Flower Fables by Louisa May Alcott

my prayer, and give me what I seek,” she said, turning gently to

the fiery Spirits, who were hovering fiercely round her.

“You must bring us each a jewel that will never vanish from our hands

as these have done,” they said, “and we will each give of our fire;

and when the child is brought to life, you must bring hither all the

jewels you can gather from the depths of the sea, that we may try them

here among the flames; but if they melt away like these, then we shall

keep you prisoner, till you give us back the light we lend. If you

consent to this, then take our gift, and journey home again; but

fail not to return, or we shall seek you out.”

And Ripple said she would consent, though she knew not if the jewels

could be found; still, thinking of the promise she had made, she

forgot all else, and told the Spirits what they asked most surely

should be done. So each one gave a little of the fire from their

breasts, and placed the flame in a crystal vase, through which

it shone and glittered like a star.

Then, bidding her remember all she had promised them, they led her

to the golden arch, and said farewell.

So, down along the shining path, through mist and cloud, she

travelled back; till, far below, she saw the broad blue sea she left

so long ago.

Gladly she plunged into the clear, cool waves, and floated back

to her pleasant home; where the Spirits gathered joyfully about her,

listening with tears and smiles, as she told all her many wanderings,

and showed the crystal vase that she had brought.

“Now come,” said they, “and finish the good work you have so bravely

carried on.” So to the quiet tomb they went, where, like a marble

image, cold and still, the little child was lying. Then Ripple placed

the flame upon his breast, and watched it gleam and sparkle there,

while light came slowly back into the once dim eyes, a rosy glow shone

over the pale face, and breath stole through the parted lips; still

brighter and warmer burned the magic fire, until the child awoke

from his long sleep, and looked in smiling wonder at the faces bending

over him.

Then Ripple sang for joy, and, with her sister Spirits, robed the

child in graceful garments, woven of bright sea-weed, while in

his shining hair they wreathed long garlands of their fairest flowers,

and on his little arms hung chains of brilliant shells.

“Now come with us, dear child,” said Ripple; “we will bear you safely

up into the sunlight and the pleasant air; for this is not your home,

and yonder, on the shore, there waits a loving friend for you.”

So up they went, through foam and spray, till on the beach, where

the fresh winds played among her falling hair, and the waves broke

sparkling at her feet, the lonely mother still stood, gazing wistfully

across the sea. Suddenly, upon a great blue billow that came rolling

in, she saw the Water-Spirits smiling on her; and high aloft, in their

white gleaming arms, her child stretched forth his hands to welcome

her; while the little voice she so longed to hear again cried gayly,–

“See, dear mother, I am come; and look what lovely things the

gentle Spirits gave, that I might seem more beautiful to you.”

Then gently the great wave broke, and rolled back to the sea, leaving

Ripple on the shore, and the child clasped in his mother’s arms.

“O faithful little Spirit! I would gladly give some precious gift

to show my gratitude for this kind deed; but I have nothing save

this chain of little pearls: they are the tears I shed, and the sea

has changed them thus, that I might offer them to you,” the happy

mother said, when her first joy was passed, and Ripple turned to go.

“Yes, I will gladly wear your gift, and look upon it as my fairest

ornament,” the Water-Spirit said; and with the pearls upon her breast,

she left the shore, where the child was playing gayly to and fro,

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Categories: Alcott, Louisa May