and sorrows like our own? And can I, heedless of their beauty,
doom them to pain and grief, that I might save my own dear blossoms
from the cruel foes to which I leave them? Ah no! sooner would I
dwell for ever in your darkest cell, than lose the love of those
warm, trusting hearts.”
“Then listen,” said the King, “to the task I give you. You shall
raise up for me a palace fairer than this, and if you can work
that miracle I will grant your prayer or lose my kingly crown.
And now go forth, and begin your task; my Spirits shall not harm you,
and I will wait till it is done before I blight another flower.”
Then out into the gardens went Violet with a heavy heart; for
she had toiled so long, her strength was nearly gone. But the
flowers whispered their gratitude, and folded their leaves as if they
blessed her; and when she saw the garden filled with loving friends,
who strove to cheer and thank her for her care, courage and strength
returned; and raising up thick clouds of mist, that hid her from the
wondering flowers, alone and trustingly she began her work.
As time went by, the Frost-King feared the task had been
too hard for the Fairy; sounds were heard behind the walls of mist,
bright shadows seen to pass within, but the little voice was never
heard. Meanwhile the golden light had faded from the garden,
the flowers bowed their heads, and all was dark and cold as when
the gentle Fairy came.
And to the stern King his home seemed more desolate and sad; for
he missed the warm light, the happy flowers, and, more than all,
the gay voice and bright face of little Violet. So he wandered
through his dreary palace, wondering how he had been content
to live before without sunlight and love.
And little Violet was mourned as dead in Fairy-Land, and many tears
were shed, for the gentle Fairy was beloved by all, from the Queen
down to the humblest flower. Sadly they watched over every bird
and blossom which she had loved, and strove to be like her in
kindly words and deeds. They wore cypress wreaths, and spoke of her
as one whom they should never see again.
Thus they dwelt in deepest sorrow, till one day there came to them an
unknown messenger, wrapped in a dark mantle, who looked with wondering
eyes on the bright palace, and flower-crowned elves, who kindly
welcomed him, and brought fresh dew and rosy fruit to refresh the
weary stranger. Then he told them that he came from the Frost-King,
who begged the Queen and all her subjects to come and see the palace
little Violet had built; for the veil of mist would soon be withdrawn,
and as she could not make a fairer home than the ice-castle, the King
wished her kindred near to comfort and to bear her home. And while
the Elves wept, he told them how patiently she had toiled, how
her fadeless love had made the dark cell bright and beautiful.
These and many other things he told them; for little Violet had won
the love of many of the Frost-Spirits, and even when they killed the
flowers she had toiled so hard to bring to life and beauty, she spoke
gentle words to them, and sought to teach them how beautiful is love.
Long stayed the messenger, and deeper grew his wonder that the Fairy
could have left so fair a home, to toil in the dreary palace of his
cruel master, and suffer cold and weariness, to give life and joy to
the weak and sorrowing. When the Elves had promised they would come,
he bade farewell to happy Fairy-Land, and flew sadly home.
At last the time arrived, and out in his barren garden, under a canopy
of dark clouds, sat the Frost-King before the misty wall, behind which
were heard low, sweet sounds, as of rustling trees and warbling birds.
Soon through the air came many-colored troops of Elves. First the
Queen, known by the silver lilies on her snowy robe and the bright