“Hello, Francie.”

     "My name ain’t Francie," the little girl yelled back. “It’s Florry, and you know it, too.”

     “I know,” said Francie.

     She looked down into the yard. The tree whose leaf umbrella had curled around, under and over her fire escape had been cut down becasue the housewives complained that the wash on the lines got entangled in the branches. The landlord had sent two men and they had chopped it down.

     But the tree hadn’t died . . . it hadn’t died.

     A new tree had grown from the stump and its trunk had grown along the ground until it reached a place where there were no wash lines above it. Then it had started to grow towards the sky again.

     Annie, the fir tree, that the Nolans had cherished with waterings and manurings, had long since sickened and died. But this tree in the yard—this tree that the men chopped down . . . this tree that they’d built a bonfire around, trying to burn its stump—this tree lived!

It lived! And nothing could destroy it.

Once more she looked at Florry Wendy reading on the fire escape.

“Good-bye, Francie,” she whispered.

She closed the window.

                —Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

 
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