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A LEAF FROM THE SKY

 

HIGH upin the thin clear airflew an angel with a flower from the heavenly gardenAs he was kissing the flowera very little leaf fell down into the soft soil in the midst of the woodand immediately took rootand sproutedand sent forth shoots among the other plants

A funny kind of slipthat,”said the Plants

And neither Thistle nor Stinging-Nettle would recognize the stranger

That must be a kind of garden plant,”said theyAnd they sneeredand the plant was despised by them as being a thing out of the gardenbut it grew and grewlike none of the othersand shot its branches far and wide Where are you coming?”cried the lofty Thistleswhose leaves are all armed with thorns.“You give yourself a good deal of spaceThat's all nonsense-we are not here to support you!”

And winter cameand snow covered the plantbut the plant imparted to the snowy covering a lustre as if the sun was shining upon it from below as from aboveWhen spring camethe plant appeared as flourishing and more beautiful than any growth of the forest

And now appeared on the scene the botanical professorwho could show what he was in black and whiteHe inspected the plant and tested itbut found it was not included in his botanical systemand he could not possibly find out to what class it belonged

It must be some subordinate species,”he said.“I don't know itIt's not included in any system.”

Not included in any system!”repeated the Thistles and the Nettles

The great trees that stood round about heard what was saidand they also saw that it was not a tree of their kind but they said not a wordgood or badwhich is the wisest thing for people to do who are stupid

There came through the forest a poor innocent girlHer heart was pureand her understanding was enlarged by faithHer whole inheritance was an old Biblebut out of its pages a voice said to her,“If people wish to do us evilremember how it was said of Joseph-they imagined evil in their heartsbut God turned it to goodIf we suffer wrong-if we are misunderstood and despised-then we may recall the words of Him Who was purity and goodness itselfand Who forgave and prayed for those who buffeted and nailed Him to the cross.”

The girl stood still in front of the wonderful plantwhose great leaves exhaled a sweet and refreshing fragranceand whose flowers glittered like coloured flames in the sunand from each flower there came a sound as though it concealed within itself a deep fount of melody that thousands of years could not exhaustWith pious gratitude the girl looked on this beautiful work of the Creatorand bent down one of the branches towards herself to breathe its sweetnessand a light arose in her soulIt seemed to do her heart goodand gladly would she have plucked a flowerbut she could not make up her mind to break one offfor it would soon fade if she did soThere-fore the girl only took a single leafand laid it in her Bible at homeand it lay there quite freshalways greenand never fading

Among the pages of the Bible it was keptandwith the Bibleit was laid under the young girl's head whena few weeks afterwardsshe lay in her coffinwith the solemn calm of death on her gentle faceas if the earthly remains bore the impress of the truth that she now stood before her Creator

But the wonderful plant still bloomed without in the forestSoon it was like a tree to look uponand all the birds of passage bowed before itespecially the swallow and the stork

These are foreign airsnow,”said the Thistles and the Burdocks;“we never behave like that here.”

And the black snails actually spat at the flower

Then came the swinehedHe was collecting thistles and shrubsto burn them for the ashesThe wonderful plant was pulled up with all its roots and placed in his bundle

It shall be made usefulhe saidand so saidso done

But for more than a year and a daythe King of the country was troubled with a terrible depression of spiritsHe was busy and industriousbut that did him no goodThey read him deep and learned booksand then they read from the very lightest that they could findbut it was of no useThen one of the wise men of the worldto whom they had appliedsent a messenger to tell the King that there was one remedy to give him relief and to cure himHe said

In the King's own country there grows in a forest a plant of heavenly originIts appearance is thus and thusIt cannot be mistaken.”And here was added a drawing of the plantwhich was easy to recognize.“It remains green winter and summerTake every evening a fresh leaf of it and lay that on the King's foreheadthen his thoughts will become clearand during the night a beautiful dream will strengthen him for the coming day.”

This was all clear enoughand all the doctors and the professor of botany went out into the forest-Yesbut where was the plant

I fancy it was taken up in my bundleand burned to ashes long ago,”said the swineherd;“but I did not know any better.”

You did not know any better!”said they all together.“Oignoranceignorancehow great thou art!”

And those words the swineherd might well take to himselffor they were meant for himand for no one else

Not another leaf was to be foundthe only one lay in the coffin of the dead girland no one knew anything about that

And the King himselfin his melancholywandered out to the spot in the wood

Here is where the plant stood,”he said;“it is a sacred place.”

And the place was surrounded with a golden railingand a sentry was posted there both by night and by day

The botanical professor wrote a long treatise upon the heavenly plantFor this he was decoratedand that was a great delight to himand the decoration suited him and his family very well

And indeed that was the most agreeable part of the whole storyfor the plant was goneand the King remained as low-spirited as beforebut that he had always beenat least so the sentry said


 

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