THE SNOWDROP， OR SUMMER-GECK
IT was winter-time； the air was cold， the wind sharp；but indoors itwas snug and warm．Indoors lay the flower；
it lay in its bulb underthe earth and the snow．
One day rain fell；the drops trickled through thesnow-coverlet，down into the ground， touched the flower- bulb， and told about the bright world up above； soon asunbeam， fine andpointed， pierced its way through the snow，down to the bulb，and tapped on it．
"Come in！" said the flower．
"Ican't，" said the sunbeam，" Iam not strong enough to open the door；Ishall be strong when summer comes．"
"When will it be summer？"askedtheflower，andre－ peated it every time a new sunbeampierced down to it． But itwas alongtime， till summer： the snow still lay on the ground，and every night ice formed on the water．
"Howlong it is in coming！Howlong it is！" said the flower；"Ifeela prickling and tingling， Imust stretch my－self， Imust stir myself， Imust open up， Imust get out and nod good morning to the summer； that will be a happy time！"
And the flower stretched itself and strained itself in－side against the thin shell， which the water outside hadsoftened， which the snow and the earth had warmed， and the sunbeam had tapped upon；it shot out under the snow， with its whitey-green bud on its green stalk， with narrow，thick leaves， which seemed trying to shelter it． The snow was cold， but permeated with light and easy to push through；and here the sunbeams came with greater strength than before ．
"Welcome！ Welcome！" sang every sunbeam，and theflower raised itself above the snow， out into the world oflight．
The sunbeams patted and kissed it， so that it openeditself completely， white as snow， and adorned with greenstripes． It bowed its head in gladness and humility．
"Beautiful flower，" sang the sunbeams，"how freshand pure thou art！ Thou art the first； thou art the onlyone！ Thou art our darling！ Thou ringest in summer， love－ly summer， over town and field！ All the snow shall melt！The cold winds shall be chased away！ We shall rule！ Ev－erything will become green！And then thou wilt have com－pany， lilacs， andlaburnum， and last of all the roses ； butthou art the first，so fine and pure！"
It was a great delight． It seemed as if the air wasmusic，as if the beams of light penetrated into its leavesand stalk． There it stood， sofine and fragile，and yet sostrong，in its young beauty；it stood there in its white Kir-tle with green ribbons， and praised the summer．But itwas far from summer-time ， clouds hid the sun，and sharpwinds blew upon the flowers．
"Thou art come a little too early，" said Wind andWeather；"we still have power， and that thou shalt feeland submit to．Thou shouldst have kept indoors， not runout to make a show． It is not time yet！"
It was biting cold！ The days which came， broughtnot a single sunbeam；it was weather to freeze to piecesin，for such a little delicate flower． But there was morestrength in it than itknew of；it was strong in joy and faith in the summer， which must come， which was fore－told to it by its own deep longing， and confirmed by thewarm sunshine；and so it stood with confident hope，in itswhite dress， in the white snow， bowing its head， whenthe snow－flakes fell heavy and thick， whilst the icy windsswept over it．
"Thou wilt be broken！" said they，" wither andfreeze： what didstthou seek out here！Why wert thou lured abroad！The sunbeam has fooled thee！ Now canstthou enjoy thyself， thou summer-geck？"
"Summer-geck！" echoed in the cold morning hours．
"Summer－geck！" shouted some children who came down into the garden，"there stands one so pretty，so beautiful， thefirst， the only one！"
And these words did the flower so much good；theywere words like warm sunbeams．The flower did not evennotice in its gladness that it was being plucked： it lay in achild's hand， was kissed by a child's lips， was broughtinto a warm room， gazed at by kind eyes， and put in wa－ter，so strengthening， so enlivening． The flower believedthat it was come right into summer， all at once．
The daughter of the house， a pretty little girl， was just confirmed；she had a dear friend， and he was also justconfirmed．"He shall be my summer－geck，"said she； so she took the fragile little flower， laid it in a piece of scent－ed paper，onwhich were written verses，verses about the flower．Yes，it was all in the verses，and it was made upas a letter； the flower was laid inside， and it was all darkabout it，as dark as when it lay in the bulb． The flowerwent on a journey，lay in the post-bag，was pressed and squeezed， and that was not pleasant， but it came to an endat last．
The journey was over， the letter was opened and readby the dear friend； he was so delighted he kissed the flow－er，and laid it， with the verses around it， in a drawer， inwhich were many delightful letters， but all without a flow－er；this was the first，the only one，as the sunbeams had called it， and that was very pleasant to think about．
It got a long time to think about it，it thought whilstthe summer passed，and the long winer passed，and it was summer once more；then it was brought out again．But thistime the young man was not at all delighted；he gripped thepaper hard and threw away the verses， so that the flowerfell on the floor； it had become flat and withered， but itshould not have been thrown on the floor for all that； stillit was better lying there than on the fire，where the letterand verses were blazing． What had happened？ What so of－ ten happens．The flower had fooled him； it was jest， the maiden had fooled him，and that was no jest ；she had cho sen another sweet-heart in mid－summer． In the morning， the sun shone in onthe little flattened summer－geck，whichlooked as if it were painted on the floor． The girl who wassweeping took it up and put it in one of books on thetable；she thought ithad fallen out，when she was clear-ing up and putting things in order．And so the flower layagain amongst verses， printed verses， and they are grander than written ones； at least more is spent uponthem．
Years passed away，and the book stood on the shelf．At length it was taken down，opened and read； it was agood book，—songs and poems by the Danish poet， Am－ brosius Stub， who is well worth knowing． And the manwho read the book， turned the page．"Here is a flower！"said he，"a summer-geck！ not without some meaning doesit lie here． Poor Ambrosius Stub！ he was also a summer－geck， abefooled poet！ he was too early in his time；andso he got sleet and sharp winds，and went his rounds a－mongst the gentlemen of Fyen， like the flower in the flow－er－glass， the flower in the verses． A summer－geck， awinter－fool， all jest and foolery，and yetthe first， the on－ly， the youthfully fresh Danish poet． Yes， lie as a markin the book， little summer－geck！ Thou art laid there withsome meaning．"
And so the summer－geck was laid in the book again，and felt itself both honoured and delighted with the knowledge that it was a mark in the lovely song－book，andthat the one who had first sung and written about it， hadalso been a summer－geck， had been befooled in the win－ter．Of course the flower understood this in its own way，just as we understand anything in our own way．
This is the story of the summer－geck．