The Rose And The Weed

In a country garden a lovely rose looked down upon a common weed and said, “You are an unwelcome guest, economically useless, and unsightly of appearance. The Devil must love weeds, he made so many of them.”

The unwelcome guest looked up at the rose and said, “Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds, and, one supposes, that goes for roses.”

“My name is Dorothy Perkins,” the rose said haughtily. “What are you—a beetleweed, a bladderweed, a beggarweed? The names of weeds are ugly.” And Dorothy shuddered slightly, but lost none of her pretty petals.

“We have some names prettier than Perkins, or, for my taste, Dorothy, among them silverweed, and jewelweed, and candyweed.” The weed straightened a bit and held his ground. “Anywhere you can grow I can grow better,” he said.

“I think you must be a burglarweed,” said the disdainful Miss Perkins, “for you get in where you aren’t wanted, and take what isn’t yours—the rain and the sunlight and the good earth.”

The weed smiled a weedy smile. “At least,” he said, “I do not come from a family of climbers.”

The rose drew herself up to her full height. “I’d have you know that roses are the emblem of old England,” she said. “We are the flower of song and story.” “And of war,” the weed replied. “The summer winds take you by storm, not you the winds with beauty. I’ve seen it happen many times, to roses of yesteryear, long gone and long forgotten.”

“We are mentioned in Shakespeare,” said the rose, “many times in many plays. The lines are too sweet for your ears, but I will tell you some.”

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Just then, and before Miss Perkins could recite, a wind came out of the west, riding low to the ground and swift, like the cavalry of March, and Dorothy Perkins’ beautiful disdain suddenly became a scattering of petals, economically useless, and of appearance not especially sightly. The weed stood firm, his head to the wind, armored, or so he thought, in security and strength, but as he was brushing a few rose petals and aphids from his lapels, the hand of the gardener flashed out of the air and pulled him out of the ground by the roots before you could say Dorothy Perkins, or, for that matter, jewelweed.

MORAL: Tout, as the French say, in a philosophy older than ours and an idiom often more succinct, passe.

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