In this story for young children, a little bush wonders why it doesn’t have the same lovely buds as the bushes around.
Way down beside the Laughing Brook grew a little bush. It looked a whole lot like other little bushes all around it. But really it was quite different, as you shall see. When in the spring warm, jolly, round Mr. Sun brought back the birds and set them singing, when the little flowers popped their heads out of the ground to have a look around, then all the little bushes put out their green leaves.
This little bush of which I am telling you put out its green leaves with the rest. The little leaves grew bigger and bigger on all the little bushes. By andby on some of the other little bushes, little brown buds began to appear and grow and grow. Then on more and more of the little bushes the little brown buds came and grew and grew. But on this little bush of which I am telling you no little brown buds appeared. The little bush felt very sad indeed.
Pretty soon all the little brown buds on the other little brown bushes burst their brown coats, and then all the little bushes were covered with little flowers. Some were white and some were yellow and some were pink; and the air was filled with the sweet odor of all the little flowers. It brought the bees from far, far away to gather the honey, and all the little bushes were very happy indeed.
But the little bush of which I am telling you had no little flowers, for you see it had had no little buds, and it felt lonely and shut away from the other little bushes, and very sad indeed. But it bravely kept on growing and growing and growing. Its little leaves grew bigger and bigger and bigger, and it tried its best not to mind because it had no little flowers.
Then one by one, and two by two, and three by three, and finally in whole showers, the little flowers of all the other little bushes fell off, and they looked very much like the little bush of which I am telling you, so that the little bush no longer felt sad.
All summer long all the little bushes grew and grew and grew. The birds came and built their nests among them. Peter Rabbit and his brothers and sisters scampered under them. The butterflies flew over them.
By and by came the fall, and with the fall came Jack Frost. He went about among the little bushes, pinching the leaves. Then the little green leaves turned to brown and red and yellow and pretty soon they fluttered down to the ground, the Merry Little Breezes blew them about and all the little bushes were bare.
They had no leaves at all to cover their little naked brown limbs.
The little bush of which I am telling you lost its leaves with the rest. But all the summer long this little bush had been growing some of those little brown buds, which the other bushes had had in the spring, and now, when all the other little bushes had lost all the green leaves, and had nothing at all upon their little brown twigs, behold! one beautiful day, the little bush of which I am telling you was covered with gold, for each little brown bud had burst its little brown coat and there was a beautiful little yellow flower. Such a multitude of these little yellow flowers! They covered the little bush from top to bottom. Then the little bush felt very happy indeed, for it was the only bush which had any flowers. And every one who passed that way stopped to look at it and to praise it.
Colder grew the weather and colder. Johnny Chuck tucked himself away to sleep all winter. Grandfather Frog went deep, deep down in the mud, not to come out again until spring. By and by the little yellow flowers dropped off the little bush, just as the other little flowers in spring had dropped off the other bushes. But they left behind them tiny little packages, one for every little flower that had been on the bush. All winter long these little packages clung to the little bush. In the spring when the little leaves burst forth in all the little bushes, these little packages on the little bush of which I am telling you grew and grew and grew. While the other little bushes had a lot of little flowers as they had had the year before, these little brown packages on the little bush of which I am telling you kept on growing. And they comforted the little bush because it felt that it really had something worth while.
All the summer long the little brown packages grew and grew until they looked like little nuts. When the fall came again and all the little leaves dropped off all the little bushes, and the little bush of which I am telling you was covered with another lot of little yellow flowers and was very happy, then these little brown nuts, one bright autumn day, suddenly popped open! And out of each one flew two brown shiny little seeds. You never saw such a popping and a snapping and a jumping! Pop! pop! snap! snap! hippetty hop! they went, faster than the corn pops in the corn popper. Reddy Fox, who always is suspicious, thought some one was shooting at him. Down on the ground fell the little brown shining seeds and tucked themselves into the warm earth under the warm leaves, there to stay all winter long.
And when the third spring came with all its little birds and all its little flowers and the warm sunshine, every one of these little brown seeds which had tucked themselves into the warm earth, burst its little brown skin, and up into the sunshine came a little green plant, which would grow and grow and grow, and by and by become just like the little bush I am telling you about.
When the little bush looked down and saw all these little green children popping out of the ground, it was very happy indeed, for it knew that it would no longer be lonely. It no longer felt bad when all the other bushes were covered with flowers, for it knew that by and by when all the other little bushes had lost all their leaves and all their flowers, then would come its turn, and it knew that for a whole year its little brown children would be held safe on its branches.
Now, what do you think is the name of this little bush? Why, it is the witch hazel. And sometime when you fall down and bump yourself hard grandma will go to the medicine closet and will bring out a bottle, and from that bottle she will pour something on that little sore place and it will make it feel better. Do you know what it is? It is the gift of the witch hazel bush to little boys and big men to make them feel better when they are hurt.