A LEAF FROM THE SKY 483
1 That must be a kind of garden plant,' said they.
And they sneered ; and the plant was**iespised by them as being a thing out of the garden, but it grew and grew, like none of the others, and shot its branches far and wide.
1 Where are you coming ? ' cried the lofty Thistles, whose leaves are all armed with thorns. ' You give yourself a good deal of space ! That's all nonsense—we are not here to support you ! '
And winter came, and snow covered the plant ; but the plant imparted to the snowy covering a lustre as if the sun was shining upon it from below as from above. When spring came, the plant appeared as flourishing and more beautiful than any growth of the forest.
And now appeared on the scene the botanical professor, who could show what he was in black and white. He inspected the plant and tested it, but found it was not included in his botanical system ; and he could not possibly find out to what class it belonged.
' It must be some subordinate species,' he said. ' I don't know it. It's not included in any system.'
' Not included in any system ! ' repeated the Thistles and the Nettles.
The great trees that stood round about heard what was said, and they also saw that it was not a tree of their kind ; but they said not a word, good or bad, which is the wisest thing for people to do who are stupid.
There came through the forest a poor innocent girl. Her heart was pure, and her understanding was enlarged by faith. Her whole inheritance was an old Bible ; but out of its pages a voice said to her, ' If people wish to do us evil, remember how it was said of Joseph:—they imagined evil in their hearts, but God turned it to good. If we suffer wrong—if we are misunderstood and despised—then we may recall the words of Him Who was purity and goodness itself, and Who forgave and prayed for those who buffeted and nailed Him to the cross.'
The girl stood still in front of the wonderful plant, whose great leaves exhaled a sweet and refreshing fragrance, and whose flowers glittered like coloured flames in the sun ; and from each flower there came a sound as though it concealed within itself a deep fount of melody that thousands of years