The First Tree Contest

As found in The Internship: An Engineering Ethics Novel

Rafael Moras, Sr.

No one could have imagined that the first tree competition ever held on earth would be so memorable or that it would end so unexpectedly. Countless millennia have gone by after this true story took place; it occurred before the first human beings set foot in Paradise.

This is the true story of an exuberant colony of trees that lived encompassing a beautiful lake of peaceful, dark blue waters located not too far from the idyllic garden that we now know as Eden. The lake was surrounded by a few ancient hills and capricious mountains of awe-inspiring height. The picturesque landscape was lavish with an abundance of greenery.

A diverse tree population lived by the lake, in perfect harmony. Trees were tall and small. Some had immense trunks. Some grew gigantic leaves, while others featured tiny, pointed appendages. Some trees were perfectly symmetrical, while others assumed random, whimsical, unpredictable shapes. A few of them, ignoring the implacable cycles of nature, held on to their proud green leaves even when castigated by frigid spells; others, faithful to secret, fiercely guarded by primeval codes and covenants, turned the color of their rich foliage from emerald green to assorted shades of red, orange, and yellow before giving up their stylish vestments to feed the fertile soil in which their proud roots found daily sustenance.

We are not certain about the motivation for the first competition ever held by the arborous colony. Perhaps their desire was to break the monotony that ruled their otherwise pleasant and generally undisturbed life. We may never know. The fact is that a group of enthusiastic trees led the effort to host the contest. Their agreement was that the participants would be asked to explain to an impartial jury the reasons why they should be declared the best tree of those who lived by the lakeshore. The judges were three mature trees that did not wish to participate in the competition. Six trees expressed an interest in entering the contest and were given until the following full moon to prepare their speech.

After a few days of much anticipation, the full moon had finally arrived. This most intriguing competition started at the moment when the moon showed her waxen face over the monumental mountains, bathing the calm waters of the old lake with pale, jubilant rays. The judges introduced themselves as Convolutus, Pinaria, and Rapidumia. Without further ado, they declared that the arguments of the six contestants would be heard.

The first to speak was a towering tree. He indicated that his name was Magnusio. With a deep, cavernous voice, he provided the following argument:

I am, no doubt, a giant tree

And no tree is taller than me.

Above me there’s only a cloud

Beneath me there’s always a crowd!

Since taller than me, there is none

Dear Judges, I am number one!

As others look up, they’re impressed;

they know I’m the best of the best.


The judges found Magnusio’s arguments to be simple, logical, and direct. One of the magistrates, a venerable, majestic timeworn tree crowned by a thousand impossibly twisted branches whose name was Convolutus, addressed Magnusio, “Do you, by any chance, happen to have any other qualities besides that of your amazing height?”

The imposing giant considered the judge’s question and then replied, “Frankly, I can’t think of any. I have, however, provided you with a solid, undeniable reason to award the first place to me: no one is taller than me, and I look down on everybody. It is interesting to think that most treetops point to the heavens, but a few of my nearby neighbors will never be able to do so, as my colossal, magnificent branches –which many call ‘awe-inspiring’ –block their view of the sky. I respectfully remind you that nowhere in the regulations of this competition did you stipulate that contestants needed to have more than one quality to be worthy of your esteemed consideration. Moreover, the advantage of using height as the only criterion is that your deliberations will be incontrovertibly objective. I have actually facilitated your job. The most convenient and adequate solution would be to declare that I have won, and stop the competition. Let the logic of my words be sufficient proof!”

The judges had decided ahead of time not to evaluate any contestant until the end of the competition. They thanked Magnusio and invited the second challenger to speak. This is what they heard:

“I should ask you, with foresight,

not to consider tree height.

Anybody can be small!

Anybody can be tall!

Please consider other traits

as the champion yet awaits.

I speak now for my descendants,

of this earth the future tenants,

who will have reputed fame,

and shall have such a good name.

Yes, just as everyone knows

My distant child is the Rose.

The Rose, my Rose, so unique,

with such powerful mystique.

The king, ruling an empire,

will always have the desire,

obeyed, without much delay,

to give the queen a bouquet.

The emperor and the tsar

will pay much and travel far

and forever be content

just to breathe in my sweet scent.

Consider what I will be

Award the grand prize to me!

A splendid pine tree of dark, lustrous foliage that formed a perfectly symmetrical cone was one of the other judges. The magistrate, whose name was Pinaria, asked, “That is most interesting. One day, your flowers will be beautiful. But, remind us, how about today? What do they look like?”

“My flowers are a miniature version of the roses humans will enjoy in the future. They are small and can barely produce any aroma. But they will grow, and many centuries from now, their soft, silky, glamorous perfume will cast a pronounced spell on humans. People in love, regardless of their race or culture, will rely on my graceful, delightful, colorful roses to convey their feelings. Poets and singers will feature roses in their most pleasant rhymes and romantic melodies. My roses will be big and small; their faint, tenuous petals will feature many colors. Their rare achievement is worthy of being awarded today’s grand prize.”

Judge Pinaria commented, “You consider yourself a good candidate not because of who you are, but because of the great achievements by your offspring. Wouldn’t you say that it is rather important to judge contestants according to who they are today?”

“Dear Judge Pinaria,” indicated the contestant, “one day, in the language of humans, someone will say that a tree is to be judged by its fruits. Aren’t these faraway children of mine worthy of our admiration? Isn't it true that their qualities are already present in my essence? No other flower will enjoy the reputation that my distant offspring will attain one day.”

Nodding, Judge Pinaria continued, “We thank you for your participation and for relating to us your very interesting arguments. The magistrates will confer about you and all the other candidates before offering a verdict. We now invite the next participant.”

The next entrant did not appear to have any special features. Her name was Primia, and she had the well-earned reputation of being very eloquent. With unmistakable self-confidence, this ancient relative of today’s oak tree, exclaimed,

“It is time to say my piece:

In my life there is no myst’ry.

While I am a simple tree,

I possess tremendous hist’ry.

One of my direct ancestors

was that early pioneer:

He was the first on this lake!

He was the first to appear!

He was a heroic tree,

and thus, I am a patrician.

I deserve to be the winner

of this august competition.


Convolutus, the judge with the gnarled limbs indicated, “Thus, Primia, you are not that unique or valuable. You are trying to convince us that it is your ancestor’s heroism that is worthy of winning the first prize.”

“Your assessment is rather accurate, Judge Convolutus. I should also mention that none of the few other descendants of that venerable tree wanted to participate. I submit to your kind consideration that this is an indication of my self-confidence and entrepreneurial spirit. I am not like the previous participant, who wishes to be rewarded because of the unequaled aroma of certain flowers you and I will never even see or smell. I give you the irrefutable fact of being the direct, lordly descendant of that: our greatest hero. Father Time will be a witness of how, in human history, many people will become rich, famous, noble, and powerful not because of who they are or what they’ve done, but because of their bloodlines. We should adopt that admirable tradition tonight. I respectfully ask you to be objective. I can’t deny that Magnusio is indeed the tallest tree in this eclectic community, but we don’t know for how long. The roses just mentioned by our dear friend will not blossom until practically, the end of time. However, no other tree may ever claim the distinction I wish for you to consider. It is an absolute, as my great-great-great-grandfather was indeed a hero and there is nobody like him in this region: he was here before anyone else!”

The name of the judge who had yet to speak that evening was Rapidumia. She was a tree of average size and features. She was known to be short-tempered and rather impatient. She said, “It is indeed a very intriguing point and a difficult argument to refute, but it is time to move on. We need to hear from the next aspirant. Please go ahead.”

A deep, sonorous voice belonging to an impressive tree with a very wide trunk was heard from the opposite side of the pond. His dark leaves were oval-shaped, shiny, and so abundant that they provided an almost impenetrable canopy pierced only by a few mischievous moon rays. The proud tree said,

“Believing what I’ll tell you may be hard

But you will hear a fact you can’t discard.

Why, I can grow new trunks from any limb

and I can do this feat just at my whim.

I grow some of my limbs toward the skies,

while others just go down! What a surprise!

But yes! I can achieve the greatest girth

and be the widest tree found on this earth

The shoots that pierce the ground will grow new roots

Those are, without a doubt, great attributes.

The robust rubber tree finished on a triumphant, proud tone. His resplendent leaves appeared to cast a plethora of lights and shadows as they reflected, like no one else could, the strikingly lustrous moon rays that caressed that peaceful evening. Judges and members of the public paused for a moment to admire the immensity of the imposing, majestic participant who indeed had multiple trunks and an innumerable collection of limbs that grew in all directions, sprouting new roots when meeting the ground. The opulent tree gave the impression that smaller trees had emerged from the soil and had somehow fused their trunks with the limbs of the palatial giant.

Judge Pinaria said, “What will humans call you in the future, O prodigious tree?”

“A learned scientist will one day give me the elegant scientific name of Castilla Elastica. In the vernacular, I shall be known as the rubber tree. My descendants will be seen in all the tropical regions of this world. Humans will feel secure when they find shelter under my plethoric branches and satiny leaves, which shall never give up in their noble and praiseworthy efforts to block off the punishing summer sun rays. You should know as well that human beings will one day discover that my generous sap may be used to satisfy many of their needs.”

All present were impressed by the speech given by the lordly, splendid rubber tree. Satisfied, the judges called the next aspirant, who featured minute yellowish fruits and very small dark green leaves. The tree had the reputation of being very quick to grow; it was a faraway ancestor of today’s chinaberry tree. The speech uttered by this tree on that beautiful moonlit evening was indeed succinct and memorable. These were her words, which she pronounced in a very expedient manner:

“Today, you will hear what I say.

for I am a notable tree

My growth is incredibly quick:

And this isn’t so hard to see.

But who could deny that I’m fast?

If I was a minuscule seed

Please look at how big I’m today.

I grow, and I grow, with great speed.

Observe how my beautiful limbs

grow out, and you won’t disagree!

You must disregard all the rest!

Deliver the grand prize to me!


The masterful command of the language and tone used by the chinaberry tree were fun to listen to. Her arguments were rather convincing. Some members of the public pointed out, with undeniable admiration, that the contestant had grown a few inches since the contest started.

Many trees in the audience commented that the distinguished panel of judges faced a daunting task in having to elect a winner. All aspirants had shown unique qualities, and their speeches had been very eloquent, persuasive, and believable.

The next participant in this unique competition was a willow tree, which unlike some of her sad descendants that today appear to weep in deep, sorrowful, and unrelenting mourning, was rather happy and animated. Her clever reasoning went as follows:

“I thank you for hearing my plea

with which I compete in this bout:

I have a most flexible trunk

a trunk that is smart, there’s no doubt.

The fearsome wind that often blows

and brings destruction all around

will never damage my soft limbs

while tearing giant trees aground.

My leaves, my limbs, and yes, my trunk

will gently bend and just conform,

with much intelligence and wit,

to those great forces of the storm.

I was created to survive:

I am most shrewd and very smart.

My mind, O Judges, is unique!

I do believe I’m set apart”

All the members of the arborous community were amazed by the willow tree’s words. All remembered the multiple occasions on which high winds had punished many of the inhabitants of the otherwise serene, unflustered lake; the willow tree had simply bent, obeying the whimsical desires of the furiously cruel and forbidding wind. She was the only contestant to bring up the virtue of wisdom as a reason for being considered a contender. The public was fascinated by this tree’s compelling arguments.

Since the willow tree was the last competitor, Judges Convolutus, Pinaria, and Rapidumia informed the audience that they would take some time to deliberate. Careful to keep their conversation private, Convolutus, the admired judge of the twisted branches, commented, “We have had very good contenders. In retrospect, though, I must acknowledge that we did not do a good job in establishing the ground rules for this worthy battle of the trees. We do not have a rubric to evaluate the qualities and virtues of this eclectic group. Frankly, this is considerably more difficult than I thought. I can see reasons for each one of the participants to be declared the champion. We have heard from the tallest tree in the region, from the descendant of the very first settler, and from one whose descendants will produce the most beautiful and famous flowers. There is also one who grows faster than anybody else, while another individual grows sideways and has limbs that have the ability to grow new roots and trees. Let me not forget the last competitor, the wise willow tree, who claims to be rather virtuous because she bends when trouble comes.”

Judge Pinaria replied, “The competitors have a few faults as well. No one is perfect. The tall tree, while impressive and statuesque, doesn’t seem to have any other qualities. The one who comes from the very first settler is not a very special tree, as there are many other descendants of our heroic pioneer. Neither is the tree whose future is to become a beautiful rose bush, as others will no doubt have unique descendants as well. The chinaberry tree is amazingly fast to grow, but as we all know, her limbs are fragile and fracture easily. While she did not talk about it, we all know that her lifespan is not that impressive either. The rubber tree is indeed massive and robust, but where in our rules is it said that thickness is the most important quality?”

Referring to Judge Pinaria’s perfect pine profile, Judge Convolutus quipped, “Who says that growing limbs in all directions is a virtue? Judge Pinaria, whose foliage is an extraordinary example of symmetry, may have something to say about that!

Judge Pinaria replied, with humor, “I know you are only kidding, dear Judge Convolutus. I must say too that the willow tree bends when confronting trouble, but some might call that a sign of weakness and not necessarily wisdom.”

Judge Rapidumia exclaimed, “Dear friends, my recommendation is that we simply cast ballots for our favorite tree and leave any philosophical discussions to the inestimable human beings that will one day populate this earth. Thus, the tree who obtains the majority shall be the winner.” This judge was clearly against any lengthy deliberations.

Judge Convolutus uttered, “Keep in mind that there are three members on this panel. What would we do if our three votes were different?”

The deliberations of the esteemed judges were interrupted when one of the young trees on the lakeshore asked to be given an opportunity to speak. Her voice was crisp and full of character; it was easily heard by the entire population of the graceful pond, “I think, most honorable judges, that we are about to commit an unforgivable injustice. Please hear me out.”

Convolutus, the aristocratic judge with the gnarled limbs responded quickly and with evident interest, “Go ahead.”

“You should consider a certain tree who refused to participate in the competition. This tree is, undoubtedly, the best. May I enjoy an opportunity to explain my point?”

Rapidumia, the impatient judge, replied, “Perhaps I should remind you that we have been appointed judges and deciding who the best tree is precisely our job. We don’t really need any help.”

“With all due respect, I would like to tell you why I think this particular tree should be awarded tonight’s highest honor. I beg you! Hear me out. You’ll see that my arguments are indeed convincing.”

Judge Pinaria opined, “One of the few rules we agreed to follow is that we would consider only those who entered this seminal competition. I should remind you that the tree in question did not even care to compete.”

“Would you please listen to me? I would be most grateful if you could just give me a few moments of your time. Perhaps you might consider making an exception after you hear me out.”

Judge Convolutus said, “May the judges have some privacy to discuss your request?”

Judge Rapidumia, impatient as always, opened the meeting of the magistrates, “We were practically ready to vote! Why are you trying to make this evening longer than it has too?” The arbiter’s harsh and impatient tone was evident.

With palpable sarcasm, Convolutus replied, “What is the rush, dear friend? You have been a citizen of this earth for several centuries. What if the night is long? Do you have anything else to do?”

The edgy judge snapped back, “I am tired of making up rules as we go. We have not followed any agenda. Actually, the only thing that has gone according to plan is that we started on time!”

Judge Pinaria tried to mediate. In conciliatory words, she said, “Let the lass speak out even if she makes a fool of herself. We can announce the winner right after she finishes her speech.”

Rapidumia was very quick to express her disagreement, “I am afraid we might be opening the floodgates. What if after this anomalous decision, other trees wish to speak up? Would we allow that as well?”

Judge Pinaria answered, “My proposal is to make the announcement that we will allow anybody else to come forward to utter a few words. I think it would be fun to do so, and we have all the decision-making power anyway. This is a tight contest! It might be good for us to listen to other voices before making our final pronouncement. There’s nothing to lose and, frankly, much to be gained.”

“I don’t think so,'' replied the impatient referee, in frank opposition of prolonging the pageant. “Allowing folks to speak might take away from our authority. I do not wish to be part of the sad comedy this evening is quickly becoming.”

Judge Convolutus replied with a deep voice that seemed to emanate from all his twisted limbs all at once, “Old friend, you seem to be outvoted. Let’s tell the congregation that we will be open to hearing them out. Let’s move on.”

Judge Rapidumia gave in, “Might as well. Go ahead.”

The judges never imagined that the course of the competition would be altered so dramatically by the words of the young tree, whose evident sophistication, rare poise, and laudable maturity were in no way representative of her tender age.

The announcement was made and the young tree was allowed to speak: “From the bottom of my heart, I wish to thank the judges. Instead of punishing my impertinence, as they probably should, they have magnanimously decided to allow my insignificant voice to be heard. I will accompany my arguments by the use of sayings and adages that the people of this earth will use in the future. These beautiful proverbs, coined by popular wisdom, will be plentiful in every language spoken by humans.

Dear Judges, I could just tell you that, ‘Wise people are known to change their mind.’ I could mention as well that, ‘The wise man always takes advice’ and, respectfully, that ‘One head cannot hold all vision.’

I will not utter any of the above sayings in reference to you, O admired judges, lest I would be accused of committing the horrible sins of flattery and adulation. The wise of this earth will one day coin memorable sentences such as, ‘The most despicable sin is that of flattery’ and ‘Adulation is a coin that brings misery to those who receive it’. Famous authors will even publish witty fables in which the fox, the weasel, or the wolf will use flattery to gain favors from many other animals. I will definitely refrain from using flattery. Again, thank you, and please hear me out.”

Rapidumia, the fidgety judge, interrupted, “We have been very patient, but your time is running out. Please proceed, as you haven’t said much. Be wise and take advantage of this opportunity. It is not my intent to resort to proverbs like you have. However, I can think of a couple that may come in handy under the circumstances.”

The young tree replied, “I would be most appreciative if you could tell me what those are, Judge Rapidumia.”

“One is, ‘A talkative bird will not build a nest’. I think ‘Don’t talk unless you can improve the silence’ is starting to make sense as well.”

“Dear Judge Rapidumia, you are indeed wise and very learned. I am very thankful to you. I will be brief in my reasoning as my only goal is to find justice. I do not seek any personal benefit today. I should call your attention to the fact that the rules of this competition appear to be flexible. It is my hope and most humble petition to you, distinguished panel, that you consider one more candidate. He is a magnificent tree who decided not to participate in this extraordinary bout, even when his virtues and qualities make him better than any of today’s worthy participants. This tree is not the tallest among us. He does not have renowned future. His bloodlines are not unique in anyway. He is not the thickest tree in the region nor is he excessively handsome. He does not grow at a fast pace either.”

With an evident lack of patience, Judge Rapidumia replied, “I am sure he must have some other quality. Otherwise you would not be here giving us your plethoric collection of adages for which I have yet to find any use. May I remind you that your time is running out?”

“Thank you for your kind words of encouragement, Judge Rapidumia. I am speaking on behalf of Fructumus, who lives in one of the most distant and recondite corners of the lake: the rocky hill. While Fructumus is not a tall tree, today he has grown even shorter, as he is loaded with very heavy fruits.”

All present directed their attention to the rocky hill. Fructumus’s laden branches had indeed bent down and were very close to kissing the rocky shore.

“Fructumus produces more fruit than any other tree whose roots grace these restful waters. Many small animals and insects with which we share our bucolic home find his juicy, sweet, succulent fruits to be delicious and substantive. Few trees help other creatures the way this quiet, humble friend does it year after year. He does it simply because he wishes to serve others, without seeking anybody’s approval or admiration.”

The young tree’s logic was persuasive. She was eloquent and had managed to touch the hearts of many. She held everybody’s attention. Judge Pinaria opined, “I hear you. I hear you indeed. I see the logic in your sound arguments and concede that Fructumus would have been a most worthy contender. The fact is, however, that he chose not to participate.”

Judge Rapidumia interjected, “Of course he didn’t. Let’s end this farcical discussion and cast our votes.”

The young tree replied, “Once again, Judge Rapidumia, I thank you for encouraging words. However, the most important aspect of this contest is precisely to choose the best tree. How good would it be to crown a champion whose qualities pale in comparison to a superior neighbor?”

The impatient judge said, “We have considered many tree qualities today. Giving fruit is only one of them. As we have seen, trees may have many other virtues. I am not sure Fructumus would win the contest to begin with.”

The young tree replied, with glee, “Would you be kind enough to allow Fructumus to tell us where he stands? You said a while ago that you would entertain arguments from the audience. Technically, Fructumus is a member of the audience.”

This time, the three magistrates were unanimous in their pronouncement: “Let Fructumus speak.”

For a few moments, Fructumus was quiet. Then he exclaimed,

“It has never been my vision

to enter this competition”

Pinaria replied, “I have much respect for your succinct answer, Fructumus, but I am genuinely intrigued. Why would you wish to reject the possibility of being honored? Why would you be bothered if we, as a community, recognize you for all the good you do?”

Fructumus was quiet again. He finally uttered a response that was easily heard by all members of the population, as they kept a respectful silence, “I sincerely thank you all of you for your kind invitation to speak. All I can say is that I do not deserve any recognition for doing what I am supposed to do. I don’t think a speech is necessary to tell you that I am not interested in competing today.

“Again I thank you, O Judges

for this, your kind invitation.

I don’t wish to give a speech.

This is not a good occasion!

Giving fruit is what I do,

and that is my only mission.

I don’t see a valid reason

to seek any recognition

for doing just what I do,

simply performing my function.


Judge Convolutus said, “We do not have the authority to either ask you to compete or even make you deliver a speech. But we are definitely guilty in that the rules of this competition have been poorly constructed. It is perhaps because of that vagueness that we would be willing to extend a friendly invitation for you to speak out. I must say that your case is truly amazing and you have piqued my curiosity.”

Fructumus was encouraged by many of his neighbors. Several voices were heard: “At least tell the judges why you are not interested,” and, “Everybody here wants to know, Fructumus!”

Fructumus meditated about the open invitation and the remarkable support received by other trees and finally said,

“The Lord, our God, dictates what I should do,

which is, indeed, to render loads of fruit.

And what I say to you is always true:

I’ve tried to yield much fruit since I took root.


And thus, all this hard work under the moon

has rendered all my fruits: my handiwork.

I toiled for many months, and very soon,

you’ll witness the result of all my work.


As I obey my God, I simply toil

and yield my fruit when August comes around.

I’m conscious that my roots are in the soil

and humbly run my laden limbs aground.


I truly wish to thank the judging board,

but I don’t think I merit an award.”


Fructumus’s speech was especially heartfelt. The voice of humility had shone for the first time on that memorable, historic, fateful evening; it had touched the hearts of all the members of the paradisiac forest. Convolutus, the magistrate with twisted extremities said, “I had always thought that your branches bowed down because of the weight of your precious fruit. You are telling me that they run aground because that is actually your wish?”

“It is in my essence, in the most intimate part of my being, to avoid fame and notoriety, especially when the fruits of my labor become evident for all to see. I strive to be prolific because I can feed the many small animals and insects that live with us in this, our picturesque home. I am very happy that my fruits make my branches go down low, as I manage to become insignificant to you, my dear friends, and also because more animals can reach them. My limbs are not so strong; I am delighted to see that they easily succumb to the weight of my fruits. Fatigue makes them bow down, a gesture by which I tell the earth that I will eventually go back to it, deserving nothing more, regardless of any honors I might earn during my ephemeral, unworthy life. I am just one of the thousands of trees among you.”

A unanimous murmur of admiration grew steadily. The judges thanked Fructumus and asked the audience if anyone would wish to add any comments.

One of the trees on the other side of the lake, a small conifer whose pleasant aroma enhanced the fascinating ambience of the paradisiacal location where this true story took place, said, “Tonight’s winner has just finished delivering his speech. I respectfully ask the judges and all present to award the first place to Fructumus.”

The shoreline of the otherwise peaceful pond, whose waters reflected the most intense and striking shades of blue in recent memory, was flooded with gleeful voices of approval. The six previous contestants passionately joined the animated chorus that was quickly turning into a deafening celebration. Fructumus’s name was chanted by all. The colorful playful birds who had chosen the lake forest to build their nests appeared to chirp, caw, tweet, warble, peep, and sing incessantly, producing exquisite melodies that, in a futile attempt, humans would one distant day attempt to imitate. The bird’s symphonic hymn echoed the sentiments expressed by all.

Convolutus, being the oldest and wisest on the venerable panel, made a strong pronouncement, “Without a doubt, the tree who bears the most fruit, who truly worries about others, and who does not wish to be recognized deserves to be awarded first place. Let us learn the importance of the precious virtue of humility. No wonder the people who one day will visit this adorable pond seeking refuge from the ardent sun rays under our branches will call this virtue, precisely, “humility”, as it has to do with the dusty soil we come from, where our roots find vital sustenance, and the same dust one day we will all turn to. Fructumus makes his limbs run aground, seeking the soil. Let me join those who have spoken in his favor. I vote for Fructumus! Yes! I vote for Fructumus!”

Judge Convolutus’s pronouncement was very well received. The entire congregation cheered and celebrated in one voice. The venerable judge asked the congregation to be silent, but was ignored for a while. Finally, he said, “I would ask my distinguished colleagues to cast their ballots.''

Rapidumia, the impatient judge, was very quick to answer, “My vote is the same as yours.”

The voice of Pinaria, the pine tree judge, was barely perceptible, “My vote is for Fructumus as well. I would be very difficult to come up with better arguments than those we have heard.”

The celebratory voices lasted a very long time. After a while, silence was reestablished. At that moment, a tree yelled, “Look at Fructumus. He has lowered his branches all the way to the ground!”

All turned their gaze to the awardee.

Having received the highest honor, Fructumus was very quiet. He had lowered all his limbs so that they now reached the ground; he had grown as small and insignificant as ever. His large, sweet, shiny, delicious, succulent fruits hung down low and were easily reached by a plethora of animals that appeared to be extremely thankful to be invited to the dazzling, magnificent banquet offered by the now notable tree, who on that unforgettable evening was full of life and hope, unselfishly prodigal, solemn and demure, bounteous, and immensely humble.

End of the First Tree Competition