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      THE THISTLE'S EXPERIENCES

       

       BESIDE the lordly manorhouse lay a lovely,wellkept garden with rare trees and flowers;the guests of thehouse expressed their admiration of it;the people of thedistrict,from town and country,came on Sundays and holidays and begged permission to see the garden,even wholeschools came to visit it. Outside the garden,close to the palings beside thefield path,stood a huge thistle;it was very big and spreadfrom the root in several branches,so that it might be calleda thistle-bush.No one looked at it except the old ass whichdrew the milkcart.It stretched out its neck to the thistle,and said,"You are lovely!I could eat you!"but the halterwas not long enough for the ass to get near enough to eat it. There was a great deal of company at the manorhousesome very noble people from the capital,youngpretty girls,and amongst them a young lady who came froma distance;she came from Scotland,was of high birth,rich in lands and gold,a bride worth winning,more thanone young gentleman said,and their mothers said the samething. The young people amused themselves on the lawn andplayed croquet:they walked about amongst the flowers,and each of the young girls picked a flower and put it inthe buttonhole of one of the young gentlemen.But theyoung Scottish lady looked round for a long time,rejectingone after the other;none of the flowers seemed to pleaseher;then she looked over the paling,outside stood thegreat thistlebush with its strong,purple flowers;she sawit,she smiled and begged the son of the house to pick oneof them for her. "It is the flower of Scotland,"said she,"it blooms inthe 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 rose-bush that it grew on.

      She fastened the thistleflower in the buttonhole ofthe young man,and he felt himself highly honoured.Each of the other young men would willingly have givenhis own beautiful flower to have worn the one given by theScottish girl's fair hand.And if the son of the house felthimself honoured,what did not the thistle-bush feel?Itseemed as if the dew and the sunshine were goingthrough it. "I am something more than I thought!"it said to itself."I really belong inside the paling and not outside!Oneis strangely placed in the world!but now I have one ofmine over the paling,and even in a button-hole!" Every bud which came forth and unfolded was toldof this event,and not many days went past before thethistlebush 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 ofthe garden and the rooms of the house,where the doorsand windows stood open,that the young gentleman whogot the thistleflower from the fair Scottish girl's hand,had now got her hand and heart as well.They were ahandsome pairit was a good match. "I have brought that about!"thought the thistlebush,and thought of the flower it had given for a buttonhole.Each flower that opened heard of this occur-rence. "I shall certainly be planted in the garden!"thought the thistle;"perhaps put in a pot which pinches:that is the greatest honour of all!" And the thistle thought of this so strongly that itsaid with full conviction,"I shall be put in a pot!" It promised every little thistleflower which openedthat it also should be put in a pot,perhaps in a button-holethe highest honour that was to be attained;butnone of them was put in a pot to say nothing of a but-ton-hole;they drank in the air and the light,lickedthe sunshine by day and the dew by night,bloomed,were visited by bees and hornets which searched for thedowry,the honey in the flowers,and they took thehoney and left the flower standing. "The thieving pack!"said the thistle,"if I couldonly stab them!But I cannot!"

      The flowers hung their heads and faded,but new onescame again. "You come in good time!"said the thistle,"everyminute I expect to get across the fence." A few innocent daisies and narrow-leaved plantainsstood and listened with deep admiration,and believedeverything that was said. The old ass of the milkcart looked along from thewayside to the thistle-bush,but the halter was too short toreach it. And the thistle thought so long of the Scottish thistleto whose family it thought it belonged,that at last it believed it came from Scotland and that its parents had beenput into the national scutcheon.It was a great thought,butgreat thistles can have great thoughts! "One is often of such a noble family,that one darenot know it!"said the nettle,which grew close by;it alsohad an idea that it might turn into nettlecloth if it wereproperly handled. And the summer passed and the autumn passed;theleaves fell off the trees,the flowers got strong colours andless scent.The gardener's apprentice sang in the garden,across the fence: "Up the hill and down the hill, That is all the story still." The young firtrees in the wood began to long forChristmas,but it was a long time to Christmas. "Here I stand still!"said the thistle."It seems as ifno one thought about me,and yet I have made the match; they were betrothed,and they held their wedding eightdays ago.I won't take a step,for I cannot." Some more weeks went past;the thistle stood with itslast single flower,big and full,it had shot up close by theroot.The wind blew cold over it,the coloure went,thesplendour vanished,the calyx of the flower,big as that ofan artichoke bloom,looked like a silver sunflower.Thenthe young couple,now man and wife,came into the gar- den;they went along by the paling,and the young wifelooked across it. "There stands the big thistle yet,"said she;"now ithas no more flowers!" "Yes,there is the ghost of the last one!"said he, and pointed to the silvery remains of the flower,itself aflower.

      "It is lovely!"said she,"such a one must be carvedround about the frame of our picture!" And the young man had to climb the paling again tobreak off the calyx of the thistle.It pricked him in thefingers,he had called it a"ghost".And it came intothe garden,into the house,and into the drawingroom;there stood a picture"the young couple".In the bridegroom's buttonhole was painted a thistle.They talkedabout this and about thistleflower they brought,thelast thistleflower now gleaming like silver,a copy ofwhich was to be carved on the frame. And the carried what was said,away,far away. "What one can experience!"said the thistlebush."My firstborn was put in a buttonhole,my last in aframe!Where shall I go?" And the ass stood by the roadside and looked longat the thistle. "Come to me,my kitchenlove!I cannot come toyou,the halter is not long enough!" But the thistle did not answer;it became more andmore thoughtful;it thought,and it thought,right up toChristmas-time,and then the thought came into flower:"If one's children have got inside,a mother can be content to stand outside the fence!" "That is an honourable thought!"said the sunbeam."You shall also get a good place!" "In a pot or in a frame?"asked the thistle. "In a story!"said the sunbeam.And here it is!

       


       

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