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THE FLOWER PRINCESS

* * * * *

By Abbie Farwell Brown

THE FLOWER PRINCESS. Illustrated. Sq. 12mo, $1.00.

THE CURIOUS BOOK OF BIRDS. Illustrated. Square
12mo, $1.10, _net_. Postpaid, $1.21.

A POCKETFUL OF POSIES. Illustrated. 12mo, $1.00,
_net_. Postpaid, $1.09.

IN THE DAYS OF GIANTS. Illustrated. 12mo, $1.10,
_net_. Postpaid, $1.21. _School edition_, 50
cents, _net_, postpaid.

THE BOOK OF SAINTS AND FRIENDLY BEASTS.
Illustrated, 12mo, $1.25.

THE LONESOMEST DOLL. Illustrated. Sq. 12mo, 85
cents, _net_. Postpaid, 95 cents.

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.
BOSTON AND NEW YORK

* * * * *


THE FLOWER PRINCESS

[Illustration: LET HIM PROVE IT]

[Illustration]


THE FLOWER PRINCESS

by

ABBIE¬ЈFARWELL BROWN







Boston and New York
Houghton Mifflin and Company

The Riverside Press Cambridge
1904

Copyright 1904 by Abbie Farwell Brown
All Rights Reserved

Published September, 1904




_Oh, give me for a little space
To see with childlike eyes
This curious world, our dwelling-place
Of wonder and surprise. . . ._

_The long, long road from Day to Night
Winds on through constant change,
Whereon one hazards with delight
Adventures new and strange;_

_The wonders of the earth and sky!
The magic of the sea!
The mysteries of beast and fly,
Of bird and flower and tree!_

_One feels the breath of holy things
Unseen along the road,
The whispering of angel wings,
The neighboring of Good._

_And Beauty must be good and true,
One battles for her sake;
But Wickedness is foul to view,
So one cannot mistake. . . ._

_Ah, give me with the childlike sight
The simple tongue and clear
Wherewith to read the vision right
Unto a childish ear._

Acknowledgments are due the publishers of _The
Churchman_ for permission to reprint "The Flower
Princess" and "The Little Friend;" also to the
_Brown Book_ of Boston for permission to use "The
Ten Blowers," which first appeared in that
magazine.




CONTENTS


THE FLOWER PRINCESS 1

THE LITTLE FRIEND 45

THE MERMAID'S CHILD 67

THE TEN BLOWERS 103




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


LET HIM PROVE IT (page 31) _Frontispiece_

THE PRINCESS FLEURETTE 10

UNTIL SHE CLAPPED HER HANDS FOR JOY 18

UNTIL HELP COMES 56

YOU WILL BRING HIM BACK TO ME? 86

ONE MORE BLOW FOR OUR KING 124




THE FLOWER PRINCESS


I

ONCE upon a time there was a beautiful Princess named Fleurette, who
lived in a white marble palace on the top of a high hill. The Princess
Fleurette was very fond of flowers, and all around the palace, from the
very gates thereof, a fair garden, full of all kinds of wonderful
plants, sloped down to the foot of the hill, where it was snugly
inclosed with a high marble wall. Thus the hill was like a great nosegay
rising up in the midst of the land, sending out sweet odors to perfume
the air for miles, bright with color in the sunshine, and musical with
the chorus of birds and the hum of millions of bees.

One part of the garden was laid out in walks and avenues, with little
vine-clad bowers here and there, where the Princess could sit and read,
or lie and dream. There were fountains and statues among the trees, and
everything grand and stately to make a garden beautiful. Another part of
the garden was left wild and tangled, like a forest. Here all the shyest
flowers grew in their own wild way; and here ran a little brook,
gurgling over the pebbles in a race to the foot of the hill. There never
was seen a more complete and beautiful garden than this of the Princess
Fleurette.

Now the fame of the Princess's beauty, like the fragrance of her garden,
had been wafted a long way, and many persons came to prove it. A
continual procession of princes from lands near and far traveled the
long road that wound from the foot of the hill up and up and up to the
entrance of the palace. They came upon their noble steeds, with gold and
jeweled harness most gorgeous to see, riding curiously up amid the
flowers, whose perfume filled their hearts with happiness and hope. The
further they rode the more they longed to tarry forever in this fair
place. And when each one at last dismounted at the palace gate, and,
going into the great hall, saw the Princess herself, more fair than any
flower, sitting on her golden throne, he invariably fell upon his knees
without delay, and begged her to let him be her very ownest Prince.

But the Princess always smiled mischievously and shook her head,
saying, -

"I have no mind to exchange hearts, save with him who can find mine,
where it is hidden among my flowers. Guess me my favorite flower, dear
Prince, and I am yours."

This she said to every prince in turn. She did not greatly care to have
any prince for her very ownest own, for she was happy enough among her
flowers without one. But the Prince, whoever he might be, when he heard
her strange words, would go out eagerly into the garden and wander,
wander long among the flowers, searching to find the sweetest and most
beautiful, which must be his lady's favorite. And, of course, he
selected his own favorite, whatever that was. It might be that he would
choose a great, wonderful rose. At the proper time he would kneel and
present it to the Princess, saying confidently, -

"O fair Princess, surely I have found the flower of your heart. See the
beautiful rose! Give it then to me to wear always, as your very ownest
Prince."

But the Princess, glancing at the rose, would shake her head and say, -

"Nay! I love the roses, too. But my heart is not there, O Prince. You
are not to be my lord, or you would have chosen better."

Then she would retire into her chamber, to be no more seen while that
Prince remained in the palace. Presently he would depart, riding
sorrowfully down the hill on his gorgeous steed, amid the laughing
flowers. And the Princess would be left to enjoy her garden in peace
until the next prince should arrive.

It might be that this one would guess the glorious nodding poppy to be
his lady's choice. But he would be no nearer than the other. A later
comer would perhaps choose a gay tulip; another a fair and quiet lily;
still another earnest soul would select the passion-flower, noble and
mysterious. But at all of these the Princess shook her head and denied
them. There had never yet come a prince to the hill who found her
heart's true flower. And the Princess lived on among her posies, very
happy and very content, growing fairer and fairer, sweeter and sweeter,
with their bloom upon her cheek and their fragrance in her breath. There
never was seen a more beautiful princess than Fleurette.

Now the Princess loved to rise very early in the morning, before any of
her people were awake, and to steal down by a secret staircase into the
garden while it was yet bright with dew and newly wakened happiness. She
loved to put on a gown of coarse green stuff, wherein she herself looked
like a dainty pink and white flower in its sheath, and with a little
trowel to dig in the fragrant mould at the roots of her plants, or train
the vines with her slender fingers.

No one suspected that she did this, and she would not have had them
suspect it for the world. For if the palace people had known, they
would have followed and annoyed her with attentions and suggestions.
They would have brought her gloves to protect her pretty hands, and a
veil, and parasol, and a rug upon which to kneel - if kneel she
must - while weeding the flower-beds. Indeed, they would scarcely have
allowed her to do anything at all. For were there not gardeners to
attend to all this; and why should she bother herself to do anything but
enjoy the blossoms when they were picked for her? They did not know,
poor things, that the greatest joy in a flower is to watch and help it
grow from a funny little seed into a leaf, then a tall green stalk, then
a waking bud, until finally it keeps the promise of its first sprouting,
and becomes a blossom. They did not guess that the happiest hours of the
Princess's life were those which she spent in the early morning tending
her flower-babies, while her fond courtiers, and even the curious
princes on their way to woo her, were still wasting the best part of the
day on lazy pillows. Many a time the Gardener declared that a fairy must
tend the royal flowers, so wonderfully did they flourish, free from
weed or worm or withering leaf. It even seemed to him sometimes that he
could trace a delicate perfumed touch which had blessed their leaves
before his coming. When he told this to Fleurette she only smiled
sweetly at him. But in her heart she laughed; for she was a merry
Princess.

One beautiful morning the Princess arose as usual, soon after sunrise,
and, putting on her green flower-gown, stole down the secret staircase
into the garden. There it lay, all fresh and wonderful, sparkling with
diamond dewdrops. The Princess Fleurette walked up and down the paths,
smiling at the blossoms, which held up their pretty faces and seemed to
smile back at her, as if she were another flower. Sometimes she kneeled
down on her royal knees in the gravel, bending over to kiss the flowers
with her red lips. Sometimes she paused to punish a greedy worm, or a
rude weed which had crowded in among the precious roots. Sometimes with
her little golden scissors she snipped off a withered leaf or a faded
flower of yesterday. Up and down the paths she passed, singing happily
under her breath, but seldom plucking a flower; for she loved best to
see them growing on their green stalks.

[Illustration: THE PRINCESS FLEURETTE]

She came at last to a little summer-house, up which climbed
morning-glories, blue and pink and white - fairy flowers of early
morning, which few of her people ever saw, because they rose so late.
For by the time those lazy folk were abroad, the best part of the day
was spent; and the little morning-glories, having lived it happily, were
ready for their rest. They drowsed and nodded and curled up tight into a
long sleep, in which they missed nothing at all of the later day.

When Fleurette spied the morning-glories she clapped her little hands,
and, running up to the arbor, danced about on her tiptoes, whispering, -

"Good-morning, little dears! Good-morning, my beautiful ones. How fresh
and sweet and fair you are!" And, plucking a single blossom, a cup of
the frailest pink, she placed it in her yellow hair, her only
ornament. Then she danced toward the little arbor, for it was her
favorite early-morning bower. But when she came to the door, instead of
entering, she started back with a scream. For through the morning-glory
vines two bright eyes were peering at her.

"Peek-a-boo!" said a merry voice. And out stepped a lad with a smiling,
handsome face. He was dressed all in green. By his side hung a sword,
and over his shoulder he bore a little lute, such as minstrels use.

"Good-morning, merry maiden," he said, doffing his cap and bowing very
low. "You, too, love flowers in the early morning. We have good taste,
we two, alone of all this place, it seems."

"You are not of this place. How came you here?" asked the Princess,
stepping back and frowning somewhat. "Do you not know that this is the
garden of a Princess, who allows no one to visit it between dusk and the
third hour after sunrise?"

"Ah!" cried the youth, with a merry laugh. "That I learned yesterday
down below there in the village. And a foolish law it is. If the
Princess knows no better than to forbid the sight of her garden when it
is most beautiful, then the Princess deserves to be disobeyed. And for
that matter, pretty maiden, are not you, too, a trespasser at this early
hour? Aha! Oho!" The lad laughed, teasingly, shaking his finger at her.

The Princess bit her lip to keep from laughing. But she said as sternly
as she could: "You are rude, Sir Greencoat. I am one of the best friends
the Princess has. She allows me to come here at this hour, alone of all
the world."

"Ah, share the right with me, dear maiden, share it with me!" exclaimed
the Stranger. "Let me play with you here in the garden early in the
morning. Do not tell her of my fault; but let me repeat it again, and
yet again, while I remain in this land."

The Princess hesitated, then answered him with a question. "You are then
of another country? You are soon to go away?"

"Yes, I am of a far country. My name is Joyeuse, and I am a merry
fellow, - a traveler, a minstrel, a swordsman, an herb-gatherer. I have
earned my bread in many ways. I was passing through this country when
the fragrance of this wondrous garden met my flower-loving nose, guiding
me hither. Ah, how beautiful it is! Because I wished to see it at its
best in early morning I stole through the gates at sundown, and spent
the night in yonder little arbor. I have been wandering ever since among
the flowers, until I heard your voice singing. Then I stole back here to
hide, for I was too happy to risk being discovered and sent away."

"You are a bold, bad fellow, Joyeuse," said Fleurette, laughing; "and I
have a mind to tell the Princess about you and your wanderings."

"Would she be so very angry?" asked the Stranger. "I will not pluck a
single bud. I love them all too dearly, just as you do, dear maiden, for
I have watched you. Ay, I could almost tell which is your favorite
flower - "

"Nay, that you cannot do," said the Princess hastily. "No one knows
that."

"Aha!" cried the lad. "You make a secret of it, even as does your
mistress, the Princess Fleurette. I have heard how she will choose for
her Prince only him who finds the flower which holds her heart. I had
thought one time to find that flower, and become her Prince."

"You!" cried the Princess, starting with surprise.

"Ay, why not? I could fight for her, and defend her with my life, if
need be. I could sing and play to make her merry. I could teach her many
things to make her wise. I am skilled in herbs and lotions, and I could
keep her people in health and happiness. Moreover, I love flowers as
well as she, - better, since I love them at their best in this early
morning: even as you love them, fair maiden. I should not make so poor a
prince for this garden. But now that I have seen you, little flower, I
have no longing to be a prince. I would not win the Princess if I
might. For you must be fairer than she - as you are fairer even than the
flowers, your sisters. Ah, I have an idea! I believe that _you_ are that
very flower, the fairest one, whereon the Princess has set her heart.
Tell me, is it not so?"

"Indeed no!" cried the Princess, turning very pink at his flattery. "How
foolishly you speak! But I must hasten back to the palace, or we shall
be discovered and some one will be punished."

"And shall I see you among the maidens of the Princess when I present
myself before her?" asked Joyeuse eagerly.

"Oh, you must not do that!" exclaimed Fleurette. "You must not try to
see the Princess to-day. This is a bad time. Perhaps to-morrow - " She
hesitated.

"But you will come again to the garden?" he begged.

She shook her head. "No, not to-day, Joyeuse."

"Then to-morrow you will come? Promise that you will be here to-morrow
morning early, to play with me for a little while?" he persisted.

The Princess laughed a silvery little laugh. "Who knows whom you may
find if you are in the garden again to-morrow morning early." And
without another word she slipped away before Joyeuse could tell which
way she went. For she knew every turning of the paths and all the
windings between the hedges, which were puzzling to strangers.


II

The next morning at the same hour Joyeuse was wandering through the
paths of the garden, seeking his flower-maiden. He looked for her first
near the arbor of morning-glories, but Fleurette was not there. He had
to search far and wide before he found her at last in quite another part
of the garden, among the lilies. She wore a white lily in her yellow
locks.

"Ah!" cried Joyeuse, when he spied her, "it is a lily to-day. But
yesterday I thought I guessed your favorite flower. Now I find that I
was wrong. Surely, this is your choice. So fair, so pure, - a Princess
herself could choose no better."

Fleurette smiled brightly at him, shaking her hair from side to side in
a golden shower. "One cannot so easily read my thoughts as he may
suppose," she cried saucily.

"Dear maiden," said Joyeuse, coming nearer and taking her hand, "I have
no wonderful garden like this where I can invite you to dwell as its
little princess. But come with me, and we will make a tiny one of our
very own, where no one shall forbid us at any hour, and where we will
play at being Prince and Princess, as happy as two butterflies."

But Fleurette shook her head and said: "No, I can never leave the garden
and my Princess. She could not live without me. I shall dwell here
always and always, so long as the flowers and I are a-blooming."

[Illustration: UNTIL SHE CLAPPED HER HANDS FOR JOY]

"Then I, too, must live here always and always!" declared Joyeuse.
"Perhaps the Princess will take me for her minstrel, or her soldier, or
her man of medicine, - anything that will keep me near you, so that we
can play together here in the garden. Would that please you, little
flower?"

Fleurette looked thoughtful. "I should be sorry to have you go," she
said; "you love the flowers so dearly, it would be a pity."

"Yes, indeed I love them!" cried Joyeuse. "Let us then go to the
Princess and ask her to keep me in her service."

The Princess looked long at Joyeuse, and at last she said: "How do I
know what manner of minstrel you are? I cannot take you to her without
some promise of your skill, for she is a Princess who cares only for the
best. Come, let us go into the wilder part of the garden, where no one
can hear us, and I will listen to your music."

So they went into a wild part of the garden, and sat down under a tree
beside the little brook. And there he played and sang for her such sweet
and beautiful music that she clapped her hands for joy. And when he had
finished he said, -

"Well, dear maiden, do you think I am worthy to be your lady's minstrel?
Have I the skill to make her happy?"

"Truly, Joyeuse, you have made _me_ very happy, and you are a Prince of
Minstrels," she answered. "Yet - I cannot tell. That is not enough. But
hark! I hear the chapel bell. I must hasten back to the palace.
To-morrow I will come again and listen to another song. Meanwhile do not
try to see the Princess."

"I care not for the Princess, I," he called after her, "so long as I may
see you, little flower!" And for an answer her laughter came back to him
over the flowers.

So that day went by; and early the next morning Joyeuse took his lute
and sought the flower-maiden in the garden. This time he sought her long
and long before he found her among the roses. There was a crimson rose
in her hair, and one upon either cheek when she glanced up, hearing his
footsteps on the grass. There was also a crimson spot upon her white
hand.

"See!" she cried, "a cruel thorn has pricked me. Let me test your skill
in herbs, Sir Doctor."

With a sorry face, for it gave him pain to see her pain, Joyeuse ran to
find the leaf of a certain plant which he knew. Presently he returned,
and, taking a bit of linen from his scrip, tenderly bound the leaf about
the poor wounded finger.

"Now will it be cured," he said. "This is a remedy which never fails."

"How wise you are," murmured Fleurette, "a very Prince of Doctors!"

"Say, may I not then hope to be the doctor of the Princess?" he asked
eagerly.

But Fleurette shook her head. "We must see how the finger is to-morrow
morning. If it is quite healed then, perhaps - But hark! That is the
Gardener's whistle. It is late, and I must return to the palace, or he
will find us trespassing." And away she ran, before Joyeuse had time to
say another word.

Now when the morrow arrived, Joyeuse sought Fleurette in the garden,
long and long. But at last he found her among the lavender. Her finger
indeed was healed, so that she smiled upon him, and she said, -

"Now you shall teach me to play the lute. The Princess, I know, would
fain master the lute. But I must see first what sort of teacher you make
before I take you to her."

So they sat down beside a marble fountain in the fairest part of the
garden; and there Joyeuse taught her how to pluck the lute and to make
sweet music. He taught her so well, and they passed the time so
pleasantly, that they forgot how the hours were flying.

"Joyeuse, you are the very Prince of Teachers!" said Fleurette.

At that moment a shadow fell upon the grass beside them, and lo! there
stood the head Gardener, who had heard the sound of the music, and had
hurried to see who might be in the Princess's garden at this forbidden
hour. The Princess gave a little cry, and without a word slipped away
through an opening in the hedge that she knew, before the Gardener had a
chance to see her face.

"Huh!" grunted the Gardener. "She has escaped, whoever she is. But we
shall soon know her name. You shall tell us that and other things, you
minstrel fellow."

"That I will never tell you!" cried Joyeuse.

"Huh! We shall see about that, too," retorted the Gardener surlily. "You
shall not escape, Sirrah. I will take you to my lady the Princess, and
you will have a chance to explain how you came to be here playing the
lute in her garden at a forbidden hour. Come along!" And he advanced to
seize Joyeuse by the collar. He was a huge, burly fellow, almost a giant
in size.

But Joyeuse laid his hand on his sword and said: "Keep back, Gardener,
and do not attempt to lay hands on me! I promise to follow wherever you
may lead, but you shall not touch me to make me prisoner."

"Huh! A valiant minstrel!" sneered the Gardener. But he looked twice at
the Stranger's flashing eyes and at his strong right arm, and decided to
accept his promise. At once he led the way through the winding paths of
the garden until they came to the palace gate. Now Joyeuse was shut into
a dark dungeon to wait the hour when the Princess was wont to hold
council, to listen to the prayers of her suitors and the wishes of her
people.

Poor Joyeuse! "This is the end of my happy time," he said to himself.
"The Princess will now dismiss me, if she does no worse. She will have
no charity for a trespasser in her garden, of which she is so jealous. I
may not tell her how her fair maiden met me there and urged me to
remain. I cannot tell; for that might bring trouble upon the
flower-maiden, whom, alas, I may never see again!"

So he mused, wondering wistfully that she should have left him without a
word. But there was no blame for her in his heart; he loved her so very
dearly.


III

It was afternoon when the Gardener opened the cell of Joyeuse and bade
him follow to the great hall of the palace where the Princess would hear
his crime and appoint his punishment.

With a heavy heart he followed down the white marble corridors on the
heels of the giant Gardener, who muttered to himself as they went. Now
and then he would turn to look at Joyeuse and shake his head, as though
foreseeing for him some dreadful punishment. At last they came to a


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