The most beautiful tree

In the most beautiful park in the town, there was a tree that was more beautiful than all the other trees, which had a branch that was more beautiful than all the other branches. On this branch there was a leaf that was the most beautiful leaf, on the most beautiful tree, in the most beautiful park in the town, and this leaf had decided that, come autumn, not for all the tea in China, would it fall to the ground like all the other leaves, on all the other branches, on all the other trees, in all the other parks in the town. Why should I, - it explained to the other leaves, - fall to the ground in that muddy slush and be trodden on by the first pair of shoes that pass by or, worse still, by the first dog that & Well, I think you know what I'm talking about: any way, one thing is for sure, I'm not moving from here! And that's that. - It concluded in a stubborn voice to all the others that told it to fall to the ground like all leaves because that was the right thing to do. But, there was no way it was going to change its mind. It had been autumn, now, for some time and all the other leaves, on all the other branches, on all the other plants, in all the other parks in the town, sensing that winter was just round the corner, let themselves fall softly to the ground, forming a colourful rug and leaving the trees completely bare. 'Oh no! You can't fool me! - It said to its companions on the ground below, -the yellow carpet under the tree trunk is very beautiful, but what will become of you when the first snow arrives? Slus h! - Up here is the place to be! - It continued saying, -We leaves are bright green in springtime, are shady in summer and all hues of red in the fall. All right, I admit, we have to force a smile for a few months, but voil–! Here we are again, new and green in spring, shady in summer and so forth! We are the most beautiful leaves on the most beautiful tree in the park: we can't just throw ourselves away like this! - Well, it sounded like a real rally speech.

Day after day, in the meantime, winter pressed on, carried by the icy, northern winds and bitter gusts shook all the branches, on all the trees, in all the parks in the town, and Jack Frost covered them all with icicles. Ice, the pouring rain, the snow and the struggle to hold on tight to the branch took their toll on our little leaf that, if you looked at it carefully, seemed more like an old shrivelled up stick. The leaf, however, didn't seem to notice at all and it imagined what it would look like in springtime, brand new, bright and with the biggest smile ever.

But, when spring finally arrived and the air was pleasantly perfumed, all the branches, on all the trees, in all the parks started to be covered by little green buds. The only tree that didn't show signs of re-awakening appeared to be the most beautiful tree, with the most beautiful branch with a leaf that had clung on for all it was worth throughout the winter and that, now, didn't look like a leaf at all. And the little buds on the tree, timidly trying to stretch out in the March sunshine, when they saw that shrivelled up mummified leaf on the branch were too frightened to open up. So, while in all the other parks, on all the other trees, the other branches were covered with blossoms and fine new greenery, the most beautiful tree, in the most beautiful park looked more like the most withered tree. It looked so inhospitable that even the birds didn't want to come to rest on it anymore. It was so lifeless that nobody looked at it any more, and the park keeper, believing it to be dead, decided that it was time to chop it down. ' Chop it down, indeed?! Hey pal, have you lost your marbles?!- The leaf shouted, not believing its ears, - Let me tell you, we talking about the most beautiful tree, in the most beautiful park, in the whole town! And for your information, let me tell you that I've had a devil of a time clinging on for dear life to the most beautiful branch, on the whole tree, throughout this horrible winter! And, do you know why? Because I'm the most beautiful leaf...- But the leaf never finished the sentence. In that instant, a drop of spring dew rolled down the branch and the leaf caught a glimpse of its image reflected. At first it didn't recognise itself. And then the penny dropped. Perhaps, it thought that its companions were right, after all, and it was more dignified to fall to the ground when it was time. Perhaps, it was just a little ashamed of all the things that it had said. Perhaps, it didn't really think about it and just let go, allowing the breeze to carry it gently to the ground. Only then, did the leaf start to look like a leaf again, like a fallen leaf from a tree. At this point the buds, seeing the leaf, realised that they had been frightened for nothing and began to open out in a thousand blossoms and a thousand leaves. They smiled at their old companion fallen from that giant tree that the park keeper decided not to chop down anymore and he was happy to see the birds alighting on the most beautiful branches, on the most beautiful tree, in the most beautiful park in the town.

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