A baby beech tree was growing by the side of its mother. It said to her one day, ‘Mother, I wish I knew of what use I can be in the world. There is Neighbor Oak who throws down acorns for our landowner’s pig to eat. Neighbor Birch gives him some smooth bark to make into a boat. Neighbor Spruce gives him gum to pour over the joinings of the boat to keep it from leaking, and all the others can help in some way; but what can I do?’ ‘Wait and see,’ said the mother tree. So the little tree waited.
By and by some pretty flowers came upon the baby tree. Then the little tree was happy. ‘Oh! Now I see what good I can do. I can please our landowner by looking pretty.’
When the blossoms fell off, the poor little tree felt badly. ‘Oh mother! All my pretty flowers are gone, and now I cannot even look pretty any longer. What shall I do?’ ‘Wait and see,’ said the mother tree. The little tree thought that waiting was a hard thing to do, but it said to itself, ‘Mother knows best, so I’ll do what she says.’
After a while, some small green prickly things came where the flowers had been. These pleased the little tree as much as the flowers had done, and it was content to wait, and see if they were of any use except to look pretty.
Then the little green prickly things all turned brown, and the baby beech tree thought they were not pretty any longer. ‘Oh, dear mother! My little green prickly things have all turned brown, and now I cannot even look pretty any longer. What shall I do?’ ‘Wait and see,’ said the mother tree. So the little tree waited.
The autumn had come, and the weather was beginning to be cold in the part of the country where the baby beech tree lived. One morning after a heavy frost, the baby beech tree found that its little brown prickly things had all fallen. ‘Oh mother! There are my little prickly things on the ground, and now I am sure I shall never be of any use to anybody.’ ‘Do not be discouraged yet; wait and see,’ said the mother tree.
Just then the landowner’s children came along. They had baskets in their hands, for they were going to pick up nuts in the woods. As they came under the baby beech, the eldest boy stopped. ‘Oh children! See! Here are the beech nuts on the ground. Mother likes them better than any other kind of nuts. Let us pick them all up and take them home to her.’
As the children went away with the nuts, the mother tree said, ‘Now, my dear, you see what good you can do.’ ‘Yes, mother,’ said the little tree. And ever after it was content, even when it grew to be a big tree – as big as its mother.