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Dominic’s Tree

Children's Story
Dominic Owl lived in a big, old oak tree, right in the middle of the wood. He hadn't lived there very long, because he was only a baby owl. He loved that big old oak tree, and best all he loved to perch on its broadest branch and watch his mother as she skimmed silently over the tree tops searching the ground for Dominic's next meal.

Gradually Dominic began to grow. His feathers grew warm and soft and fluffy and he would often fluff them up and spread his wings as he perched on his branch, just to see what it felt like. The old tree felt very safe. Its branches were large and strong, and its leaves were so thick that no one could spot Dominic.

But one evening Dominic's mother said to him, "Come on, Dominic, tonight you must come hunting with me."

Dominic was horrified. He didn't want to leave his branch on the tree, he didn't want to fly, and he certainly didn't want to hunt. After all, the best part of his day was when his mother returned from a hunting expedition and shared her spoils with him. All of that would stop if Dominic had to hunt for himself. And he didn't want to leave his favourite tree.

So Dominic hunched up his shoulders, folded his wings tightly to his side and refused to budge. Dominic's mother gazed at him sombrely, blinked once and flew off. For the first time ever, she didn't return that night.

By the morning, Dominic was frantic with hunger. He called and called for his mother, and at last she reappeared with his breakfast. Dominic hungrily gobbled down the food. Then he said to his mother, "I hate you."

Dominic's mother opened her big eyes wide. "You must learn to hunt for yourself," she said. "And you must learn to leave this tree it isn't safe. There are plenty of other trees in the forest, and all of them would be glad to have you perch on their branches."

But Dominic ruffled his feathers in disgust and turned his back. What did his mother know! She was only trying to take him away from something he loved!

After that, Dominic's mother never came back during the night, but she would always appear sometime next day with a titbit or two for Dominic. Dominic often felt very hungry but he loved his tree. And his hatred for his mother who was so unkind to him, grew and grew.

Then one day Dominic began to shiver. The wind was growing very strong, and even with his warm feathers Dominic felt cold. Then he noticed that the tree had fewer leaves than usual. Dominic frowned. He hadn't noticed any leaves disappearing, but as he opened his eyes he began to notice that the leaves were no longer bright green but almost overnight had become a dark, orangey brown colour, and the wind was blowing them all off the tree.

Dominic was frightened. He didn't know what was happening and so he crept back along his branch to cuddle up close to the great trunk of the tree.

Just then his mother appeared. "Go away," shouted Dominic. "I hate you!"

But to his surprise, his mother took no notice of his words but flew up behind him and pushed him hard with her beak. Dominic fell off his perch, but as he was falling, falling, falling to the ground, he discovered his wings had opened and he began to float on the wind. After a while, he found he enjoyed the sensation, and before he knew what he was doing his sharp eyes had picked out some food on the ground. Without hesitation Dominic swooped down, clutched the food in his sharp talons and carried it off.

He felt rather proud of himself, but he was determined not to share his spoil with his hateful mother. He flew around and around, searching for his favourite tree, but the wind was howling now and it was beginning to rain. And Dominic's eyes were hurting from bright flashes of lightning and his ears were hurting from loud claps of thunder.

Just as he approached his tree there was a brilliant flash. The whole forest lit up, and Dominic's tree began to stagger and totter, then fell in a great crash. Dominic couldn't believe his eyes. He felt as though his whole world had shattered with the crash of the tree.

Then he noticed a silent movement just beside him. "Come on, Dominic," urged his mother gently. "I know of a wonderful tree where we'll both be safe and we'll both be welcome. Come with me."

Dominic gazed at his mother with wondering eyes. "You knew the tree wasn't really safe, didn't you?" asked Dominic.

His mother nodded. "I've been around the forest for a long time," she said.

"But I've been so nasty to you," admitted Dominic.

His mother looked at him with wide eyes, then blinked twice. "But I love you," she said.

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