The Rose Elf
The wicked brother leaned over her and laughed-the hideous laugh of a devil-and the withered leaf dropped from his hair onto her bed cover. But he didn't notice, and pretty soon he left her room to get a little sleep himself.
Now the little elf crept quietly out of the withered leaf, slipped into the ear of the sleeping girl, and told her, as in a dream, the dreadful story of the murder. He described the spot in the woods where her brother had killed her sweetheart, and the place under the linden tree where the body was buried, and then whispered, "And so that you may not think this all a dream, you will find a withered leaf of the tree on your bedspread!" And when she awoke she found the leaf.
Oh, what bitter, bitter tears she shed! Yet to no one did she dare betray her grief. All that day her window stood open, and the little elf could easily have escaped to the roses and all the other flowers of the garden, but he could not bear to leave the sorrowing girl.
In the window stood a bush that bore roses every month, and he found a spot in one of those flowers from where he could watch the poor girl. Often her brother came into the room, merry with an evil mirth, and she dared not say a word of the grief in her heart.
When night came she stole out of the house and into the forest to the place where the linden tree stood. She brushed away the leaves, dug into the earth, and so at last came to the body of her beloved. How she wept then, and how she prayed to God that she too might die! She would gladly have taken the body home with her, but since that would be impossible, she took up the pale head, with its closed eyes, kissed the cold mouth, and with a trembling hand brushed the dirt from the beautiful hair.
"This, at least, I can keep," she wept. Then she buried the body again and scattered the leaves once more over it. But the head, together with a little sprig from a jasmine bush which bloomed in the wood where he had been killed, she took with her to her home.
As soon as she reached her room she brought the biggest flowerpot she could find, and in this she laid the dead man's head, covered it with earth, and planted the sprig of jasmine.
The little elf could no longer bear to see such grief. "Farewell, farewell," he whispered, and then he flew out to his rose in the garden. But it was withered and faded now, and only a few dry leaves clung to the bush. "Alas!