Once upon a time a little leaf was heard to sigh and cry, as leaves often do when a gentle wind is about. And the twig said, “What is the matter, little leaf?” And the leaf said, “The wind just told me that one day it would pull me off and throw me down to die on the ground!”
The twig told it to the branch on which it grew, and the branch told it to the tree. And when the tree heard it, it rustled all over, and sent back word to the leaf, “Do not be afraid. Hold on tightly, and you shall not go till you want to” and so the leaf stopped sighing, but went on nestling and singing. Every time the tree shook itself and stirred up all its leaves, the branches shook themselves, and the little twig shook itself, and the little leaf danced up and down merrily, as if nothing could ever pull it off. And so it grew all summer long, till October and when the bright days of autumn came the little leaf saw all the leaves around becoming very beautiful. Some were yellow and some scarlet, and some striped with both colours. Then it asked the tree what it meant. And the tree said, “All these leaves are getting ready to fly away, and they have put on these beautiful colours because of joy.”
Then the little leaf began to want to go, too, and grew very beautiful in thinking of it, and when it was very gay in colour it saw that the branches of the tree had no bright colour in them, and so the leaf said, “O branches! why are you lead-colour and we golden?”
“We must keep on our work-clothes, for our life is not done – but your clothes are for holiday, because your tasks are over,” said the branches. Just then a little puff of wind came, and the leaf let go, without thinking of it, and the wind took it up and turned it over and over, and whirled it like a spark of fire in the air, and then it dropped gently down under the edge of the fence, among hundreds of leaves, and fell into a dream, and it never waked up to tell what it dreamed about.