Thus to all who needed help or comfort went the faithful Fairies; and
when at length they turned towards Fairy-Land, many were the grateful,
happy hearts they left behind.
Then through the summer sky, above the blossoming earth, they
journeyed home, happier for the joy they had given, wiser for the good
they had done.
All Fairy-Land was dressed in flowers, and the soft wind went singing
by, laden with their fragrant breath. Sweet music sounded through the
air, and troops of Elves in their gayest robes hastened to the palace
where the feast was spread.
Soon the bright hall was filled with smiling faces and fair forms, and
little Eva, as she stood beside the Queen, thought she had never seen
a sight so lovely.
The many-colored shadows of the fairest flowers played on the pure
white walls, and fountains sparkled in the sunlight, making music
as the cool waves rose and fell, while to and fro, with waving wings
and joyous voices, went the smiling Elves, bearing fruit and honey,
or fragrant garlands for each other’s hair.
Long they feasted, gayly they sang, and Eva, dancing merrily
among them, longed to be an Elf that she might dwell forever
in so fair a home.
At length the music ceased, and the Queen said, as she laid her hand
on little Eva’s shining hair:–
“Dear child, tomorrow we must bear you home, for, much as we long
to keep you, it were wrong to bring such sorrow to your loving earthly
friends; therefore we will guide you to the brook-side, and there say
farewell till you come again to visit us. Nay, do not weep, dear
Rose-Leaf; you shall watch over little Eva’s flowers, and when she
looks at them she will think of you. Come now and lead her to the
Fairy garden, and show her what we think our fairest sight. Weep
no more, but strive to make her last hours with us happy as you can.”
With gentle caresses and most tender words the loving Elves gathered
about the child, and, with Rose-Leaf by her side, they led her through
the palace, and along green, winding paths, till Eva saw what seemed
a wall of flowers rising before her, while the air was filled with the
most fragrant odors, and the low, sweet music as of singing blossoms.
“Where have you brought me, and what mean these lovely sounds?”
“Look here, and you shall see,” said Rose-Leaf, as she bent aside
the vines, “but listen silently or you cannot hear.”
Then Eva, looking through the drooping vines, beheld a garden filled
with the loveliest flowers; fair as were all the blossoms she had seen
in Fairy-Land, none were so beautiful as these. The rose glowed
with a deeper crimson, the lily’s soft leaves were more purely white,
the crocus and humble cowslip shone like sunlight, and the violet
was blue as the sky that smiled above it.
“How beautiful they are,” whispered Eva, “but, dear Rose-Leaf, why
do you keep them here, and why call you this your fairest sight?”
“Look again, and I will tell you,” answered the Fairy.
Eva looked, and saw from every flower a tiny form come forth to
welcome the Elves, who all, save Rose-Leaf, had flown above the wall,
and were now scattering dew upon the flowers’ bright leaves and
talking gayly with the Spirits, who gathered around them, and seemed
full of joy that they had come. The child saw that each one wore the
colors of the flower that was its home. Delicate and graceful were
the little forms, bright the silken hair that fell about each lovely
face; and Eva heard the low, sweet murmur of their silvery voices and
the rustle of their wings. She gazed in silent wonder, forgetting she
knew not who they were, till the Fairy said,–
“These are the spirits of the flowers, and this the Fairy Home where
those whose hearts were pure and loving on the earth come to bloom in
fadeless beauty here, when their earthly life is past. The humblest
flower that blooms has a home with us, for outward beauty is a
worthless thing if all be not fair and sweet within. Do you see