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The Fruitful Vine Post by :smaniam8 Category :Short Stories Author :M. (arnaud) Berquin Date :October 2011 Read :3446

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The Fruitful Vine

It was in the beginning of the spring, when Mr. Jackson went to his country-house, and took with him his little son Junius, in order to treat him with a walk in the garden. The primroses and violets were then displaying all their beauties, and many trees had begun to show what livery they were soon to wear.

After walking some time about the garden, they happened to go into the summer-house, at the foot of which grew the stump of a vine, which twisted wildly, and extended its naked branches in a rude and irregular manner. As soon as little Junius saw this tree, he exclaimed sadly against the ugly appearance it made, and began to exert all his strength to pull it up, but he found his efforts in vain, it being too well rooted to yield to his weak arm. He begged his papa to call the gardener to grub it up, and make firewood of it; but Mr. Jackson desired his son to let the tree alone, telling him that he would in a few months give him his reasons for not complying with his request.

This did not satisfy Junius, who desired his father to look at those lively crocusses and snow-drops, saying, he could not see why that barren stump should be kept, which did not produce a single green leaf. He thought it spoiled and disfigured the garden, and therefore begged his father would permit him to fetch the gardener to pluck it up.

Mr. Jackson, who could not think of granting him his request, told him, that it must stand as it then was, at least for some time to come. Little Junius still persisted in his entreaties, urging how disgraceful it was to the garden; but his father diverted his attention from the vine, by turning the conversation.

It so happened, that Mr. Jackson's affairs called him to a different part of the country, from whence he did not return till the middle of autumn. He no sooner came home, than he paid a visit to his country-house, taking little Junius with him. As the day happened to be exceedingly warm, they retired to enjoy the benefit of the shade, and entered the arbour, in which the vine stump had before so much offended his son Junius.

"Ah! papa," said the young gentleman, "how charming and delightful is this green shade! I am much obliged to you for having that dry and ugly stump plucked up, which I found so much fault with when we were here last, and for putting in its place this beautiful plant; I suppose you did it in order to give me an agreeable surprise. How delightful and tempting the fruit looks! What fine grapes! some purple, and others almost black: I see no tree in the garden that looks in so blooming a state. All have lost their fruit; but this fine one seems in the highest perfection. See how it is loaded! See those wide-spreading leaves that hide the clusters. If the fruit be as good as it appears beautiful, it must be delicious."

Little Junius was in raptures when he tasted one of the grapes, which his father gave him, and still more when he informed him, that from such fruit was made that delicious liquor which he sometimes tasted after dinner. The little fellow was quite astonished on hearing his father talk thus; but he was far more surprised, when Mr. Jackson told him, that all those fine leaves, and delicious fruit grew from that very crooked and misshapen stump, with which he had been so angry in the spring. His father then asked him, if he should now order the gardener to pluck it up, and make firewood of it. Junius was much confused; but, after a short silence, told his papa, that he would rather see every other tree in the garden cut down than that, so beautiful were its leaves, and so delicious its fruit.

As Mr. Jackson was a man of good sense, he thus moralized on this occasion. "You see then, my dear," said he, "how imprudently I should have acted, had I followed your advice, and cut down this tree. Daily experience convinces us, that the same thing happens frequently in the commerce of this world, which has in this instance misled you. When we see a child badly clothed, and of an unpleasing external appearance, we are too apt to despise him, and grow conceited on comparing ourselves with him; and sometimes even go so far as cruelly to address him in haughty and insulting language. But beware, my dear boy, how you run into errors by forming a too hasty judgment. It is possible that in a person so little favoured by nature may dwell an exalted soul, which may one day astonish the world with the greatness of its virtues, or enlighten it with knowledge. The most rugged stem may produce the most delicious fruit, while a straight and stately plant may be worthless and barren."

(The end)
M. (Arnaud) Berquin's short story: Fruitful Vine

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