Flower Fables by Louisa May Alcott

bf love to save from evil deeds those who had gone astray, to fill

young hearts with gentle thoughts and pure affections, that no sin

might mar the beauty of the human flower; while others, like mortal

children, learned the Fairy alphabet. Thus the Elves made loving

friends by care and love, and no evil thing could harm them, for

those they helped to cherish and protect ever watched to shield and

save them.

Eva nodded to the gay little ones, as they peeped from among the

leaves at the stranger, and then she listened to the Fairy lessons.

Several tiny Elves stood on a broad leaf while the teacher sat

among the petals of a flower that bent beside them, and asked

questions that none but Fairies would care to know.

“Twinkle, if there lay nine seeds within a flower-cup and the wind

bore five away, how many would the blossom have?” “Four,” replied the

little one.

“Rosebud, if a Cowslip opens three leaves in one day and four the

next, how many rosy leaves will there be when the whole flower

has bloomed?”

“Seven,” sang the gay little Elf.

“Harebell, if a silkworm spin one yard of Fairy cloth in an hour,

how many will it spin in a day?”

“Twelve,” said the Fairy child.

“Primrose, where ]ies Violet Island?”

“In the Lake of Ripples.”

“Lilla, you may bound Rose Land.”

“On the north by Ferndale, south by Sunny Wave River, east by the hill

of Morning Clouds, and west by the Evening Star.”

“Now, little ones,” said the teacher, “you may go to your painting,

that our visitor may see how we repair the flowers that earthly hands

have injured.”

Then Eva saw how, on large, white leaves, the Fairies learned to

imitate the lovely colors, and with tiny brushes to brighten the blush

on the anemone’s cheek, to deepen the blue of the violet’s eye, and

add new light to the golden cowslip.

“You have stayed long enough,” said the Elves at length, “we have

many things to show you. Come now and see what is our dearest work.”

So Eva said farewell to the child Elves, and hastened with little

Rose-Leaf to the gates. Here she saw many bands of Fairies, folded in

dark mantles that mortals might not know them, who, with the child

among them, flew away over hill and valley. Some went to the cottages

amid the hills, some to the sea-side to watch above the humble fisher

folks; but little Rose-Leaf and many others went into the noisy city.

Eva wondered within herself what good the tiny Elves could do in this

great place; but she soon learned, for the Fairy band went among the

poor and friendless, bringing pleasant dreams to the sick and old,

sweet, tender thoughts of love and gentleness to the young, strength

to the weak, and patient cheerfulness to the poor and lonely.

Then the child wondered no longer, but deeper grew her love

for the tender-hearted Elves, who left their own happy home to cheer

and comfort those who never knew what hands had clothed and fed them,

what hearts had given of their own joy, and brought such happiness

to theirs.

Long they stayed, and many a lesson little Eva learned: but when

she begged them to go back, they still led her on, saying, “Our work

is not yet done; shall we leave so many sad hearts when we may

cheer them, so many dark homes that we may brighten? We must stay

yet longer, little Eva, and you may learn yet more.”

Then they went into a dark and lonely room, and here they found

a pale, sad-eyed child, who wept bitter tears over a faded flower.

“Ah,” sighed the little one, “it was my only friend, and I

cherished it with all my lone heart’s love; ‘t was all that made

my sad life happy; and it is gone.”

Tenderly the child fastened the drooping stem, and placed it

where the one faint ray of sunlight stole into the dreary room.

“Do you see,” said the Elves, “through this simple flower will we

keep the child pure and stainless amid the sin and sorrow around her.

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Categories: Alcott, Louisa May