Story, first published: Galaxy Science Fiction, Oct. 1959
An alien vegetable crashes his spaceship on the property of an old hermit farmer, Mose. Mose tries to find help in his community for the injured alien, but everyone naturally turns him away. Not realizing his dying alien is a plant, Mose buries the alien in his garden. The alien, of course, comes up again in the spring. He persuades Mose to help him rebuild his wrecked spacecraft, and in exchange for Mose's tenderness and "humanity," the alien leaves Mose his most precious gift, his only companion on the long, lonely interstellar journey home. This tender and moving story rises above sentiment to demonstrate the power of love among brothers of any species.
Ewald, Robert J.: When the Fires Burn High and the Wind is from the North, p.57
Old Mose Abrams – a stubborn widower, bad neighbor, and bad housekeeper – finds an alien and its “birdcage” ship in the woods. The alien is repulsive-looking, smelly, but Abrams can’t leave a thing in pain to die in the woods. He takes it back to his farm. He calls the doctor but the doctor says the plant-like alien is outside human knowledge; he takes his fee and leaves it to its fate. Before leaving, he tells Abrams to try the university in Madison.
In the meantime, the alien dies. Abrams tries to get a coroner to certify the death, as well as purchase a burial plot, but is thwarted by the doctor, who says that the alien isn’t human. Abrams appeals to the local preacher, but the preacher won’t intervene, as the church wouldn’t approve. Finally, he buries the alien in an unmarked grave in his field, which he plows to protect the grave from snoopers. The sheriff arrives and questions him about this suspicious activity, but he reminds the sheriff that whatever “it” was he buried, it wasn’t human and it wasn’t property, so there can’t be a crime. Suddenly, a reporter shows up. Despite Abrams’s loneliness, he dislikes the flippant reporter and decides to rebuff him. Eventually, a researcher from the university arrives; he insists on seeing the body, but Abrams insists that it’s at peace and should remain undisturbed. More curious people show up and Abrams gives them short shrift.
Abrams grows lonelier and thinks of getting a dog, but a new dog would remind him of his dead dog, and perhaps also Molly, his late wife. As if in answer, a plant begins to grow from the alien’s grave, a plant that looks a bit like a skunk cabbage. Another visitor arrives, “a dark and intense man” who claims to be president of a flying saucer club. Abrams chases the wild man off with a shotgun. The alien plant develops into a being, similar to the one that died. He gives the alien his life savings (all silver coins) to repair its ship and it leaves. Abrams will be as lonely as ever, now without friends, family, and savings. Before leaving, the alien gives him his “Companion,” an orb that brings of feeling of community and happiness, even though the alien will find traveling in space very lonely without it. The alien does this despite the fact that he found the old man to be pathetic and bumbling; however, it saw a need to honor the old man’s desire to be kind.
jennre: jennre (Blog)
An alien crashes its spaceship on the property of a crusty old Wisconsin farmer. The farmer attempts to nurse it back to health, but its injuries are too great; the alien dies. Determined to give it a proper burial, the farmer tries to have the alien corpse interred in a human cemetery, but he is rebuffed. So he gives the alien a simple burial on his own property. Word gets around, and curious folk start turning up asking questions; the farmer chases them off with a shotgun. A bizarre plant grows where the alien had been buried; a pod grows big, bursts open, and the alien pops out, fully regenerated. Farmer and alien, although they do not speak each others' language, work together to rebuild the spaceship; the farmer sacrifices greatly to help his new friend, and the alien repays him before leaving Earth behind forever.
Brendan: Balancing Frogs