for the forms of the weeping Fairies were before her; and
though the blossoms nodded gayly on their stems to welcome her,
and the soft winds kissed her cheek, she would not stay, but on
to the Flower Palace she went, into a pleasant hall whose walls
were formed of crimson roses, amid whose leaves sat little Elves,
making sweet music on their harps. When they saw Bud, they gathered
round her, and led her through the flower-wreathed arches to a group
of the most beautiful Fairies, who were gathered about a stately lily,
in whose fragrant cup sat one whose purple robe and glittering crown
told she was their Queen.
Bud knelt before her, and, while tears streamed down her little face,
she told her errand, and pleaded earnestly that the exiled Fairies
might be forgiven, and not be left to pine far from their friends and
kindred. And as she prayed, many wept with her; and when she ceased,
and waited for her answer, many knelt beside her, praying forgiveness
for the unhappy Elves.
With tearful eyes, Queen Dew-Drop replied,–
“Little maiden, your prayer has softened my heart. They shall not be
left sorrowing and alone, nor shall you go back without a kindly word
to cheer and comfort them. We will pardon their fault, and when they
can bring hither a perfect Fairy crown, robe, and wand, they shall be
again received as children of their loving Queen. The task is hard,
for none but the best and purest can form the Fairy garments; yet with
patience they may yet restore their robes to their former brightness.
Farewell, good little maiden; come with them, for but for you they
would have dwelt for ever without the walls of Fairy-Land.”
“Good speed to you, and farewell,” cried they all, as, with loving
messages to their poor friends, they bore her to the gates.
Day after day toiled little Bud, cheering the Fairies, who,
angry and disappointed, would not listen to her gentle words,
but turned away and sat alone weeping. They grieved her kind heart
with many cruel words; but patiently she bore with them, and when
they told her they could never perform so hard a task, and must dwell
for ever in the dark forest, she answered gently, that the snow-white
lily must be planted, and watered with repentant tears, before the
robe of innocence could be won; that the sun of love must shine
in their hearts, before the light could return to their dim crowns,
and deeds of kindness must be performed, ere the power would come
again to their now useless wands.
Then they planted the lilies; but they soon drooped and died, and
no light came to their crowns. They did no gentle deeds, but cared
only for themselves; and when they found their labor was in vain,
they tried no longer, but sat weeping. Bud, with ceaseless toil and
patient care, tended the lilies, which bloomed brightly, the crowns
grew bright, and in her hands the wands had power over birds and
blossoms, for she was striving to give happiness to others,
forgetful of herself. And the idle Fairies, with thankful words, took
the garments from her, and then with Bud went forth to Fairy-Land,
and stood with beating hearts before the gates; where crowds of Fairy
friends came forth to welcome them.
But when Queen Dew-Drop touched them with her wand, as they passed in,
the light faded from their crowns, their robes became like withered
leaves, and their wands were powerless.
Amid the tears of all the Fairies, the Queen led them to the gates,
“Farewell! It is not in my power to aid you; innocence and love are
not within your hearts, and were it not for this untiring little
maiden, who has toiled while you have wept, you never would have
entered your lost home. Go and strive again, for till all is once
more fair and pure, I cannot call you mine.”
“Farewell!” sang the weeping Fairies, as the gates closed on their
outcast friends; who, humbled and broken-hearted, gathered around Bud;
and she, with cheering words, guided them back to the forest.
Time passed on, and the Fairies had done nothing to gain their