[I have been working a new job for over a month now, and get very little time to read anymore. This has not been entirely a sad thing, because I find myself much easier edified because of it, and readier to be made happy by the happiness of the truth. In the few minutes I managed to snatch last night, I stumbled over this homely, simplistic little story in David Elginbrod and was reminded again why I keep reading George MacDonald even though he wrote far too much and got carried away. David Elginbrod can be read online for free in its entirety here.]
‘What are you going to be?’ said the one.
‘I don’t know,’ answered the other.
‘For me,’ rejoined the first, ‘I mean to be a rose. There is nothing like a splendid rose. Everybody will love me then!’
‘It’s all right,’ whispered the second; and that was all he could say; for somehow when he had said that, he felt as if all the words in the world were used up. So they were silent again for a day or two.
‘Oh, dear!’ cried the first, ‘I have had some water. I never knew till it was inside me. I’m growing! I’m growing! Good-bye!’
‘Good-bye!’ repeated the other, and lay still; and waited more than ever.
The first grew and grew, pushing itself straight up, till at last it felt that it was in the open air, for it could breathe. And what a delicious breath that was! It was rather cold, but so refreshing. The flower could see nothing, for it was not quite a flower yet, only a plant; and they never see till their eyes come, that is, till they open their blossoms—then they are flowers quite. So it grew and grew, and kept its head up very steadily, meaning to see the sky the first thing, and leave the earth quite behind as well as beneath it. But somehow or other, though why it could not tell, it felt very much inclined to cry. At length it opened its eye. It was morning, and the sky was over its head; but, alas! itself was no rose—only a tiny white flower. It felt yet more inclined to hang down its head and to cry; but it still resisted, and tried hard to open its eye wide, and to hold its head upright, and to look full at the sky.
‘I will be a star of Bethlehem at least!’ said the flower to itself.
But its head felt very heavy; and a cold wind rushed over it, and bowed it down towards the earth. And the flower saw that the time of the singing of birds was not come, that the snow covered the whole land, and that there was not a single flower in sight but itself. And it half-closed its leaves in terror and the dismay of loneliness. But that instant it remembered what the other flower used to say; and it said to itself: ‘It’s all right; I will be what I can.’ And thereon it yielded to the wind, drooped its head to the earth, and looked no more on the sky, but on the snow. And straightway the wind stopped, and the cold died away, and the snow sparkled like pearls and diamonds; and the flower knew that it was the holding of its head up that had hurt it so; for that its body came of the snow, and that its name was Snow-drop. And so it said once more, ‘It’s all right!’ and waited in perfect peace. All the rest it needed was to hang its head after its nature.
One day a pale, sad-looking girl, with thin face, large eyes, and long white hands, came, hanging her head like the snowdrop, along the snow where the flower grew. She spied it, smiled joyously, and saying, ‘Ah! my little sister, are you come?’ stooped and plucked the snowdrop. It trembled and died in her hand; which was a heavenly death for a snowdrop; for had it not cast a gleam of summer, pale as it had been itself, upon the heart of a sick girl?
The other had a long time to wait; but it did grow one of the loveliest roses ever seen. And at last it had the highest honor ever granted to a flower: two lovers smelled it together, and were content with it.