crown in her hair, beside whom fIew a band of Elves in crimson and
gold, making sweet music on their flower-trumpets, while all around,
with smiling faces and bright eyes, fluttered her loving subjects.
On they came, like a flock of brilliant butterflies, their shining
wings and many-colored garments sparkling in the dim air; and soon
the leafless trees were gay with living flowers, and their sweet
voices filled the gardens with music. Like his subjects, the King
looked on the lovely Elves, and no longer wondered that little Violet
wept and longed for her home. Darker and more desolate seemed his
stately home, and when the Fairies asked for flowers, he felt ashamed
that he had none to give them.
At length a warm wind swept through the gardens, and the mist-clouds
passed away, while in silent wonder looked the Frost-King and
the Elves upon the scene before them.
Far as eye could reach were tall green trees whose drooping boughs
made graceful arches, through which the golden light shone softly,
making bright shadows on the deep green moss below, where the fairest
flowers waved in the cool wind, and sang, in their low, sweet voices,
how beautiful is Love.
Flowering vines folded their soft leaves around the trees,
making green pillars of their rough trunks. Fountains threw their
bright waters to the roof, and flocks of silver-winged birds flew
singing among the flowers, or brooded lovingly above their nests.
Doves with gentle eyes cooed among the green leaves, snow-white clouds
floated in the sunny shy, and the golden light, brighter than before,
shone softly down.
Soon through the long aisles came Violet, flowers and green leaves
rustling as she passed. On she went to the Frost-King’s throne,
bearing two crowns, one of sparkling icicles, the other of pure
white lilies, and kneeling before him, said,–
“My task is done, and, thanks to the Spirits of earth and air, I have
made as fair a home as Elfin hands can form. You must now decide.
Will you be King of Flower-Land, and own my gentle kindred for your
loving friends? Will you possess unfading peace and joy, and the
grateful love of all the green earth’s fragrant children? Then take
this crown of flowers. But if you can find no pleasure here,
go back to your own cold home, and dwell in solitude and darkness,
where no ray of sunlight or of joy can enter.
“Send forth your Spirits to carry sorrow and desolation over
the happy earth, and win for yourself the fear and hatred of those
who would so gladly love and reverence you. Then take this glittering
crown, hard and cold as your own heart will be, if you will shut out
all that is bright and beautiful. Both are before you. Choose.”
The old King looked at the little Fairy, and saw how lovingly
the bright shadows gathered round her, as if to shield her
from every harm; the timid birds nestled in her bosom, and the
flowers grew fairer as she looked upon them; while her gentle friends,
with tears in their bright eyes, folded their hands beseechingly,
and smiled on her.
Kind thought came thronging to his mind, and he turned to look at
the two palaces. Violet’s, so fair and beautiful, with its rustling
trees, calm, sunny skies, and happy birds and flowers, all created
by her patient love and care. His own, so cold and dark and dreary,
his empty gardens where no flowers could bloom, no green trees dwell,
or gay birds sing, all desolate and dim;–and while he gazed, his own
Spirits, casting off their dark mantles, knelt before him and besought
him not to send them forth to blight the things the gentle Fairies
loved so much. “We have served you long and faithfully,” said they,
“give us now our freedom, that we may learn to be beloved by the sweet
flowers we have harmed so long. Grant the little Fairy’s prayer;
and let her go back to her own dear home. She has taught us that
Love is mightier than Fear. Choose the Flower crown, and we will be
the truest subjects you have ever had.”
Then, amid a burst of wild, sweet music, the Frost-King placed