WHO WAS THE LUCKIEST？
" WHAT lovely roses！" said the sunshine．" And ev-ery bud will unfold，and be equally beautiful．They 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 gifts，according to your means and good will．"
" My lovely rose-children！"said all three of them，and wished every blossom the greatest luck，but only one could be the luckiest，and one must be also the leastlucky；but 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 said，every swelling bud caught it．
Then there came through the garden a sorrowful， loving mother，dressed in black；she plucked one of the roses，which was just half-blown，fresh and full；it seemed to her to be the most beautiful of them all．Shetook 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 coffin．The motherkissed the dead child，then kissed the half-blown rose，and 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 swelling；every 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 dead！Assuredly I am the luckiest among all my sister！"
In the garden，where the rose-tree stood， walked the old weeding-woman ；she also gazed at the glory of the tree，and fixed her eyes on the biggest full-blown rose． One drop of dew， and one warm day more， and the leaves would fall；the 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 roses，and be preserved with them and become pot-pourri， to be mixed with the little blue boys which are called lavender， and be embalmed with salt．Only 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 painter，the other a poet；each 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 mystery，all that he read，leaf 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 yet，amongst the display of roses，one which was almost hidden by the others；accidentally， 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， deformed，green leaf； that happens with rose！
"Poor child！" said the wind， and kissed it on thecheek．
The rose thought it was a greeting，a homage； it hada feeling that it was a little differently formed from theother roses，that there grew a green leaf out of its interi-or， and it looked upon that as a distinction．A butterflyflew down upon it， and kissed its leaves． This was a woo- er； she let him fly away again．There came an immenselybig grasshopper； he sat himself certainly upon anotherrose，and rubbed his shin-bone in amorous mood—that isthe sign of love with grasshoppers . The rose he sat on didnot understand it， but the rose with the distinction did，for the grasshopper looked at her with eyes which said，"Icould eat you up out of sheer love！" and no farther canlove ever go；then 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 sisters！Why 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 ；roses，it 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 roses，they took the one with the blemish．
" What a new distinction！" it said，" I am exceeding-ly lucky！The very luckiest！"
And it became green with self-consciousness and to-bacco smoke．
One rose， still half-blown， perhaps the finest on thetree，got 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 carriage；it sat as a flower of beauty among other flowers and lovelygreen leaves； it went to a splendid gathering，where menand women sat in fine attire illuminated by a thousand lamps；music 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 floated；and 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 up，saw how beautiful it was， how full of fragrance it was， butthere was no stalk on it．So he put it in his pocket，and 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 rose，and 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-tree；how lovely you are！"
And she looked with childlike delight at the flower， and thought，no 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， youthfullyshining，and 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 story．Each rose be-lieved and thought itself to be the luckiest， and faith makesblessed．The last rose，however，was the luckiest of all，inits 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．" I，also， will get my share，" saidthe wind．" I got all the stories of all the roses，which Iwill tell out in the wide world！Tell me now， which was theluckiest of them all？ Yes， you must say that； I have saidenough！"