980 WHO WAS THE LUCKIEST?
unknown kingdom, dreaming on the breast of the dead! Assuredly I am the luckiest among all my sisters !'
In the garden, where the rose-tree stood, walked the old weeding-woman ; she also gazed at the glory of the tree, and fixed her eyes on the biggest full-blown rose. One drop of dew, and one warm day more, and the leaves would fall; the woman saw that, and thought that as it had fulfilled its mission of beauty, now it should serve its purpose of usefulness. And so she plucked it, and put it in a newspaper ; it was to go home with her to other leaf-stripped roses, and be preserved with them and become pot-pourri, to be mixed with the little blue boys which are called lavender, and be embalmed with salt. Only roses and kings are embalmed.
' I am the most honoured !' said the rose, as the woman took it. 'I am the luckiest! I shall be embalmed ! '
There came into the garden two young men, one was a painter, the other a poet; each of them plucked a rose, beautiful to behold. And the painter made a picture of the rose on canvas, so that it thought it saw itself in a mirror.
'In that way', said the painter, 'it shall live for many generations, during which many millions and millions of roses will wither and die ! '
* I have been the most favoured ! I have won the greatest happiness !'
The poet gazed at his rose, and wrote a poem about it, a whole mystery, all that he read, leaf by leaf, in the rose. ' Love's Picture-book ; ' it was an immortal poem.
' I am immortal with that/ said the rose, ' I am the luckiest! '
There was yet, amongst the display of roses, one which was almost hidden by the others ; accidentally, fortunately perhaps, it had a blemish, it did not sit straight on its stalk, and the leaves on one side did not match those on the other ; and in the middle of the rose itself, grew a little, deformed, green leaf ; that happens with roses !
' Poor child !' said the wind, and kissed it on the cheek.
The rose thought it was a greeting, a homage ; it had a feeling that it was a little differently formed from the other roses, that there grew a green leaf out of its interior, and it