There once was a man. His wife had died many years ago, and so he lived alone with his only son. They lived in a little house in a small village.

There were many fields with crops and cattle around their village. The man was not rich, but he wasn’t poor either. He had a little field and around it, there were some trees.

One of those trees was very big and very old. It was an oak tree and it had been growing there for many generations. The man’s great-grandfather’s grandfather had planted it. And every time he walked with his son near that tree, he always told him: ‘Remember, this is the tree of our family. You must take good care of it. You must never cut it down or sell it, do you understand?’

an oak tree in the field - jan vrabec- sparrow's english reader - level 3 English for students
blog: L-3: An Oak Tree

His son always said that he understood, but in reality, he didn’t care. He hated living in the countryside. He was still at school, but he had a plan. He had already decided that he would leave the village when he was old enough to do that. He wanted to live in a city with many cars, shops and theatres.

And so, a few years later, when he finished his school and reached the age of 18, he said good-bye to his father and moved to a big city, which was far away from their village.

His father was sad. He was getting old and weak. And now he was alone. But he understood his son. He understood that he wanted to try a new life. He was not angry with him.

A few years later, his father died. The son came from the city to bury his father. After the funeral, he sold their old house and their field with all the trees. The new owner cut down all the trees around the field, but the son didn’t care. He sold everything and went back to the city.

And so he lived his life for many, many years. As he got older he lost his job and he couldn’t find another one. It was difficult time for him. His savings were gone and he needed some money urgently.

Just then some relatives contacted him. They called him and told him that their parents had known his father. Their parents had been his father’s cousins, and they had left for America many, many years before. And now these relatives, their children, wanted to see their parents’ homeland.

They agreed to meet in a cafe. It was a strange meeting because they didn’t know each other, but they had a coffee and talked a little.

After a while, one of the relatives told the son about a treasure. Allegedly, their family had been very rich, but then a big war came. So they took all their gold and jewellery and buried it under a big oak tree. They said that his grandfather was only a little baby at that time.

The son told them that he had never heard such a story. However, he didn’t tell them anything about the oak tree.

They just laughed and said it was just a family story. Maybe nobody had told his grandfather about it. Maybe it was just a story and it wasn’t true. They told him about it because their grandparents had talked about it often.

After they finished their coffee, they thanked him for meeting them and then they left. They wanted to see the city and they also wanted to travel around Europe.

When they left, the man packed his things, jumped into his car and set off for his father’s village. After many hours, he finally arrived to the place. But he was very surprised. The village had changed so much!

There were many new and big houses. There were some new streets. And most of the people were young. When he went to a little shop and told them about his father and their family, nobody could remember anything.

He went to the fields, but he couldn’t remember, which field had been theirs. There was one or two huge fields now and all of them belonged to one man now. There were no trees in the fields either.

crop /krɒp/ – (pestovateľská plodina) – a plant that is grown in large quantities, especially as food

cattle /ˈkætl/ – (hovädzí dobytok) – cows and bulls that are kept as farm animals for their milk or meat

oak /əʊk/ – (dub) – a large tree that produces small nuts called acorns. Oaks are common in northern countries and can live to be hundreds of years old.

bury /ˈberi/ -(pochovať; zakopať) – to place a dead body in the ground; 2, to hide something in the ground

funeral /ˈfjuːnərəl/ – (pohreb) – a ceremony, often a religious one, for burying or cremating (= burning) a dead person

savings – (úspory) – [plural] money that you have saved, especially in a bank, etc.

relative /ˈrelətɪv/ – (prábuzný) – a person who is in the same family as somebody else

homeland /ˈhəʊmlænd/ – (domovina) – the country where a person was born

treasure /ˈtreʒə(r)/ – (poklad) – a collection of valuable things such as gold, silver and jewellery

set off – (vyraziť na cestu) – to begin a journey