Page:Florian - The Fables, 1888.djvu/31

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25
THE GARDENER AND THE AGED TREE.


Its former luscious fruitage bore;
       And hence was doom'd to fall.
Scarce had th' ungrateful gardener sunk
His sharp-edged axe into its trunk,
       When thus the old tree spoke:—
"Oh think of all the good I've done;
The fruit I've borne; the praise I've won,
       And spare the murd'rous stroke!
Oh do not hasten to their end
The few last days of your old friend!"
The ingrate answer'd:—"Yea, indeed,
I'm truly loath to lay you low;
But still of wood I stand in need,
And cannot to the forest go."
The nightingales then intercede;
Gush out a long and loud refrain,
And of th' intended wrong complain.
They wake the gardener's memory—
His wife oft sitting 'neath that tree,
And list'ning to their song the while
Their dulcet notes her cares beguile.
But he, unheeding their appeal,
Resolv'd another blow to deal.
The aged trunk the stroke broke in,
Which rais'd around his ears a din.
For out there came a swarm of bees,
And gave th' intruder words like these:—
"What are you doing, wretched man?
Your int'rests inj'ring all you can!
Are you not able to perceive