Flower Fables by Louisa May Alcott

and who soon came floating down, pale and cold, to the Spirits’

pleasant home; then they wept pitying tears above the lifeless forms,

and laid them in quiet graves, where flowers bloomed, and jewels

sparkled in the sand.

This was Ripple’s only grief, and she often thought of those who

sorrowed for the friends they loved, who now slept far down in the dim

and silent coral caves, and gladly would she have saved the lives

of those who lay around her; but the great ocean was far mightier than

all the tender-hearted Spirits dwelling in its bosom. Thus she could

only weep for them, and lay them down to sleep where no cruel waves

could harm them more.

One day, when a fearful storm raged far and wide, and the Spirits saw

great billows rolling like heavy clouds above their heads, and heard

the wild winds sounding far away, down through the foaming waves

a little child came floating to their home; its eyes were closed as if

in sleep, the long hair fell like sea-weed round its pale, cold face,

and the little hands still clasped the shells they had been gathering

on the beach, when the great waves swept it into the troubled sea.

With tender tears the Spirits laid the little form to rest upon its

bed of flowers, and, singing mournful songs, as if to make its sleep

more calm and deep, watched long and lovingly above it, till the storm

had died away, and all was still again.

While Ripple sang above the little child, through the distant roar

of winds and waves she heard a wild, sorrowing voice, that seemed to

call for help. Long she listened, thinking it was but the echo of

their own plaintive song, but high above the music still sounded

the sad, wailing cry. Then, stealing silently away, she glided up

through foam and spray, till, through the parting clouds, the sunlight

shone upon her from the tranquil sky; and, guided by the mournful

sound, she floated on, till, close before her on the beach, she saw

a woman stretching forth her arms, and with a sad, imploring voice

praying the restless sea to give her back the little child it had

so cruelly borne away. But the waves dashed foaming up among the

bare rocks at her feet, mingling their cold spray with her tears,

and gave no answer to her prayer.

When Ripple saw the mother’s grief, she longed to comfort her;

so, bending tenderly beside her, where she knelt upon the shore,

the little Spirit told her how her child lay softly sleeping, far down

in a lovely place, where sorrowing tears were shed, and gentle hands

laid garlands over him. But all in vain she whispered kindly words;

the weeping mother only cried,–

“Dear Spirit, can you use no charm or spell to make the waves bring

back my child, as full of life and strength as when they swept him

from my side? O give me back my little child, or let me lie beside

him in the bosom of the cruel sea.”

“Most gladly will I help you if I can, though I have little power

to use; then grieve no more, for I will search both earth and sea,

to find some friend who can bring back all you have lost. Watch daily

on the shore, and if I do not come again, then you will know my search

has been in vain. Farewell, poor mother, you shall see your little

child again, if Fairy power can win him back.” And with these

cheering words Ripple sprang into the sea; while, smiling through her

tears, the woman watched the gentle Spirit, till her bright crown

vanished in the waves.

When Ripple reached her home, she hastened to the palace of the Queen,

and told her of the little child, the sorrowing mother, and the

promise she had made.

“Good little Ripple,” said the Queen, when she had told her all,

“your promise never can be kept; there is no power below the sea

to work this charm, and you can never reach the Fire-Spirits’ home,

to win from them a flame to warm the little body into life. I pity

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Categories: Alcott, Louisa May