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A short story by M. (Arnaud) Berquin

The Absurdity Of Young People's Wishes Exposed

Title:     The Absurdity Of Young People's Wishes Exposed
Author: M. (Arnaud) Berquin [More Titles by Berquin]

The present moment of enjoyment is all young people think of. So long as master Tommy partook of the pleasure of sliding on the ice, and making snow up in various shapes, he wished it always to be winter, totally regardless of either spring, summer, or autumn. His father hearing him one day make that wish, desired him to write it down in the first leaf of his pocket-book; which Tommy accordingly did, though his hand shivered with cold.

The winter glided away imperceptibly, and the spring followed in due time. Tommy now walked in the garden with his father, and with admiration beheld the rising beauty of the various spring flowers. Their perfume afforded him the highest delight, and their brilliant appearance attracted all his attention. "Oh!" said master Tommy, "that it were always spring!" His father desired him to write that wish also in his pocket-book.

The trees, which lately were only budding, were now grown into full leaf, the sure sign that spring was departing, and summer hastening on apace. Tommy one day, accompanied by his parents, and two or three of his select acquaintance, went on a visit to a neighbouring village. Their walk was delightful, afforded them a prospect sometimes of corn, yet green, waving smoothly, like a sea unruffled with the breeze, and sometimes of meadows enamelled with a profusion of various flowers. The innocent lambs skipped and danced about, and the colts and fillies pranced around their dams. But what was still more pleasing, this season produced for Tommy and his companions a delicious feast of cherries, strawberries, and a variety of other fruits. So pleasant a day afforded them the summit of delight, and their little hearts danced in their bosoms with joy.

"Do you not think, Tommy," said his father to him, "that summer has its delights as well as winter and spring?" Tommy replied, he wished it might be summer all the year; when his father desired him to enter that wish in his pocket-book also.

The autumn at length arrived, and all the family went into the country to view the harvest. It happened to be one of those days that are free from clouds, and yet a gentle westerly wind kept the air cool and refreshing. The gardens and orchards were loaded with fruits, and the fine plums, pears, and apples, which hung on the trees almost to the ground, furnished the little visitors with no small amusement and delight. There were also plenty of grapes, apricots, and peaches, which were the sweeter, as they had the pleasure of gathering them. "This season of rich abundance, Tommy," said his father to him, "will soon pass away, and stern and cold winter will succeed it." Tommy again wished that the present happy season would always continue, and that the winter would not be too hasty in its approaches, but leave him in possession of autumn.

Tommy's father desired him to write this in his book also, and, ordering him to read what he had written, soon convinced him how contradictory his wishes had been. In the winter, he wished it to be always winter; in the spring, he wished for a continuance of that season; in the summer, he wished it never to depart; and when autumn came, it afforded him too many delicious fruits to permit him to have a single wish for the approach of winter.

"My dear Tommy," said his father to him, "I am not displeased with you for enjoying the present moment, and thinking it the best that can happen to you; but you see how necessary it is that our wishes should not always be complied with. God knows how to govern this world much better than any human being can pretend to. Had you last winter been indulged in your wish, we should have had neither spring, summer, nor autumn; the earth would have been perpetually covered with snow. The beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air, would either have been starved or frozen to death; and even the pleasures of sliding, or making images of snow, would have soon become tiresome to you. It is a happiness that we have it not in our power to regulate the course of nature: the wise and unerring designs of Providence, in favour of mankind, would then, most probably, be perverted to their own inevitable ruin."

[The end]
M. (Arnaud) Berquin's short story: Absurdity Of Young People's Wishes Exposed