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  March 31, 2020
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Printable Arbor Day Short Stories for kids - Children's printable stories for Arbor DayArbor Day Short Stories

Printable Arbor Day Short Stories for kids - Baucis and PhilemonBaucis and Philemon

Printable Arbor Day Short Stories for kids - DaphneDaphne

Printable Arbor Day Short Stories for kids - Johnny AppleseedJohnny Appleseed

Printable Arbor Day Short Stories for kids - The Dryad of the Old Oak TreeThe Dryad of the Old Oak Tree

Printable Arbor Day Short Stories for kids - The Elder Tree MotherThe Elder Tree Mother

Printable Arbor Day Short Stories for kids - The Happy FamilyThe Happy Family

Printable Arbor Day Short Stories for kids - The Little AcornThe Little Acorn

Printable Arbor Day Short Stories for kids - The Little Tree That Longed for Other LeavesThe Little Tree That Longed for Other Leaves

Printable Arbor Day Short Stories for kids - The
            Proud Oak TreeThe Proud Oak Tree

Printable Arbor Day Short Stories for kids - The Story of the LaurelThe Story of the Laurel

Printable Arbor Day Short Stories for kids - The Three ApplesThe Three Apples

Printable Arbor Day Short Stories for kids - The Tinkers WillowThe Tinkers Willow

Printable Arbor Day Short Stories for kids - The Unfruitful TreeThe Unfruitful Tree

Printable Arbor Day Short Stories for kids - Why the Evergreen Tree Never Looses its LeavesWhy the Evergreen Tree Never Looses its Leaves


Kids Arbor Day Short Stories
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Home > Holidays > Arbor Day > Short Stories > The Dryad of the Old Oak

Arbor Day Short Stories for kids - Children's Stories About Trees

Legends and Short Stories About Arbor Day

The Dryad of the Old Oak

by James Russell Lowell

In olden times there was a youth named Rhoecus. One day as he wandered through the wood he saw an ancient oak tree, trembling and about to fall. Full of pity for so fair a tree, Rhoecus carefully propped up its trunk, and as he did so he heard a soft voice murmur:


It sounded like the gentle sighing of the wind through the leaves - and while Rhoecus paused bewildered to listen, again he heard the murmur like a soft breeze.


And there stood before him, in the green glooms of the shadowy oak, a wonderful maiden.

"Rhoecus," said she, in low-toned words, serene and full, and as clear as drops of dew, "I am the Dryad of this tree, and with it I am doomed to live and die. Thou hadst compassion on my oak, and in saving it thou hast saved my life. Now, ask me what thou wilt that I can give, and it shall be thine."

"Beauteous nymph," answered Rhoecus, with a flutter at the heart, "surely nothing will satisfy the craving of my soul save to be with thee forever. Give to me thy love!"

"I give it, Rhoecus," answered she with sadness in her voice, "though it be a perilous gift. An hour before sunset meet me here."

And straightway she vanished, and Rhoecus could see nothing but the green glooms beneath the shadowy oak. Not a sound came to his straining ears but the low, trickling rustle of the leaves, and, from far away on the emerald slope, the sweet sound of an idle shepherd's pipe.

Filled with wonder and joy Rhoecus turned his steps homeward. The earth seemed to spring beneath him as he walked. The clear, broad sky looked bluer than its wont, and so full of joy was he that he could scarce believe that he had not wings.

Impatient for the trysting-time, he sought some companions, and to while away the tedious hours, he played at dice, and soon forgot all else.

The dice were rattling their merriest, and Rhoecus had just laughed in triumph at a happy throw, when through the open window of the room there hummed a yellow bee. It buzzed about his ears, and seemed ready to alight upon his head. At this Rhoecus laughed, and with a rough, impatient hand he brushed it off and cried:

"The silly insect! does it take me for a rose?"

But still the bee came back. Three times it buzzed about his head, and three times he rudely beat it back. Then straight through the window flew the wounded bee, while Rhoecus watched its fight with angry eyes.

And as he looked--O sorrow!--the red disk of the setting sun descended behind the sharp mountain peak of Thessaly.

Then instantly the blood sank from his heart, as if its very walls had caved in, for he remembered the trysting-hour-now gone by! Without a word he turned and rushed forth madly through the city and the gate, over the fields into the wood.

Spent of breath he reached the tree, and, listening fearfully, he heard once more the low voice murmur:


But as he looked he could see nothing but the deepening glooms beneath the oak.

Then the voice sighed, "O Rhoecus, nevermore shalt thou behold me by day or night! Why didst thou fail to come ere sunset? Why didst thou scorn my humble messenger, and send it back to me with bruised wings? We spirits only show ourselves to gentle eyes! And he who scorns the smallest thing alive is forever shut away from all that is beautiful in woods and fields. Farewell! for thou canst see me no more!"

Then Rhoecus beat his breast and groaned aloud. "Be pitiful," he cried. "Forgive me yet this once!"

"Alas," the voice replied, "I am not unmerciful! I can forgive! But I have no skill to heal thy spirit's eyes, nor can I change the temper of thy heart." And then again she murmured, "Nevermore!"

And after that Rhoecus heard no other sound, save the rustling of the oak's crisp leaves, like surf upon a distant shore.


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See also:
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Holidays and

Teaching Themes

February Teaching Activities & Worksheets

Winter Theme Unit of Study - Winter
100 Days of School Theme Unit of Study - 100th Day of School
Black History Thematic Unit - Black History Month
American Heart Month Thematic Unit - Wear Red Day - American Heart Month
Dental Health Theme Unit of Study - Dental Health Month
Groundhog's Day Thematic Unit - Groundhog's Day
Super Bowl Theme Unit of Study - Super Bowl Sunday
Abraham Lincoln Activities and Teaching Ideas - Abraham Lincoln
U.S. Presidents Theme Unit of Study - Presidents Day - U.S. Presidents
George Washington Activities and Teaching Ideas - George Washington
February Calendar of Events - February Teaching Ideas - Other February Teaching Ideas

MarchTeaching Activities & Worksheets

Dr. Seuss Thematic Unit - Dr. Seuss Birthday
St Patricks Day Thematic Unit - St. Patrick's Day
Spring Theme Unit of Study - Spring Fun
March Calendar of Events - March Teaching Ideas - Other March Teaching Ideas

Sample Thematic Activities & Teaching Ideas

Letter Activities, Coloring Pages, Worksheets and Games - Letters of the Alphabet Games
Community Helpers Games, Activities, Worksheets, Books, Poetry, Lessons and Teaching Ideas - Community Helpers
100th Day of School Games, Activities, Worksheets, Books, Lessons and Teaching Ideas - The 100th day of School Activities
Seasons Thematic Unit - Summer - Summer
Seasons Thematic Unit - Fall - Autumn - Games, Coloring Pages, Activities, Worksheets, Articles, Books, Poetry, Lessons and Teaching Ideas - Fall
Seasons Thematic Unit - Winter - Winter
Seasons Thematic Unit - Spring - Spring
U.S. Presidents Games, Coloring Pages, Activities, Worksheets, Timelines, Books, Poetry, Stories, Lessons and Teaching Ideas - Presidents
Dr. Seuss Thematic Teaching Unit - NEA Read Across America - Read Across America - Dr. Seuss' Birthday
Native Americans Thematic Unit - Games, Coloring Pages, Activities, Worksheets, Articles, Books, Poetry, Lessons and Teaching Ideas - Native American Study
USA States - U.S. Geography Thematic Unit - U.S. Geography
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