Mother Earth and the little flower fairies had been very busy indeed getting ready for their great Spring opening. For weeks and weeks they had been preparing all the little flower children so that they would be ready to respond to the call of the robin and to the caresses of the sun and the soft west wind.
First of all, Snowdrop had been made ready because she was one of the very first to venture out into the world. And she and her many little sisters, very prim and neat in their white starched frocks, sat quite near the door. Sometimes Snowdrop would not wait for the robin and the sun to call her, but she would slip out quietly at the first warm shower. Nearby sat a whole row of happy Crocuses, happy and pretty in their bell-shaped dresses of white and purple and gold. Violets, nestling in their soft green coats, were there, and “Daffy-down-dilly dressed in a green petticoat and a new gown” was quite ready to “come to town.” Then there was dainty Spring Beauty and the proud and flaming Tulip and all the other dear, early flowers that make the world so beautiful after ice and snow are gone.
Yes,—every one was very busy and very happy,—every one,—except one poor, forlorn, little flower that sat, or rather lay, all alone in one corner. He did not look spick and span like the others, but his green coat hung about him quite wilted and soiled and his golden head drooped. He seemed very unhappy indeed.
“Come, come, Dandelion,—do tell us what has happened; you look quite crushed,” exclaimed one of the fairies, stopping long enough in her task of mixing colours to notice the sad little flower.
“Yes, Dandelion, do tell us,” cried Crocus who was all ready to push his little flower face out into the open air and who was waiting for the first opportunity to do so.
“Dandelion will tell us what has happened,” softly whispered Violet as she came closer to what was left of poor Dandelion.
“Well,—since all of you seem so interested I will tell you what happened. It certainly took all the pride out of me,—I still feel weak and pale. You know that we Dandelions are bold and venturesome folks and some of us make our appearance in warm and sunny places long before any of the rest of you have the courage to come out. Indeed it has long been a matter of pride with us to have some person find us even before Snowdrop makes her appearance.”
Snowdrop looked hurt at this, but said nothing and Dandelion continued:
“And so it happened that several of us slipped out and sprouted quietly and happily in Farmer Brown’s front yard. It was such a nice place,—the sun shone brightly and coaxed us to put our best blossoms—they were so large and yellow that I am sure they must have looked almost as fine as Chrysanthemum.”
Several of the flowers cast startled looks into the dark corner where the Chrysanthemum brothers and sisters were sleeping. But their slumbers were so sound, since they would not wake until autumn, that they did not hear Dandelion’s boastful remark.
“We made a beautiful spot of yellow on the lawn,” continued Dandelion. “Well, yesterday Farmer and Mrs. Brown were out in the garden and they saw us.
“‘Oh, see the dandelions! How early they are this year. I shall have to call the children.’”
“With that Mrs. Brown went into the house to call her little boy and girl who came out and greeted us joyfully.
“‘Let me see, Jack, if you like butter,’ said Ruth, as she held one of my blossoms under her brother’s chin. It surely looked quite yellow by reflection and of course this was a sure sign that he liked butter.
“‘Come, Ruth, let’s see if we can get enough stems to make a chain for you,’ cried Jack, and they found enough of my hollow stems to make a chain to go around Ruth’s little white throat.
“By this time I felt we were doing much to make the children happy and I lifted my head proudly and whispered to my companions that surely we were useful as well as beautiful. Just then Mrs. Brown called the children into the house and we were left alone in the garden.
“But not for long—Alas! Farmer Brown who had gone away while the children were with us now returned with a strange, sharp and shining tool in his hand. He came straight to where we were growing so happily and said:
“‘Now we’ll see whether this new weeding tool won’t get rid of these pesky dandelions. Every year they spread more and more so that by and by there’ll not be any grass. Perhaps by starting early to weed them out we can get rid of the pests!’ With that he dug the instrument deep into the ground and pulled up all my lovely little brothers and sisters. I alone remained, but even I was badly bruised as you can see, and I have come back to tell you how I have been treated. Wasn’t it an unkind thing? I had always thought that people loved us,—for we make the fields and meadows glow with the sun’s own colour.” And poor Dandelion drooped his golden head and was as sad as it is possible for a golden headed flower to be.
All the other flower children had looked very solemn and sympathetic during Dandelion’s story and when he had finished, they crowded about him.
“It’s just a shame,” murmured Crocus; “I hope no one will treat me so rudely.”
“Yes indeed,” whispered Snowdrop, “it would certainly be a painful misfortune to have one’s roots pulled up by a weeder,” and she shuddered so violently that her stiff little petticoats fairly shook.
But Mother Earth and the fairies only smiled and said nothing, for they knew quite well that it would take many, many farmers and more weeders than they could ever hope to buy to get rid of Dandelion and his numerous brothers and sisters.
And the little fairy who was Dandelion’s particular friend laid her tiny hand on his tousled golden head as she whispered, “Never mind, Dandelion dear, you are the children’s friend and companion and good old Mother Earth will never let you fall. She sends forth more of your kind than any other; she has made you so sturdy and strong that you can thrive almost anywhere—and I truly think that she loves you best.”