The Trail of Flowers
This story is about a prince and a princess. Their father was the king, and their names were ... no, I won't tell you their names till later. They lived in a beautiful palace quite near the borders of fairyland; from the upper windows you could see the great wall which separated fairyland from the ordinary dull world. The children often saw the fairies coming in and out of a big arched gateway; and on one occasion a very important fairy came and stayed at the palace with them for nearly two weeks. She slept in the guest room, and spent most of the time playing with the children. She seemed to be very fond of flowers, and the prince and princess enjoyed showing her round the garden - the lawns and grass verges, the rose walks, the sunken ponds, the humpback bridges, the arbors and herbaceous borders.
When she left to go back to fairyland, she gave them a strange gift by which they might remember her. "Wherever you go," she said, "flowers will spring up round your feet."
"Not in the house," pleaded the king. "It will be ruination on the carpets and parquet flooring."
"Very well," she consented. "Only out of doors."
So it was that as soon as the children went outside, daffodils began to spring up at their feet, and crocuses, and bluebells, and all sorts of lovely plants, exactly matching their mood. When they got used to it, and were not thinking about it, grass clothed the ground. They ran backwards and forwards over the hard tennis courts, and turned them into grass courts. (It was just a pity that they were so delighted with their work that a bunch of lupins and a rose bush sprang up in the middle, and had to be removed by the gardener.) They planted delphiniums all over the parade ground, much to the amusement of the soldiers; and turned the rubbish heaps into a paradise of gorgeous blossoms.
The most interesting thing was, that when they went for walks, they left a trail of living green. If they were not thinking of anything in particular, it was just plain grass; but if they were delighted with anything, there were flowers of all varieties.
However, they soon discovered that there was another side to this. If they were cross or selfish or quarrelsome - why, stinging nettles sprang up, and thistles, and thorny briars, whereas the flowers faded away and died. The king was very annoyed one day to find a bed of stinging nettles on the terrace outside the French window of his study.
"Did you do that?" he demanded of the prince.
"No," he protested, "the princess did it!"
That was a lie, and as soon as he had said it the ground heaved and shook and up came a lot more nettles around his feet and legs, and stung his bare knees, so that he cried out in pain, and ran for his life, with a trail of nettles following him! A gardener had to be sent to cut them down with a scythe.
And so the prince and princess learned to be true and happy and unselfish, filling the palace gardens with color and beauty and fragrance.
I promised at the beginning that I would tell you their names, and I will do so now. What is your name? If you are a boy, then you are the prince; and if you are a girl, you are the princess. So now you know their names - they are you! We are all princes and princesses, because our heavenly Father is the King of kings. And we all have this strange power of producing flowers and nettles, to delight or annoy the people we are with.
You cannot see them while you are still in this world. The flowers and nettles we create exist in the spiritual world, and they are real enough. Ask your friends and they will tell you! Which do you like best, flowers or nettles? Flowers? Yes, so do I and so do all your friends.
Try to make plenty of blossoms and no stingers, and you will end up in one of the flower-gardens of heaven.