The Angel and The Flower

This comes from a Catholic Christian Reader from the 1870's ( I just read the similar tale by Hans Christian Anderson)...just image this story being read in class to the little children of burgeoning American and Canada. It gave them a vision of hope that goodness, in the end wins... ..

They have a beautiful legend in some of the northern countries of Europe, which we think you will all like very much. It is as follow: Whenever a good child dies an angel from Heaven comes down to earth and takes the dead child in his arms and flies away over all the places the child has loved and picks quite a handful of flowers, which he carries up to the Almighty, that they may bloom in Heaven more brightly than upon earth...And the Father presses all the flowers to His heart; but He kisses the flower that pleases Him best, and the flower is then endowed with a voice, and can join in a great chorus of praise! "See little one, this is what an angel said. As he carried a dead child up to Heaven, and the child heard, as if in a dream. And they went on over the regions of home, where the little child had played, and came with beautiful flowers, which of these shall we take with us to plant in Heaven?" Now, there stood near them a slender, beautiful rose-bush; but a wicked hand had broken the stem, so that all the branches, covered with half-opened buds, were hanging around, quite withered. "The poor rose bush!" said the child. "Take it, that it may bloom up yonder." And the angel took it and kissed the child, and the little one half-opened his eyes. They plucked some of the rich flower, but also took with them the wild pansy, and the despised buttercup." Now we have flowers," said the child. The angel nodded, but he did not yet fly upwards to Heaven. It was night, and quite silent. They remained in the great city; they floated about there over a small street, where lay whole heaps of straw, ashes, and sweepings, for it had been moving day. There lay fragments of plates, bits of plaster, rags, and old hats, and all this did not look well. And the angel pointed to a few fragments of a flowerpot, and to a lump of earth which had fallen out, and was kept together by the roots of a great dried, wildflower. "We will take that with us," said the angel, "I will tell you why, as we fly onward." Down yonder, in that narrow lane, in a low cellar, lived a poor sick boy; from his childhood he had not been able to leave his bed. The utmost he could do, was to go up and down the room a few times, on crutches. For a few days in summer the sunbeams would penetrate for a few hours, into the ground of the cellar, and when the poor boy sat there and looked at the red blood, within his thin fingers, as he held them up the light, he would say, "Yes; today I have been out!" On a spring day a neighbor's boy brought him some field flowers, and among them was, by chance, one to which the root was still hanging; and so it was planted in a flower-pot, and placed by the bed, close to the window. The flower had been planted by a skillful hand; and it grew, threw out new shoots, and bore flowers every year. It became a splendid flower-garden to the sick boy- his little treasure here on earth." He watered it, and tended it, and took care that it had the benefit of every ray of sunlight, and the flower itself was woven into his dreams, for it grew for him, and gladdened his eyes, and spread it fragrance about him; and towards it he turned in death, when the Father called him. He has now been dead a year. For a year the flower stood forgotten and withered in the window, and at moving-time it was thrown out into the street. And this is the poor flower which we have taken into our nosegay; for it has given more joy than the richest in a queen's garden." But how do you know all this?" asked the child." I know it, said the angel, "for I myself was that boy who walked on crutches! I know my flowers well." And the child opened his eyes and looked into the glorious happy face of the angel; and, at the same moment, they entered the regions where there is peace and joy. The Father pressed the dead child to His bosom, and then it received wings like the angel, and flew hand in hand with him. And the Almighty kissed the dry, withered field flower, and it received a voice, and sang with the angels hovering around - some near, and some in wider circles, and some in infinite distance, but all equally happy. And they all sang, little and great- the good, happy child, and the poor field flower that lain there withered, thrown among the dust, in the rubbish of the moving day, in the dark narrow lane.