Which Was the Happiest?
"Such lovely roses!" said the Sunshine. "And each bud will soon burst in bloom and be equally beautiful. These are my children. It is I who have kissed them to life."
"They are my children," said the Dew. "It is I who have nourished them with my tears."
"I should think I am their mother," the Rose Bush said. "You and Sunshine are only their godmothers, who have made them presents in keeping with your means and your good will."
"My lovely Rose children!" they exclaimed, all three. They wished each flower to have the greatest happiness. But only one could be the happiest, and one must be the least happy. But which of them?
"I'll find out," said the Wind. "I roam far and wide. I find my way into the tiniest crevices. I know everything, inside and out."
Each rose in bloom heard his words, and each growing bud understood them.
Just then a sad devoted mother, in deep mourning, walked through the garden. She picked one of the roses; it was only half-blown but fresh and full. To her it seemed the loveliest of them all, and she took it to her quiet, silent room, where only a few days past her cheerful and lively young daughter had merrily tripped to and fro. Now she lay in the black coffin, as lifeless as a sleeping marble figure. The mother kissed her departed daughter. Then she kissed the half-blown rose, and laid it on the young girl's breast, as if by its freshness, and by the fond kiss of a mother, her beloved child's heart might again begin to beat.
The rose seemed to expand. Every petal trembled with joy. "What a lovely way has been set for me to go," it said. "Like a human child, I am given a mother's kiss and her blessing as I go to the blessed land unknown, dreaming upon the breast of Death's pale angel.
"Surely I am the happiest of all my sisters."
In the garden where the Rose Bush grew, walked an old woman whose business it was to weed the flower beds. She also looked at the beautiful bush, with especial interest in the largest full-blown rose. One more fall of dew, one more warm day, and its petals would shatter.