There was a tree. A mulberry tree. It was old and wrinkled. It stood in a field by the lane. Cows grazed in the field. There were apple trees and peach trees and younger mulberry trees. Around the edges of the orchard were cherry trees.
The old mulberry tree would watch the younger trees swing and dance in the wind.
He asked them, “How do you stay so young and fragrant?”
And they would laugh at him and say, “Oh, you shall never know the secret to our youth!”
Every night the fairies came and danced in the peach, apple mulberry and cherry trees but the old mulberry did not know it because the Tree Snake that lived in his roots slipped a sleeping drought into him and he was always asleep when the fairies came and they never danced in him because he was asleep and they did not want to wake him.
Once, long ago, the Mulberry had been young and beautiful. The fairies had danced only in his branches because he was so beautiful and sang and danced with them the best and made them laugh and the other trees had become jealous. So they had cast a spell of forgetfulness over the Mulberry and he had forgotten how to sing and dance and so the fairies had left him. Then the other trees made the Mulberry’s tree snake put a sleeping drought in his roots so he could never remember.
One day the Mulberry saw a group of fairy musicians coming down the lane. They carried trumpets and fiddles and violins. They skipped past him laughing and playing music on their instruments, hardly looking at him with their cat’s eyes.
The old Mulberry watched their white wings disappear around the bend and slowly memories started to come back to him.
That spring, he flowered beautifully and gave off the best, juiciest fruit in the orchard and the farmers were very pleased. The other trees were very angry for the farmers shook their heads and looked at their lightly laden branches and said, “There must be something wrong with those trees! Look at the little fruit on them! We must do something.”
And they patted the old Mulberry on the trunk and one said, “I always knew this old tree would come around and see how right i was. Twas a good thing we did not cut him down!”
And the old Mulberry smiled to himself and wished that he could thank the musicians for helping his memory come back.
That summer the deer came and ate the grass under him and the birds made their nests in his branches.
The breeze rustled his branches and his leaves grew a wonderful green color.
When Autumn came, his leaves turned gold and brown and yellow and red and orange. The cardinals came and sang in his branches. Sometimes the wild cats would come sharpen their claws on him and rub against him lovingly.
The snake in his roots still slipped him sleeping droughts but he hardly seemed to notice them any more.
The fairies still did not dance in his branches and Mulberry wondered why.
He did not know it, but the other trees had combined their power and cast a spell of ugliness on it that only the eyes of a cat could pierce.
Mulberry wept and lamented when nobody danced with him and the other trees laughed and jeered.
That Autumn the group of fairy musicians came down the lane. They bore trumpets and fiddles and violins. They were looking for a tree to dance in.
They saw the orchard and stopped. None of the trees seemed just right. And then their eyes, their cat’s eyes, pierced the awful spell of ugliness surrounding Mulberry.
That tree seemed to glow and gleam and invite them to his branches. This was the tree for them!
With joyful yells they leaped over the wooden fence and ran across the orchard.
The other trees watched them in shock.
These musicians were every tree’s favorite. They were perfect dancers and they made such lovely music. And here they were running towards old Mulberry! Astonishing!!!
The Fairy musicians swung themselves up into old Mulberry’s branches and climbed up high into the swaying, moving branches bending in the wind.
They blew on their trumpets and fiddled their fiddles and violins.
The music streamed down out of the tree and ruined the spell of ugliness. The music drove the tree snake and his sleeping drought from the roots of old Mulberry’s branches.
Old Mulberry woke up and the music brought back his memory of dance. How he danced! he danced all night. He danced wonderfully. He swayed and bent and swirled his branches.
The musicians laughed and played all night.
Mulberry thanked them for bringing back his memory.
After that, the musicians came and played and danced in his branches every night.
But Mulberry was not mean and nasty and he asked the musicians to dance with the other trees to.
And then all the other trees felt ashamed and said they were sorry for all they had done.
And so that night the orchard was a place of great excitement. All the fairies came and danced through all the trees and the trees danced with the other trees and all the fairies.
Lights decorated the whole orchard and the Queen came and sat on her throne in the middle of the orchard to watch.
And when all the singing and dancing and feasting was over, the Queen bestowed the gift of Forever Flowering Fruit upon the entire orchard.
And after that, no orchard gave more delicious fruit then that orchard blessed by the Queen.
And the farmers were happy and the trees were happy and the fairies were happy and, best of all, old Mulberry was happy.
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