WHO WAS THE LUCKIEST ? 981
looked upon that as a distinction. A butterfly flew down upon it, and kissed its leaves. This was a wooer ; she let him fly away again. There came an immensely big grasshopper ; he sat himself certainly upon another rose, and rubbed his shin-bone in amorous mood—that is the sign of love with grasshoppers. The rose he sat qn did not understand it, but the rose with the distinction did, for the grasshopper looked at her with eyes which said, ' I could eat you up out of sheer love !' and no farther can love ever go; then the one is absorbed by the other ! But the rose would not be absorbed by the jumper. The nightingale sang in the clear starry night.
' It is for me alone ! ' said the rose with the blemish or distinction. ' Why should I thus in every respect be distinguished above all my sisters ? Why did I get this peculiarity, which makes me the luckiest ? '
Then two gentlemen smoking cigars came into the garden; they talked about roses and about tobacco ; roses, it was said, could not stand smoke, they lose their colour and become green ; it was worth trying. They had not the heart to take one of the very finest roses, they took the one with the blemish.
' What a new distinction ! ' it said, ' I am exceedingly lucky ! The very luckiest 1'
And it became green with self-consciousness and tobacco smoke.
One rose, still half-blown, perhaps the finest on the tree, got the place of honour in the gardener's tastefully arranged bouquet; it was brought to the young, lordly master of the house, and drove with him in the carriage ; it sat as a flower of beauty among other flowers and lovely green leaves ; it went to a splendid gathering, where men and women sat in fine attire illuminated by a thousand lamps; music sounded ; it was in the sea of light which filled the theatre ; and when amidst the storm of applause the celebrated young dancer fluttered forward on the stage, bouquet after bouquet flew like a rain of flowers before her feet. There fell the bouquet in which the lovely rose sat like a gem. It felt the fullness of its indescribable good fortune, the honour and splendour into which it floated ; and as it touched the floor, it danced too, it sprang, and