The Easter Lily
Once upon a time a family of Lily Bulbs lived together in the corner of a greenhouse. Above them, on a shelf by the window, stood a tall rose tree so beautiful that everyone felt happier for having looked at its blossoms of glistening pink. The sunbeams came "in a shining crest" to visit the plant and wander among its soft green leaves, or to rest awhile on its lovely flowers.
One little Lily Bulb down in the dark corner never tired of watching the rose, that seemed to her to grow more beautiful each day. In her rough dress of brown she lay quite still and waited, longing to be beautiful too. She wished so much that the sunbeams would visit her in her quiet corner. Every day she thought of questions she knew they could answer. "They would surely know," she said, "why I must lie here and wait; for every night when their work is finished down here, the great golden sun calls them home to him, and on their way they must meet such a number of people that could tell them, even if they did not know themselves." But the sunbeams never came, and Lily sighed and waited for some one else to tell her what she most wanted to know.
Once a soft breeze floated in at the window, and she held her breath and listened while it told its story in a whisper to the rose. "Dear rose," she heard it say, " I never visit you that you do not send me on my way so full of sweetness that I carry happiness wherever I go. Do you give the same to all?" "Yes," replied the rose, "that is why I am sweet and beautiful. The more I give of my sweetness the more I have to give. Some day I shall go from here and have much more to do in the great world outside." The rose plant told the truth, for next day a dear mother came to the greenhouse and took it away for her little child's birthday.
Weeks went by, and still the Lily Bulb lay patiently waiting for the change she felt would come. Softly she whispered to herself the words she had heard: "The more I give of my sweetness the more I shall have to give." A day came when the greenhouse was full of busy men. Suddenly Lily was lifted tenderly and placed on a soft bed of earth, in a little brown house quite by herself. The change was so delightful, and Lily would have enjoyed lying there for days and looking at the many new things about, but she grew so
sleepy! "I wonder if it is a part of my work to fall fast asleep," she said. Lily thought that the sunbeams came to visit her, and that she heard them tell of a time when they would awaken her. Did she really hear this, or was it a dream? For Lily Bulb was fast asleep.
One by one the flowers in the greenhouse garden said good-by to the birds, and dropped to sleep also. Robins and bluebirds had made ready for their long journey South, and were flying about among the trees, and bidding the squirrels farewell until Spring. The sun had a great way of hurrying to bed early these days, and Jack Frost came almost as soon as he had gone. Master Jack had his hands more than full of work to do on early Fall evenings. He unlocked the doors of the chestnut burrs so that the little brown nuts could jump easily to the ground and begin to do their work. The squirrels thanked Jack Frost as they heaped up their piles of nuts for the Winter days that were to come.
One night the clouds sent millions of feathery snowflakes through the air, down, down to the ground, and there they spread such a mantle of soft snow over the earth that the flowers smiled in their Winter's sleep and breathed a "Thank you," for the warm white blanket that lay for many weeks over the "great brown house" where the flowers slept and dreamed of the Spring that was to come.
Under the eaves of the greenhouse roof long icicles hung, and the sunbeams came down now to smile on them and clothe them in all the beautiful colors of the rainbow.
One day Mr. March Wind flew by, and told in his loud voice that Spring would soon be here. And out in the meadows the snowdrops hung their heads and watched for the baby grasses, that they might be the first to welcome them. Then Miss Lily Bulb rubbed her eyes, and stretched her little body so hard that snap! went the little brown dress from top to toe. "I must have some light and see what can be done," said Lily. So she pushed open the doors of her brown house, and there were the sunbeams to wish her "Good day." But where was Lily's rough dress? It had gone, and in its place was a lovely green one. Lily Bulb felt so happy! "Now I know what my work is to be," said she softly to herself; " I am to grow better and sweeter each day, and make everyone about me happy."
Day after day she grew higher and higher, and the dress of green was changed into one of glistening white. "My beautiful Easter Lily!" said the gardener, as he smiled into her shining face. "Oh," said she, "I am not proud, but so full of joy that I can fill all the air with perfume, and that the faces that gaze at me grow sweeter, and the look of a little child comes back to their eyes!"
Next day Easter Lily was taken, with a great number of other lovely flowers, to a beautiful church. Soft music sounded from the organ, and many little children's voices rang out in song. Easter Lily trembled with joy and love, and her glistening blossoms sent out a perfume as sweet as the children's voices, and mingling together they floated up, up, and into the clear sky - one wave of precious melody that said: "For Christ has risen, the angels say, This holy, holy Easter day."