The Plants Quarrel

It was one of those days. You see, the plants are just like us: they have no food at night, only in the daytime. If it’s cloudy, and the light is poor, they may be hungry and bad-tempered. Today it was cloudy, and all the plants began to quarrel. The trees said they were the biggest so they were the most important. The flowers said it wasn’t fair to compare them with the trees, and no-one wanted monstrous flowers, except the witches who would put them in a nightmare. The grains and vegetables said they were the most important because without them people wouldn’t have enough to eat. And the fruit trees said they were different to the other trees, as they produced food too, and they were not so big as the other trees and ought to be considered with the grains and vegetables. The root vegetables said they liked it in the dark where they could grow in comfort, and had nothing in common with the fruit trees which liked the sunshine and sent long useless roots down into the earth to interfere with them…. And so it went on.

Then they started on looks. The copper beech said he was the most handsome because of his gorgeous colour and shape. The willow said he could drink up all the surplus water and prevented the rivers and rain from drenching everyone else and making their roots rot. The oak said his wood was very hard, and his acorns were good food in the winter. The little primrose said hard wood was all very well, but she was very good at cheering people up in the springtime. The poppy said she could make people go to sleep forever… and the rose said she was lovely and her prickles were tip-top and she would be happy to prick anyone who didn’t believe her, so there! The gooseberry gave an unpleasant laugh, and said spines were a lot sharper than prickles, and glared at everyone, particularly the rose… And so it went on….

All this time, the nightingale, who was perched on top of a bush, listened and listened. Then she began to sing. This is what she sang.

Each and every one of us
has their part to play
in this lovely world of ours
on this special day!

The plants were quiet for a long time after that. Then the snap-dragon, who was often snappy and bad-tempered, said “That’s all very well, but nightingales aren’t much use, are they?” Some of the other flowers thought this was rather unfair, and the peones who were very beautiful and an angry red, told the snap-dragon off in no uncertain terms… And it all started up again… All of a sudden, the nightingale was heard trilling above all the quarrelsome voices down below. And the Lily who was white except for an elegant flash of yellow in her heart, quivered and said that the nightingale was beautiful, and that was very important.
All the other plants looked at the lily: the trees stirred in the breeze, the cherry trees dropped the fattest red cherries near her, and a sweet murmur was heard from all…. If you listen very quietly, you might just hear the words You are a peacemaker and you too are beautiful in form and spirit……….

Published by Charlotte Sebag-Montefiore

After many years working as a clinical psychologist in the NHS, I became an author. My years as a mother and grandmother gave me plenty of practice telling children stories. I have become very interested in dinosaurs and animals, and I really enjoy rhymes and riddles!

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