THE STORY OF A MOTHER 401
1 Which of them is the flower of misfortune, and which the blessed one ? ' she asked.
1 That I may not tell you,' answered Death ; ' but this much you shall hear, that one of these two flowers is that of your child. It was the fate of your child that you sawó the future of your own child.'
Then the mother screamed aloud for terror.
1 Which of them belongs to my child ? Tell me that! Release the innocent child ! Let my child free from all that misery ! Rather carry it away ! Carry it into God's kingdom ! Forget my tears, forget my entreaties, and all that I have done ! '
' I do not understand you,' said Death. ' Will you have your child back, or shall I carry it to that place that you know not ? '
Then the mother wrung her hands, and fell on her knees, and prayed to the good God.
1 Hear me not when I pray against Thy will, which is at all times the best ! Hear me not ! hear me not ! ' And she let her head sink down on her bosom.
And Death went away with her child into the unknown land.
THE SHIRT COLLAR
There was once a rich gentleman whose whole effects consisted of a Bootjack and a Hair-comb, but he had the finest Shirt Collar in the world, and about this Shirt Collar we will tell a story.
The Collar was now old enough to think of marrying, and it happened that he was sent to the wash together with a Garter.
' My word !' exclaimed the Shirt Collar. ' I have never seen anything so slender and delicate, so charming and genteel. May I ask your name ? '
* I shall not tell you that,' said the Garter.
* Where is your home ? ' asked the Shirt Collar.
But the Garter was of rather a modest disposition, and it seemed such a strange question to answer.