THE LOVELIEST ROSE IN THE WORLD -
THERE lived once a great queenin whose garden were found at all seasons themost splendid flowersand from every land in the world. She specially lovedrosesand therefore she possessed the most beautiful varieties of this flowerfrom the wild hedge-rosewith its apple-scented leavesto the splendidProvence rose. They grew near the shelter of the wallswound themselves roundcolumns and window-framescrept along passages and over the ceilings of thehalls. They were of every fragrance and color.
But care and sorrow dwelt within these halls; the queen lay upon a sick bedand the doctors declared that she must die. "There is still one thing thatcould save her" said one of the wisest among them. "Bring her theloveliest rose in the world; one which exhibits the purest and brightest loveand if it is brought to her before her eyes closeshe will not die."
Then from all parts came those who brought roses that bloomed in everygardenbut they were not the right sort. The flower must be one from the gardenof love; but which of the roses there showed forth the highest and purest love?The poets sang of this rosethe loveliest in the worldand each named onewhich he considered worthy of that title; and intelligence of what was requiredwas sent far and wide to every heart that beat with love; to every classageand condition.
"No one has yet named the flower" said the wise man. "No onehas pointed out the spot where it blooms in all its splendor. It is not a rosefrom the coffin of Romeo and Julietor from the grave of Walburgthough theseroses will live in everlasting song. It is not one of the roses which sproutedforth from the blood-stained fame of Winkelreid. The blood which flows from thebreast of a hero who dies for his country is sacredand his memory is sweetand no rose can be redder than the blood which flows from his veins. Neither isit the magic flower of Scienceto obtain which wondrous flower a man devotesmany an hour of his fresh young life in sleepless nightsin a lonely chamber."
"I know where it blooms" said a happy motherwho came with herlovely child to the bedside of the queen. "I know where the loveliest rosein the world is. It is seen on the blooming cheeks of my sweet childwhen itexpresses the pure and holy love of infancy; when refreshed by sleep it opensits eyesand smiles upon me with childlike affection."
"This is a lovely rose" said the wise man; "but there is onestill more lovely."
"Yesone far more lovely" said one of the women. "I haveseen itand a loftier and purer rose does not bloom. But it was whitelike theleaves of a blush-rose. I saw it on the cheeks of the queen. She had taken offher golden crownand through the longdreary nightshe carried her sick childin her arms. She wept over itkissed itand prayed for it as only a mother canpray in that hour of her anguish."
"Holy and wonderful in its might is the white rose of griefbut it isnot the one we seek."
"No; the loveliest rose in the world I saw at the Lord's table"said the good old bishop. "I saw it shine as if an angel's face hadappeared. A young maiden knelt at the altarand renewed the vows made at herbaptism; and there were white roses and red roses on the blushing cheeks of thatyoung girl. She looked up to heaven with all the purity and love of her youngspiritin all the expression of the highest and purest love."
"May she be blessed!" said the wise man: "but no one has yetnamed the loveliest rose in the world."
Then there came into the room a child- the queen's little son. Tears stood inhis eyesand glistened on his cheeks; he carried a great book and the bindingwas of velvetwith silver clasps. "Mother" cried the little boy;"only hear what I have read." And the child seated himself by thebedsideand read from the book of Him who suffered death on the cross to saveall meneven who are yet unborn. He read"Greater love hath no man thanthis" and as he read a roseate hue spread over the cheeks of the queenand her eyes became so enlightened and clearthat she saw from the leaves ofthe book a lovely rose spring fortha type of Him who shed His blood on thecross.
"I see it" she said. "He who beholds thisthe loveliest roseon earthshall never die." - -