1016 THE THISTLE'S EXPERIENCES
girls, and amongst them a young lady who came from a distance; she came from Scotland, was of high birth, rich in lands and gold, a bride worth winning, more than one young gentleman said, and their mothers said the same thing.
The young people amused themselves on the lawn and played croquet; they walked about amongst the flowers, and each of the young girls picked a flower and put it in the button-hole of one of the young gentlemen. But the young Scottish lady looked round for a long time, rejecting one after the other ; none of the flowers seemed to please her ; then she looked over the paling, outside stood the great thistle-bush with its strong, purple flowers ; she saw it, she smiled and begged the son of the house to pick one of them for her.
' It is the flower of Scotland ! ' said she, ' it blooms in the scutcheon of the country, give it to me !'
And he brought her the most beautiful of the thistles, and pricked his fingers, as if it were the most prickly rosebush that it grew on.
She fastened the thistle-flower in the button-hole of the young man, and he felt himself highly honoured. Each of the other young men would willingly have given his own beautiful flower to have worn the one given by the Scottish girl's fair hand. And if the son of the house felt himself honoured, what did not the thistle-bush feel ? It seemed as if the dew and the sunshine were going through it.
11 am something more than I thought ! ' it said to itself. ' I really belong inside the paling and not outside ! One is strangely placed in the world ! but now I have one of mine over the paling, and even in a button-hole ! '
Every bud which came forth and unfolded was told of this event, and not many days went past before the thistle-bush heard, not from people, nor from the twittering of the birds, but from the air itself, which preserves and carries sound, from the most retired walks of the garden and the rooms of the house, where the doors and windows stood open, that the young gentleman who got the thistle-flower from the fair Scottish girl's hand, had now got her hand and heart as well. They were a handsome pair—it was a good match.