Flower Fables by Louisa May Alcott

and the mother’s glad smile shone upon her, till she sank beneath

the waves.

And now another task was to be done; her promise to the

Fire-Spirits must be kept. So far and wide she searched among

the caverns of the sea, and gathered all the brightest jewels

shining there; and then upon her faithful Breeze once more went

journeying through the sky.

The Spirits gladly welcomed her, and led her to the Queen,

before whom she poured out the sparkling gems she had gathered

with such toil and care; but when the Spirits tried to form them

into crowns, they trickled from their hands like colored drops of dew,

and Ripple saw with fear and sorrow how they melted one by one away,

till none of all the many she had brought remained. Then the

Fire-Spirits looked upon her angrily, and when she begged them

to be merciful, and let her try once more, saying,–

“Do not keep me prisoner here. I cannot breathe the flames that

give you life, and but for this snow-mantle I too should melt away,

and vanish like the jewels in your hands. O dear Spirits, give me

some other task, but let me go from this warm place, where all is

strange and fearful to a Spirit of the sea.”

They would not listen; and drew nearer, saying, while bright sparks

showered from their lips, “We will not let you go, for you have

promised to be ours if the gems you brought proved worthless; so fling

away this cold white cloak, and bathe with us in the fire fountains,

and help us bring back to our bosom flames the light we gave you

for the child.”

Then Ripple sank down on the burning floor, and felt that her life

was nearly done; for she well knew the hot air of the fire-palace

would be death to her. The Spirits gathered round, and began to lift

her mantle off; but underneath they saw the pearl chain, shining with

a clear, soft light, that only glowed more brightly when they laid

their hands upon it.

“O give us this!” cried they; “it is far lovelier than all the rest,

and does not melt away like them; and see how brilliantly it glitters

in our hands. If we may but have this, all will be well, and you

are once more free.”

And Ripple, safe again beneath her snow flake, gladly gave

the chain to them; and told them how the pearls they now placed

proudly on their breasts were formed of tears, which but for them

might still be flowing. Then the Spirits smiled most kindly on her,

and would have put their arms about her, and have kissed her cheek,

but she drew back, telling them that every touch of theirs was

like a wound to her.

“Then, if we may not tell our pleasure so, we will show it in a

different way, and give you a pleasant journey home. Come out with

us,” the Spirits said, “and see the bright path we have made for you.”

So they led her to the lofty gate, and here, from sky to earth,

a lovely rainbow arched its radiant colors in the sun.

“This is indeed a pleasant road,” said Ripple. “Thank you,

friendly Spirits, for your care; and now farewell. I would gladly

stay yet longer, but we cannot dwell together, and I am longing sadly

for my own cool home. Now Sunbeam, Breeze, Leaf, and Flake, fly back

to the Seasons whence you came, and tell them that, thanks to their

kind gifts, Ripple’s work at last is done.”

Then down along the shining pathway spread before her, the happy

little Spirit glided to the sea.

“Thanks, dear Summer-Wind,” said the Queen; “we will remember the

lessons you have each taught us, and when next we meet in Fern Dale,

you shall tell us more. And now, dear Trip, call them from the lake,

for the moon is sinking fast, and we must hasten home.”

The Elves gathered about their Queen, and while the rustling leaves

were still, and the flowers’ sweet voices mingled with their own,

they sang this


The moonlight fades from flower and tree,

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Categories: Alcott, Louisa May