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THE LOVELIEST ROSE IN THE WORLD

 

ONCE there reigned a Queenin whose garden were found the most glorious flowers at all seasons and from all the lands in the worldbut especially she loved roses and therefore she possessed the most various kinds of this flowerfrom the wild dogrose with the applescented green leaves to the most splendid Provence roseThey grew against the castle walls wound themselves round pillars and windowframes into the passagesand all along the ceiling in all the hallsAnd the roses were various in fragranceformand colour

But care and sorrow dwelt in these hallsthe Queen lay upon a sickbed and the doctors declared that she must die

There is still one thing that can save her,”said the wisest of them.“Bring her the loveliest rose in the worldthe one which is the expression of the brightest and purest lovefor if that is brought before her eyes ere they closeshe will not die.”

And young and old came from every side with rosesthe loveliest that bloomed in each gardenbut they were not the right sort The flower was to be brought out of the garden of Lovebut what rose was it there that expressed the highest and purest love

And the poets sang of the loveliest rose in the worldand each one named his own and intelligence was sent far round the land to every heart that beat with loveto every class and conditionand to every age

No one has till now named the flower,”said the wise man.“No one has pointed out the place where it bloomed in its splendour They are not the roses from the coffin of Romeo and Julietor from the Walborg's grave452though these roses will be ever fragrant in song and storyThey ate not the roses that sprout forth from Winkelried's bloodstained lances from the blood that flows in a sacred cause from the breast of the hero who dies for his countrythough no death is sweeter than this and no rose redder than the blood that flows then Nor is it that wondrous flower to cherish which man devotes in a quiet chambermany a sleepless night and much of his fresh lifethe magic flower of science.

I know where it blooms,” said a happy motherwho came with her tender child to the bedside of the Queen.“I know where the loveliest rose of the world is foundThe rose that is the expression of the highest and purest love springs from the blooming cheeks of my sweet child whenstrengthened by sleepit opens its eyes and smiles at me with all its affection!”

Lovely is this rosebut there is still a lovelier,”said the wise man

Yesa far lovelier one,” said one of the women.“I have seen it and a loftier purer rose does not bloom but it was pale like the petals of the tea-roseI saw it on the cheeks of the Queen. She had taken off her royal crownand in the long dreary night she was carrying her sick child in her armsshe weptkissed itand prayed for her child as a mother prays in the hour of her anguish.”

Holy and wonderful in its might is the white rose of grief but it is not the one we seek.”

Nothe loveliest rose of the world I saw at the altar of the Lord,”said the good old Bishop.I saw it shine as if an angel's face had appeared The young maidens went to the Lord's Tableand renewed the promise made at their baptismand roses were blushingand pale roses shining on their fresh cheeksA young girl stood thereshe looked with all the purity and love of her young spirit up to heaventhat was the expression of the highest and the purest love.”

May she be blessed!”said the wise man;“but not one of you has yet named to me the loveliest rose of the world.”Then the came into the room a childthe Queen's 453little sonTears stood in his eyes and glistened on his cheekshe carried a great open book and the binding was of velvet with great silver clasps

Mother!”cried the little boy,“only hear what I have read.”

And the child sat by the bedside and read from the book of Him who suffered death on the Cross to save menand even those who were not yet born

Greater love there is not—”

And a roseate hue spread over the cheeks of the Queen and her eyes gleamed for she saw that from the leaves of the book there bloomed the loveliest rosethat sprang from the blood of CHRIST shed on the Cross

I see it!”she said:“he who beholds thisthe loveliest rose on earthshall never die.”

 


 

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