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Full Online Book HomeShort StoriesWilliam And Thomas; Or, The Contrast Between Industry And Indolence
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William And Thomas; Or, The Contrast Between Industry And Indolence Post by :intmailmc Category :Short Stories Author :M. (arnaud) Berquin Date :October 2011 Read :2538

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William And Thomas; Or, The Contrast Between Industry And Indolence

In a village, at no small distance from the metropolis, lived a wealthy husbandman, who had two sons, William and Thomas, of whom the former was exactly a year older than the latter.

On the day that the second son was born, the husbandman set in his orchard two young apple-trees of an equal size, on which he bestowed the same care in cultivating, and they throve so much alike, that it was a difficult matter to say which claimed the preference.

As soon as the children were capable of using garden implements, their father took them, on a fine day, early in the spring, to see the two plants he had reared for them, and called after their names. William and Thomas having admired the beauty of these trees, now filled with blossoms, their father told them that he made them a present of them in good condition, and that they would continue to thrive or decay, in proportion to the labour or neglect they received.

Thomas, though the younger son, turned all his attention to the improvement of his tree, by clearing it of insects as soon as he discovered them, and propping up the stem, that it might grow perfectly upright. He dug all round it, to loosen the earth, that the root might receive nourishment from the warmth of the sun and the moisture of the dews. No mother could nurse a child more tenderly in its infancy, than Thomas did his tree.

His brother William, however, pursued a very different conduct; for he loitered away all his time in the most idle and mischievous manner, one of his principal amusements being to throw stones at people as they passed. He kept company with all the idle boys in the neighbourhood, with whom he was continually fighting, and was seldom without either a black eye or a broken shin. His poor tree was neglected, and never thought of, till one day in the autumn, when, by chance, seeing his brother's tree loaded with the finest apples, and almost ready to break down with the weight, he ran to his own tree, not doubting but he should find it in the same pleasing condition.

Great indeed was his disappointment and surprise, when, instead of finding the tree loaded with excellent fruit, he beheld nothing but a few withered leaves, and branches covered with moss. He instantly went to his father, and complained of his partiality in giving him a tree that was worthless and barren, while his brother's produced the most luxuriant fruit. He therefore thought that his brother should at least give him one half of his apples.

His father told him, that it was by no means reasonable, that the industrious should give up part of their labour to feed the idle. "If your tree," said he, "has produced you nothing, it is but a just reward of your indolence, since you see what the industry of your brother has gained him. Your tree was equally full of blossoms, and grew in the same soil; but you paid no attention to the culture of it. Your brother suffered no visible insect to remain on his tree; but you neglected that caution, and left them even to eat up the very buds. As I cannot bear to see even plants perish through neglect, I must now take this tree from you, and give it to your brother, whose care and attention may possibly restore it to its former vigour. The fruit it shall produce must be his property, and you must no longer consider yourself as having any right therein. However, you may go to my nursery, and there choose any other which you may like better, and try what you can do with it; but, if you neglect to take proper care of it, I shall also take that from you, and give it to your brother, as a reward for his superior industry and attention."

This had the desired effect on William, who clearly perceived the justice and propriety of his father's reasoning, and instantly got into the nursery, to choose the most thriving apple-tree he could there meet with. His brother Thomas assisted him in the culture of his tree, advising him in what manner to proceed; and William made the best use of his time, and the instructions he received from his brother. He left off all his mischievous tricks, forsook the company of idle boys, and applied himself cheerfully to work; and in autumn received the reward of his labour, his tree being then loaded with fruit.

From this happy change in his conduct, he derived the advantage, not only of enriching himself with a plentiful crop of fruit, but also of getting rid of bad and pernicious habits. His father was so perfectly satisfied with his reformation, that the following season he gave him and his brother the produce of a small orchard, which they shared equally between them.

(The end)
M. (Arnaud) Berquin's short story: William And Thomas

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