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Sara Cone Bryant (1873 - Unknown)
The Blackberry-Bush


[From Celia Thaxter's Stories and Poems for Children.]

A little boy sat at his mother's knees, by
the long western window, looking out into
the garden. It was autumn, and the wind
was sad; and the golden elm leaves lay
scattered about among the grass, and on
the gravel path. The mother was knitting
a little stocking; her fingers moved the
bright needles; but her eyes were fixed on
the clear evening sky.

As the darkness gathered, the wee boy
laid his head on her lap and kept so still
that, at last, she leaned forward to look
into his dear round face. He was not
asleep, but was watching very earnestly a
blackberry-bush, that waved its one tall,
dark-red spray in the wind outside the

"What are you thinking about, my
darling?" she said, smoothing his soft,
honey-colored hair.

"The blackberry-bush, mamma; what
does it say? It keeps nodding, nodding to
me behind the fence; what does it say,

"It says," she answered, `I see a happy
little boy in the warm, fire-lighted room.
The wind blows cold, and here it is dark
and lonely; but that little boy is warm
and happy and safe at his mother's knees.
I nod to him, and he looks at me. I
wonder if he knows how happy he is!

"`See, all my leaves are dark crimson.
Every day they dry and wither more and
more; by and by they will be so weak they
can scarcely cling to my branches, and the
north wind will tear them all away, and
nobody will remember them any more.
Then the snow will sink down and wrap
me close. Then the snow will melt again
and icy rain will clothe me, and the bitter
wind will rattle my bare twigs up and

"`I nod my head to all who pass, and
dreary nights and dreary days go by; but
in the happy house, so warm and bright,
the little boy plays all day with books and
toys. His mother and his father cherish
him; he nestles on their knees in the red
firelight at night, while they read to him
lovely stories, or sing sweet old songs to
him,--the happy little boy! And outside
I peep over the snow and see a stream of
ruddy light from a crack in the window-
shutter, and I nod out here alone in the
dark, thinking how beautiful it is.

"`And here I wait patiently. I take the
snow and the rain and the cold, and I am
not sorry, but glad; for in my roots I feel
warmth and life, and I know that a store
of greenness and beauty is shut up safe in
my small brown buds. Day and night go
again and again; little by little the snow
melts all away; the ground grows soft;
the sky is blue; the little birds fly over
crying, "It is spring! it is spring!" Ah!
then through all my twigs I feel the slow
sap stirring.

"`Warmer grow the sunbeams, and
softer the air. The small blades of grass
creep thick about my feet; the sweet rain
helps swell my shining buds. More and
more I push forth my leaves, till out I burst
in a gay green dress, and nod in joy and
pride. The little boy comes running to
look at me, and cries, "Oh, mamma! the
little blackberry-bush is alive and beautiful
and green. Oh, come and see!" And
I hear; and I bow my head in the summer
wind; and every day they watch me grow
more beautiful, till at last I shake out
blossoms, fair and fragrant.

"`A few days more, and I drop the white
petals down among the grass, and, lo! the
green tiny berries! Carefully I hold them
up to the sun; carefully I gather the dew
in the summer nights; slowly they ripen;
they grow larger and redder and darker,
and at last they are black, shining,
delicious. I hold them as high as I can for
the little boy, who comes dancing out. He
shouts with joy, and gathers them in his
dear hand; and he runs to share them with
his mother, saying, "Here is what the
patient blackberry-bush bore for us: see how
nice, mamma!"

"`Ah! then indeed I am glad, and would
say, if I could, "Yes, take them, dear little
boy; I kept them for you, held them long
up to sun and rain to make them sweet and
ripe for you;" and I nod and nod in full
content, for my work is done. From the
window he watches me and thinks, "There
is the little blackberry-bush that was so
kind to me. I see it and I love it. I know
it is safe out there nodding all alone, and
next summer it will hold ripe berries up
for me to gather again." '"

Then the wee boy smiled, and liked the
little story. His mother took him up in her
arms, and they went out to supper and left
the blackberry-bush nodding up and down
in the wind; and there it is nodding yet.

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