The Plant of Life
When he had saluted the Cat respectfully, Henry ran towards the garden of the plant of life, which was only a hundred steps from him. He trembled lest some new obstacle should retard him but he reached the garden lattice without any difficulty. He sought the gate and found it readily, as the garden was not large. But, alas! the garden was filled with innumerable plants utterly unknown to him and it was impossible to know how to distinguish the plant of life. Happily he remembered that the good fairy Bienfaisante had told him that when he reached the summit of the mountain he must call the Doctor who cultivated the garden of the fairies. He called him then with a loud voice. In a moment he heard a noise among the plants near him and saw issue from them a little man, no taller than a hearth brush. He had a book under his arm, spectacles on his crooked little nose and wore the great black cloak of a doctor.
"What are you seeking, little one?" said the Doctor; "and how is it possible that you have gained this summit?"
"Doctor, I come from the fairy Bienfaisante, to ask the plant of life to cure my poor sick mother, who is about to die."
"All those who come from the fairy Bienfaisante," said the little Doctor, raising his hat respectfully, "are most welcome. Come, my boy, I will give you the plant you seek."
The Doctor then buried himself in the botanical garden where Henry had some trouble in following him, as he was so small as to disappear entirely among the plants. At last they arrived near a bush growing by itself. The Doctor drew a little pruning-knife from his pocket, cut a bunch and gave it to Henry, saying:
"Take this and use it as the good fairy Bienfaisante directed but do not allow it to leave your hands. If you lay it down under any circumstances it will escape from you and you will never recover it."
Henry was about to thank him but the little man had disappeared in the midst of his medicinal herbs, and he found himself alone.
"What shall I do now in order to arrive quickly at home?
The Tale of the Silver Saucer and the Transparent Apple
Category: Russia folktales
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