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A Leaf from Heaven

If you suffer wrong, if you are despised and misunderstood, then you must remember the words of Him who was purity and goodness itself, and who prayed for those who struck Him and nailed Him to the cross. 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do!' "

She stopped before the wondrous plant, whose great leaves gave forth sweet and refreshing fragrance and whose flowers glowed in the sun like a wonderful firework of color. And from each flower there came a sound as though it held concealed within itself a deep well of melody that thousands of years would not empty. With devout gratitude the girl gazed on this exquisite work of the Creator and bent down one of the branches, that she might examine the flower and breathe in its sweetness; and a lovely light burned in her soul. It seemed to uplift her heart, and she wanted to pluck a flower, but she had not the heart to break one off, for she knew it would soon fade if she did. So she took only a single green leaf, carried it home, and there she pressed it in between the pages of her Bible; and it lay there quite fresh, always green, and never fading.

It was kept in the pages of that Bible, and with that Bible it was placed under the girl's head when, some weeks thereafter, she lay in her coffin. On her gentle face was the solemn peace of death, as if the earthly remains carried the imprint of the truth that she now was in the presence of her Creator.

But the marvelous plant still bloomed in the forest. It looked almost like a great tree now, and all the birds of passage, especially the storks and the swallows, bowed down before it.

"That thing is taking on foreign airs now," said the thistles and the burdocks. "We never act like that here in this country!"

And the black forest snails spat at the plant.

Then the swineherd came, collecting thistles and other shrubs, to burn them for their ashes. He tore up the heavenly plant by the roots and crammed it into his bag.

"I can use that, too," he said, and no sooner said than done.

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Category: United States folktales
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