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WHO WAS THE LUCKIEST

 

" WHAT lovely roses" said the sunshine" And ev-ery bud will unfoldand be equally beautifulThey are my children I have kissed them into life"

" They are my children" said the dew." I have suckled them with my tears"

" I should think that I am their mother" said therose hedge"You others are only god-parents who gave christening giftsaccording to your means and good will"

" My lovely rose-children"said all three of themand wished every blossom the greatest luckbut only one could be the luckiestand one must be also the leastluckybut which of them

" That I shall find out" said the wind" I travel farand wide force myself through the narrowest chink I know about everything outside and inside"

Every blossomed rose heard what had been saidevery swelling bud caught it

Then there came through the garden a sorrowful loving motherdressed in blackshe plucked one of the roseswhich was just half-blownfresh and fullit seemed to her to be the most beautiful of them allShetook the blossom into the quiet silent chamber where only a few days ago the young happy daughter had romped about but now lay there like a sleeping marblefigure stretched out in the black coffinThe motherkissed the dead childthen kissed the half-blown roseand laid it on the breast of the young girl as if it by itsfreshness and a mother's kiss could make the heart beatagain. It was as if the rose were swellingevery leaf quiv-ered with delight at the thought" What a career of lovewas granted to me I become like a child of man receivea mother'kiss and words of blessing and go into the unknown kingdom dreaming on the breast of the deadAssuredly I am the luckiest among all my sister"

In the gardenwhere the rose-tree stood walked the old weeding-woman she also gazed at the glory of the treeand fixed her eyes on the biggest full-blown rose One drop of dew and one warm day more and the leaves would fallthe woman saw that and thought that as it had fulfilledits mission of beauty now it should serve its purpose of usefulness And so she plucked it and put it in a newspa- per it was to go home with her to other leaf stripped rosesand be preserved with them and become pot-pourri to be mixed with the little blue boys which are called lavender and be embalmed with saltOnly roses and kings are em- balmed. " I am the most honoured" said the rose as the woman took it" I am the luckiest I shall be embalmed"

There came into the garden two young men one wasa painterthe other a poeteach of them plucked a rose beautiful to behold And the painter made a picture of therose on canvas so that it thought it saw itself in a mirror. "In that way" said the painter"it shall live for many generations during which many millions and millionsof roses will wither and die"

" I have been the most favoured I have won thegreatest happiness"

The poet gazed at his rose and wrote a poem aboutit a whole mysteryall that he readleaf by leaf in therose" Love's Picture-book" it was an immortal poem. "I am immortal with that" said the rose" I am theluckiest"

There was yetamongst the display of rosesone which was almost hidden by the othersaccidentally fortu-nately perhaps it had a blemish it did not sit straight onits stalk and the leaves on one side did not match those onthe other and in the middle of the rose itself grew a lit-tle deformedgreen leaf that happens with rose

"Poor child" said the wind and kissed it on thecheek

The rose thought it was a greetinga homage it hada feeling that it was a little differently formed from theother rosesthat there grew a green leaf out of its interi-or and it looked upon that as a distinctionA butterflyflew down upon it and kissed its leaves This was a woo- er she let him fly away againThere came an immenselybig grasshopper he sat himself certainly upon anotherroseand rubbed his shin-bone in amorous moodthat isthe sign of love with grasshoppers . The rose he sat on didnot understand it but the rose with the distinction didfor the grasshopper looked at her with eyes which said"Icould eat you up out of sheer love" and no farther canlove ever gothen the one is absorbed by the other Butthe rose would not be absorbed by the jumper

The nightingale sang in the clear starry night

" It is for me alone" said the rose with the blemishor distinction" Why should I thus in every respect bedistinguished above all my sistersWhy did I get this pe-culiarity which makes me the lucklest"

Then two gentlemen smoking cigars came into the garden they talked about roses and about tobacco rosesit was said could not stand smoke they lose their colourand become green it was worth trying They had not theheart to take one of the very finest rosesthey took the one with the blemish

" What a new distinction" it said" I am exceeding-ly luckyThe very luckiest"

And it became green with self-consciousness and to-bacco smoke

One rose still half-blown perhaps the finest on thetreegot the place of honour in the gardener's tastefullyarranged bouquet it was brought to the young lordlymaster of the house and drove with him in the carriageit sat as a flower of beauty among other flowers and lovelygreen leaves it went to a splendid gatheringwhere menand women sat in fine attire illuminated by a thousand lampsmusic sounded it was in the sea of light whichfilled the theatre and when smidst the storm of applausethe celebrated young dancer fluttered forward on the stage bouquet after bouquet flew like a rain of flowers before her feet There fell the bouquet in which the lovelyrose sat like a gem It felt the fullness of its indescribablegood fortune the honour and splendour into which it floatedand as it touched the floor it danced too itsprang and flew along the boards breaking its stalk as itfell It did not come into the hands of the favourite itrolled behind the scenes where a scene-shifter took it upsaw how beautiful it was how full of fragrance it was butthere was no stalk on itSo he put it in his pocketand when he went home in the evening it was in a dram-glass and lay there in water the whole night Early in the morn- ing it was set before the grandmother who sat in her arm-chair old and frail She looked at the lovely broken roseand rejoiced in its beauty and its scent. "Yes you did not go to the rich and fine lady's table but to the poor old woman but here you are like a whole rose-treehow lovely you are"

And she looked with childlike delight at the flower and thoughtno doubt of her own long-past youthful days. " There was a hole in the pane" said the wind" Ieasily got in and saw the old woman's eyes youthfullyshiningand the lovely broken rose in the dram-glass

The luckiest of all I know it I can tell it"

Each rose on the tree had its storyEach rose be-lieved and thought itself to be the luckiest and faith makesblessedThe last rosehoweverwas the luckiest of allinits own opinion. " I outlived them all I am the last the only one mother's dearest child"

" And I am the mother of them" said the rose-hedge. " I am that" said the sunshine

"And I" said wind and weather

" Each has a share in them"said the wind"and each shall get a share in them" and so the wind strewed the leaves out over the hedge where the dew-drops lay where the sun shone" Ialso will get my share" saidthe wind" I got all the stories of all the roseswhich Iwill tell out in the wide worldTell me now which was theluckiest of them all Yes you must say that I have saidenough"

 


 

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