Hungarian Children's Literature
A starling picked it up from among the last, withered fruits, and took it in his beak into the forest to feast on it, leaving behind the plucked-out little kernel.
The earth embraced the pea-sized little kernel, and in due time, it burst open, with its tiny rootlets penetrating the mellow soil. In the beginning, even the stalk of forest weeds was thicker than it was, but then it slowly gained strength. Its trunk became similar to a flexible little rod, then to a broomstick, later it grew as thick as a child’s arm. It developed a slender, straight stature – but nothing more.
With its stunted trunk and its randomly stretching little brown branches, the tree didn’t catch the eye in the man-sized weeds, and by the time it turned green, it completely blended into its surroundings. It felt rather ashamed because of this, feeling like a colourless little vagrant, just barely tolerated by the big ones, afraid of perhaps never even growing any bigger. And most of all, it was afraid of never ever striking out of the seemingly impenetrable thicket of bushes that formed a green screen. Its days passed in silence, without any event, and time flew fast, as though blown by the winds. There was not much change in its surroundings. One spring, however, the tree was unexpectedly overcome by new sensations. The first rays of the sun pleasantly warmed its branches, on which, however, besides the usual, longish leafbuds, little knots started to grow. At first it thought it was attacked by some kind of a disease, but it felt no pain. In the meanwhile, real spring had set in. One morning, it awoke to something like a snowfall. But that could not be; snowfalls aren’t usual on such warm dawns, only rain at best. "Well then, some kind of a snow-white swarm of butterflies must have taken a rest on my branches” – the tree thought – although they didn’t flutter their wings at all. And when it shook itself a little, none of them took wing. Taking a closer look at the white cloud of butterflies, it suddenly recognized a little knot which was merely green the day before, that is, a butterfly had half slipped out of it, too. But then he is a butterfly tree!
As it was pondering thus, a little yellow-striped insect settled onto the white butterfly. "Get away from there this instant" – the tree snapped at her – "leave my butterflies alone!" "Your what?!" gasped the bee in astonishment. And then she suddenly understood. "You silly little wild cherry tree! You don’t have a single butterfly, but you have burst into a wonderful bloom. These are surely your first blossoms! That’s why you didn’t recognize them! Be proud of yourself; you are the most beautiful tree here!"
The little wild cherry tree was filled with an unspeakably good feeling. It was praised, and it’s considered beautiful; perhaps it isn’t such a useless creature after all.
By the time the blooming spring had waxed into warm summer, tiny cherries replaced the snow-white blossoms of the little tree, brilliant red, and later tending to black. Autumn was followed by winter, then spring came again, and the tree could hardly wait to have a kiss breathed onto its branches by the first sunbeam, then to burst into bloom, while the frolicking wind spreads the news all over the forest: the little wild cherry tree has come out in bloom, and once again, it is the most beautiful one…
Illustrations by Kati Angelov