224 THE BUCKWHEAT
And the Sparrows asked, - Why do you weep ? Here everything is so cheerful: see how the sun shines, see how the clouds sail on. Do you not breathe the scent of flowers and bushes ? Why do you weep, Willow Tree ? '
And the Willow Tree told them of the pride of the Buckwheat, of its vain-glory, and of the punishment which always follows such sin.
I, who tell you this tale, have heard it from the Sparrows. They told it me one evening when I begged them to give me a story.
Whenever a good child dies, an angel from heaven comes down to earth and takes the dead child in his arms, spreads out his great white wings, and flies away over all the places the child has loved, and picks quite a handful of flowers, which he carries up to the Almighty, that they may bloom in heaven more brightly than on earth. And the Father presses all the flowers to His heart; but He kisses the flower that pleases Him best, and the flower is then endowed with a voice, and can join in the great chorus of praise !
1 See'—this is what an angel said, as he carried a dead child up to heaven, and the child heard, as if in a dream, and they went on over the regions of home where the little child had played, and they came through gardens with beautiful flowers—' which of these shall we take with us to plant in heaven ? ' asked the angel.
Now there stood near them a slender, beautiful rose bush ; but a wicked hand had broken the stem, so that all the branches, covered with half-opened buds, were hanging around, quite withered.
' The poor rose bush ! ' said the child. ' Take it, that it may bloom up yonder.'
And the angel took it, and kissed the child, and the little one half opened his eyes. They plucked some of the rich flowers, but also took with them the despised buttercup and the wild pansy.