaimed, is of infinite service to the inhabitants of the air; it takes from those that are rich only what they can very well spare, in order to satisfy the wants of the poor. Have you now any wish to cut those bushes down, which you will perhaps no longer consider as robbers?"

Gregory shook his head, and said he would not cut the bushes down for the world. Mr. Stanhope applauded his son for so saying; and, after enjoying the sweets of the morning, they retired home to breakfast, leaving the bushes to flourish in peace, since they made so generous a use of their conquests.

My young friends will hence be convinced of the impropriety of cherishing too hastily prejudices against any persons or things, since, however forbidding or useless they may at first sight appear, a more familiar acquaintance with them may discover those accomplishments or perfections which prejudice at first obscured from their observation.

(The end)
M. (Arnaud) Berquin's short story: Birds, The Thorn-Bushes, And The Sheep

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