The World's Fairest Rose
There was once a mighty Queen, in whose gardens were found the most glorious flowers at all seasons of the year and from all countries of the world. But best of all she loved roses, and therefore she had all possible varieties of this flower, from the wild dog rose, with its apple-scented green leaves, to the most splendid roses of Provence. They grew along the walls of the castle, wound around pillars and window frames, and spread into the passages and along the ceilings of all the halls; and the roses were varied in fragrance, form, and color.
But there were sorrow and mourning in those halls now, for the Queen lay upon a sickbed, and the doctors declared she must die.
"Yet there is still one thing that can save her," said the wisest of the doctors. "Bring her the world's fairest rose, the one that is the expression of the brightest and purest love. If that can be brought before her eyes before they close, she will not die!"
Now, young and old came from everywhere with roses, the fairest from each garden. But none was the right sort. The flower had to come out of the Garden of Love, but which was the rose there that expressed the brightest and purest love?
And the poets sang of the world's fairest rose; each one named his own. And word was sent throughout the land to every age, every station in life, every heart that beat with love.
"No one has yet named the flower," said the wise old man. "No one has pointed out the spot where it bloomed in its glory. It is not the rose from the coffin of Romeo and Juliet, or from the grave of Valborg, though these shall ever be fragrant in song and tales. It is not the rose that bloomed forth from Winkelried's bloodstained lance, or from the sacred blood that flows from the breast of the hero who dies for his country, though no death is sweeter than that, and no rose redder than that blood. Nor is it that magic flower in the pursuit of which men in their quiet chambers devote many long and sleepless nights and much of their fresh life-the magic flower of science.