The raindrops were kept busy one morning in the garden of the fairies. There were many flowers to be washed clean of the dust that had dulled their beautiful colours, and the green of the trees must be made bright once more; and to leave without a dance with the little waves of the brook was not to be thought of. So the raindrops fell early in the morning, but in the afternoon the sky became clear and there was promise in the beautiful rainbow that the raindrops’ work was done, for that day at least.
“Isn’t our garden beautiful after a shower?” said one fairy to another sitting beside her.
“Yes, the dust covers the colours of the flowers almost as soon as we have painted them. But see the gold of those daffodils! I like the reds and blues of the other flowers, too. They seem brighter than ever to-day. Sometimes I sit all day and look at them.”
“Oh! we have a rainbow this afternoon. It always looks to me like a great garden of flowers stretched in bands across the sky. I like to think that its yellow, red, and blue are made up of flowers like these in our garden here.”
“Do you see that colour next to the green? I love it; it is so dark and deep. Many times I have wished we might have a flower here on earth just like it.”
“Surely you, Fairy Artist, would have no trouble to make a colour like that; at least, it wouldn’t hurt for you to try.”
The fairy artist sat with her eyes turned toward the rainbow until it had faded from sight, and long after the sun had sunk to rest, she sat alone under the trees, thinking.
One morning she called all the fairies to her. “Dear fairies,” she said, “I am going to try to make a colour like that dark one in the rainbow. It may take me a long, long while, but one cannot give the children a greater joy than to add a new colour to the flowers on earth.”
No one knew better than she that a great task lay before her. Many days and weeks she tried. Sometimes the mixture was lighter than the colour in the rainbow, and sometimes it seemed too dark—never quite what she wished it to be.
Once, as she stood before the large bowl, mixing and stirring patiently—she stopped, and the fairies in the garden heard a shout of joy: “I have it! the beautiful colour! the beautiful colour!”
They hurried to the place where she always stood with her bowl and brush.
“See, it is the colour, indeed,” they said; but, as they looked into the bowl, the beautiful colour began to fade, and soon it was not at all like the colour she had longed for.
“Ah, I see,” said the artist fairy, sadly, “it is of no use to mix together these paints that I have been using. We must gather my material from all the colours of earth. My dear fairies, you must all help.” Many were sent far and wide to bring from the earth clays of every colour they could find. The artist fairy kept working faithfully and patiently.
One day when she had worked harder and longer than usual, she heard one say, “Surely, Artist Fairy, you do not mean to work all the evening? See, the sun is ready to sink.”
“Just a little longer; I feel sure that the colour will come before sunset. Look, does it not begin even now to change?”
The fairies looked into the bowl and all exclaimed at once, “The colour at last! It is indeed the deep colour of the rainbow!”
“Let us carry the bowl to the top of the bank and at moonlight we will celebrate the new joy that has come to us.”
It was a small bank that overlooked a little brook. Flowers had never grown there and sometimes the fairies felt sad when they looked upon that bare spot in their garden. Perhaps the great tree that spread out its branches took more than its share of the sunshine, but the fairies loved this bank. Moonbeams always seemed to lie so still there. “It’s just the place for our moonlight celebration!” one said.
All the creatures of the fairies’ garden came to the celebration. The night was glorious. The moon sent down her silvery beams earlier than usual, although the fireflies insisted that there was no need of her shining so brightly, and that she might throw all her beams to the waves in the brook, for they looked so beautiful with a silver covering. Not a grasshopper went to bed, and the frog made the music for the dance, at which the cricket felt sad, for she knew her voice could not be heard above his. The flowers sang their sweetest songs about the new colour that was to come among them. It was not very late when the fairies joined hands and danced together around the bowl. Perhaps this moonlight celebration would have lasted many hours longer, but as the fairies were finishing the dance, one of them touched the precious bowl and oh no! the next moment they saw the beautiful colour flow in tiny dark streams down the hillside. For a little while it glistened beneath the rays of the moon, and then it sank into the dark earth. The fairies stood and watched it, helpless.
“It is all lost. It is all gone in a moment,” said the Artist Fairy, as she turned for comfort to the rest.
“No, no, my dear Fairy. What you have once done you can do again.”
“I do not remember how it was made. No, I don’t think I can do it again. It is gone forever.”
“Do not say that, please. Have you not heard the saying that ‘nothing is ever truly lost’?”
Once more the raindrops visited the garden, and the fairies worked all day long and all night long before everything was done.
“It is so refreshing when the garden has been washed clean again of its dust.”
“Look,” cried one. “See our bank this morning.”
“It is covered with a carpet of purple! Come, let us look closer,” called another.
“It is the colour! It is the colour!” said the Artist Fairy, as she hurried toward the bank. “Nothing is lost,” she added, softly as she looked closer. Purple violets had been born that morning while the raindrops fell.