The Angel And The Flowers by Eugene Field

Story type: Literature

An angel once asked the Father if he might leave heaven for a day and go down to earth to visit the flowers and birds and little children, for you must know that no other earthly things so much please the angels of heaven as do the flowers, the birds, and the little children.

“Yes,” said the Father, “you may go down to earth, but be sure to stay no longer than a day; and when you come back to heaven bring me the loveliest flower you can find, that I may transplant it to my garden and love it for its beauty and its fragrance. Cherish it tenderly, that no harm may befall it.”

Then the angel went down to the earth, and he came to a beautiful rose-bush upon which bloomed a rose lovelier and more fragrant than any of her kind.

“Heyday, sweet rose,” said the angel; “how proudly you hold up your fair head for the winds to kiss.”

“Ay, that I do,” replied the rose, blushing, albeit she enjoyed the flattery. “But I do not care for these idle zephyrs nor for the wanton sunbeams that dance among my leaves all the day long. To-night a cavalier will come hither and tear me from this awkward bush with all its thorns, and kiss me with impassioned lips, and bear me to his lady, who, too, will kiss me and wear me on her bosom, next her heart. That, O angel, is the glory of the rose–to be a bearer of kisses from lover to lover, and to hear the whispered vows of the cavalier and his lady, to feel the beating of a gentle heart, and to wither on the white bosom of a wooed maiden.”

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Then the angel came to a lily that arose fair and majestic from its waxen leaves and bowed gracefully to each passing breeze.

“Why are you so pale and sad, dear lily?” asked the angel.

“My love is the north wind,” said the lily, “and I look for him and mourn because he does not come. And when he does come, and I would smile under his caresses, he is cold and harsh and cruel to me, and I wither and die for a season, and when I am wooed back to life again by the smiles and tears of heaven, which are the sunlight and the dew, lo! he is gone.”

The angel smiled sadly to hear of the trusting, virgin fidelity of the lily.

“Tell me,” asked the lily, “will the north wind come to-day?”

“No,” said the angel, “nor for many days yet, since it is early summer now.”

But the lonely lily did not believe the angel’s words. Still looking for her cruel lover, she held her pale face aloft and questioned each zephyr that hurried by. And the angel went his way.

And the angel came next to a daisy that thrived in a meadow where the cattle were grazing and the lambs were frisking.

“Nay, do not pluck me, sir,” cried the daisy, merrily; “I would not exchange my home in this smiling pasture for a place upon the princess’ bosom.”

“You seem very blithesome, little daisy,” quoth the angel.

“So I am, and why should I not be?” rejoined the daisy. “The dews bathe me with their kisses, and the stars wink merrily at me all the night through, and during the day the bees come and sing their songs to me, and the little lambs frisk about me, and the big cattle caress me gently with their rough tongues, and all seem to say ‘Bloom on, little daisy, for we love you.’ So we frolic here on the meadow all the time–the lambs, the bees, the cattle, the stars, and I–and we are very, very happy.”

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Next the angel came to a camellia which was most beautiful to look upon. But the camellia made no reply to the angel’s salutation, for the camellia, having no fragrance, is dumb–for flowers, you must know, speak by means of their scented breath. The camellia, therefore, could say no word to the angel, so the angel walked on in silent sadness.

“Look at me, good angel,” cried the honeysuckle; “see how adventuresome I am. At the top of this trellis dwells a ladybird, and in her cozy nest are three daughters, the youngest of whom I go to woo. I carry sweetmeats with me to tempt the pretty dear; do you think she will love me?”

The angel laughed at the honeysuckle’s quaint conceit, but made no reply, for yonder he saw a purple aster he fain would question.

“Are you then so busy,” asked the angel, “that you turn your head away from every other thing and look always into the sky?”

“Do not interrupt me,” murmured the purple aster. “I love the great luminous sun, and whither he rolls in the blazing heavens I turn my face in awe and veneration. I would be the bride of the sun, but he only smiles down upon my devotion and beauty!”

So the angel wandered among the flowers all the day long and talked with them. And toward evening he came to a little grave which was freshly made.

“Do not tread upon us,” said the violets. “Let us cluster here over this sacred mound and sing our lullabies.”

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“To whom do you sing, little flowers?” asked the angel.

“We sing to the child that lies sleeping beneath us,” replied the violets. “All through the seasons, even under the snows of winter, we nestle close to this mound and sing to the sleeping child. None but he hears us, and his soul is lulled by our gentle music.”

“But do you not often long for other occupation, for loftier service?” inquired the angel.

“Nay,” said the violets, “we are content, for we love to sing to the little, sleeping child.”

The angel was touched by the sweet humility of these modest flowers. He wept, and his tears fell upon the grave, and the flowers drank up the angel tears and sang more sweetly than before, but so softly that only the sleeping child heard them.

And when the angel flew back to heaven, he cherished a violet in his bosom.

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