lovely home again. They wept no longer, but watched little Bud,
as she daily tended the flowers, restoring thelr strength and beauty,
or with gentle words flew from nest to nest, teaching the little birds
to live happily together; and wherever she went blessings fell, and
loving hearts were filled with gratitude.
Then, one by one, the Elves secretly did some little work of kindness,
and found a quiet joy come back to repay them. Flowers looked
lovingly up as they passed, birds sang to cheer them when sad thoughts
made them weep. And soon little Bud found out their gentle deeds,
and her friendly words gave them new strength. So day after day
they followed her, and like a band of guardian spirits they flew
far and wide, carrying with them joy and peace.
And not only birds and flowers blessed them, but human beings also;
for with tender hands they guided little children from danger, and
kept their young hearts free from evil thoughts; they whispered
soothing words to the sick, and brought sweet odors and fair flowers
to their lonely rooms. They sent lovely visions to the old and blind,
to make their hearts young and bright with happy thoughts.
But most tenderly did they watch over the poor and sorrowing,
and many a poor mother blessed the unseen hands that laid food
before her hungry little ones, and folded warm garments round
their naked limbs. Many a poor man wondered at the fair flowers
that sprang up in his little garden-plot, cheering him with their
bright forms, and making his dreary home fair with their loveliness,
and looked at his once barren field, where now waved the golden corn,
turning its broad leaues to the warm sun, and promising a store of
golden ears to give him food; while the care-worn face grew bright,
and the troubled heart filled with gratitude towards the invisible
spirits who had brought him such joy.
Thus time passed on, and though the exiled Fairies longed often for
their home, still, knowing they did not deserve it, they toiled on,
hoping one day to see the friends they had lost; while the joy of
their own hearts made their life full of happiness.
One day came little Bud to them, saying,–
“Listen, dear friends. I have a hard task to offer you. It is a
great sacrifice for you lightloving Fairies to dwell through the long
winter in the dark, cold earth, watching over the flowerroots, to keep
them free from the little grubs and worms that seek to harm them.
But in the sunny Spring when they bloom again, their love and
gratitude will give you happy homes among their bright leaves.
“It is a wearisome task, and I can give you no reward for all your
tender care, but the blessings of the gentle flowers you will have
saved from death. Gladly would I aid you; but my winged friends are
preparing for their journey to warmer lands, and I must help them
teach their little ones to fly, and see them safely on their way.
Then, through the winter, must I seek the dwellings of the poor
and suffering, comfort the sick and lonely, and give hope and courage
to those who in their poverty are led astray. These things must I do;
but when the flowers bloom again I will be with you, to welcome back
our friends from over the sea.”
Then, with tears, the Fairies answered, “Ah, good little Bud, you have
taken the hardest task yourself, and who will repay you for all your
deeds of tenderness and mercy in the great world? Should evil befall
you, our hearts would break. We will labor trustingly in the earth,
and thoughts of you shall cheer us on; for without you we had been
worthless beings, and never known the joy that kindly actions bring.
Yes, dear Bud, we will gladly toil among the roots, that the fair
flowers may wear their gayest robes to welcome you.
Then deep in the earth the Fairies dwelt, and no frost or snow
could harm the blossoms they tended. Every little seed was laid
in the soft earth, watered, and watched. Tender roots were folded