by Louisa May Alcott
Grass-budsand caterpillar shrouds
Boughs on which the wild bees settle
Tints that spot the violet's petal."
FOR WHOM THEY WERE FANCIED
THESE FLOWER FABLES
BY HER FRIEND
The Frost King: orThe Power of Love
Eva's Visit to Fairy-Land
The Flower's Lesson
Lily-Bell and Thistledown
Little Annie's Dream: orThe Fairy Flower
THE summer moon shone brightly down upon the sleeping earthwhile
far away from mortal eyes danced the Fairy folk. Fire-flies hung
in bright clusters on the dewy leavesthat waved in the cool
night-wind; and the flowers stood gazingin very wonderat the
little Elveswho lay among the fern-leavesswung in the vine-boughs
sailed on the lake in lily cupsor danced on the mossy ground
to the music of the hare-bellswho rung out their merriest peal
in honor of the night.
Under the shade of a wild rose sat the Queen and her little
Maids of Honorbeside the silvery mushroom where the feast
"Nowmy friends" said she"to wile away the time till thebright
moon goes downlet us each tell a taleor relate what we have done
or learned this day. I will begin with youSunny Lock" added she
turning to a lovely little Elfwho lay among the fragrant leaves
of a primrose.
With a gay smile"Sunny Lock" began her story.
"As I was painting the bright petals of a blue bellit told me
THE POWER OF LOVE.
THREE little Fairies sat in the fields eating their breakfast;
each among the leaves of her favorite flowerDaisyPrimrose
and Violetwere happy as Elves need be.
The morning wind gently rocked them to and froand the sun
shone warmly down upon the dewy grasswhere butterflies spread
their gay wingsand bees with their deep voices sung
among the flowers; while the little birds hopped merrily about
to peep at them.
On a silvery mushroom was spread the breakfast; little cakes
of flower-dust lay on a broad green leafbeside a crimson
strawberrywhichwith sugar from the violetand cream
from the yellow milkweedmade a fairy mealand their drink was
the dew from the flowers' bright leaves.
"Ah me" sighed Primrosethrowing herself languidly back
"how warm the sun grows! give me another piece of strawberry
and then I must hasten away to the shadow of the ferns. But
while I eattell medear Violetwhy are you all so sad?
I have scarce seen a happy face since my return from Rose Land;
dear friendwhat means it?"
"I will tell you" replied little Violetthe tears gathering
in her soft eyes. "Our good Queen is ever striving to keep
the dear flowers from the power of the cruel Frost-King; many ways
she triedbut all have failed. She has sent messengers to his court
with costly gifts; but all have returned sick for want of sunlight
weary and sad; we have watched over themheedless of sun or shower
but still his dark spirits do their workand we are left to weep
over our blighted blossoms. Thus have we strivenand in vain;
and this night our Queen holds council for the last time. Therefore
are we saddear Primrosefor she has toiled and cared for us
and we can do nothing to help or advise her now."
"It is indeed a cruel thing" replied her friend; "but as wecannot
help itwe must suffer patientlyand not let the sorrows of others
disturb our happiness. Butdear sisterssee you not how high
the sun is getting? I have my locks to curland my robe to prepare
for the evening; therefore I must be goneor I shall be brown as
a withered leaf in this warm light." Sogathering a tiny mushroom
for a parasolshe flew away; Daisy soon followedand Violet was
Then she spread the table afreshand to it came fearlessly the busy
ant and beegay butterfly and bird; even the poor blind mole and
humble worm were not forgotten; and with gentle words she gave to all
while each learned something of their kind little teacher; and the
love that made her own heart bright shone alike on all.
The ant and bee learned generositythe butterfly and bird
contentmentthe mole and worm confidence in the love of others;
and each went to their home better for the little time they had been
Evening cameand with it troops of Elves to counsel their good Queen
whoseated on her mossy thronelooked anxiously upon the throng
belowwhose glittering wings and rustling robes gleamed like
At length she roseand amid the deep silence spoke thus:--
"Dear childrenlet us not tire of a good workhard though it be
and wearisome; think of the many little hearts that in their sorrow
look to us for help. What would the green earth be without its
lovely flowersand what a lonely home for us! Their beauty fills
our hearts with brightnessand their love with tender thoughts.
Ought we then to leave them to die uncared for and alone? They give
to us their all; ought we not to toil unceasinglythat they may
bloom in peace within their quiet homes? We have tried to gain
the love of the stern Frost-Kingbut in vain; his heart is hard as
his own icy land; no love can meltno kindness bring it back to
sunlight and to joy. How then may we keep our frail blossoms
from his cruel spirits? Who will give us counsel? Who will be
our messenger for the last time ? Speakmy subjects."
Then a great murmuring aroseand many spokesome for costlier gifts
some for war; and the fearful counselled patience and submission.
Long and eagerly they spokeand their soft voices rose high.
Then sweet music sounded on the airand the loud tones were hushed
as in wondering silence the Fairies waited what should come.
Through the crowd there came a little forma wreath of pure
white violets lay among the bright locks that fell so softly
round the gentle facewhere a deep blush glowedaskneeling at
the thronelittle Violet said:--
"Dear Queenwe have bent to the Frost-King's powerwe have borne
gifts unto his pridebut have we gone trustingly to him and
spoken fearlessly of his evil deeds? Have we shed the soft light
of unwearied love around his cold heartand with patient tenderness
shown him how bright and beautiful love can make even the darkest lot?
"Our messengers have gone fearfullyand with cold looks and
courtly words offered him rich giftsthings he cared not for
and with equal pride has he sent them back.
"Then let methe weakest of your bandgo to himtrusting
in the love I know lies hidden in the coldest heart.
"I will bear only a garland of our fairest flowers; these
will I wind about himand their bright faceslooking lovingly
in hiswill bring sweet thoughts to his dark mindand their
soft breath steal in like gentle words. Thenwhen he sees them
fading on his breastwill he not sigh that there is no warmth there
to keep them fresh and lovely? This will I dodear Queenand
never leave his dreary hometill the sunlight falls on flowers
fair as those that bloom in our own dear land."
Silently the Queen had listenedbut nowrising and placing her hand
on little Violet's headshe saidturning to the throng below:--
"We in our pride and power have erredwhile thisthe weakest and
lowliest of our subjectshas from the innocence of her own pure heart
counselled us more wisely than the noblest of our train.
All who will aid our brave little messengerlift your wands
that we may know who will place their trust in the Power of Love."
Every fairy wand glistened in the airas with silvery voices
they cried"Love and little Violet."
Then down from the thronehand in handcame the Queen and Violet
and till the moon sank did the Fairies toilto weave a wreath
of the fairest flowers. Tenderly they gathered themwith the
night-dew fresh upon their leavesand as they wove chanted sweet
spellsand whispered fairy blessings on the bright messengers
whom they sent forth to die in a dreary landthat their gentle
kindred might bloom unharmed.
At length it was done; and the fair flowers lay glowing
in the soft starlightwhile beside them stood the Fairiessinging
to the music of the wind-harps:--
"We are sending youdear flowers
Forth alone to die
Where your gentle sisters may not weep
O'er the cold graves where you lie;
But you go to bring them fadeless life
In the bright homes where they dwell
And you softly smile that 't is so
As we sadly sing farewell.
O plead with gentle words for us
And whisper tenderly
Of generous love to that cold heart
And it will answer ye;
And though you fade in a dreary home
Yet loving hearts will tell
Of the joy and peace that you have given:
The morning sun looked softly down upon the broad green earth
which like a mighty altar was sending up clouds of perfume from its
breastwhile flowers danced gayly in the summer windand birds sang
their morning hymn among the cool green leaves. Then high above
on shining wingssoared a little form. The sunlight rested softly
on the silken hairand the winds fanned lovingly the bright face
and brought the sweetest odors to cheer her on.
Thus went Violet through the clear airand the earth looked
smiling up to heraswith the bright wreath folded in her
armsshe flew among the softwhite clouds.
On and on she wentover hill and valleybroad rivers and
rustling woodstill the warm sunlight passed awaythe winds
grew coldand the air thick with falling snow. Then far below
she saw the Frost-King's home. Pillars of hardgray ice supported
the higharched roofhung with crystal icicles. Dreary gardens
lay aroundfilled with withered flowers and baredrooping trees;
while heavy clouds hung low in the dark skyand a cold wind
murmured sadly through the wintry air.
With a beating heart Violet folded her fading wreath more closely
to her breastand with weary wings flew onward to the dreary palace.
Herebefore the closed doorsstood many forms with dark faces and
harshdiscordant voiceswho sternly asked the shivering little Fairy
why she came to them.
Gently she answeredtelling them her errandbeseeching them
to let her pass ere the cold wind blighted her frail blossoms.
Then they flung wide the doorsand she passed in.
Walls of icecarved with strange figureswere around her;
glittering icicles hung from the high roofand softwhite snow
covered the hard floors. On a throne hung with clouds sat
the Frost-King; a crown of crystals bound his white locksand
a dark mantle wrought with delicate frost-work was folded over
his cold breast.
His stern face could not stay little Violetand on through
the long hall she wentheedless of the snow that gathered on
her feetand the bleak wind that blew around her; while the King
with wondering eyes looked on the golden light that played upon the
dark walls as she passed.
The flowersas if they knew their partunfolded their bright leaves
and poured forth their sweetest perfumeaskneeling at the throne
the brave little Fairy said--
"O King of blight and sorrowsend me not away till I have
brought back the light and joy that will make your dark home bright
and beautiful again. Let me call back to the desolate gardens the
fair forms that are goneand their soft voices blessing you will
bring to your breast a never failing joy. Cast by your icy crown
and sceptreand let the sunlight of love fall softly on your heart.
"Then will the earth bloom again in all its beautyand your dim eyes
will rest only on fair formswhile music shall sound through these
dreary hallsand the love of grateful hearts be yours. Have pity
on the gentle flower-spiritsand do not doom them to an early death
when they might bloom in fadeless beautymaking us wiser by their
gentle teachingsand the earth brighter by their lovely forms.
These fair flowerswith the prayers of all Fairy LandI lay
before you; O send me not away till they are answered."
And with tears falling thick and fast upon their tender leaves
Violet laid the wreath at his feetwhile the golden light grew ever
brighter as it fell upon the little form so humbly kneeling there.
The King's stern face grew milder as he gazed on the gentle Fairy
and the flowers seemed to look beseechingly upon him; while their
fragrant voices sounded softly in his eartelling of their dying
sistersand of the joy it gives to bring happiness to the weak
and sorrowing. But he drew the dark mantle closer over his breast
and answered coldly--
"I cannot grant your prayerlittle Fairy; it is my will
the flowers should die. Go back to your Queenand tell her
that I cannot yield my power to please these foolish flowers."
Then Violet hung the wreath above the throneand with weary foot
went forth againout into the colddark gardensand still the
golden shadows followed herand wherever they fellflowers bloomed
and green leaves rustled.
Then came the Frost-Spiritsand beneath their cold wings the
flowers diedwhile the Spirits bore Violet to a lowdark cell
saying as they left herthat their King was angry that she had dared
to stay when he had bid her go.
So all alone she satand sad thoughts of her happy home came back
to herand she wept bitterly. But soon came visions of the gentle
flowers dying in their forest homesand their voices ringing
in her earimploring her to save them. Then she wept no longer
but patiently awaited what might come.
Soon the golden light gleamed faintly through the celland she heard
little voices calling for helpand high up among the heavy cobwebs
hung poor little flies struggling to free themselveswhile their
cruel enemies sat in their netswatching their pain.
With her wand the Fairy broke the bands that held themtenderly bound
up their broken wingsand healed their wounds; while they lay in the
warm lightand feebly hummed their thanks to their kind deliverer.
Then she went to the ugly brown spidersand in gentle words
told themhow in Fairy Land their kindred spun all the elfin cloth
and in return the Fairies gave them foodand then how happily they
lived among the green leavesspinning garments for their neigbbors.
"And you too" said she"shall spin for meand I will giveyou
better food than helpless insects. You shall live in peace
and spin your delicate threads into a mantle for the stern King;
and I will weave golden threads amid the graythat when folded over
his cold heart gentle thoughts may enter in and make it their home.
And while she gayly sungthe little weavers spun their silken
threadsthe flies on glittering wings flew lovingly above her head
and over all the golden light shone softly down.
When the Frost-Spirits told their Kinghe greatly wondered and
often stole to look at the sunny little room where friends and enemies
worked peacefully together. Still the light grew brighterand
floated out into the cold airwhere it hung like bright clouds
above the dreary gardenswhence all the Spirits' power could not
drive it; and green leaves budded on the naked treesand
flowers bloomed; but the Spirits heaped snow upon themand
they bowed their heads and died.
At length the mantle was finishedand amid the gray threads
shone golden onesmaking it bright; and she sent it to the King
entreating him to wear itfor it would bring peace and love
to dwell within his breast.
But he scornfully threw it asideand bade his Spirits take her
to a colder celldeep in the earth; and there with harsh words
they left her.
Still she sang gayly onand the falling drops kept time so musically
that the King in his cold ice-halls wondered at the lowsweet sounds
that came stealing up to him.
Thus Violet dweltand each day the golden light grew stronger; and
from among the crevices of the rocky walls came troops of little
velvet-coated molespraying that they might listen to the sweet
musicand lie in the warm light.
"We lead" said they"a dreary life in the cold earth; the
flower-roots are deadand no soft dews descend for us to drink
no little seed or leaf can we find. Ahgood Fairylet us be
your servants: give us but a few crumbs of your daily breadand we
will do all in our power to serve you."
And Violet saidYes; so day after day they labored to make
a pathway through the frozen earththat she might reach the roots
of the withered flowers; and soonwherever through the dark galleries
she wentthe soft light fell upon the roots of flowersand they
with new life spread forth in the warm groundand forced fresh sap
to the blossoms above. Brightly they bloomed and danced in the
soft lightand the Frost-Spirits tried in vain to harm themfor when
they came beneath the bright clouds their power to do evil left them.
From his dark castle the King looked out on the happy flowers
who nodded gayly to himand in sweet colors strove to tell him
of the good little Spiritwho toiled so faithfully below
that they might live. And when he turned from the brightness without
to his stately palaceit seemcd so cold and drearythat he folded
Violet's mantle round himand sat beneath the faded wreath upon his
ice-carved thronewondering at the strange warmth that came from it;
till at length he bade his Spirits bring the little Fairy from
her dismal prison.
Soon they came hastening backand prayed him to come and see
how lovely the dark cell had grown. The rough floor was spread
with deep green mossand over wall and roof grew flowery vines
filling the air with their sweet breath; while above played the clear
soft lightcasting rosy shadows on the glittering drops that lay
among the fragrant leaves; and beneath the vines stood Violet
casting crumbs to the downy little moles who ran fearlessly about
and listened as she sang to them.
When the old King saw how much fairer she had made the dreary cell
than his palace roomsgentle thoughts within whispered him to grant
her prayerand let the little Fairy go back to her friends and home;
but the Frost-Spirits breathed upon the flowers and bid him see how
frail they wereand useless to a King. Then the sterncold thoughts
came back againand he harshly bid her follow him.
With a sad farewell to her little friends she followed himand
before the throne awaited his command. When the King saw how pale and
sad the gentle face had grownhow thin her robeand weak her wings
and yet how lovingly the golden shadows fell around her and brightened
as they lay upon the wandwhichguided by patient lovehad made
his once desolate home so brighthe could not be cruel to the one
who had done so much for himand in kindly tone he said--
"Little FairyI offer you two thingsand you may choose
between them. If I will vow never more to harm the flowers you may
lovewill you go back to your own people and leave me and my Spirits
to work our will on all the other flowers that bloom? The earth
is broadand we can find them in any landthen why should you care
what happens to their kindred if your own are safe? Will you do this?"
"Ah!" answered Violet sadly"do you not know that beneath
the flowers' bright leaves there beats a little heart that loves
and sorrows like our own? And can Iheedless of their beauty
doom them to pain and griefthat I might save my own dear blossoms
from the cruel foes to which I leave them? Ah no! sooner would I
dwell for ever in your darkest cellthan lose the love of those
"Then listen" said the King"to the task I give you. Youshall
raise up for me a palace fairer than thisand if you can work
that miracle I will grant your prayer or lose my kingly crown.
And now go forthand begin your task; my Spirits shall not harm you
and I will wait till it is done before I blight another flower."
Then out into the gardens went Violet with a heavy heart; for
she had toiled so longher strength was nearly gone. But the
flowers whispered their gratitudeand folded their leaves as if they
blessed her; and when she saw the garden filled with loving friends
who strove to cheer and thank her for her carecourage and strength
returned; and raising up thick clouds of mistthat hid her from the
wondering flowersalone and trustingly she began her work.
As time went bythe Frost-King feared the task had been
too hard for the Fairy; sounds were heard behind the walls of mist
bright shadows seen to pass withinbut the little voice was never
heard. Meanwhile the golden light had faded from the garden
the flowers bowed their headsand all was dark and cold as when
the gentle Fairy came.
And to the stern King his home seemed more desolate and sad; for
he missed the warm lightthe happy flowersandmore than all
the gay voice and bright face of little Violet. So he wandered
through his dreary palacewondering how he had been content
to live before without sunlight and love.
And little Violet was mourned as dead in Fairy-Landand many tears
were shedfor the gentle Fairy was beloved by allfrom the Queen
down to the humblest flower. Sadly they watched over every bird
and blossom which she had lovedand strove to be like her in
kindly words and deeds. They wore cypress wreathsand spoke of her
as one whom they should never see again.
Thus they dwelt in deepest sorrowtill one day there came to them an
unknown messengerwrapped in a dark mantlewho looked with wondering
eyes on the bright palaceand flower-crowned elveswho kindly
welcomed himand brought fresh dew and rosy fruit to refresh the
weary stranger. Then he told them that he came from the Frost-King
who begged the Queen and all her subjects to come and see the palace
little Violet had built; for the veil of mist would soon be withdrawn
and as she could not make a fairer home than the ice-castlethe King
wished her kindred near to comfort and to bear her home. And while
the Elves wepthe told them how patiently she had toiledhow
her fadeless love had made the dark cell bright and beautiful.
These and many other things he told them; for little Violet had won
the love of many of the Frost-Spiritsand even when they killed the
flowers she had toiled so hard to bring to life and beautyshe spoke
gentle words to themand sought to teach them how beautiful is love.
Long stayed the messengerand deeper grew his wonder that the Fairy
could have left so fair a hometo toil in the dreary palace of his
cruel masterand suffer cold and wearinessto give life and joy to
the weak and sorrowing. When the Elves had promised they would come
he bade farewell to happy Fairy-Landand flew sadly home.
At last the time arrivedand out in his barren gardenunder a canopy
of dark cloudssat the Frost-King before the misty wallbehind which
were heard lowsweet soundsas of rustling trees and warbling birds.
Soon through the air came many-colored troops of Elves. First the
Queenknown by the silver lilies on her snowy robe and the bright
crown in her hairbeside whom fIew a band of Elves in crimson and
goldmaking sweet music on their flower-trumpetswhile all around
with smiling faces and bright eyesfluttered her loving subjects.
On they camelike a flock of brilliant butterfliestheir shining
wings and many-colored garments sparkling in the dim air; and soon
the leafless trees were gay with living flowersand their sweet
voices filled the gardens with music. Like his subjectsthe King
looked on the lovely Elvesand no longer wondered that little Violet
wept and longed for her home. Darker and more desolate seemed his
stately homeand when the Fairies asked for flowershe felt ashamed
that he had none to give them.
At length a warm wind swept through the gardensand the mist-clouds
passed awaywhile in silent wonder looked the Frost-King and
the Elves upon the scene before them.
Far as eye could reach were tall green trees whose drooping boughs
made graceful archesthrough which the golden light shone softly
making bright shadows on the deep green moss belowwhere the fairest
flowers waved in the cool windand sangin their lowsweet voices
how beautiful is Love.
Flowering vines folded their soft leaves around the trees
making green pillars of their rough trunks. Fountains threw their
bright waters to the roofand flocks of silver-winged birds flew
singing among the flowersor brooded lovingly above their nests.
Doves with gentle eyes cooed among the green leavessnow-white clouds
floated in the sunny shyand the golden lightbrighter than before
shone softly down.
Soon through the long aisles came Violetflowers and green leaves
rustling as she passed. On she went to the Frost-King's throne
bearing two crownsone of sparkling iciclesthe other of pure
white liliesand kneeling before himsaid--
"My task is doneandthanks to the Spirits of earth and airI have
made as fair a home as Elfin hands can form. You must now decide.
Will you be King of Flower-Landand own my gentle kindred for your
loving friends? Will you possess unfading peace and joyand the
grateful love of all the green earth's fragrant children? Then take
this crown of flowers. But if you can find no pleasure here
go back to your own cold homeand dwell in solitude and darkness
where no ray of sunlight or of joy can enter.
"Send forth your Spirits to carry sorrow and desolation over
the happy earthand win for yourself the fear and hatred of those
who would so gladly love and reverence you. Then take this glittering
crownhard and cold as your own heart will beif you will shut out
all that is bright and beautiful. Both are before you. Choose."
The old King looked at the little Fairyand saw how lovingly
the bright shadows gathered round heras if to shield her
from every harm; the timid birds nestled in her bosomand the
flowers grew fairer as she looked upon them; while her gentle friends
with tears in their bright eyesfolded their hands beseechingly
and smiled on her.
Kind thought came thronging to his mindand he turned to look at
the two palaces. Violet'sso fair and beautifulwith its rustling
treescalmsunny skiesand happy birds and flowersall created
by her patient love and care. His ownso cold and dark and dreary
his empty gardens where no flowers could bloomno green trees dwell
or gay birds singall desolate and dim;--and while he gazedhis own
Spiritscasting off their dark mantlesknelt before him and besought
him not to send them forth to blight the things the gentle Fairies
loved so much. "We have served you long and faithfully" said they
"give us now our freedomthat we may learn to be beloved by the sweet
flowers we have harmed so long. Grant the little Fairy's prayer;
and let her go back to her own dear home. She has taught us that
Love is mightier than Fear. Choose the Flower crownand we will be
the truest subjects you have ever had."
Thenamid a burst of wildsweet musicthe Frost-King placed
the Flower crown on his headand knelt to little Violet; while far
and nearover the broad green earthsounded the voices of flowers
singing their thanks to the gentle Fairyand the summer wind
was laden with perfumeswhich they sent as tokens of their gratitude;
and wherever she wentold trees bent down to fold their slender
branches round herflowers laid their soft faces against her own
and whispered blessings; even the humble moss bent over the little
feetand kissed them as they passed.
The old Kingsurrounded by the happy Fairiessat in Violet's
lovely homeand watched his icy castle melt away beneath the bright
sunlight; while his Spiritscold and gloomy no longerdanced
with the Elvesand waited on their King with loving eagerness.
Brighter grew the golden lightgayer sang the birdsand the
harmonious voices of grateful flowerssounding over the earth
carried new joy to all their gentle kindred.
Brighter shone the golden shadows;
On the cool wind softly came
The lowsweet tones of happy flowers
Singing little Violet's name.
'Mong the green trees was it whispered
And the bright waves bore it on
To the lonely forest flowers
Where the glad news had not gone.
Thus the Frost-King lost his kingdom
And his power to harm and blight.
Violet conqueredand his cold heart
Warmed with musicloveand light;
And his fair homeonce so dreary
Gay with lovely Elves and flowers
Brought a joy that never faded
Through the long bright summer hours.
Thusby Violet's magic power
All dark shadows passed away
And o'er the home of happy flowers
The golden light for ever lay.
Thus the Fairy mission ended
And all Flower-Land was taught
The "Power of Love" by gentle deeds
That little Violet wrought.
As Sunny Lock ceasedanother little Elf came forward; and this was
the tale "Silver Wing" told.
EVA'S VISIT TO FAIRY-LAND.
DOWN among the grass and fragrant clover lay little Eva by the
brook-sidewatching the bright wavesas they went singing by under
the drooping flowers that grew on its banks. As she was wondering
where the waters wentshe heard a faintlow soundas of far-off
music. She thought it was the windbut not a leaf was stirring
and soon through the rippling water came a strange little boat.
It was a lily of the valleywhose tall stem formed the mast
while the broad leaves that rose from the rootsand drooped again
till they reached the waterwere filled with gay little Elves
who danced to the music of the silver lily-bells abovethat rang
a merry pealand filled the air with their fragrant breath.
On came the fairy boattill it reached a moss-grown rock; and here
it stoppedwhile the Fairies rested beneath the violet-leaves
and sang with the dancing waves.
Eva looked with wonder on their gay faces and bright garmentsand
in the joy of her heart sang tooand threw crimson fruit for the
little folks to feast upon.
They looked kindly on the childandafter whispering long among
themselvestwo little bright-eyed Elves flew over the shining water
andlighting on the clover-blossomssaid gently"Little maiden
many thanks for your kindness; and our Queen bids us ask if you will
go with us to Fairy-Landand learn what we can teach you."
"Gladly would I go with youdear Fairies" said Eva"but Icannot
sail in your little boat. See! I can hold you in my handand could
not live among you without harming your tiny kingdomI am so large."
Then the Elves laughed gaylyas they folded their arms about her
saying"You are a good childdear Evato fear doing harm to those
weaker than yourself. You cannot hurt us now. Look in the water
and see what we have done."
Eva looked into the brookand saw a tiny child standing between
the Elves. "Now I can go with you" said she"but seeI can
no longer step from the bank to yonder stonefor the brook seems now
like a great riverand you have not given me wings like yours."
But the Fairies took each a handand flew lightly over the stream.
The Queen and her subjects came to meet herand all seemed glad to
say some kindly word of welcome to the little stranger. They placed
a flower-crown upon her headlaid their soft faces against her own
and soon it seemed as if the gentle Elves had always been her friends.
"Now must we go home" said the Queen"and you shall go withus
Then there was a great bustleas they flew about on shining wings
some laying cushions of violet leaves in the boatothers folding the
Queen's veil and mantle more closely round herlest the falling dews
should chill her.
The cool waves' gentle plashing against the boatand the sweet chime
of the lily-bellslulled little Eva to sleepand when she woke
it was in Fairy-Land. A faintrosy lightas of the setting sun
shone on the white pillars of the Queen's palace as they passed in
and the sleeping flowers leaned gracefully on their stemsdreaming
beneath their soft green curtains. All was cool and stilland the
Elves glided silently aboutlest they should break their slumbers.
They led Eva to a bed of pure white leavesabove which drooped
the fragrant petals of a crimson rose.
"You can look at the bright colors till the light fadesand then
the rose will sing you to sleep" said the Elvesas they folded the
soft leaves about hergently kissed herand stole away.
Long she lay watching the bright shadowsand listening to the song
of the rosewhile through the long night dreams of lovely things
floated like bright clouds through her mind; while the rose bent
lovingly above herand sang in the clear moonlight.
With the sun rose the Fairiesandwith Evahastened away to
the fountainwhose cool waters were soon filled with little forms
and the air ringing with happy voicesas the Elves floated in the
blue waves among the fair white liliesor sat on the green moss
smoothing their bright locksand wearing fresh garlands of dewy
flowers. At length the Queen came forthand her subjects gathered
round herand while the flowers bowed their headsand the trees
hushed their rustlingthe Fairies sang their morning hymn to
the Father of birds and blossomswho had made the earth so fair a
home for them.
Then they flew away to the gardensand soonhigh up among the
tree-topsor under the broad leavessat the Elves in little groups
taking their breakfast of fruit and pure fresh dew; while the
bright-winged birds came fearlessly among thempecking the same
ripe berriesand dipping their little beaks in the same flower-cups
and the Fairies folded their arms lovingly about themsmoothed their
soft bosomsand gayly sang to them.
"Nowlittle Eva" said they"you will see that Fairies arenot
idlewilful Spiritsas mortals believe. Comewe will show you
what we do."
They led her to a lovely roomthrough whose walls of deep green
leaves the light stole softly in. Here lay many wounded insects
and harmless little creatureswhom cruel hands had hurt; and pale
drooping flowers grew beside urns of healing herbsfrom whose fresh
leaves came a faintsweet perfume.
Eva wonderedbut silently followed her guidelittle Rose-Leaf
who with tender words passed among the delicate blossoms
pouring dew on their feeble rootscheering them with her loving words
and happy smile.
Then she went to the insects; first to a little fly who lay in a
"Do you suffer muchdear Gauzy-Wing?" asked the Fairy. "Iwill
bind up your poor little legand Zephyr shall rock you to sleep."
So she folded the cool leaves tenderly about the poor flybathed his
wingsand brought him refreshing drinkwhile he hummed his thanks
and forgot his painas Zephyr softly sung and fanned him with her
They passed onand Eva saw beside each bed a Fairywho with gentle
hands and loving words soothed the suffering insects. At length
they stopped beside a beewho lay among sweet honeysuckle flowers
in a coolstill placewhere the summer wind blew inand the green
leaves rustled pleasantly. Yet he seemed to find no restand
murmured of the pain he was doomed to bear. " Why must I lie here
while my kindred are out in the pleasant fieldsenjoying the sunlight
and the fresh airand cruel hands have doomed me to this dark place
and bitter pain when I have done no wrong? Uncared for and forgotten
I must stay here among these poor things who think only of themselves.
Come hereRose-Leafand bind up my woundsfor I am far more useful
than idle bird or fly."
Then said the Fairywhile she bathed the broken wing--
"Love-Blossomyou should not murmur. We may find happiness in
seeking to be patient even while we suffer. You are not forgotten or
uncared forbut others need our care more than youand to those
who take cheerfully the pain and sorrow sentdo we most gladly give
our help. You need not be idleeven though lying here in darkness
and sorrow; you can be taking from your heart all sad and discontented
feelingsand if love and patience blossom thereyou will be better
for the lonely hours spent here. Look on the bed beside you; this
little dove has suffered far greater pain than youand all our care
can never ease it; yet through the long days he hath lain herenot an
unkind word or a repining sigh hath he uttered. AhLove-Blossom
the gentle bird can teach a lesson you will be wiser and better for."
Then a faint voice whispered"Little Rose-Leafcome quicklyor
I cannot thank you as I ought for all your loving care of me."
So they passed to the bed beside the discontented beeand here upon
the softest down lay the dovewhose gentle eyes looked gratefully
upon the Fairyas she knelt beside the little couchsmoothed the
soft white bosomfolded her arms about it and wept sorrowing tears
while the bird still whispered its gratitude and love.
"Dear Fairythe fairest flowers have cheered me with their sweet
breathfresh dew and fragrant leaves have been ever ready for me
gentle hands to tendkindly hearts to love; and for this I can only
thank you and say farewell."
Then the quivering wings were stilland the patient little dove
was dead; but the bee murmured no longerand the dew from the flowers
fell like tears around the quiet bed.
Sadly Rose-Leaf led Eva awaysaying"Lily-Bosom shall have a grave
tonight beneath our fairest blossomsand you shall see that
gentleness and love are prized far above gold or beautyhere in
Fairy-Land. Come now to the Flower Palaceand see the Fairy Court."
Beneath green archesbright with birds and flowersbeside singing
waveswent Eva into a lofty hall. The roof of pure white lilies
rested on pillars of green clustering vineswhile many-colored
blossoms threw their bright shadows on the wallsas they danced below
in the deep green mossand their lowsweet voices sounded softly
through the sunlit palacewhile the rustling leaves kept time.
Beside the throne stood Evaand watched the lovely forms around her
as they stoodeach little band in its own colorwith glistening
wingsand flower wands.
Suddenly the music grew louder and sweeterand the Fairies knelt
and bowed their headsas on through the crowd of loving subjects
came the Queenwhile the air was filled with gay voices singing
to welcome her.
She placed the child beside hersaying"Little Evayou shall see
now how the flowers on your great earth bloom so brightly. A band
of loving little gardeners go daily forth from Fairy-Landto tend
and watch themthat no harm may befall the gentle spirits that dwell
beneath their leaves. This is never knownfor like all good it is
unseen by mortal eyesand unto only pure hearts like yours do we
make known our secret. The humblest flower that grows is visited by
our messengersand often blooms in fragrant beauty unknownunloved
by all save Fairy friendswho seek to fill the spirits with all sweet
and gentle virtuesthat they may not be useless on the earth; for the
noblest mortals stoop to learn of flowers. NowEglantinewhat have
you to tell us of your rosy namesakes on the earth?"
From a group of Elveswhose rose-wreathed wands showed the flower
they lovedcame one bearing a tiny urnandanswering the Queen
"Over hill and valley they are blooming fresh and fair as summer sun
and dew can make them. No drooping stem or withered leaf tells of any
evil thought within their fragrant bosomsand thus from the fairest
of their race have they gathered this sweet dewas a token of their
gratitude to one whose tenderness and care have kept them pure and
happy; and thisthe loveliest of their sistershave I brought to
place among the Fairy flowers that never pass away."
Eglantine laid the urn before the Queenand placed the fragrant rose
on the dewy moss beside the thronewhile a murmur of approval went
through the hallas each elfin wand waved to the little Fairy
who had toiled so well and faithful]yand could bring so fair a gift
to their good Queen.
Then came forth an Elf bearing a withered leafwhile her many-colored
robe and the purple tulips in her hair told her name and charge.
"Dear Queen" she sadly said"I would gladly bring aspleasant
tidings as my sisterbutalas! my flowers are proud and wilful
and when I went to gather my little gift of colored leaves for royal
garmentsthey bade me bring this withered blossomand tell you
they would serve no longer one who will not make them Queen over all
the other flowers. They would yield neither dew nor honeybut
proudly closed their leaves and bid me go."
"Your task has been too hard for you" said the Queen kindlyasshe
placed the drooping flower in the urn Eglantine had given"you will
see how this dew from a sweetpure heart will give new life and
loveliness even to this poor faded one. So can youdear Rainbowby
loving words and gentle teachingsbring back lost purity and peace
to those whom pride and selfishness have blighted. Go once again
to the proud flowersand tell them when they are queen of their own
hearts they will ask no fairer kingdom. Watch more tenderly than ever
over themsee that they lack neither dew nor airspeak lovingly
to themand let no unkind word or deed of theirs anger you. Let them
see by your patient love and care how much fairer they might be
and when next you comeyou will be laden with gifts from humble
Thus they told what they had doneand received from their Queen some
gentle chiding or loving word of praise.
"You will be weary of this" said little Rose-Leaf to Eva;"come now
and see where we are taught to read the tales written on flower-
leavesand the sweet language of the birdsand all that can make
a Fairy heart wiser and better."
Then into a cheerful place they wentwhere were many groups of
flowersamong whose leaves sat the child Elvesand learned from
their flower-books all that Fairy hands had written there. Some
studied how to watch the tender budswhen to spread them to the
sunlightand when to shelter them from rain; how to guard the
ripening seedsand when to lay them in the warm earth or send them
on the summer wind to far off hills and valleyswhere other Fairy
hands would tend and cherish themtill a sisterhood of happy flowers
sprang up to beautify and gladden the lonely spot where they had
fallen. Others learned to heal the wounded insectswhose frail limbs
a breeze could shatterand whowere it not for Fairy handswould
die ere half their happy summer life had gone. Some learned how by
pleasant dreams to cheer and comfort mortal heartsby whispered words
bf love to save from evil deeds those who had gone astrayto fill
young hearts with gentle thoughts and pure affectionsthat no sin
might mar the beauty of the human flower; while otherslike mortal
childrenlearned the Fairy alphabet. Thus the Elves made loving
friends by care and loveand no evil thing could harm themfor
those they helped to cherish and protect ever watched to shield and
Eva nodded to the gay little onesas they peeped from among the
leaves at the strangerand then she listened to the Fairy lessons.
Several tiny Elves stood on a broad leaf while the teacher sat
among the petals of a flower that bent beside themand asked
questions that none but Fairies would care to know.
"Twinkleif there lay nine seeds within a flower-cup and the wind
bore five awayhow many would the blossom have?" "Four"replied the
"Rosebudif a Cowslip opens three leaves in one day and four the
nexthow many rosy leaves will there be when the whole flower
"Seven" sang the gay little Elf.
"Harebellif a silkworm spin one yard of Fairy cloth in an hour
how many will it spin in a day?"
"Twelve" said the Fairy child.
"Primrosewhere ]ies Violet Island?"
"In the Lake of Ripples."
"Lillayou may bound Rose Land."
"On the north by Ferndalesouth by Sunny Wave Rivereast by the hill
of Morning Cloudsand west by the Evening Star."
"Nowlittle ones" said the teacher"you may go to yourpainting
that our visitor may see how we repair the flowers that earthly hands
Then Eva saw howon largewhite leavesthe Fairies learned to
imitate the lovely colorsand with tiny brushes to brighten the blush
on the anemone's cheekto deepen the blue of the violet's eyeand
add new light to the golden cowslip.
"You have stayed long enough" said the Elves at length"wehave
many things to show you. Come now and see what is our dearest work."
So Eva said farewell to the child Elvesand hastened with little
Rose-Leaf to the gates. Here she saw many bands of Fairiesfolded in
dark mantles that mortals might not know themwhowith the child
among themflew away over hill and valley. Some went to the cottages
amid the hillssome to the sea-side to watch above the humble fisher
folks; but little Rose-Leaf and many others went into the noisy city.
Eva wondered within herself what good the tiny Elves could do in this
great place; but she soon learnedfor the Fairy band went among the
poor and friendlessbringing pleasant dreams to the sick and old
sweettender thoughts of love and gentleness to the youngstrength
to the weakand patient cheerfulness to the poor and lonely.
Then the child wondered no longerbut deeper grew her love
for the tender-hearted Elveswho left their own happy home to cheer
and comfort those who never knew what hands had clothed and fed them
what hearts had given of their own joyand brought such happiness
Long they stayedand many a lesson little Eva learned: but when
she begged them to go backthey still led her onsaying"Our work
is not yet done; shall we leave so many sad hearts when we may
cheer themso many dark homes that we may brighten? We must stay
yet longerlittle Evaand you may learn yet more."
Then they went into a dark and lonely roomand here they found
a palesad-eyed childwho wept bitter tears over a faded flower.
"Ah" sighed the little one"it was my only friendand I
cherished it with all my lone heart's love; 't was all that made
my sad life happy; and it is gone."
Tenderly the child fastened the drooping stemand placed it
where the one faint ray of sunlight stole into the dreary room.
"Do you see" said the Elves"through this simple flower willwe
keep the child pure and stainless amid the sin and sorrow around her.
The love of this shall lead her on through temptation and through
griefand she shall be a spirit of joy and consolation to the sinful
and the sorrowing."
And with busy love toiled the Elves amid the withered leaves
and new strength was given to the flower; whileas day by day the
friendless child watered the growing budsdeeper grew her love for
the unseen friends who had given her one thing to cherish in her
lonely home; sweetgentle thoughts filled her heart as she bent
above itand the blossom's fragrant breath was to her a whispered
voice of all fair and lovely things; and as the flower taught her
so she taught others.
The loving Elves brought her sweet dreams by nightand happy thoughts
by dayand as she grew in childlike beautypure and patient amid
poverty and sorrowthe sinful were rebukedsorrowing hearts grew
lightand the weak and selfish forgot their idle fearswhen they saw
her trustingly live on with none to aid or comfort her. The love
she bore the tender flower kept her own heart innocent and bright
and the pure human flower was a lesson to those who looked upon it;
and soon the gloomy house was bright with happy heartsthat learned
of the gentle child to bear poverty and grief as she had doneto
forgive those who brought care and wrong to themand to seek for
happiness in humble deeds of charity and love.
"Our work is done" whispered the Elvesand with blessings on the
two fair flowersthey flew away to other homes;--to a blind old man
who dwelt alone with none to love himtill through long years of
darkness and of silent sorrow the heart within had grown dim and cold.
No sunlight could enter at the darkened eyesand none were near
to whisper gentle wordsto cheer and comfort.
Thus he dwelt forgotten and aloneseeking to give no joy to others
possessing none himself. Life was dark and sad till the untiring
Elves came to his dreary homebringing sunlight and love. They
whispered sweet words of comfort--howif the darkened eyes could
find no light withoutwithin there might be never-failing happiness;
gentle feelings and sweetloving thoughts could make the heart fair
if the gloomyselfish sorrow were but cast awayand all would be
bright and beautiful.
They brought light-hearted childrenwho gathered round himmaking
the desolate home fair with their young facesand his sad heart gay
with their sweetchildish voices. The love they bore he could not
cast awaysunlight stole inthe dark thoughts passed awayand the
earth was a pleasant home to him.
Thus their little hands led him back to peace and happiness
flowers bloomed beside his doorand their fragrant breath brought
happy thoughts of pleasant valleys and green hills; birds sang to him
and their sweet voices woke the music in his own soulthat never
failed to calm and comfort. Happy sounds were heard in his once
lonely homeand bright faces gathered round his kneeand listened
tenderly while he strove to tell them all the good that gentleness and
love had done for him.
Still the Elves watched nearand brighter grew the heart as kindly
thoughts and tender feelings entered inand made it their home;
and when the old man fell asleepabove his grave little feet trod
lightlyand loving hands laid fragrant flowers.
Then went the Elves into the dreary prison-houseswhere sad hearts
pined in lonely sorrow for the joy and freedom they had lost. To
these came the loving band with tender wordstelling of the peace
they yet might win by patient striving and repentant tearsthus
waking in their bosoms all the holy feelings and sweet affections
that had slept so long.
They told pleasant talesand sang their sweetest songs to cheer and
gladdenwhile the dim cells grew bright with the sunlightand
fragrant with the flowers the loving Elves had broughtand by their
gentle teachings those saddespairing hearts were filled with patient
hope and earnest longing to win back their lost innocence and joy.
Thus to all who needed help or comfort went the faithful Fairies; and
when at length they turned towards Fairy-Landmany were the grateful
happy hearts they left behind.
Then through the summer skyabove the blossoming earththey
journeyed homehappier for the joy they had givenwiser for the good
they had done.
All Fairy-Land was dressed in flowersand the soft wind went singing
byladen with their fragrant breath. Sweet music sounded through the
airand troops of Elves in their gayest robes hastened to the palace
where the feast was spread.
Soon the bright hall was filled with smiling faces and fair formsand
little Evaas she stood beside the Queenthought she had never seen
a sight so lovely.
The many-colored shadows of the fairest flowers played on the pure
white wallsand fountains sparkled in the sunlightmaking music
as the cool waves rose and fellwhile to and frowith waving wings
and joyous voiceswent the smiling Elvesbearing fruit and honey
or fragrant garlands for each other's hair.
Long they feastedgayly they sangand Evadancing merrily
among themlonged to be an Elf that she might dwell forever
in so fair a home.
At length the music ceasedand the Queen saidas she laid her hand
on little Eva's shining hair:--
"Dear childtomorrow we must bear you homeformuch as we long
to keep youit were wrong to bring such sorrow to your loving earthly
friends; therefore we will guide you to the brook-sideand there say
farewell till you come again to visit us. Naydo not weepdear
Rose-Leaf; you shall watch over little Eva's flowersand when she
looks at them she will think of you. Come now and lead her to the
Fairy gardenand show her what we think our fairest sight. Weep
no morebut strive to make her last hours with us happy as you can."
With gentle caresses and most tender words the loving Elves gathered
about the childandwith Rose-Leaf by her sidethey led her through
the palaceand along greenwinding pathstill Eva saw what seemed
a wall of flowers rising before herwhile the air was filled with the
most fragrant odorsand the lowsweet music as of singing blossoms.
"Where have you brought meand what mean these lovely sounds?"
"Look hereand you shall see" said Rose-Leafas she bent aside
the vines"but listen silently or you cannot hear."
Then Evalooking through the drooping vinesbeheld a garden filled
with the loveliest flowers; fair as were all the blossoms she had seen
in Fairy-Landnone were so beautiful as these. The rose glowed
with a deeper crimsonthe lily's soft leaves were more purely white
the crocus and humble cowslip shone like sunlightand the violet
was blue as the sky that smiled above it.
"How beautiful they are" whispered Eva"butdear Rose-Leafwhy
do you keep them hereand why call you this your fairest sight?"
"Look againand I will tell you" answered the Fairy.
Eva lookedand saw from every flower a tiny form come forth to
welcome the Elveswho allsave Rose-Leafhad flown above the wall
and were now scattering dew upon the flowers' bright leaves and
talking gayly with the Spiritswho gathered around themand seemed
full of joy that they had come. The child saw that each one wore the
colors of the flower that was its home. Delicate and graceful were
the little formsbright the silken hair that fell about each lovely
face; and Eva heard the lowsweet murmur of their silvery voices and
the rustle of their wings. She gazed in silent wonderforgetting she
knew not who they weretill the Fairy said--
"These are the spirits of the flowersand this the Fairy Home where
those whose hearts were pure and loving on the earth come to bloom in
fadeless beauty herewhen their earthly life is past. The humblest
flower that blooms has a home with usfor outward beauty is a
worthless thing if all be not fair and sweet within. Do you see
yonder lovely spirit singing with my sister Moonlight? a clover
blossom was her homeand she dwelt unknownunloved; yet patient and
contentbearing cheerfully the sorrows sent her. We watched and saw
how fair and sweet the humble flower grewand then gladly bore her
hereto blossom with the lily and the rose. The flowers' lives
are often shortfor cruel hands destroy them; therefore is it our
greatest joy to bring them hitherwhere no careless foot or wintry
wind can harm themwhere they bloom in quiet beautyrepaying our
care by their love and sweetest perfumes."
"I will never break another flower" cried Eva; " but let mego
to themdear Fairy; I would gladly know the lovely spiritsand ask
forgiveness for the sorrow I have caused. May I not go in?"
"Naydear Evayou are a mortal childand cannot enter here; but I
will tell them of the kind little maiden who has learned to love them
and they will remember you when you are gone. Come nowfor you have
seen enoughand we must be away."
On a rosy morning cloudsurrounded by the loving Elveswent Eva
through the sunny sky. The fresh wind bore them gently onand soon
they stood again beside the brookwhose waves danced brightly as if
to welcome them.
"Nowere we say farewell" said the Queenas they gathered nearer
to the child"tell medear Evawhat among all our Fairy gifts
will make you happiestand it shall be yours."
"You good little Fairies" said Evafolding them in her armsfor
she was no longer the tiny child she had been in Fairy-Land"you dear
good little Elveswhat can I ask of youwho have done so much
to make me happyand taught me so many good and gentle lessons
the memory of which will never pass away? I can only ask of you the
power to be as pure and gentle as yourselvesas tender and loving
to the weak and sorrowingas untiring in kindly deeds to all. Grant
me this giftand you shall see that little Eva has not forgotten
what you have taught her."
"The power shall be yours" said the Elvesand laid their softhands
on her head; we will watch over you in dreamsand when you would have
tidings of usask the flowers in your gardenand they will tell you
all you would know. Farewell. Remember Fairy-Land and all your
They clung about her tenderlyand little Rose-Leaf placed a flower
crown on her headwhispering softly"When you would come to us
againstand by the brook-side and wave this in the airand we will
gladly take you to our home again. Farewelldear Eva. Think of your
little Rose-Leaf when among the flowers."
Long Eva watched their shining wingsand listened to the music of
their voices as they flew singing homeand when at length the last
little form had vanished among the cloudsshe saw that all around her
where the Elves had beenthe fairest flowers had sprung upand the
lonely brook-side was a blooming garden.
Thus she stood among the waving blossomswith the Fairy garland in
her hairand happy feelings in her heartbetter and wiser for her
visit to Fairy-Land.
"NowStar-Twinklewhat have you to teach?" asked the Queen.
"Nothing but a little song I heard the hare-bells singing" replied
the Fairyandtaking her harpsangin a lowsweet voice:--
THE FLOWER'S LESSON.
THERE grew a fragrant rose-tree where the brook flows
With two little tender budsand one full rose;
When the sun went down to his bed in the west
The little buds leaned on the rose-mother's breast
While the bright eyed stars their long watch kept
And the flowers of the valley in their green cradles slept;
Then silently in odors they communed with each otber
The two little buds on the bosom of their mother.
"O sister" said the little oneas she gazed at the sky
"I wish that the Dew Elvesas they wander lightly by
Would bring me a star; for they never grow dim
And the Father does not need them to burn round him.
The shining drops of dew the Elves bring each day
And place in my bosomso soon pass away;
But a star would glitter brightly through the long summer hours
And I should be fairer than all my sister flowers.
That were better far than the dew-drops that fall
On the high and the lowand come alike to all.
I would be fair and statelywith a bright star to shine
And give a queenly air to this crimson robe of mine."
And proudly she cried"These fire-flies shall be
My jewelssince the stars can never come to me."
Just then a tiny dew-drop that hung o'er the dell
On the breast of the bud like a soft star fell;
But impatiently she flung it away from her leaf
And it fell on her mother like a tear of grief
While she folded to her breastwith wilful pride
A glittering fire-fly that hung by her side.
"Heed" said the mother rose"daughter mine
Why shouldst thou seek for beauty not thine?
The Father hath made thee what thou now art;
And what he most loveth is a sweetpure heart.
Then why dost thou take with such discontent
The loving gift which he to thee hath sent?
For the cool fresh dew will render thee far
More lovely and sweet than the brightest star;
They were made for Heavenand can never come to shine
Like the fire-fly thou hast in that foolish breast of thine.
O my foolish little buddo listen to thy mother;
Care only for true beautyand seek for no other.
There will be grief and trouble in that wilful little heart;
Unfold thy leavesmy daughterand let the fly depart."
But the proud little bud would have her own will
And folded the fire-fly more closely still;
Till the struggling insect tore open the vest
Of purple and greenthat covered her breast.
When the sun came upshe saw with grief
The blooming of her sister bud leaf by leaf.
While sheonce as fair and bright as the rest
Hung her weary head down on her wounded breast.
Bright grew the sunshineand the soft summer air
Was filled with the music of flowers singing there;
But faint grew the little bud with thirst and pain
And longed for the cool dew; but now 't was in vain.
Then bitterly she wept for her folly and pride
As drooping she stood by her fair sister's side.
Then the rose mother leaned the weary little head
On her bosom to restand tenderly she said:
"Thon hast learnedmy little budthatwhatever may betide
Thou canst win thyself no joy by passion or by pride.
The loving Father sends the sunshine and the shower
That thou mayst become a perfect little flower;--
The sweet dews to feed theethe soft wind to cheer
And the earth as a pleasant homewhile thou art dwelling here.
Then shouldst thou not be grateful for all this kindly care
And strive to keep thyself most innocent and fair?
Then seekmy little blossomto win humility;
Be fair withoutbe pure withinand thou wilt happy be.
So when the quiet Autumn of thy fragrant life shall come
Thou mayst pass awayto bloom in the Flower Spirits' home."
Then from the mother's breastwhere it still lay hid
Into the fading bud the dew-drop gently slid;
Stronger grew the little formand happy tears fell
As the dew did its silent workand the bud grew well
While the gentle rose leanedwith motherly pride
O'er the fair little ones that bloomed at her side.
Night came againand the fire-flies flew;
But the bud let them passand drank of the dew;
While the soft stars shonefrom the still summer heaven
On the happy little flower that had learned the lesson given.
The music-loving Elves clapped their handsas Star-Twinkle ceased;
and the Queen placed a flower crownwith a gentle smileupon the
"The little bud's lesson shall teach us how sad a thing is pride
and that humility alone can bring true happiness to flower and Fairy.
You shall come nextZephyr."
And the little Fairywho lay rocking to and fro upon a fluttering
vine-leafthus began her story:--
"As I lay resting in the bosom of a cowslip that bent above the brook
a little windtired of playtold me this tale of
LILY-BELL AND THISTLEDOWN.
ONCE upon a timetwo little Fairies went out into the worldto
seek their fortune. Thistle-down was as gay and gallant a little Elf
as ever spread a wing. His purple mantleand doublet of greenwere
embroidered with the brightest threadsand the plume in his cap
came always from the wing of the gayest butterfly.
But he was not loved in Fairy-Landforlike the flower whose
name and colors he worethough fair to look uponmany were the
little thorns of cruelty and selfishness that lay concealed by his
gay mantle. Many a gentle flower and harmless bird died by his hand
for he cared for himself aloneand whatever gave him pleasure must
be histhough happy hearts were rendered sadand peaceful homes
Such was Thistledown; but far different was his little friend
Lily-Bell. Kindcompassionateand lovingwherever her gentle face
was seenjoy and gratitude were found; no suffering flower or insect
that did not love and bless the kindly Fairy; and thus all Elf-Land
looked upon her as a friend.
Nor did this make her vain and heedless of others; she humb]y dwelt
among themseeking to do all the good she might; and many a houseless
bird and hungry insect that Thistledown had harmed did she feed and
shelterand in return no evil could befall herfor so many
friends were all about herseeking to repay her tenderness and love
by their watchful care.
She would not now have left Fairy-Landbut to help and counsel her
wild companionThistledownwhodiscontented with his quiet home
WOULD seek his fortune in the great worldand she feared he would
suffer from his own faults for others would not always be as gentle
and forgiving as his kindred. So the kind little Fairy left her home
and friends to go with him; and thusside by sidethey flew beneath
the bright summer sky.
On and onover hill and valleythey wentchasing the gay
butterfliesor listening to the beesas they flew from flower to
flower like busy little housewivessinging as they worked; till
at last they reached a pleasant gardenfilled with flowers and green
"See" cried Thistledown"what a lovely home is here; let usrest
among the cool leavesand hear the flowers singfor I am sadly tired
So into the quiet garden they wentand the winds gayly welcomed them
while the flowers nodded on their stemsoffering their bright leaves
for the Elves to rest uponand freshsweet honey to refresh them.
"Nowdear Thistledo not harm these friendly blossoms" said
Lily-Bell; "see how kindly they spread their leavesand offer us
their dew. It would be very wrong in you to repay their care with
cruelty and pain. You will be tender for my sakedear Thistle."
Then she went among the flowersand they bent lovingly before her
and laid their soft leaves against her little facethat she might see
how glad they were to welcome one so good and gentleand kindly
offered their dew and honey to the weary little Fairywho sat among
their fragrant petals and looked smilingly on the happy blossomswho
with their softlow voicessang her to sleep.
While Lily-Bell lay dreaming among the rose-leavesThistledown went
wandering through the garden. First he robbed the bees of their
honeyand rudely shook the little flowersthat he might get the dew
they had gathered to bathe their buds in. Then he chased the bright
winged fliesand wounded them with the sharp thorn he carried for a
sword; he broke the spider's shining webslamed the birdsand soon
wherever he passed lay wounded insects and drooping flowers; while
the winds carried the tidings over the gardenand bird and blossom
looked upon him as an evil spiritand fled away or closed their
leaveslest he should harm them.
Thus he wentleaving sorrow and pain behind himtill he came to the
roses where Lily-Bell lay sleeping. Thereweary of his cruel sport
he stayed to rest beneath a graceful rose-treewhere grew one
blooming flower and a tiny bud.
"Why are you so slow in bloominglittle one? You are too old to be
rocked in your green cradle longerand should be out among your
sister flowers" said Thistleas he lay idly in the shadow of the
"My little bud is not yet strong enough to venture forth" repliedthe
roseas she bent fondly over it; "the sunlight and the rain would
blight her tender formwere she to blossom nowbut soon she will be
fit to bear them; till then she is content to rest beside her mother
and to wait."
"You silly flower" said Thistledown"see how quickly I willmake you
bloom! your waiting is all useless." And speaking thushe pulled
rudely apart the folded leavesand laid them open to the sun and air;
while the rose mother implored the cruel Fairy to leave her little bud
"It is my firstmy only one" said she"and I have watchedover it
with such carehoping it would soon bloom beside me; and now you have
destroyed it. How could you harm the little helpless onethat never
did aught to injure you?" And while her tears fell like summer rain
she drooped in grief above the little budand sadly watched it fading
in the sunlight; but Thistledownheedless of the sorrow he had given
spread his wings and flew away.
Soon the sky grew darkand heavy drops began to fall. Then Thistle
hastened to the lilyfor her cup was deepand the white leaves
fell like curtains over the fragrant bed; he was a dainty little Elf
and could not sleep among the clovers and bright buttercups. But
when he asked the flower to unfold her leaves and take him inshe
turned her palesoft face awayand answered sadly"I must shield my
little drooping sisters whom you have harmedand cannot let you in."
Then Thistledown was very angryand turned to find shelter among the
stately roses; but they showed their sharp thornsandwhile their
rosy faces glowed with angertold him to begoneor they would repay
him for the wrong he had done their gentle kindred.
He would have stayed to harm thembut the rain fell fastand he
hurried awaysaying"The tulips will take me infor I have praised
their beautyand they are vain and foolish flowers."
But when he cameall wet and coldpraying for shelter among their
thick leavesthey only laughed and said scornfully"We know you
and will not let you infor you are false and crueland will
only bring us sorrow. You need not come to us for another mantle
when the rain has spoilt your fine one; and do not stay hereor
we will do you harm."
Then they waved their broad leaves stormilyand scattered the heavy
drops on his dripping garments.
"Now must I go to the humble daisies and blue violets" saidThistle
"they will be glad to let in so fine a Fairyand I shall die in
this cold wind and rain."
So away he flewas fast as his heavy wings would bear himto the
daisies; but they nodded their heads wiselyand closed their leaves
yet closersaying sharply--
"Go away with yourselfand do not imagine we will open our leaves
to youand spoil our seeds by letting in the rain. It serves you
rightly; to gain our love and confidenceand repay it by such
cruelty! You will find no shelter here for one whose careless hand
wounded our little friend Violetand broke the truest heart that ever
beat in a flower's breast. We are very angry with youwicked Fairy;
go away and hide yourself."
"Ah" cried the shivering Elf"where can I find shelter? Iwill go
to the violets: they will forgive and take me in."
But the daisies had spoken truly; the gentle little flower was dead
and her blue-eyed sisters were weeping bitterly over her faded leaves.
"Now I have no friends" sighed poor Thistle-down"and mustdie of
cold. Ahif I had but minded Lily-BellI might now be dreaming
beneath some flower's leaves."
"Others can forgive and lovebeside Lily-Bell and Violet" said
a faintsweet voice; "I have no little bud to shelter nowand you
can enter here." It was the rose mother that spokeand Thistle saw
how pale the bright leaves had grownand how the slender stem was
bowed. Grievedashamedand wondering at the flower's forgiving
wordshe laid his weary head on the bosom he had filled with sorrow
and the fragrant leaves were folded carefully about him.
But he could find no rest. The rose strove to comfort him; but when
she fancied he was sleepingthoughts of her lost bud stole inand
the little heart beat so sadly where he laythat no sleep came; while
the bitter tears he had caused to flow fell more coldly on him than
the rain without. Then he heard the other flowers whispering among
themselves of his crueltyand the sorrow he had brought to their
happy home; and many wondered how the rosewho had suffered most
could yet forgive and shelter him.
"Never could I forgive one who had robbed me of my children. I could
bow my head and diebut could give no happiness to one who had taken
all my own" said Hyacinthbending fondly over the little ones that
blossomed by her side.
"Dear Violet is not the only one who will leave us" sobbed little
Mignonette; "the rose mother will fade like her little budand we
shall lose our gentlest teacher. Her last lesson is forgiveness;
let us show our love for herand the gentle stranger Lily-Bell
by allowing no unkind word or thought of him who has brought us all
The angry words were hushedand through the long night nothing was
heard but the dropping of the rainand the low sighs of the rose.
Soon the sunlight came againand with it Lily-Bell seeking for
Thistledown; but he was ashamedand stole away.
When the flowers told their sorrow to kind-hearted Lily-Be]lshe wept
bitterly at the pain her friend had givenand with loving words
strove to comfort those whom he had grieved; with gentle care she
healed the wounded birdsand watched above the flowers he had harmed
bringing each day dew and sunlight to refresh and strengthentill all
were well again; and though sorrowing for their dead friendsstill
they forgave Thistle for the sake of her who had done so much for
them. Thuserelongbuds fairer than that she had lost lay on the
rose mother's breastand for all she had suffered she was well repaid
by the love of Lily-Bell and her sister flowers.
And when birdbeeand blossom were strong and fair againthe gentle
Fairy said farewelland flew away to seek her friendleaving behind
many grateful heartswho owed their joy and life to her.
Meanwhileover hill and dale went Thistledownand for a time was
kind and gentle to every living thing. He missed sadly the little
friend who had left her happy home to watch over himbut he was
too proud to own his faultand so went onhoping she would find him.
One day he fell asleepand when he woke the sun had setand the dew
began to fall; the flower-cups were closedand he had nowhere to go
till a friendly little beebelated by his heavy load of honeybid
the weary Fairy come with him.
"Help me to bear my honey homeand you can stay with us tonight"
he kindly said.
So Thistle gladly went with himand soon they came to a pleasant
gardenwhere among the fairest flowers stood the hivecovered with
vines and overhung with blossoming trees. Glow-worms stood at the
door to light them homeand as they passed inthe Fairy thought how
charming it must be to dwell in such a lovely place. The floor of wax
was pure and white as marblewhile the walls were formed of golden
honey-comband the air was fragrant with the breath of flowers.
"You cannot see our Queen to-night" said the little bee"but
I will show you to a bed where you can rest."
And he led the tired Fairy to a little cellwhere on a bed of
flower-leaves he folded his wings and fell asleep.
As the first ray of sunlight stole inhe was awakened by sweet music.
It was the morning song of the bees.
"Awake! awake! for the earliest gleam
Of golden sunlight shines
On the rippling wavesthat brightly flow
Beneath the flowering vines.
Awake! awake! for the lowsweet chant
Of the wild-birds' morning hymn
Comes floating by on the fragrant air
Through the forest cool and dim;
Then spread each wing
And workand sing
Through the longbright sunny hours;
O'er the pleasant earth
We journey forth
For a day among the flowers.
"Awake! awake! for the summer wind
Hath bidden the blossoms unclose
Hath opened the violet's soft blue eye
And wakened the sleeping rose.
And lightly they wave on their slender stems
Fragrantand freshand fair
Waiting for usas we singing come
To gather our honey-dew there.
Then spread each wing
And workand sing
Through the longbright sunny hours;
O'er the pleasant earth
We journey forth
For a day among the flowers!"
Soon his friend came to bid him riseas the Queen desired to speak
with him. Sowith his purple mantle thrown gracefully over his
shoulderand his little cap held respectfully in his handhe
followed Nimble-Wing to the great hallwhere the Queen was being
served by her little pages. Some bore her fresh dew and honeysome
fanned her with fragrant flower-leaveswhile others scattered the
sweetest perfumes on the air.
"Little Fairy" said the Queen"you are welcome to my palace;and
we will gladly have you stay with usif you will obey our laws.
We do not spend the pleasant summer days in idleness and pleasurebut
each one labors for the happiness and good of all. If our home is
beautifulwe have made it so by industry; and hereas one large
loving familywe dwell; no sorrowcareor discord can enter in
while all obey the voice of her who seeks to be a wise and gentle
Queen to them. If you will stay with uswe will teach you many
things. Orderpatienceindustrywho can teach so well as they
who are the emblems of these virtues?
"Our laws are few and simple. You must each day gather your share of
honeysee that your cell is sweet and freshas you yourself must be;
rise with the sunand with him to sleep. You must harm no flower in
doing your worknor take more than your just share of honey; for they
so kindly give us foodit were most cruel to treat them with aught
save gentleness and gratitude. Now will you stay with usand learn
what even mortals seek to knowthat labor brings true happiness?"
And Thistle said he would stay and dwell with them; for he was tired
of wandering aloneand thought he might live here till Lily-Bell
should comeor till he was weary of the kind-hearted bees. Then they
took away his gay garmentsand dressed him like themselvesin the
black velvet cloak with golden bands across his breast.
"Now come with us" they said. So forth into the green fields
they wentand made their breakfast among the dewy flowers; and then
till the sun set they flew from bud to blossomsinging as they went;
and Thistle for a while was happier than when breaking flowers and
harming gentle birds.
But he soon grew tired of working all day in the sunand longed to be
free again. He could find no pleasure with the industrious beesand
sighed to be away with his idle friendsthe butterflies; so while the
others worked he slept or playedand thenin haste to get his share
he tore the flowersand took all they had saved for their own food.
Nor was this all; he told such pleasant tales of the life he led
before he came to live with themthat many grew unhappy and
discontentedand they who had before wished no greater joy than
the love and praise of their kind Queennow disobeyed and blamed her
for all she had done for them.
Long she bore with their unkind words and deeds; and when at length
she found it was the ungrateful Fairy who had wrought this trouble in
her quiet kingdomshe strovewith sweetforgiving wordsto show
him all the wrong he had done; but he would not listenand still went
on destroying the happiness of those who had done so much for him.
Thenwhen she saw that no kindness could touch his heartshe said:--
"Thistledownwe took you ina friendless strangerfed and clothed
youand made our home as pleasant to you as we could; and in return
for all our careyou have brought discontent and trouble to my
subjectsgrief and care to me. I cannot let my peaceful kingdom
be disturbed by you; therefore go and seek another home. You may find
other friendsbut none will love you more than wehad you been
worthy of it; so farewell." And the doors of the once happy home
he had disturbed were closed behind him.
Then he was very angryand determined to bring some great sorrow on
the good Queen. So he sought out the idlewilful beeswhom he had
first made discontentedbidding them follow himand win the honey
the Queen had stored up for the winter.
"Let us feast and make merry in the pleasant summer-time" said
Thistle; "winter is far offwhy should we waste these lovely days
toiling to lay up the food we might enjoy now. Comewe will take
what we have madeand think no more of what the Queen has said."
So while the industrious bees were out among the flowershe led
the drones to the hiveand took possession of the honeydestroying
and laying waste the home of the kind bees; thenfearing that
in their grief and anger they might harm himThistle flew away to
seek new friends.
After many wanderingshe came at length to a great forestand here
beside a still lake he stayed to rest. Delicate wood-flowers grew near
him in the deep green mosswith drooping headsas if they listened
to the soft wind sing-ing among the pines. Bright-eyed birds peeped
at him from their nestsand many-colored insects danced above the
"This is a pleasant place" said Thistle; "it shall be my homefor a
while. Come hitherblue dragon-flyI would gladly make a friend of
youfor I am all alone."
The dragon-fly folded his shining wings beside the Elflistened to
the tale he toldpromised to befriend the lonely oneand strove
to make the forest a happy home to him.
So here dwelt Thistleand many kind friends gathered round him
for he spoke gently to themand they knew nothing of the cruel deeds
he had done; and for a while he was happy and content. But at length
he grew weary of the gentle birdsand wild-flowersand sought new
pleasure in destroying the beauty he was tired of; and soon the
friends who had so kindly welcomed him looked upon him as an evil
spiritand shrunk away as he approached.
At length his friend the dragon-fly besought him to leave the quiet
home he had disturbed. Then Thistle was very angryand while the
dragon-fly was sleeping among the flowers that hung over the lakehe
led an ugly spider to the spotand bade him weave his nets about the
sleeping insectand bind him fast. The cruel spider gladly obeyed
the ungrateful Fairy; and soon the poor fly could move neither leg nor
wing. Then Thistle flew away through the woodleaving sorrow and
trouble behind him.
He had not journeyed far before he grew wearyand lay down to rest.
Long he sleptand when he awokeand tried to risehis hands and
wings were bound; while beside him stood two strange little figures
with dark faces and garmentsthat rustled like withered leaves; who
cried to himas he struggled to get free--
"Lie stillyou naughty Fairyyou are in the Brownies' powerand
shall be well punished for your cruelty ere we let you go."
So poor Thistle lay sorrowfullywondering what would come of it
and wishing Lily-Bell would come to help and comfort him; but he had
left herand she could not help him now.
Soon a troop of Brownies came rustling through the airand gathered
round himwhile one who wore an acorn-cup on his headand was their
Kingsaidas he stood beside the trembling Fairy--
"You have done many cruel thingsand caused much sorrow to happy
hearts; now you are in my powerand I shall keep you prisoner
till you have repented. You cannot dwell on the earth without harming
the fair things given you to enjoyso you shall live alone in
solitude and darknesstill you have learned to find happiness in
gentle deedsand forget yourself in giving joy to others. When you
have learned thisI will set you free."
Then the Brownies bore him to a highdark rockandentering a
little doorled him to a small celldimly lighted by a crevice
through which came a single gleam of sunlight; and therethrough
longlong dayspoor Thistle sat aloneand gazed with wistful eyes
at the little openinglonging to be out on the green earth. No one
came to himbut the silent Brownies who brought his daily food; and
with bitter tears he wept for Lily-Bellmourning his cruelty and
selfishnessseeking to do some kindly deed that might atone for his
A little vine that grew outside his prison rock came creeping up
and looked in through the creviceas if to cheer the lonely Fairy
who welcomed it most gladlyand daily sprinkled its soft leaves
with his small share of waterthat the little vine might live
even if it darkened more and more his dim cell.
The watchful Brownies saw this kind deedand brought him fresh
flowersand many thingswhich Thistle gratefully receivedthough
he never knew it was his kindness to the vine that gained for him
Thus did poor Thistle strive to be more gentle and unselfishand
grew daily happier and better.
Now while Thistledown was a captive in the lonely cellLily-Bell was
seeking him far and wideand sadly traced him by the sorrowing hearts
he had left behind.
She healed the drooping flowerscheered the Queen Bee's grief
brought back her discontented subjectsrestored the home to peace
and orderand left them blessing her.
Thus she journeyed ontill she reached the forest where Thistledown
had lost his freedom. She unbound the starving dragon-flyand tended
the wounded birds; but though all learned to love hernone could tell
where the Brownies had borne her friendtill a little wind came
whispering byand told her that a sweet voice had been heardsinging
Fairy songsdeep in a moss-grown rock.
Then Lily-Bell went seeking through the forestlistening for the
voice. Long she looked and listened in vain; when one dayas she was
wandering through a lonely dellshe heard a faintlow sound of
musicand soon a distant voice mournfully singing--
"Bright shines the summer sun
Soft is the summer air;
Gayly the wood-birds sing
Flowers are blooming fair.
"Butdeep in the darkcold rock
Sadly I dwell
Longing for theedear friend
"Thistledear Thistlewhere are you?" joyfully cried Lily-Bell
as she flew from rock to rock. But the voice was stilland she
would have looked in vainhad she not seen a little vinewhose green
leaves fluttering to and fro seemed beckoning her to come; and as she
stood among its flowers she sang--
"Through sunlight and summer air
I have sought for thee long
Guided by birds and flowers
And now by thy song.
O'er hill and dell
Hither to comfort thee
Then from the vine-leaves two little arms were stretched out to her
and Thistledown was found. So Lily-Bell made her home in the shadow
of the vineand brought such joy to Thistlethat his lonely cell
seemed pleasanter to him than all the world beside; and he grew daily
more like his gentle friend. But it did not last longfor one day
she did not come. He watched and waited longfor the little face
that used to peep smiling in through the vine-leaves. He called and
beckoned through the narrow openingbut no Lily-Bell answered; and
he wept sadly as he thought of all she had done for himand that now
he could not go to seek and help herfor he had lost his freedom
by his own cruel and wicked deeds.
At last he besought the silent Brownie earnestly to tell him
whither she had gone.
"O let me go to her" prayed Thistle; "if she is in sorrowIwill
comfort herand show my gratitude for all she has done for me: dear
Brownieset me freeand when she is found I will come and be your
prisoner again. I will bear and suffer any danger for her sake."
"Lily-Bell is safe" replied the Brownie; "comeyou shalllearn
the trial that awaits you."
Then he led the wondering Fairy from his prisonto a group of tall
drooping fernsbeneath whose shade a large white lily had been
placedforming a little tentwithin whichon a couch of thick green
mosslay Lily-Bell in a deep sleep; the sunlight stole softly in
and all was cool and still.
"You cannot wake her" said the Brownieas Thistle folded his arms
tenderly about her. "It is a magic slumberand she will not wake
till you shall bring hither gifts from the EarthAirand Water
Spirits. 'T is a long and weary taskfor you have made no friends
to help youand will have to seek for them alone. This is the trial
we shall give you; and if your love for Lily-Bell be strong enough
to keep you from all cruelty and selfishnessand make you kind and
loving as you should beshe will awake to welcome youand love you
still more fondly than before."
Then Thistlewith a last look on the little friend he loved so well
set forth alone to his long task.
The home of the Earth Spirits was the first to findand no one
would tell him where to look. So far and wide he wanderedthrough
gloomy forests and among lonely hillswith none to cheer him when
sad and wearynone to guide him on his way.
On he wentthinking of Lily-Belland for her sake bearing all;
for in his quiet prison many gentle feelings and kindly thoughts had
sprung up in his heartand he now strove to be friends with alland
win for himself the love and confidence of those whom once he sought
to harm and cruelly destroy.
But few believed him; for they remembered his false promises and
evil deedsand would not trust him now; so poor Thistle found few
to love or care for him.
Long he wanderedand carefully he sought; but could not find the
Earth Spirits' home. And when at length he reached the pleasant
garden where he and Lily-Bell first partedhe said within himself--
"Here I will stay awhileand try to win by kindly deeds the flowers'
forgiveness for the pain and sorrow I brought them long ago; and they
may learn to love and trust me. Soeven if I never find the Spirits
I shall be worthier Lily-Bell's affection if I strive to atone for
the wrong I have done."
Then he went among the flowersbut they closed their leavesand
shrank awaytrembling with fear; while the birds fled to hide
among the leaves as he passed.
This grieved poor Thistleand he longed to tell them how changed
he had become; but they would not listen. So he tried to showby
quiet deeds of kindnessthat he meant no harm to them; and soon
the kind-hearted birds pitied the lonely Fairyand when he came near
sang cheering songsand dropped ripe berries in his pathfor he
no longer broke their eggsor hurt their little ones.
And when the flowers saw thisand found the once cruel Elf now
watering and tending little budsfeeding hungry insectsand
helping the busy ants to bear their heavy loadsthey shared the pity
of the birdsand longed to trust him; but they dared not yet.
He came one daywhile wandering through the gardento the little
rose he had once harmed so sadly. Many buds now bloomed beside her
and her soft face glowed with motherly prideas she bent fondly over
them. But when Thistle camehe saw with sorrow how she bade them
close their green curtainsand conceal themselves beneath the leaves
for there was danger near; anddrooping still more closely over them
she seemed to wait with trembling fear the cruel Fairy's coming.
But no rude hand tore her little ones awayno unkind words were
spoken; but a soft shower of dew fell lightly on themand Thistle
bending tenderly above themsaid--
"Dear flowerforgive the sorrow I once brought youand trust me now
for Lily-Bell's sake. Her gentleness has changed my cruelty to
kindnessand I would gladly repay all for the harm I have done;
but none will love and trust me now."
Then the little rose looked upand while the dew-drops shone
like happy tears upon her leavesshe said--
"I WILL love and trust youThistlefor you are indeed much
changed. Make your home among usand my sister flowers will soon
learn to love you as you deserve. Not for sweet Lily-Bell's sake
but for your ownwill I become your friend; for you are kind and
gentle nowand worthy of our love. Look upmy little onesthere is
no danger near; look upand welcome Thistle to our home."
Then the little buds raised their rosy facesdanced again upon
their stemsand nodded kindly at Thistlewho smiled on them through
happy tearsand kissed the sweetforgiving rosewho loved and
trusted him when most forlorn and friendless.
But the other flowers wondered among themselvesand Hyacinth said--
"If Rose-Leaf is his friendsurely we may be; yet still I fear he may
soon grow weary of this gentlenessand be again the wicked Fairy he
once wasand we shall suffer for our kindness to him now."
"Ahdo not doubt him!" cried warm-hearted little Mignonette;"surely
some good spirit has changed the wicked Thistle into this good little
Elf. See how tenderly he lifts aside the leaves that overshadow pale
Harebelland listen now how softly he sings as he rocks little
Eglantine to sleep. He has done many friendly thingsthough none
save Rose-Leaf has been kind to himand he is very sad. Last night
when I awoke to draw my curtains closerhe sat weeping in the
moonlightso bitterlyI longed to speak a kindly word to him.
Dear sisterslet us trust him."
And they all said little Mignonette was right; andspreading wide
their leavesthey bade him comeand drink their dewand lie among
the fragrant petalsstriving to cheer his sorrow. Thistle told them
allandafter much whispering togetherthey said--
"Yeswe will help you to find the Earth Spiritsfor you are striving
to be goodand for love of Lily-Bell we will do much for you."
So they called a little bright-eyed moleand said"Downy-Back
we have given you a pleasant home among our rootsand you are
a grateful little friend; so will you guide dear Thistle to the
Earth Spirits' home?"
Downy-Back said"Yes" and Thistlethanking the kindly flowers
followed his little guidethrough longdark galleriesdeeper
and deeper into the ground; while a glow-worm flew before to light
the way. On they wentand after a whilereached a path lit up by
bright jewels hung upon the walls. Here Downy-Backand Glimmer
the glow-wormleft himsaying--
"We can lead you no farther; you must now go on aloneand the music
of the Spirits will guide you to their home."
Then they went quickly up the winding pathand Thistleguided
by the sweet musicwent on alone.
He soon reached a lovely spotwhose golden halls were bright
with jewelswhich sparkled brightlyand threw many-colored shadows
on the shining garments of the little Spiritswho danced below
to the melody of softsilvery bells.
Long Thistle stood watching the brilliant forms that flashed and
sparkled round him; but he missed the flowers and the sunlight
and rejoiced that he was not an Earth Spirit.
At last they spied him outandgladly welcoming himbade him join
in their dance. But Thistledown was too sad for thatand when he
told them all his story they no longer urgedbut sought to comfort
him; and one whom they called little Sparkle (for her crown and robe
shone with the brightest diamonds)said: "You will have to work
for usere you can win a gift to show the Brownies; do you see
those golden bells that make such musicas we wave them to and fro?
We worked long and hard ere they were wonand you can win one of
thoseif you will do the task we give you."
And Thistle said"No task will be too hard for me to do for dear
Then they led him to a strangedark placelit up with torches;
where troops of Spirits flew busily to and froamong damp rocksand
through dark galleries that led far down into the earth. "What do
they here?" asked Thistle.
"I will tell" replied little Sparkle"for I once worked here
myself. Some of them watch above the flower-rootsand keep them
fresh and strong; others gather the clear drops that trickle from the
damp rocksand form a little springwhichgrowing ever larger
rises to the light aboveand gushes forth in some green field or
lonely forest; where the wild-birds come to drinkand wood-flowers
spread their thirsty leaves above the clearcool wavesas they go
dancing awaycarrying joy and freshness wherever they go. Others
shape the bright jewels into lovely formsand make the good-luck
pennies which we give to mortals whom we love. And here you must toil
till the golden flower is won."
Then Thistle went among the Spiritsand joined in their tasks;
he tended the flower-rootsgathered the water-dropsand formed the
good-luck pennies. Long and hard he workedand was often sad and
wearyoften tempted by unkind and selfish thoughts; but he thought
of Lily-Belland strove to be kind and loving as she had been; and
soon the Spirits learned to love the patient Fairywho had left his
home to toil among them for the sake of his gentle friend.
At length came little Sparkle to himsaying"You have done enough;
come nowand dance and feast with usfor the golden flower is won."
But Thistle could not stayfor half his task was not yet done; and
he longed for sunlight and Lily-Bell. Sotaking a kind farewell
he hastened through the torch-lit path up to the light again; and
spreading his wingsflew over hill and dale till he reached the
forest where Lily-Bell lay sleeping.
It was early morningand the rosy light shone brightly through the
lily-leaves upon heras Thistle enteredand laid his first gift
at the Brownie King's feet.
"You have done well" said he"we hear good tidings of youfrom
bird and flowerand you are truly seeking to repair the evil
you have done. Take now one look at your little friendand then
go forth to seek from the Air Spirits your second gift."
Then Thistle said farewell again to Lily-Belland flew far and wide
among the cloudsseeking the Air Spirits; but though he wandered till
his weary wings could bear him no longerit was in vain. Sofaint
and sadhe lay down to rest on a broad vine-leafthat fluttered
gently in the wind; and as he layhe saw beneath him the home
of the kind bees whom he had so disturbedand Lily-Bell had helped
"I will seek to win their pardonand show them that I am no longer
the cruel Fairy who so harmed them" thought Thistle"and whenthey
become again my friendsI will ask their help to find the Air
Spirits; and if I deserve itthey will gladly aid me on my way."
So he flew down into the field belowand hastened busily from
flower to flowertill he had filled a tiny blue-bell with sweet
fresh honey. Then he stole softly to the hiveandplacing it near
the doorconcealed himself to watch. Soon his friend Nimble-Wing
came flying homeand when he spied the little cuphe hummed with
joyand called his companions around him.
"Surelysome good Elf has placed it here for us" said they;"let us
bear it to our Queen; it is so fresh and fragrant it will be a fit
gift for her"; and they joyfully took it inlittle dreaming who had
placed it there.
So each day Thistle filled a flower-cupand laid it at the door;
and each day the bees wondered more and morefor many strange things
happened. The field-flowers told of the good spirit who watched
above themand the birds sang of the same kind little Elf bringing
soft moss for their nestsand food for their hungry young ones;
while all around the hive had grown fairer since the Fairy came.
But the bees never saw himfor he feared he had not yet done enough
to win their forgiveness and friendship; so he lived alone among the
vinesdaily bringing them honeyand doing some kindly action.
At lengthas he lay sleeping in a flower-bella little bee came
wandering byand knew him for the wicked Thistle; so he called his
friendsandas they flew murmuring around himhe awoke.
"What shall we do to younaughty Elf?" said they. "You are in
our powerand we will sting you if you are not still."
"Let us close the flower-leaves around him and leave him here
to starve" cried onewho had not yet forgotten all the sorrow
Thistle had caused them long ago.
"Nonothat were very crueldear Buzz" said little Hum;"let us
take him to our Queenand she will tell us how to show our anger for
the wicked deeds he did. See how bitterly he weeps; be kind to him
he will not harm us more.
"You good little Hum!" cried a kind-hearted robin who had hoppednear
to listen to the bees. "Dear friendsdo you not know that this is
the good Fairy who has dwelt so quietly among uswatching over bird
and blossomgiving joy to all he helps? It is HE who brings the
honey-cup each day to youand then goes silently awaythat you may
never know who works so faithfully for you. Be kind to himfor if
he has done wronghe has repented of itas you may see."
"Can this be naughty Thistle?" said Nimble-Wing.
"Yesit is I" said Thistle"but no longer cruel and unkind.I have
tried to win your love by patient industry. Ahtrust me nowand you
shall see I am not naughty Thistle any more."
Then the wondering bees led him to their Queenand when he had told
his taleand begged their forgivenessit was gladly given; and
all strove to show him that he was loved and trusted. Then he asked
if they could tell him where the Air Spirits dweltfor he must not
forget dear Lily-Bell; and to his great joy the Queen said"Yes"
and bade little Hum guide Thistle to Cloud-Land.
Little Hum joyfully obeyed; and Thistle followed himas he flew
higher and higher among the soft cloudstill in the distance they saw
a radiant light.
"There is their homeand I must leave you nowdear Thistle" said
the little bee; andbidding him farewellhe flew singing back; while
Thistlefollowing the lightsoon found himself in the Air Spirits'
The sky was gold and purple like an autumn sunsetand long walls of
brilliant clouds lay round him. A rosy light shone through the silver
miston gleaming columns and the rainbow roof; softfragrant winds
went whispering byand airy little forms were flitting to and fro.
Long Thistle wondered at the beauty round him; and then he went
among the shining Spiritstold his taleand asked a gift.
But they answered like the Earth Spirits. "You must serve us first
and then we will gladly give you a robe of sunlight like our own "
And then they told him how they wafted flower-seeds over the earth
to beautify and brighten lonely spots; how they watched above the
blossoms by dayand scattered dews at nightbrought sunlight
into darkened placesand soft winds to refresh and cheer.
"These are the things we do" said they" and you must aid us
for a time."
And Thistle gladly went with the lovely Spirits; by day he joined
the sunlight and the breeze in their silent work; by nightwith
Star-Light and her sister spiritshe flew over the moon-lit earth
dropping cool dew upon the folded flowersand bringing happy dreams
to sleeping mortals. Many a kind deed was donemany a gentle word
was spoken; and each day lighter grew his heartand stronger his
power of giving joy to others.
At length Star-Light bade him work no moreand gladly gave him
the gift he had won. Then his second task was doneand he flew gayly
back to the green earth and slumbering Lily-Bell.
The silvery moonlight shone upon heras he came to give his second
gift; and the Brownie spoke more kindly than before.
"One more trialThistleand she will awake. Go bravely forth and
win your last and hardest gift."
Then with a light heart Thistle journeyed away to the brooks and
riversseeking the Water Spirits. But he looked in vain; till
wandering through the forest where the Brownies took him captive
he stopped beside the quiet lake.
As he stood here he heard a sound of painandlooking in the tall
grass at his sidehe saw the dragon-fly whose kindness he once
repayed by pain and sorrowand who now lay suffering and alone.
Thistle bent tenderly beside himsaying"Dear Flutterdo not
fear me. I will gladly ease your painif you will let me; I am your
friendand long to show you how I grieve for all the wrong I did you
when you were so kind to me. Forgiveand let me help and comfort
Then he bound up the broken wingand spoke so tenderly that Flutter
doubted him no longerand was his friend again.
Day by day did Thistle watch beside himmaking little beds of
coolfresh moss for him to rest uponfanning him when he slept
and singing sweet songs to cheer him when awake. And often when
poor Flutter longed to be dancing once again over the blue waves
the Fairy bore him in his arms to the lakeand on a broad leaf
with a green flag for a sailthey floated on the still water; while
the dragon-fly's companions flew about themplaying merry games.
At length the broken wing was welland Thistle said he must again
seek the Water Spirits. "I can tell you where to find them" said
Flutter; "you must follow yonder little brookand it will lead you
to the seawhere the Spirits dwell. I would gladly do more for you
dear Thistlebut I cannotfor they live deep beneath the waves.
You will find some kind friend to aid you on your way; and so
Thistle followed the little brookas it flowed through field and
valleygrowing ever largertill it reached the sea. Here the wind
blew freshlyand the great waves rolled and broke at Thistle's feet
as he stood upon the shorewatching the billows dancing and sparkling
in the sun.
"How shall I find the Spirits in this great seawith none to help or
guide me? Yet it is my last taskand for Lily-Bell's sake I must not
fear or falter now" said Thistle. So he flew hither and thither
over the sealooking through the waves. Soon he sawfar below
the branches of the coral tree.
"They must be here" thought heandfolding his wingshe plunged
into the deepcold sea. But he saw only fearful monsters and dark
shapes that gathered round him; andtrembling with fearhe struggled
The great waves tossed him to and froand cast him bruised and faint
upon the shore. Here he lay weeping bitterlytill a voice beside him
said"Poor little Elfwhat has befallen you? These rough waves are
not fit playmates for so delicate a thing as you. Tell me your
sorrowand I will comfort you."
And Thistlelooking upsaw a white sea-bird at his sidewho tried
with friendly words to cheer him. So he told all his wanderings
and how he sought the Sea Spirits.
"Surelyif bee and blossom do their part to help youbirds should
aid you too" said the Sea-bird. "I will call my friendthe
Nautilusand he will bear you safely to the Coral Palace where the
Sospreading his great wingshe flew awayand soon Thistle saw
a little boat come dancing over the wavesand wait beside the shore
In he sprang. Nautilus raised his little sail to the windand the
light boat glided swiftly over the blue sea. At last Thistle cried
"I see lovely arches far below; let me goit is the Spirits'home."
"Nayclose your eyesand trust to me. I will bear you safelydown"
So Thistle closed his eyesand listened to the murmur of the sea
as they sank slowly through the waves. The soft sound lulled him
to sleepand when he awoke the boat was goneand he stood among
the Water Spiritsin their strange and lovely home.
Lofty arches of snow-white coral bent above himand the walls
of brightly tinted shells were wreathed with lovely sea-flowersand
the sunlight shining on the waves cast silvery shadows on the ground
where sparkling stones glowed in the sand. A coolfresh wind swept
through the waving garlands of bright sea-mossand the distant murmur
of dashing waves came softly on the air. Soon troops of graceful
Spirits flitted byand when they found the wondering Elfthey
gathered round himbringing pearl-shells heaped with precious stones
and all the rarestrange gifts that lie beneath the sea. But Thistle
wished for none of theseand when his tale was toldthe kindly
Spirits pitied him; and little Pearl sighedas she told him of the
long and weary task he must performere he could win a crown of
snow-white pearls like those they wore. But Thistle had gained
strength and courage in his wanderingsand did not falter nowwhen
they led bim to a place among the coral-workersand told him he must
labor heretill the spreading branches reached the light and air
through the waves that danced above.
With a patient hope that he might yet be worthy of Lily-Bell
the Fairy left the lovely spirits and their pleasant hometo toil
among the coral-builderswhere all was strange and dim. Longlong
he worked; but still the waves rolled far above themand his task was
not yet done; and many bitter tears poor Thistle shedand sadly he
pined for air and sunlightthe voice of birdsand breath of flowers.
Oftenfolded in the magic garments which the Spirits gave himthat
he might pass unharmed among the fearful creatures dwelling there
he rose to the surface of the seaandgliding through the waves
gazed longingly upon the hillsnow looking blue and dim so far away
or watched the flocks of summer birdsjourneying to a warmer land;
and they brought sad memories of green old forestsand sunny fields
to the lonely little Fairy floating on the greatwild sea.
Day after day went byand slowly Thistle's task drew towards an end.
Busily toiled the coral-workersbut more busily toiled he; insect
and Spirit daily wondered more and moreat the industry and patience
of the silent little Elfwho had a friendly word for allthough
he never joined them in their sport.
Higher and higher grew the coral-boughsand lighter grew the Fairy's
heartwhile thoughts of dear Lily-Bell cheered him onas day by day
he steadily toiled; and when at length the sun shone on his work
and it was donehe stayed but to take the garland he had wonand
to thank the good Spirits for their love and care. Then up through
the coldblue waves he swiftly glidedandshaking the bright drops
from his wingssoared singing up to the sunny sky.
On through the fragrant air went Thistlelooking with glad face
upon the fairfresh earth belowwhere flowers looked smiling up
and green trees bowed their graceful heads as if to welcome him. Soon
the forest where Lily-Bell lay sleeping rose before himand as he
passed along the cooldim wood-pathsnever had they seemed so fair.
But when he came where his little friend had sleptit was no longer
the darksilent spot where he last saw her. Garlands hung from every
treeand the fairest flowers filled the air with their sweet breath.
Bird's gay voices echoed far and wideand the little brook went
singing bybeneath the arching ferns that bent above it; green
leaves rustled in the summer windand the air was full of music.
But the fairest sight was Lily-Bellas she lay on the couch of
velvet moss that Fairy hands had spread. The golden flower lay
beside herand the glittering robe was folded round her little form.
The warmest sunlight fell upon herand the softest breezes lifted
her shining hair.
Happy tears fell fastas Thistle folded his arms around her
crying"O Lily-Belldear Lily-Bellawake! I have been true to you
and now my task is done."
Thenwith a smileLily-Bell awokeand looked with wondering eyes
upon the beauty that had risen round her.
"Dear Thistlewhat mean these fair thingsand why are we in this
"ListenLily-Bell" said the Brownie Kingas he appeared besideher.
And then he told all that Thistle had done to show his love for her;
how he had wandered far and wide to seek the Fairy giftsand toiled
long and hard to win them; how he had been lovingtrueand tender
when most lonely and forsaken.
"Birdbeeand blossom have forgiven himand none is more loved
and trusted now by allthan the once cruel Thistle" said the King
as he bent down to the happy Elfwho bowed low before him.
"You have learned the beauty of a gentlekindly heartdear Thistle;
and you are now worthy to become the friend of her for whom you have
done so much. Place the crown upon her headfor she is Queen of all
the Forest Fairies now."
And as the crown shone on the head that Lily-Bell bent down on
Thistle's breastthe forest seemed alive with little formswho
sprang from flower and leafand gathered round herbringing gifts
for their new Queen.
"If I am Queenthen you are Kingdear Thistle" said the Fairy.
"Take the crownand I will have a wreath of flowers. You have toiled
and suffered for my sakeand you alone should rule over these little
Elves whose love you have won."
"Keep your crownLily-Bellfor yonder come the Spirits with their
gifts to Thistle" said the Brownie. Andas he pointed with his
wandout from among the mossy roots of an old tree came trooping
the Earth Spiritstheir flower-bells ringing softly as they came
and their jewelled garments glittering in the sun. On to where
Thistledown stood beneath the shadow of the flowerswith Lily-Bell
beside himwent the Spirits; and then forth sprang little Sparkle
waving a golden flowerwhose silvery music filled the air. "Dear
Thistle" said the shining Spirit"what you toiled so faithfully
to win for anotherlet us offer now as a token of our love for you."
As she ceaseddown through the air came floating bands of lovely
Air Spiritsbringing a shining robeand they too told their love
for the gentle Fairy who had dwelt with them.
Then softly on the breeze came distant musicgrowing ever nearer
till over the rippling waves came the singing Water Spiritsin their
boats of many-colored shells; and as they placed their glittering
crown on Thistle's headloud rang the flowersand joyously sang
the birdswhile all the Forest Fairies criedwith silvery voices
"Lily-Bell and Thistledown! Long live our King and Queen!"
"Have you a tale for us toodear Violet-Eye?" said the Queenas
Zephyr ceased. The little Elf thus named looked from among the
flower-leaves where she satand with a smile replied"As I was
weaving garlands in the fieldI heard a primrose tell this tale
to her friend Golden-Rod."
IN a great foresthigh up among the green boughslived Bird
Brown-Breastand his bright-eyed little mate. They were now very
happy; their home was donethe four blue eggs lay in the soft nest
and the little wife sat still and patient on themwhile the husband
sangand told her charming talesand brought her sweet berries
and little worms.
Things went smoothly ontill one day she found in the nest a little
white eggwith a golden band about it.
"My friend" cried she"come and see! Where can this fine egghave
come from? My four are hereand this also; what think you of it?"
The husband shook his head gravelyand said"Be not alarmedmy
love; it is doubtless some good Fairy who has given us thisand we
shall find some gift within; do not let us touch itbut do you sit
carefully upon itand we shall see in time what has been sent us."
So they said nothing about itand soon their home had four little
chirping children; and then the white egg openedandbehold
a little maiden lay singing within. Then how amazed were they
and how they welcomed heras she lay warm beneath the mother's wing
and how the young birds did love her.
Great joy was in the forestand proud were the parents of their
familyand still more of the little one who had come to them;
while all the neighbors flocked into see Dame Brown-Breast's
little child. And the tiny maiden talked to themand sang so
merrilythat they could have listened for ever. Soon she was
the joy of the whole forestdancing from tree to treemaking
every nest her homeand none were ever so welcome as little Bud;
and so they lived right merrily in the green old forest.
The father now had much to do to supply his family with foodand
choice morsels did he bring little Bud. The wild fruits were her
foodthe fresh dew in the flower-cups her drinkwhile the green
leaves served her for little robes; and thus she found garments in
the flowers of the fieldand a happy home with Mother Brown-Breast;
and all in the woodfrom the stately trees to the little mosses
in the turfwere friends to the merry child.
And each day she taught the young birds sweet songsand as their gay
music rang through the old forestthe sterndark pines ceased their
solemn wavingthat they might hear the soft sounds stealing through
the dim wood-pathsand mortal children came to listensaying softly
"Hear the flowers singand touch them notfor the Fairies arehere."
Then came a band of sad little Elves to Budpraying that they might
hear the sweet music; and when she took them by the handand spoke
gently to themthey wept and said sadlywhen she asked them whence
"We dwelt once in Fairy-Landand O how happy were we then! But alas!
we were not worthy of so fair a homeand were sent forth into the
cold world. Look at our robesthey are like the withered leaves;
our wings are dimour crowns are goneand we lead sadlonely lives
in this dark forest. Let us stay with you; your gay music sounds
like Fairy songsand you have such a friendly way with youand speak
so gently to us. It is good to be near one so lovely and so kind; and
you can tell us how we may again become fair and innocent. Say we may
stay with youkind little maiden."
And Bud said"Yes" and they stayed; but her kind little heart
was grieved that they wept so sadlyand all she could say could not
make them happy; till at last she said--
"Do not weepand I will go to Queen Dew-Dropand beseech her
to let you come back. I will tell her that you are repentant
and will do anything to gain her love again; that you are sadand
long to be forgiven. This will I sayand moreand trust she will
grant my prayer."
"She will not say no to youdear Bud" said the poor littleFairies;
"she will love you as we doand if we can but come again to our lost
homewe cannot give you thanks enough. GoBudand if there be
power in Fairy giftsyou shall be as happy as our hearts' best love
can make you."
The tidings of Bud's departure flew through the forestand all her
friends came to say farewellas with the morning sun she would go;
and each brought some little giftfor the land of Fairies was
far awayand she must journey long.
"Nayyou shall not go on your feetmy child" said Mother
Brown-Breast; "your friend Golden-Wing shall carry you. Call him
hitherthat I may seat you rightlyfor if you should fall off
my heart would break."
Then up came Golden-Wingand Bud was safely seated on the cushion
of violet-leaves; and it was really charming to see her merry little
facepeeping from under the broad brim of her cow-slip hatas
her butterfly steed stood waving his bright wings in the sunlight.
Then came the bee with his yellow honey-bagswhich he begged she
would takeand the little brown spider that lived under the great
leaves brought a veil for her hatand besought her to wear it
lest the sun should shine too brightly; while the ant came bringing a
tiny strawberrylest she should miss her favorite fruit. The mother
gave her good adviceand the papa stood with his head on one side
and his round eyes twinkling with delightto think that his
little Bud was going to Fairy-Land.
Then they all sang gayly togethertill she passed out of sight
over the hillsand they saw her no more.
And now Bud left the old forest far behind her. Golden-Wing
bore her swiftly alongand she looked down on the green mountains
and the peasant's cottagesthat stood among overshadowing trees;
and the earth looked brightwith its broadblue rivers winding
through soft meadowsthe singing birdsand flowerswho kept their
bright eyes ever on the sky.
And she sang gayly as they floated in the clear airwhile her friend
kept time with his waving wingsand ever as they went along all grew
fairer; and thus they came to Fairy-Land.
As Bud passed through the gatesshe no longer wondered that the
exiled Fairies wept and sorrowed for the lovely home they had lost.
Bright clouds floated in the sunny skycasting a rainbow light on
the Fairy palaces belowwhere the Elves were dancing; while the
lowsweet voices of the singing flowers sounded softly through the
fragrant airand mingled with the music of the rippling wavesas
they flowed on beneath the blossoming vines that drooped above them.
All was bright and beautiful; but kind little Bud would not linger
for the forms of the weeping Fairies were before her; and
though the blossoms nodded gayly on their stems to welcome her
and the soft winds kissed her cheekshe would not staybut on
to the Flower Palace she wentinto a pleasant hall whose walls
were formed of crimson rosesamid whose leaves sat little Elves
making sweet music on their harps. When they saw Budthey gathered
round herand led her through the flower-wreathed arches to a group
of the most beautiful Fairieswho were gathered about a stately lily
in whose fragrant cup sat one whose purple robe and glittering crown
told she was their Queen.
Bud knelt before herandwhile tears streamed down her little face
she told her errandand pleaded earnestly that the exiled Fairies
might be forgivenand not be left to pine far from their friends and
kindred. And as she prayedmany wept with her; and when she ceased
and waited for her answermany knelt beside herpraying forgiveness
for the unhappy Elves.
With tearful eyesQueen Dew-Drop replied--
"Little maidenyour prayer has softened my heart. They shall not be
left sorrowing and alonenor shall you go back without a kindly word
to cheer and comfort them. We will pardon their faultand when they
can bring hither a perfect Fairy crownrobeand wandthey shall be
again received as children of their loving Queen. The task is hard
for none but the best and purest can form the Fairy garments; yet with
patience they may yet restore their robes to their former brightness.
Farewellgood little maiden; come with themfor but for you they
would have dwelt for ever without the walls of Fairy-Land."
"Good speed to youand farewell" cried they allaswith loving
messages to their poor friendsthey bore her to the gates.
Day after day toiled little Budcheering the Fairieswho
angry and disappointedwould not listen to her gentle words
but turned away and sat alone weeping. They grieved her kind heart
with many cruel words; but patiently she bore with themand when
they told her they could never perform so hard a taskand must dwell
for ever in the dark forestshe answered gentlythat the snow-white
lily must be plantedand watered with repentant tearsbefore the
robe of innocence could be won; that the sun of love must shine
in their heartsbefore the light could return to their dim crowns
and deeds of kindness must be performedere the power would come
again to their now useless wands.
Then they planted the lilies; but they soon drooped and diedand
no light came to their crowns. They did no gentle deedsbut cared
only for themselves; and when they found their labor was in vain
they tried no longerbut sat weeping. Budwith ceaseless toil and
patient caretended the lilieswhich bloomed brightlythe crowns
grew brightand in her hands the wands had power over birds and
blossomsfor she was striving to give happiness to others
forgetful of herself. And the idle Fairieswith thankful wordstook
the garments from herand then with Bud went forth to Fairy-Land
and stood with beating hearts before the gates; where crowds of Fairy
friends came forth to welcome them.
But when Queen Dew-Drop touched them with her wandas they passed in
the light faded from their crownstheir robes became like withered
leavesand their wands were powerless.
Amid the tears of all the Fairiesthe Queen led them to the gates
"Farewell! It is not in my power to aid you; innocence and love are
not within your heartsand were it not for this untiring little
maidenwho has toiled while you have weptyou never would have
entered your lost home. Go and strive againfor till all is once
more fair and pureI cannot call you mine."
"Farewell!" sang the weeping Fairiesas the gates closed on their
outcast friends; whohumbled and broken-heartedgathered around Bud;
and shewith cheering wordsguided them back to the forest.
Time passed onand the Fairies had done nothing to gain their
lovely home again. They wept no longerbut watched little Bud
as she daily tended the flowersrestoring thelr strength and beauty
or with gentle words flew from nest to nestteaching the little birds
to live happily together; and wherever she went blessings felland
loving hearts were filled with gratitude.
Thenone by onethe Elves secretly did some little work of kindness
and found a quiet joy come back to repay them. Flowers looked
lovingly up as they passedbirds sang to cheer them when sad thoughts
made them weep. And soon little Bud found out their gentle deeds
and her friendly words gave them new strength. So day after day
they followed herand like a band of guardian spirits they flew
far and widecarrying with them joy and peace.
And not only birds and flowers blessed thembut human beings also;
for with tender hands they guided little children from dangerand
kept their young hearts free from evil thoughts; they whispered
soothing words to the sickand brought sweet odors and fair flowers
to their lonely rooms. They sent lovely visions to the old and blind
to make their hearts young and bright with happy thoughts.
But most tenderly did they watch over the poor and sorrowing
and many a poor mother blessed the unseen hands that laid food
before her hungry little onesand folded warm garments round
their naked limbs. Many a poor man wondered at the fair flowers
that sprang up in his little garden-plotcheering him with their
bright formsand making his dreary home fair with their loveliness
and looked at his once barren fieldwhere now waved the golden corn
turning its broad leaues to the warm sunand promising a store of
golden ears to give him food; while the care-worn face grew bright
and the troubled heart filled with gratitude towards the invisible
spirits who had brought him such joy.
Thus time passed onand though the exiled Fairies longed often for
their homestillknowing they did not deserve itthey toiled on
hoping one day to see the friends they had lost; while the joy of
their own hearts made their life full of happiness.
One day came little Bud to themsaying--
"Listendear friends. I have a hard task to offer you. It is a
great sacrifice for you lightloving Fairies to dwell through the long
winter in the darkcold earthwatching over the flowerrootsto keep
them free from the little grubs and worms that seek to harm them.
But in the sunny Spring when they bloom againtheir love and
gratitude will give you happy homes among their bright leaves.
"It is a wearisome taskand I can give you no reward for all your
tender carebut the blessings of the gentle flowers you will have
saved from death. Gladly would I aid you; but my winged friends are
preparing for their journey to warmer landsand I must help them
teach their little ones to flyand see them safely on their way.
Thenthrough the wintermust I seek the dwellings of the poor
and sufferingcomfort the sick and lonelyand give hope and courage
to those who in their poverty are led astray. These things must I do;
but when the flowers bloom again I will be with youto welcome back
our friends from over the sea."
Thenwith tearsthe Fairies answered"Ahgood little Budyou have
taken the hardest task yourselfand who will repay you for all your
deeds of tenderness and mercy in the great world? Should evil befall
youour hearts would break. We will labor trustingly in the earth
and thoughts of you shall cheer us on; for without you we had been
worthless beingsand never known the joy that kindly actions bring.
Yesdear Budwe will gladly toil among the rootsthat the fair
flowers may wear their gayest robes to welcome you.
Then deep in the earth the Fairies dweltand no frost or snow
could harm the blossoms they tended. Every little seed was laid
in the soft earthwateredand watched. Tender roots were folded
in withered leavesthat no chilling drops might reach them; and
safely dreamed the flowerstill summer winds should call them forth;
while lighter grew each Fairy heartas every gentle deed was
At length the snow was goneand they heard little voices calling them
to come up; but patiently they workedtill seed and root were green
and strong. Thenwith eager feetthey hastened to the earth above
whereover hill and valleybright flowers and budding trees smiled
in the warm sunlightblossoms bent lovingly before themand rang
their colored bellstill the fragrant air was full of music; while
the stately trees waved their great arms above themand scattered
soft leaves at their feet.
Then came the merry birdsmaking the wood alive with their gay
voicescalling to one anotheras they flew among the vines
building their little homes. Long waited the Elvesand at last
she came with Father Brown-Breast. Happy days passed; and
summer flowers were in their fullest beautywhen Bud bade the Fairies
come with her.
Mounted on bright-winged butterfliesthey flew over forest and
meadowtill with joyful eyes they saw the flower-crowned walls
Before the gates they stoodand soon troops of loving Elves
came forth to meet them. And on through the sunny gardens they went
into the Lily Hallwhereamong the golden stamens of a graceful
flowersat the Queen; while on the broadgreen leaves around it
stood the brighteyed little maids of honor.
Thenamid the deep silencelittle Budleading the Fairies to the
"Dear QueenI here bring back your subjectswiser for their sorrow
better for their hard trial; and now might any Queen be proud of them
and bow to learn from them that giving joy and peace to others
brings it fourfold to usbearing a double happiness in the blessings
to those we help. Through the dreary monthswhen they might have
dwelt among fair Southern flowersbeneath a smiling skythey toiled
in the dark and silent earthfilling the hearts of the gentle Flower
Spirits with grateful loveseeking no reward but the knowledge of
their own good deedsand the joy they always bring. This they have
done unmurmuringly and alone; and nowfar and wideflower blessings
fall upon themand the summer winds bear the glad tidings unto those
who droop in sorrowand new joy and strength it bringsas they look
longingly for the friends whose gentle care hath brought such
happiness to their fair kindred.
"Are they not worthy of your lovedear Queen? Have they not won
their lovely home? Say they are pardonedand you have gained
the love of hearts pure as the snow-white robes now folded over them."
As Bud ceasedshe touched the wondering Fairies with her wand
and the dark faded garments fell away; and beneaththe robes
of lily-leaves glittered pure and spotless in the sun-light.
Thenwhile happy tears fellQueen Dew-Drop placed the bright crowns
on the bowed heads of the kneeling Fairiesand laid before them
the wands their own good deeds had rendered powerful.
They turned to thank little Bud for all her patient love
but she was gone; and high abovein the clear airthey saw
the little form journeying back to the quiet forest.
She needed no reward but the joy she had given. The Fairy hearts
were pure againand her work was done; yet all Fairy-Land had learned
a lesson from gentle little Bud.
"Nowlittle Sunbeamwhat have you to tell us?" said the Queen
looking down on a bright-eyed Elfwho sat half hidden in the deep
moss at her feet.
"I toolike Star-Twinklehave nothing but a song to offer"
replied the Fairy; and thenwhile the nightingale's sweet voice
mingled with her ownshe sang--
IN a quietpleasant meadow
Beneath a summer sky
Where green old trees their branches waved
And winds went singing by;
Where a little brook went rippling
So musically low
And passing clouds cast shadows
On the waving grass below;
Where lowsweet notes of brooding birds
Stole out on the fragrant air
And golden sunlight shone undimmed
On al1 most fresh and fair;--
There bloomed a lovely sisterhood
Of happy little flowers
Together in this pleasant home
Through quiet summer hours.
No rude hand came to gather them
No chilling winds to blight;
Warm sunbeams smiled on them by day
And soft dews fell at night.
So herealong the brook-side
Beneath the green old trees
The flowers dwelt among their friends
The sunbeams and the breeze.
One morningas the flowers awoke
Fragrantand freshand fair
A little worm came creeping by
And begged a shelter there.
"Ah! pity and love me" sighed the worm
"I am lonelypoorand weak;
A little spot for a resting-plaee
Dear flowersis all I seek.
I am not fairand have dwelt unloved
By butterflybirdand bee.
They little knew that in this dark form
Lay the beauty they yet may see.
Then let me lie in the deep green moss
And weave my little tomb
And sleep my longunbroken sleep
Till Spring's first flowers come.
Then will I come in a fairer dress
And your gentle care repay
By the grateful love of the humble worm;
Kind flowersO let me stay!"
But the wild rose showed her little thorns
While her soft face glowed with pride;
The violet hid beneath the drooping ferns
And the daisy turned aside.
Little Houstonia seornfully laughed
As she danced on her slender stem;
While the cowslip bent to the rippling waves
And whispered the tale to them.
A blue-eyed grass looked down on the worm
As it silently turned away
And cried"Thou wilt harm our delicate leaves
And therefore thou canst not stay."
Then a sweetsoft voicecalled out from far
"Come hitherpoor wormto me;
The sun lies warm in this quiet spot
And I'11 share my home with thee."
The wondering flowers looked up to see
Who had offered the worm a home:
'T was a clover-blossomwhose fluttering leaves
Seemed beckoning him to come;
It dwelt in a sunny little nook
Where cool winds rustled by
And murmuring bees and butterflies came
On the flower's breast to lie.
Down through the leaves the sunlight stole
And seemed to linger there
As if it loved to brighten the home
Of one so sweet and fair.
Its rosy face smiled kindly down
As the friendless worm drew near;
And its low voicesoftly whisperingsaid
"Poor thingthou art welcome here;
Close at my sidein the soft green moss
Thou wilt find a quiet bed
Where thou canst softly sleep till Spring
With my leaves above thee spread.
I pity and love theefriendless worm
Though thou art not graceful or fair;
For many a darkunlovely form
Hath a kind heart dwelling there;
No more o'er the green and pleasant earth
Lonely and poorshalt thou roam
For a loving friend hast thou found in me
And rest in my little home."
Thendeep in its quiet mossy bed
Sheltered from sun and shower
The grateful worm spun its winter tomb
In the shadow of the flower.
And Clover guarded well its rest
Till Autumn's leaves were sere
Till all her sister flowers were gone
And her winter sleep drew near.
Then her withered leaves were softly spread
O'er the sleeping worm below
Ere the faithful little flower lay
Beneath the winter snow.
Spring came againand the flowers rose
From their quiet winter graves
And gayly danced on their slender stems
And sang with the rippling waves.
Softly the warm winds kissed their cheeks;
Brightly the sunbeams fell
Asone by onethey came again
In their summer homes to dwell.
And little Clover bloomed once more
Rosyand sweetand fair
And patiently watched by the mossy bed
For the worm still slumbered there.
Then her sister flowers scornfully cried
As they waved in the summer air
"The ugly worm was friendless and poor;
Little Cloverwhy shouldst thou care?
Then watch no morenor dwell alone
Away from thy sister flowers;
Comedance and feastand spend with us
These pleasant summer hours.
We pity theefoolish little flower
To trust what the false worm said;
He will not come in a fairer dress
For he lies in the green moss dead."
But little Clover still watched on
Alone in her sunny home;
She did not doubt the poor worm's truth
And trusted he would come.
At last the small cell opened wide
And a glittering butterfly
From out the mosson golden wings
Soared up to the sunny sky.
Then the wondering flowers cried aloud
"Cloverthy watch was vain;
He only sought a shelter here
And never will come again."
And the unkind flowers danced for joy
When they saw him thus depart;
For the love of a beautiful butterfly
Is dear to a flower's heart.
They feared he would stay in Clover's home
And her tender care repay;
So they danced for joywhen at last he rose
And silently flew away.
Then little Clover bowed her head
While her soft tears fell like dew;
For her gentle heart was grievedto find
That her sisters' words were true
And the insect she had watched so long
When helplesspoorand lone
Thankless for all her faithful care
On his golden wings had flown.
But as she droopedin silent grief
She heard little Daisy cry
"O sisterslook! I see him now
Afar in the sunny sky;
He is floating back from Cloud-Land now
Borne by the fragrant air.
Spread wide your leavesthat he may choose
The flower he deems most fair."
Then the wild rose glowed with a deeper blush
As she proudly waved on her stem;
The Cowslip bent to the clear blue waves
And made her mirror of them.
Little Houstonia merrily danced
And spread her white leaves wide;
While Daisy whispered her joy and hope
As she stood by her gay friends' side.
Violet peeped from the tall green ferns
And lifted her soft blue eye
To watch the glittering formthat shone
Afar in the summer sky.
They thought no more of the ugly worm
Who once had wakened their scorn;
But looked and longed for the butterfly now
As the soft wind bore him on.
Nearer and nearer the bright form came
And fairer the blossoms grew;
Each welcomed himin her sweetest tones;
Each offered her honey and dew.
But in vain did they beckonand smileand call
And wider their leaves unclose;
The glittering form still floated on
By VioletDaisyand Rose.
Lightly it flew to the pleasant home
Of the flower most truly fair
On Clover's breast he softly lit
And folded his bright wings there.
"Dear flower" the butterfly whispered low
"Long hast thou waited for me;
Now I am comeand my grateful love
Shall brighten thy home for thee;
Thou hast loved and cared for mewhen alone
Hast watched o'er me long and well;
And now will I strive to show the thanks
The poor worm could not tell.
Sunbeam and breeze shall come to thee
And the coolest dews that fall;
Whate'er a flower can wish is thine
For thou art worthy all.
And the home thou shared with the friendless worm
The butterfly's home shall be;
And thou shalt finddearfaithful flower
A loving friend in me."
Thenthrough the longbright summer hours
Through sunshine and through shower
Together in their happy home
Dwelt butterfly and flower.
"Ahthat is very lovely" cried the Elvesgathering round
little Sunbeam as she ceasedto place a garland in her hair and
praise her song.
"Now" said the Queen"call hither Moon-light andSummer-Wind
for they have seen many pleasant things in their long wanderings
and will gladly tell us them."
"Most joyfully will we do our bestdear Queen" said the Elves
as they folded their wings beside her.
"NowSummer-Wind" said Moonlight"till your turn comesdoyou sit
here and fan me while I tell this tale of
LITTLE ANNIE'S DREAM;
THE FAIRY FLOWER.
IN a large and pleasant garden sat little Annie all aloneand
she seemed very sadfor drops that were not dew fell fast upon the
flowers beside herwho looked wonderingly upand bent still nearer
as if they longed to cheer and comfort her. The warm wind lifted up
her shining hair and softly kissed her cheekwhile the sunbeams
looking most kindly in her facemade little rainbows in her tears
and lingered lovingly about her. But Annie paid no heed to sun
or windor flower; still the bright tears felland she forgot
all but her sorrow.
"Little Annietell me why you weep" said a low voice in her ear;
andlooking upthe child beheld a little figure standing on a
vine-leaf at her side; a lovely face smiled on herfrom amid
bright locks of hairand shining wings were folded on a white and
glittering robethat fluttered in the wind.
"Who are youlovely little thing?" cried Anniesmiling through
"I am a Fairylittle childand am come to help and comfort you; now
tell me why you weepand let me be your friend" replied the spirit
as she smiled more kindly still on Annie's wondering face.
"And are you reallythena little Elfsuch as I read of
in my fairy books? Do you ride on butterfliessleep in flower-cups
and live among the clouds?"
"Yesall these things I doand many stranger stillthat all
your fairy books can never tell; but nowdear Annie" said the Fairy
bending nearer"tell me why I found no sunshine on your face; why are
these great drops shining on the flowersand why do you sit alone
when BIRD and BEE are calling you to play?"
"Ahyou will not love me any more if I should tell you all"
said Anniewhile the tears began to fall again; "I am not happy
for I am not good; how shall I learn to be a patientgentle child?
good little Fairywill you teach me how?"
"Gladly will I aid youAnnieand if you truly wish to be
a happy childyou first must learn to conquer many passions that
you cherish nowand make your heart a home for gentle feelings and
happy thoughts; the task is hardbut I will give this fairy flower
to help and counsel you. Bend hitherthat I may place it in your
breast; no hand can take it hencetill I unsay the spell that
holds it there."
As thus she spokethe Elf took from her bosom a graceful flower
whose snow-white leaves shone with a strangesoft light. "This is
a fairy flower" said the Elf"invisible to every eye save yours;
now listen while I tell its powerAnnie. When your heart is filled
with loving thoughtswhen some kindly deed has been donesome duty
well performedthen from the flower there will arise the sweetest
softest fragranceto reward and gladden you. But when an unkind word
is on your lipswhen a selfishangry feeling rises in your heart
or an unkindcruel deed is to be donethen will you hear the soft
low chime of the flower-bell; listen to its warninglet the word
remain unspokenthe deed undoneand in the quiet joy of your own
heartand the magic perfume of your bosom floweryou will find
a sweet reward."
"O kind and generous Fairyhow can I ever thank you for this lovely
gift!" cried Annie. "I will be trueand listen to my little bell
whenever it may ring. But shall I never see YOU more? Ah! if you
would only stay with meI should indeed be good."
"I cannot stay nowlittle Annie" said the Elf"but when
another Spring comes roundI shall be here againto see how well
the fairy gift has done its work. And now farewelldear child;
be faithful to yourselfand the magic flower will never fade."
Then the gentle Fairy folded her little arms around Annie's neck
laid a soft kiss on her cheekandspreading wide her shining wings
flew singing up among the white clouds floating in the sky.
And little Annie sat among her flowersand watched with wondering joy
the fairy blossom shining on her breast.
The pleasant days of Spring and Summer passed awayand in
little Annie's garden Autumn flowers were blooming everywhere
with each day's sun and dew growing still more beautiful and bright;
but the fairy flowerthat should have been the loveliest of all
hung pale and drooping on little Annie's bosom; its fragrance seemed
quite goneand the clearlow music of its warning chime rang often
in her ear.
When first the Fairy placed it thereshe had been pleased with
her new giftand for a while obeyed the fairy belland often tried
to win some fragrance from the flowerby kind and pleasant words
and actions; thenas the Fairy saidshe found a sweet reward in
the strangesoft perfume of the magic blossomas it shone upon her
breast; but selfish thoughts would come to tempt hershe would yield
and unkind words fell from her lips; and then the flower drooped pale
and scentlessthe fairy bell rang mournfullyAnnie would forget
her better resolutionsand be again a selfishwilful little child.
At last she tried no longerbut grew angry with the faithful flower
and would have torn it from her breast; but the fairy spell still
held it fastand all her angry words but made it ring a louder
sadder peal. Then she paid no heed to the silvery music sounding
in her earand each day grew still more unhappydiscontented
and unkind; sowhen the Autumn days came roundshe was no better
for the gentle Fairy's giftand longed for Springthat it might
be returned; for now the constant echo of the mournful music made her
One sunny morningwhen the freshcool Winds were blowing
and not a cloud was in the skylittle Annie walked among her flowers
looking carefully into eachhoping thus to find the Fairywho alone
could take the magic blossom from her breast. But she lifted up their
drooping leavespeeped into their dewy cups in vain; no little Elf
lay hidden thereand she turned sadly from them allsaying"I will
go out into the fields and woodsand seek her there. I will not
listen to this tiresome music morenor wear this withered flower
longer." So out into the fields she wentwhere the long grass
rustled as she passedand timid birds looked at her from their nests;
where lovely wild-flowers nodded in the windand opened wide their
fragrant leavesto welcome in the murmuring beeswhile butterflies
like winged flowersdanced and glittered in the sun.
Little Annie lookedsearchedand asked them all if any one
could tell her of the Fairy whom she sought; but the birds looked
wonderingly at her with their softbright eyesand still sang on;
the flowers nodded wisely on their stemsbut did not speak
while butterfly and bee buzzed and fluttered awayone far too busy
the other too idleto stay and tell her what she asked.
Then she went through broad fields of yellow grainthat waved
around her like a golden forest; here crickets chirpedgrasshoppers
leapedand busy ants workedbut they could not tell her what
she longed to know.
"Now will I go among the hills" said Annie"she may bethere."
So up and down the green hill-sides went her little feet; long she
searched and vainly she called; but still no Fairy came. Then
by the river-side she wentand asked the gay dragon-fliesand the
cool white liliesif the Fairy had been there; but the blue waves
rippled on the white sand at her feetand no voice answered her.
Then into the forest little Annie went; and as she passed along the
dimcool pathsthe wood-flowers smiled up in her facegay squirrels
peeped at heras they swung amid the vinesand doves cooed softly
as she wandered by; but none could answer her. Soweary with
her long and useless searchshe sat amid the fernsand feasted
on the rosy strawberries that grew beside herwatching meanwhile
the crimson evening clouds that glowed around the setting sun.
The night-wind rustled through the boughsrocking the flowers
to sleep; the wild birds sang their evening hymnsand all within
the wood grew calm and still; paler and paler grew the purple light
lower and lower drooped little Annie's headthe tall ferns bent
to shield her from the dewthe whispering pines sang a soft lullaby;
and when the Autumn moon rose upher silver light shone on the child
wherepillowed on green mossshe lay asleep amid the wood-flowers
in the dim old forest.
And all night long beside her stood the Fairy she had soughtand
by elfin spell and charm sent to the sleeping child this dream.
Little Annie dreamed she sat in her own gardenas she had often
sat beforewith angry feelings in her heartand unkind words upon
her lips. The magic flower was ringing its soft warningbut she paid
no heed to anythingsave her own troubled thoughts; thus she sat
when suddenly a low voice whispered in her ear--
"Little Annielook and see the evil things that you are cherishing;
I will clothe in fitting shapes the thoughts and feelings that now
dwell within your heartand you shall see how great their power
becomesunless you banish them for ever."
Then Annie sawwith fear and wonderthat the angry words she uttered
changed to darkunlovely formseach showing plainly from what fault
or passion it had sprung. Some of the shapes had scowling faces and
brightfiery eyes; these were the spirits of Anger. Otherswith
sullenanxious looksseemed gathering up all they could reachand
Annie saw that the more they gainedthe less they seemed to have;
and these she knew were shapes of Selfishness. Spirits of Pride were
therewho folded their shadowy garments round themand turned
scornfully away from all the rest. These and many others
little Annie sawwhich had come from her own heartand taken form
before her eyes.
When first she saw themthey were small and weak; but as she looked
they seemed to grow and gather strengthand each gained a
strange power over her. She could not drive them from her sight
and they grew ever strongerdarkerand more unlovely to her eyes.
They seemed to cast black shadows over all aroundto dim the
sunshineblight the flowersand drive away all bright and lovely
things; while rising slowly round her Annie saw a highdark wal]
that seemed to shut out everything she loved; she dared not move
or speakbutwith a strange fear at her heartsat watching the dim
shapes that hovered round her.
Higher and higher rose the shadowy wallslowly the flowers near her
diedlingeringly the sunlight faded; but at last they both were gone
and left her all alone behind the gloomy wall. Then the spirits
gathered round herwhispering strange things in her earbidding her
obeyfor by her own will she had yielded up her heart to be their
homeand she was now their slave. Then she could hear no morebut
sinking down among the withered flowerswept sad and bitter tears
for her lost liberty and joy; then through the gloom there shone
a faintsoft lightand on her breast she saw her fairy flower
upon whose snow-white leaves her tears lay shining.
Clearer and brighter grew the radiant lighttill the evil spirits
turned away to the dark shadow of the walland left the child alone.
The light and perfume of the flower seemed to bring new strength
to Annieand she rose upsayingas she bent to kiss the blossom
on her breast"Dear flowerhelp and guide me nowand I will listen
to your voiceand cheerfully obey my faithful fairy bell."
Then in her dream she felt how hard the spirits tried to tempt
and trouble herand howbut for her flowerthey would have led
her backand made all dark and dreary as before. Long and hard
she struggledand tears often fell; but after each new trial
brighter shone her magic flowerand sweeter grew its breathwhile
the spirits lost still more their power to tempt her. Meanwhile
greenflowering vines crept up the highdark walland hid its
roughness from her sight; and over these she watched most tenderly
for soonwherever green leaves and flowers bloomedthe wall beneath
grew weakand fell apart. Thus little Annie worked and hoped
till one by one the evil spirits fled awayand in their place
came shining formswith gentle eyes and smiling lipswho gathered
round her with such loving wordsand brought such strength and joy
to Annie's heartthat nothing evil dared to enter in; while slowly
sank the gloomy wallandover wreaths of fragrant flowersshe
passed out into the pleasant world againthe fairy gift no longer
pale and droopingbut now shining like a star upon her breast.
Then the low voice spoke again in Annie's sleeping earsaying
"The darkunlovely passions you have looked upon are in your heart;
watch well while they are few and weaklest they should darken your
whole lifeand shut out love and happiness for ever. Remember well
the lesson of the dreamdear childand let the shining spirits
make your heart their home."
And with that voice sounding in her earlittle Annie woke to find
it was a dream; but like other dreams it did not pass away; and as she
sat alonebathed in the rosy morning lightand watched the forest
waken into lifeshe thought of the strange forms she had seenand
looking down upon the flower on her breastshe silently resolved to
striveas she had striven in her dreamto bring back light and
beauty to its faded leavesby being what the Fairy hoped to render
hera patientgentle little child. And as the thought came to her
mindthe flower raised its drooping headandlooking up into the
earnest little face bent over itseemed by its fragrant breath to
answer Annie's silent thoughtand strengthen her for what might come.
Meanwhile the forest was astirbirds sang their gay good-morrows
from tree to treewhile leaf and flower turned to greet the sun
who rose up smiling on the world; and so beneath the forest boughs
and through the dewy fields went little Annie homebetter and wiser
for her dream.
Autumn flowers were dead and goneyellow leaves lay rustling on the
groundbleak winds went whistling through the naked treesand cold
white Winter snow fell softly down; yet nowwhen all without looked
dark and drearyon little Annie's breast the fairy flower bloomed
more beautiful than ever. The memory of her forest dream had never
passed awayand through trial and temptation she had been trueand
kept her resolution still unbroken; seldom now did the warning bell
sound in her earand seldom did the flower's fragrance cease to float
about heror the fairy light to brighten all whereon it fell.
Sothrough the longcold Winterlittle Annie dwelt like a sunbeam
in her homeeach day growing richer in the love of othersand
happier in herself; often was she temptedbutremembering her dream
she listened only to the music of the fairy belland the unkind
thought or feeling fled awaythe smiling spirits of gentleness
and love nestled in her heartand all was bright again.
So better and happier grew the childfairer and sweeter grew the
flowertill Spring came smiling over the earthand woke the flowers
set free the streamsand welcomed back the birds; then daily did
the happy child sit among her flowerslonging for the gentle Elf
to come againthat she might tell her gratitude for all the magic
gift had done.
At lengthone dayas she sat singing in the sunny nook where
all her fairest flowers bloomedweary with gazing at the far-off sky
for the little form she hoped would comeshe bent to look with joyful
love upon her bosom flower; and as she lookedits folded leaves
spread wide apartandrising slowly from the deep white cup
appeared the smiling face of the lovely Elf whose coming she had
waited for so long.
"Dear Annielook for me no longer; I am here on your own breast
for you have learned to love my giftand it has done its work
most faithfully and well" the Fairy saidas she looked into the
happy child's bright faceand laid her little arms most tenderly
about her neck.
"And now have I brought another gift from Fairy-Landas a fit reward
for youdear child" she saidwhen Annie had told all her gratitude
and love; thentouching the child with her shining wandthe Fairy
bid her look and listen silently.
And suddenly the world seemed changed to Annie; for the air was filled
with strangesweet soundsand all around her floated lovely forms.
In every flower sat little smiling Elvessinging gayly as they rocked
amid the leaves. On every breezebrightairy spirits came floating
by; some fanned her cheek with their cool breathand waved her long
hair to and frowhile others rang the flower-bellsand made a
pleasant rustling among the leaves. In the fountainwhere the water
danced and sparkled in the sunastride of every drop she saw merry
little spiritswho plashed and floated in the clearcool wavesand
sang as gayly as the flowerson whom they scattered glittering dew.
The tall treesas their branches rustled in the windsang a low
dreamy songwhile the waving grass was filled with little voices
she had never heard before. Butterflies whispered lovely tales in
her earand birds sang cheerful songs in a sweet language she had
never understood before. Earth and air seemed filled with beauty
and with music she had never dreamed of until now.
"O tell me what it meansdear Fairy! is it another and a lovelier
dreamor is the earth in truth so beautiful as this?" she cried
looking with wondering joy upon the Elfwho lay upon the flower
in her breast.
"Yesit is truedear child" replied the Fairy"and few arethe
mortals to whom we give this lovely gift; what to you is now so full
of music and of lightto others is but a pleasant summer world;
they never know the language of butterfly or bird or flowerand they
are blind to aIl that I have given you the power to see. These fair
things are your friends and playmates nowand they will teach you
many pleasant lessonsand give you many happy hours; while the garden
where you once satweeping sad and bitter tearsis now brightened
by your own happinessfilled with loving friends by your own kindly
thoughts and feelings; and thus rendered a pleasant summer home
for the gentlehappy childwhose bosom flower will never fade.
And nowdear AnnieI must go; but every Springtimewith the
earliest flowerswill I come again to visit youand bring
some fairy gift. Guard well the magic flowerthat I may find all
fair and bright when next I come."
Thenwith a kind farewellthe gentle Fairy floated upward
through the sunny airsmiling down upon the childuntil she vanished
in the softwhite cloudsand little Annie stood alone in her
enchanted gardenwhere all was brightened with the radiant light
and fragrant with the perfume of her fairy flower.
When Moonlight ceasedSummer-Wind laid down her rose-leaf fanand
leaning back in her acorn cuptold this tale of
DOWN in the deep blue sea lived Ripplea happy little Water-Spirit;
all day long she danced beneath the coral archesmade garlands
of bright ocean flowersor floated on the great waves that sparkled
in the sunlight; but the pastime that she loved best was lying
in the many-colored shells upon the shorelistening to the low
murmuring music the waves had taught them long ago; and here
for hours the little Spirit lay watching the sea and skywhile
singing gayly to herself.
But when tempests roseshe hastened down below the stormy billows
to where all was calm and stilland with her sister Spirits waited
till it should be fair againlistening sadlymeanwhileto the cries
of those whom the wild waves wrecked and cast into the angry sea
and who soon came floating downpale and coldto the Spirits'
pleasant home; then they wept pitying tears above the lifeless forms
and laid them in quiet graveswhere flowers bloomedand jewels
sparkled in the sand.
This was Ripple's only griefand she often thought of those who
sorrowed for the friends they lovedwho now slept far down in the dim
and silent coral cavesand gladly would she have saved the lives
of those who lay around her; but the great ocean was far mightier than
all the tender-hearted Spirits dwelling in its bosom. Thus she could
only weep for themand lay them down to sleep where no cruel waves
could harm them more.
One daywhen a fearful storm raged far and wideand the Spirits saw
great billows rolling like heavy clouds above their headsand heard
the wild winds sounding far awaydown through the foaming waves
a little child came floating to their home; its eyes were closed as if
in sleepthe long hair fell like sea-weed round its palecold face
and the little hands still clasped the shells they had been gathering
on the beachwhen the great waves swept it into the troubled sea.
With tender tears the Spirits laid the little form to rest upon its
bed of flowersandsinging mournful songsas if to make its sleep
more calm and deepwatched long and lovingly above ittill the storm
had died awayand all was still again.
While Ripple sang above the little childthrough the distant roar
of winds and waves she heard a wildsorrowing voicethat seemed to
call for help. Long she listenedthinking it was but the echo of
their own plaintive songbut high above the music still sounded
the sadwailing cry. Thenstealing silently awayshe glided up
through foam and spraytillthrough the parting cloudsthe sunlight
shone upon her from the tranquil sky; andguided by the mournful
soundshe floated ontillclose before her on the beachshe saw
a woman stretching forth her armsand with a sadimploring voice
praying the restless sea to give her back the little child it had
so cruelly borne away. But the waves dashed foaming up among the
bare rocks at her feetmingling their cold spray with her tears
and gave no answer to her prayer.
When Ripple saw the mother's griefshe longed to comfort her;
sobending tenderly beside herwhere she knelt upon the shore
the little Spirit told her how her child lay softly sleepingfar down
in a lovely placewhere sorrowing tears were shedand gentle hands
laid garlands over him. But all in vain she whispered kindly words;
the weeping mother only cried--
"Dear Spiritcan you use no charm or spell to make the waves bring
back my childas full of life and strength as when they swept him
from my side? O give me back my little childor let me lie beside
him in the bosom of the cruel sea."
"Most gladly will I help you if I canthough I have little power
to use; then grieve no morefor I will search both earth and sea
to find some friend who can bring back all you have lost. Watch daily
on the shoreand if I do not come againthen you will know my search
has been in vain. Farewellpoor motheryou shall see your little
child againif Fairy power can win him back." And with these
cheering words Ripple sprang into the sea; whilesmiling through her
tearsthe woman watched the gentle Spirittill her bright crown
vanished in the waves.
When Ripple reached her homeshe hastened to the palace of the Queen
and told her of the little childthe sorrowing motherand the
promise she had made.
"Good little Ripple" said the Queenwhen she had told her all
"your promise never can be kept; there is no power below the sea
to work this charmand you can never reach the Fire-Spirits' home
to win from them a flame to warm the little body into life. I pity
the poor motherand would most gladly help her; but alas! I am a
Spirit like yourselfand cannot serve you as I long to do."
"Ahdear Queen! if you had seen her sorrowyou too would seek to
keep the promise I have made. I cannot let her watch for ME in
vaintill I have done my best: then tell me where the Fire-Spirits
dwelland I will ask of them the flame that shall give life to the
little child and such great happiness to the sadlonely mother:
tell me the pathand let me go."
"It is farfar awayhigh up above the sunwhere no Spirit ever
dared to venture yet" replied the Queen. "I cannot show the path
for it is through the air. Dear Rippledo not gofor you can
never reach that distant place: some harm most surely will befall;
and then how shall we livewithout our dearestgentlest Spirit?
Stay here with us in your own pleasant homeand think more of this
for I can never let you go."
But Ripple would not break the promise she had madeand besought
so earnestlyand with such pleading wordsthat the Queen at last
with sorrow gave consentand Ripple joyfully prepared to go. She
with her sister Spiritsbuilt up a tomb of delicatebright-colored
shellswherein the child might lietill she should come to wake him
into life; thenpraying them to watch most faithfully above it
she said farewelland floated bravely forthon her longunknown
"I will search the broad earth till I find a path up to the sun
or some kind friend who will carry me; foralas! I have no wings
and cannot glide through the blue air as through the sea" said Ripple
to herselfas she went dancing over the waveswhich bore her swiftly
onward towards a distant shore.
Long she journeyed through the pathless oceanwith no friends
to cheer hersave the white sea-birds who went sweeping byand
only stayed to dip their wide wings at her sideand then flew
silently away. Sometimes great ships sailed byand then with
longing eyes did the little Spirit gaze up at the faces that looked
down upon the sea; for often they were kind and pleasant onesand
she gladly would have called to them and asked them to be friends.
But they would never understand the strangesweet language that
she spokeor even see the lovely face that smiled at them above the
waves; her bluetransparent garments were but water to their eyes
and the pearl chains in her hair but foam and sparkling spray; so
hoping that the sea would be most gentle with themsilently she
floated on her wayand left them far behind.
At length green hills were seenand the waves gladly bore the little
Spirit ontillrippling gently over soft white sandthey left her
on the pleasant shore.
"Ahwhat a lovely place it is!" said Rippleas she passed through
sunny valleyswhere flowers began to bloomand young leaves rustled
on the trees.
"Why are you all so gaydear birds?" she askedas their cheerful
voices sounded far and near; "is there a festival over the earth
that all is so beautiful and bright?"
"Do you not know that Spring is coming? The warm winds whispered it
days agoand we are learning the sweetest songsto welcome her
when she shall come" sang the larksoaring away as the music gushed
from his little throat.
"And shall I see herVioletas she journeys over the earth?"asked
"Yesyou will meet her soonfor the sunlight told me she was near;
tell her we long to see her againand are waiting to welcome her
back" said the blue flowerdancing for joy on her stemas she
nodded and smiled on the Spirit.
"I will ask Spring where the Fire-Spirits dwell; she travels over
the earth each yearand surely can show me the way" thought Ripple
as she went journeying on.
Soon she saw Spring come smiling over the earth; sunbeams and breezes
floated beforeand thenwith her white garments covered with
flowerswith wreaths in her hairand dew-drops and seeds falling
fast from her hands the beautiful season came singing by.
"Dear Springwill you listenand help a poor little Spirit
who seeks far and wide for the Fire-Spirits' home?" cried Ripple; and
then told why she was thereand begged her to tell what she sought.
"The Fire-Spirits' home is farfar awayand I cannot guide you
there; but Summer is coming behind me" said Spring"and she mayknow
better than I. But I will give you a breeze to help you on your way;
it will never tire nor failbut bear you easily over land and sea.
Farewelllittle Spirit! I would gladly do morebut voices are
calling me far and wideand I cannot stay."
"Many thankskind Spring!" cried Rippleas she floated away onthe
breeze; "give a kindly word to the mother who waits on the shoreand
tell her I have not forgotten my vowbut hope soon to see her again."
Then Spring flew on with her sunshine and flowersand Ripple went
swiftly over hill and valetill she came to the land where Summer
was dwelling. Here the sun shone warmly down on the early fruit
the winds blew freshly over fields of fragrant hayand rustled with
a pleasant sound among the green leaves in the forests; heavy dews
fell softly down at nightand longbright days brought strength
and beauty to the blossoming earth.
"Now I must seek for Summer" said Rippleas she sailed slowly
through the sunny sky.
"I am herewhat would you with melittle Spirit?" said a musical
voice in her ear; andfloating by her sideshe saw a graceful form
with green robes fluttering in the airwhose pleasant face looked
kindly on herfrom beneath a crown of golden sunbeams that cast
a warmbright glow on all beneath.
Then Ripple told her taleand asked where she should go; but
"I can tell no more than my young sister Spring where you may find
the Spirits that you seek; but I toolike herwill give a gift to
aid you. Take this sunbeam from my crown; it will cheer and brighten
the most gloomy path through which you pass. Farewell! I shall carry
tidings of you to the watcher by the seaif in my journey round the
world I find her there."
And Summergiving her the sunbeampassed away over the distant
hillsleaving all green and bright behind her.
So Ripple journeyed on againtill the earth below her shone
with ye]low harvests waving in the sunand the air was filled
with cheerful voicesas the reapers sang among the fields or in
the pleasant vineyardswhere purple fruit hung gleaming through
the leaves; while the sky above was cloudlessand the changing
forest-trees shone like a many-colored garlandover hill and plain;
and herealong the ripening corn-fieldswith bright wreaths of
crimson leaves and golden wheat-ears in her hair and on her purple
mantlestately Autumn passedwith a happy smile on her calm face
as she went scattering generous gifts from her full arms.
But when the wandering Spirit came to herand asked for what she
soughtthis seasonlike the otherscould not tell her where to go;
sogiving her a yellow leafAutumn saidas she passed on--
"Ask Winterlittle Ripplewhen you come to his cold home; he knows
the Fire-Spirits wellfor when he comes they fly to the earth
to warm and comfort those dwelling there; and perhaps he can tell you
where they are. So take this gift of mineand when you meet his
chilly windsfold it about youand sit warm beneath its shelter
till you come to sunlight again. I will carry comfort to the
patient womanas my sisters have already doneand tell her you are
Then on went the never-tiring Breezeover foresthilland field
till the sky grew darkand bleak winds whistled by. Then Ripple
folded in the softwarm leaflooked sadly down on the earth
that seemed to lie so desolate and still beneath its shroud of snow
and thought how bitter cold the leaves and flowers must be; for the
little Water-Spirit did not know that Winter spread a soft white
covering above their bedsthat they might safely sleep below till
Spring should waken them again. So she went sorrowfully ontill
Winterriding on the strong North-Windcame rushing bywith
a sparkling ice-crown in his streaming hairwhile from beneath his
crimson cloakwhere glittering frost-work shone like silver threads
he scattered snow-flakes far and wide.
"What do you seek with mefair little Spiritthat you come
so bravely here amid my ice and snow? Do not fear me; I am warm
at heartthough rude and cold without" said Winterlooking kindly
on herwhile a bright smile shone like sunlight on his pleasant face
as it glowed and glistened in the frosty air.
When Ripple told him why she had comehe pointed upwardwhere the
sunlight dimly shone through the heavy cloudssaying--
"Far off therebeside the sunis the Fire-Spirits' home; and the
only path is upthrough cloud and mist. It is a longstrange path
for a lonely little Spirit to be going; the Fairies are wildwilful
thingsand in their play may harm and trouble you. Come back with
meand do not go this dangerous journey to the sky. I'll gladly
bear you home againif you will come."
But Ripple said"I cannot turn back nowwhen I am nearly there.
The Spirits surely will not harm mewhen I tell them why I am come;
and if I win the flameI shall be the happiest Spirit in the sea
for my promise will be keptand the poor mother happy once again.
So farewellWinter! Speak to her gentlyand tell her to hope still
for I shall surely come."
"Adieulittle Ripple! May good angels watch above you! Journey
bravely onand take this snow-flake that will never meltas MY
gift" Winter criedas the North-Wind bore him onleaving a cloud
of falling snow behind.
"Nowdear Breeze" said Ripple"fly straight upward throughthe air
until we reach the place we have so long been seeking; Sunbeam shall
go before to light the wayYellow-leaf shall shelter me from heat and
rainwhile Snow-flake shall lie here beside me till it comes of use.
So farewell to the pleasant earthuntil we come again. And now away
up to the sun!"
When Ripple first began her airy journeyall was dark and dreary;
heavy clouds lay piled like hills around herand a cold mist
filled the air but the Sunbeamlike a starlit up the waythe leaf
lay warmly round herand the tireless wind went swiftly on. Higher
and higher they floated upstill darker and darker grew the air
closer the damp mist gatheredwhile the black clouds rolled and
tossedlike great wavesto and fro.
"Ah!" sighed the weary little Spirit"shall I never see thelight
againor feel the warm winds on my cheek? It is a dreary way indeed
and but for the Seasons' gifts I should have perished long ago; but
the heavy clouds MUST pass away at lastand all be fair again.
So hasten ongood Breezeand bring me quickly to my journey's end."
Soon the cold vapors vanished from her pathand sunshine shone
upon her pleasantly; so she went gayly ontill she came up among
the starswhere many newstrange sights were to be seen. With
wondering eyes she looked upon the bright worlds that once seemed dim
and distantwhen she gazed upon them from the sea; but now they moved
around hersome shining with a softly radiant lightsome circled
with brightmany-colored ringswhile others burned with a red
angry glare. Ripple would have gladly stayed to watch them longer
for she fancied lowsweet voices called herand lovely faces
seemed to look upon her as she passed; but higher up stillnearer
to the sunshe saw a far-off lightthat glittered like a brilliant
crimson starand seemed to cast a rosy glow along the sky.
"The Fire-Spirits surely must be thereand I must stay no longer
here" said Ripple. So steadily she floated ontill straight
before her lay a broadbright paththat led up to a golden arch
beyond which she could see shapes flitting to and fro. As she drew
nearbrighter glowed the skyhotter and hotter grew the airtill
Ripple's leaf-cloak shrivelled upand could no longer shield her from
the heat; then she unfolded the white snow-flakeandgladly wrapping
the softcool mantle round herentered through the shining arch.
Through the red mist that floated all around hershe could see
high walls of changing lightwhere orangeblueand violet flames
went flickering to and fromaking graceful figures as they danced
and glowed; and underneath these rainbow archeslittle Spirits
glidedfar and nearwearing crowns of firebeneath which flashed
their wildbright eyes; and as they spokesparks dropped quickly
from their lipsand Ripple saw with wonderthrough their garments
of transparent lightthat in each Fairy's breast there burned a
steady flamethat never wavered or went out.
As thus she stoodthe Spirits gathered round herand their
hot breath would have scorched herbut she drew the snow-cloak
closer round hersaying--
"Take me to your Queenthat I may tell her why I am hereand ask
for what I seek."
Sothrough long halls of many-colored firethey led her to
a Spirit fairer than the restwhose crown of flames waved to and fro
like golden plumeswhileunderneath her violet robethe light
within her breast glowed bright and strong.
"This is our Queen" the Spirits saidbending low before her
as she turned her gleaming eyes upon the stranger they had brought.
Then Ripple told how she had wandered round the world in search
of themhow the Seasons had most kindly helped her onby giving
Sun-beamBreezeLeafand Flake; and howthrough many dangersshe
had come at last to ask of them the magic flame that could give life
to the little child again.
When she had told her talethe spirits whispered earnestly
among themselveswhile sparks fell thick and fast with every word;
at length the Fire-Queen said aloud--
"We cannot give the flame you askfor each of us must take a part
of it from our own breasts; and this we will not dofor the brighter
our bosom-fire burnsthe lovelier we are. So do not ask us for this
thing; but any other gift we will most gladly givefor we feel kindly
towards youand will serve you if we may."
But Ripple asked no other boonandweeping sadlybegged them
not to send her back without the gift she had come so far to gain.
"O dearwarm-hearted Spirits! give me each a little light from your
own breastsand surely they will glow the brighter for this kindly
deed; and I will thankfully repay it if I can." As thus she spoke
the Queenwho had spied out a chain of jewels Ripple wore upon her
"If you will give me those brightsparkling stonesI will bestow on
you a part of my own flame; for we have no such lovely things to wear
about our necksand I desire much to have them. Will you give it me
for what I offerlittle Spirit?"
Joyfully Ripple gave her the chain; butas soon as it touched her
handthe jewels melted like snowand fell in bright drops to the
ground; at this the Queen's eyes flashedand the Spirits gathered
angrily about poor Ripplewho looked sadly at the broken chain
and thought in vain what she could giveto win the thing she longed
so earnestly for.
"I have many fairer gems than thesein my home below the sea;
and I will bring all I can gather far and wideif you will grant
my prayerand give me what I seek" she saidturning gently to
the fiery Spiritswho were hovering fiercely round her.
"You must bring us each a jewel that will never vanish from our hands
as these have done" they said"and we will each give of our fire;
and when the child is brought to lifeyou must bring hither all the
jewels you can gather from the depths of the seathat we may try them
here among the flames; but if they melt away like thesethen we shall
keep you prisonertill you give us back the light we lend. If you
consent to thisthen take our giftand journey home again; but
fail not to returnor we shall seek you out."
And Ripple said she would consentthough she knew not if the jewels
could be found; stillthinking of the promise she had madeshe
forgot all elseand told the Spirits what they asked most surely
should be done. So each one gave a little of the fire from their
breastsand placed the flame in a crystal vasethrough which
it shone and glittered like a star.
Thenbidding her remember all she had promised themthey led her
to the golden archand said farewell.
Sodown along the shining paththrough mist and cloudshe
travelled back; tillfar belowshe saw the broad blue sea she left
so long ago.
Gladly she plunged into the clearcool wavesand floated back
to her pleasant home; where the Spirits gathered joyfully about her
listening with tears and smilesas she told all her many wanderings
and showed the crystal vase that she had brought.
"Now come" said they"and finish the good work you have sobravely
carried on." So to the quiet tomb they wentwherelike a marble
imagecold and stillthe little child was lying. Then Ripple placed
the flame upon his breastand watched it gleam and sparkle there
while light came slowly back into the once dim eyesa rosy glow shone
over the pale faceand breath stole through the parted lips; still
brighter and warmer burned the magic fireuntil the child awoke
from his long sleepand looked in smiling wonder at the faces bending
Then Ripple sang for joyandwith her sister Spiritsrobed the
child in graceful garmentswoven of bright sea-weedwhile in
his shining hair they wreathed long garlands of their fairest flowers
and on his little arms hung chains of brilliant shells.
"Now come with usdear child" said Ripple; "we will bear yousafely
up into the sunlight and the pleasant air; for this is not your home
and yonderon the shorethere waits a loving friend for you."
So up they wentthrough foam and spraytill on the beachwhere
the fresh winds played among her falling hairand the waves broke
sparkling at her feetthe lonely mother still stoodgazing wistfully
across the sea. Suddenlyupon a great blue billow that came rolling
inshe saw the Water-Spirits smiling on her; and high aloftin their
white gleaming armsher child stretched forth his hands to welcome
her; while the little voice she so longed to hear again cried gayly--
"Seedear motherI am come; and look what lovely things the
gentle Spirits gavethat I might seem more beautiful to you."
Then gently the great wave brokeand rolled back to the sealeaving
Ripple on the shoreand the child clasped in his mother's arms.
"O faithful little Spirit! I would gladly give some precious gift
to show my gratitude for this kind deed; but I have nothing save
this chain of little pearls: they are the tears I shedand the sea
has changed them thusthat I might offer them to you" the happy
mother saidwhen her first joy was passedand Ripple turned to go.
"YesI will gladly wear your giftand look upon it as my fairest
ornament" the Water-Spirit said; and with the pearls upon her breast
she left the shorewhere the child was playing gayly to and fro
and the mother's glad smile shone upon hertill she sank beneath
And now another task was to be done; her promise to the
Fire-Spirits must be kept. So far and wide she searched among
the caverns of the seaand gathered all the brightest jewels
shining there; and then upon her faithful Breeze once more went
journeying through the sky.
The Spirits gladly welcomed herand led her to the Queen
before whom she poured out the sparkling gems she had gathered
with such toil and care; but when the Spirits tried to form them
into crownsthey trickled from their hands like colored drops of dew
and Ripple saw with fear and sorrow how they melted one by one away
till none of all the many she had brought remained. Then the
Fire-Spirits looked upon her angrilyand when she begged them
to be mercifuland let her try once moresaying--
"Do not keep me prisoner here. I cannot breathe the flames that
give you lifeand but for this snow-mantle I too should melt away
and vanish like the jewels in your hands. O dear Spiritsgive me
some other taskbut let me go from this warm placewhere all is
strange and fearful to a Spirit of the sea."
They would not listen; and drew nearersayingwhile bright sparks
showered from their lips"We will not let you gofor you have
promised to be ours if the gems you brought proved worthless; so fling
away this cold white cloakand bathe with us in the fire fountains
and help us bring back to our bosom flames the light we gave you
for the child."
Then Ripple sank down on the burning floorand felt that her life
was nearly done; for she well knew the hot air of the fire-palace
would be death to her. The Spirits gathered roundand began to lift
her mantle off; but underneath they saw the pearl chainshining with
a clearsoft lightthat only glowed more brightly when they laid
their hands upon it.
"O give us this!" cried they; "it is far lovelier than all therest
and does not melt away like them; and see how brilliantly it glitters
in our hands. If we may but have thisall will be welland you
are once more free."
And Ripplesafe again beneath her snow flakegladly gave
the chain to them; and told them how the pearls they now placed
proudly on their breasts were formed of tearswhich but for them
might still be flowing. Then the Spirits smiled most kindly on her
and would have put their arms about herand have kissed her cheek
but she drew backtelling them that every touch of theirs was
like a wound to her.
"Thenif we may not tell our pleasure sowe will show it in a
different wayand give you a pleasant journey home. Come out with
us" the Spirits said"and see the bright path we have made foryou."
So they led her to the lofty gateand herefrom sky to earth
a lovely rainbow arched its radiant colors in the sun.
"This is indeed a pleasant road" said Ripple. "Thank you
friendly Spiritsfor your care; and now farewell. I would gladly
stay yet longerbut we cannot dwell togetherand I am longing sadly
for my own cool home. Now SunbeamBreezeLeafand Flakefly back
to the Seasons whence you cameand tell them thatthanks to their
kind giftsRipple's work at last is done."
Then down along the shining pathway spread before herthe happy
little Spirit glided to the sea.
"Thanksdear Summer-Wind" said the Queen; "we will rememberthe
lessons you have each taught usand when next we meet in Fern Dale
you shall tell us more. And nowdear Tripcall them from the lake
for the moon is sinking fastand we must hasten home."
The Elves gathered about their Queenand while the rustling leaves
were stilland the flowers' sweet voices mingled with their own
they sang this
The moonlight fades from flower and tree
And the stars dim one by one;
The tale is toldthe song is sung
And the Fairy feast is done.
The night-wind rocks the sleeping flowers
And sings to themsoft and low.
The early birds erelong will wake:
'T is time for the Elves to go.
O'er the sleeping earth we silently pass
Unseen by mortal eye
And send sweet dreamsas we lightly float
Through the quiet moonlit sky;--
For the stars' soft eyes alone may see
And the flowers alone may know
The feasts we holdthe tales we tell:
So 't is time for the Elves to go.
From birdand blossomand bee
We learn the lessons they teach;
And seekby kindly deedsto win
A loving friend in each.
And though unseen on earth we dwell
Sweet voices whisper low
And gentle hearts most joyously greet
The Elves where'er they go.
When next me meet in the Fairy dell
May the silver moon's soft light
Shine then on faces gay as now
And Elfin hearts as light.
Now spread each wingfor the eastern sky
With sunlight soon will glow.
The morning star shall light us home:
Farewell! for the Elves must go.
As the music ceasedwith a softrustling sound the Elves
spread their shining wingsand flew silently over the sleeping earth;
the flowers closed their bright eyesthe little winds were still
for the feast was overand the Fairy lessons ended.