The Rose Elf
In the midst of a garden there grew a rose bush, quite covered with roses, and in the most beautiful of them all there lived an elf-an elf so tiny that no mortal eye could see him. But he was as well made and as perfect as any child could be, and he had wings reaching from his shoulders to his feet. Behind each petal of the rose he had a tiny bedroom. Oh, how fragrant his rooms were, and how bright and transparent the walls, for they were the beautiful pale pink petals of the rose! All day long the little elf rejoiced in the warm sunshine as he flew from flower to flower or danced on the wings of the fluttering butterflies and measured how many steps he would have to take to pass along all the roads and paths on a single linden leaf. You see, what we call the veins on a leaf were highroads and byways to him. It was a long journey, and he had begun it rather late, so before he finished, the sun had gone down!
It turned very cold, dew fell, and the wind blew, so now it was high time he went home. He hurried as fast as he could, but to his dismay he found that the rose had closed its petals for the night! Not a single rose stood open! He couldn't get in! Now, the poor little rose elf was terribly frightened, for he had never been out at night before; he had always slumbered sweetly and safely behind the warm rose petals. This would surely be the death of him!
Suddenly he remembered that at the other end of the garden there was an arbor of lovely honeysuckle, those flowers which looked like big painted horns. In one of them, perhaps, he could go down and sleep safely till morning.
Swiftly he flew to the far end of the garden. But suddenly he stopped! Quiet! There were already two people in the arbor. The loveliest maiden and a handsome young man. They sat closely together and wished they might never, never part. They loved each other, even more than the best child can love its father and mother.
"Yet we must part," the young man was saying. "Your brother doesn't like me, so he is sending me on a long journey, far over distant mountains and oceans.