in withered leaves, that no chilling drops might reach them; and
safely dreamed the flowers, till summer winds should call them forth;
while lighter grew each Fairy heart, as every gentle deed was
At length the snow was gone, and they heard little voices calling them
to come up; but patiently they worked, till seed and root were green
and strong. Then, with eager feet, they hastened to the earth above,
where, over hill and valley, bright flowers and budding trees smiled
in the warm sunlight, blossoms bent lovingly before them, and rang
their colored bells, till the fragrant air was full of music; while
the stately trees waved their great arms above them, and scattered
soft leaves at their feet.
Then came the merry birds, making the wood alive with their gay
voices, calling to one another, as they flew among the vines,
building their little homes. Long waited the Elves, and at last
she came with Father Brown-Breast. Happy days passed; and
summer flowers were in their fullest beauty, when Bud bade the Fairies
come with her.
Mounted on bright-winged butterflies, they flew over forest and
meadow, till with joyful eyes they saw the flower-crowned walls
Before the gates they stood, and soon troops of loving Elves
came forth to meet them. And on through the sunny gardens they went,
into the Lily Hall, where, among the golden stamens of a graceful
flower, sat the Queen; while on the broad, green leaves around it
stood the brighteyed little maids of honor.
Then, amid the deep silence, little Bud, leading the Fairies to the
“Dear Queen, I here bring back your subjects, wiser for their sorrow,
better for their hard trial; and now might any Queen be proud of them,
and bow to learn from them that giving joy and peace to others
brings it fourfold to us, bearing a double happiness in the blessings
to those we help. Through the dreary months, when they might have
dwelt among fair Southern flowers, beneath a smiling sky, they toiled
in the dark and silent earth, filling the hearts of the gentle Flower
Spirits with grateful love, seeking no reward but the knowledge of
their own good deeds, and the joy they always bring. This they have
done unmurmuringly and alone; and now, far and wide, flower blessings
fall upon them, and the summer winds bear the glad tidings unto those
who droop in sorrow, and new joy and strength it brings, as they look
longingly for the friends whose gentle care hath brought such
happiness to their fair kindred.
“Are they not worthy of your love, dear Queen? Have they not won
their lovely home? Say they are pardoned, and you have gained
the love of hearts pure as the snow-white robes now folded over them.”
As Bud ceased, she touched the wondering Fairies with her wand,
and the dark faded garments fell away; and beneath, the robes
of lily-leaves glittered pure and spotless in the sun-light.
Then, while happy tears fell, Queen Dew-Drop placed the bright crowns
on the bowed heads of the kneeling Fairies, and laid before them
the wands their own good deeds had rendered powerful.
They turned to thank little Bud for all her patient love,
but she was gone; and high above, in the clear air, they saw
the little form journeying back to the quiet forest.
She needed no reward but the joy she had given. The Fairy hearts
were pure again, and her work was done; yet all Fairy-Land had learned
a lesson from gentle little Bud.
“Now, little Sunbeam, what have you to tell us?” said the Queen,
looking down on a bright-eyed Elf, who sat half hidden in the deep
moss at her feet.
“I too, like Star-Twinkle, have nothing but a song to offer,”
replied the Fairy; and then, while the nightingale’s sweet voice
mingled with her own, she sang,–
IN a quiet, pleasant meadow,
Beneath a summer sky,
Where green old trees their branches waved,
And winds went singing by;
Where a little brook went rippling
So musically low,
And passing clouds cast shadows
On the waving grass below;
Where low, sweet notes of brooding birds