Scope for Imagination

Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?

-Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Flower Fable Part 1

This is a story by Transcendentalist Louisa May Alcott. I've adapted it for contemporary readers. Here's the first half!

Annie sat all alone in a large, pleasant garden. She was very sad, and tear drops fell on the flowers beside her, who leaned toward her cheerily. The wind caressed Annie’s face and hair, and the sun beamed most kindly on Annie, even making little rainbows in her tears. But Annie hardly noticed the sun, wind or flowers because she was lost in her own tears.

“Annie, why are you crying?” said a small voice in her ear, and Annie saw a little figure standing on a vine beside her. The voice came from a lovely smiling face framed by golden locks of hair, and shiny glittery wings that fluttered in the wind.

“Who are you, lovely little thing?” cried Annie, already beginning to smile through her tears.
“I am a fairy of course and and have come to comfort you,” replied the spirit. “Now tell me why you weep, and let me be your friend.” She smiled even more kindly.

“Are you really a little elf, such as I read of in my fairy books? Do you ride on butterflies, sleep in flower cups, and live in the clouds?”

“Yes, of course, and much strangers things as well. But now, tell me why there is no light on your face. Why are these flowers sopping wet with your tears, and why are you sitting alone instead of joining all the birds and bees that are ready to play?”

“Oh, you will be very ashamed of me if I tell you everything,” Annie said, as tears began to fall again. “I can’t be happy when I’m so mean. I’ll never learn to be a good, patient child. Good little fairy, will you teach me how?”

“I would love to help you, Annie. Sometimes you hold strongly onto your anger or selfishness, but you must learn to cherish only happy feelings in your heart. I know it’s hard, but I will give you this fairy flower to help. Let me pin this to your shirt, near your heart, where it will stay until I undo the spell that keeps it there.”

The elf took from her pocket a graceful flower with snow-white leaves. “This is a fairy flower,” said the elf, “no one can see it but you. Now listen while I tell its power, Annie: when you do good you will smell a sweet fragrance from the flower to reward you. When your heart is filled with loving thoughts, when you have done something kind or performed a duty especially well, your nose will receive a special treat! But when you speak unkind words, or when selfish, angry feelings fill your heart, or if you do something cruel, then you will hear a chime from the flower’s bell. Whenever you hear the soft ring, listen to its warning—don’t say the unkind word or do the unkind deed, and the lovely fragrance will be your sweet reward. "

“Oh kind and generous fairy, thank you for this lovely gift!” cried Annie. “I will certainly listen to my little bell whenever it rings. Can’t you stay with me? Then I would always be good.”
“I cannot stay now, little Annie,” said the elf. “Next spring I will be back to see how well the fairy gift has helped you. Goodbye my friend: treat the world kindly, and the magic flower will never fade!”

Then the fairy kissed Annie on the cheek, spread her shining wings, and flew up into the sky. Little Annie sat among the flowers and gazed at her precious flower.

The pleasant days of spring and summer passed away and though the autumn flowers were blooming everywhere, the fairy flower became wilted on Annie’s chest. The fragance seemed all gone, and the low music of its warning chime was constant.

At first, Annie always obeyed the bell. She would correct her actions with a kind word and the flower rewarded her with a sweet fragrance. But then, selfish thoughts fished for Annie’s mind, and she would give in and speak unkind words. Then the flower drooped pale and scentless, the bell rang sadly, and Annie became a selfish, willful little child.

Eventually, she stopped trying and grew angry with the faithful flower and tried to tear it off. But the fairy’s spell kept it snug on her blouse, and her mean thoughts made the bell ring even louder. Each day she became more grumpy and wished she could return the flower since it did not help. She longed for the spring, when it could be returned and the mournful music would stop pestering her.

One sunny morning, with no clouds but lots of wind, Annie walked carefully through the flowers, hoping her flower fairy would be hiding inside. She peeped into the dewy cups of many flowers, but no little elf lay hidden there. She turned sadly from each, saying, “I will go to the woods and seek her there so I don’t have to listen to this tiresome music or wear this withered flower any longer.” She passed timid birds, lovely wildflowers, murmuring bees, dancing butterflies and asked them all if they could tell her of the fairy. But the birds looked at her with bright eyes and kept singing; the flowers nodded wisely on their stems, but did not speak; the bees just buzzed busily; and the butterflies luxuriously fluttered away.

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