Which Was the Happiest?
When the old woman saw this she said that the rose had lived long enough for beauty, and that now she intended to put it to practical use. Then she picked it, wrapped it in old newspaper, and took it home, where she put it with other faded roses and those blue boys they call lavender, in a potpouri, embalmed in salt. Mind you, embalmed - an honor granted only to roses and kings.
"I will be the most highly honored," the rose declared, as the old weed puller took her. "I am the happiest one, for I am to be embalmed."
Then two young men came strolling through the garden. One was a painter; the other was a poet. Each plucked a rose most fair to see. The painter put upon canvas a likeness of the rose in bloom, a picture so perfect and so lovely that the rose itself supposed it must be looking into a mirror.
"In this way," said the painter, "it shall live on, for generations upon generations, while countless other roses fade and die."
"Ah!" said the rose, "after all, it is I who have been most highly favored. I had the best luck of all."
But the poet looked at his rose, and wrote a poem about it to express the mystery of love. Yes, his book was a complete picture of love. It was a piece of immortal verse.
"This book has made me immortal," the rose said. "I am the most fortunate one."
In the midst of these splendid roses was one whom the others hid almost completely. By accident, and perhaps by good fortune, it had a slight defect. It sat slightly askew on its stem, and the leaves on one side of it did not match those on the other. Moreover, in the very heart of the flower grew a crippled leaf, small and green.
Such things happen, even to roses.
"Poor child," said the Wind, and kissed its cheek. The rose took this kiss for one of welcome and tribute. It had a feeling that it was made differently from the other roses, and that the green leaf growing in the heart of it was a mark of distinction. A butterfly fluttered down and kissed its petals. It was a suitor, but the rose let him fly away.