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The nofogay that adorns the bride,
I've heard my fifters, there's a flow'r,
I've fearch'd in vain; all these do fade;
Elmina flopt. All the garlands were finifhed, and her companions rofe up. What fhall we do now, faid they? We have fine garlands and crowns. Let us play the beauty of the rondeau. That was a play which the young girls of that country had invented. They chose the most amiable of the company, dreft her out in the gayeft manner, and crowned her with flowers; then they fung and danced around her. It was, however, a very delicate affair to make this choice, and what I fhould not like to meddle with," to choose the most beautiful among a troop of young girls: nor could they eafily agree among themfelves on this point. Several of them wished to crown Elmina; but he was too modest to believe herself the most amiable; and she thought feveral of her companions were charming: for fhe was not in the leaft jealous of the beauty of others. My friends, faid the to them, a notion has come into my head-Let each of us gather a favourite flower, and put them all into a hat; then throw the whole up in the air; and the girl whofe flower fhall go fartheft, fhall be the beauty of the rondeau. They all approved of this happy thought, and went each to choose her favourite flower,
Among the companions of Elmina, there was one young princefs who was called Malinette, and who was very malignant and vain. She ran into a neighbouring field and picked out a blewet, which the put into the hat, after having dexterously rolled the stalk about a small pebble.
It is eafy to devife why this fly girl did fo: by this trick, her flower becoming the heaviest, ought to be thrown
the fartheft. The other girls chofe without artifice the flowers they really preferred. One brought a ranunculus, another a primrofe, a third a violet. As to Elmina, the went in queft of an eglantine: that, was the flower the chofe. She faw a bush covered with them; but I know not why the modest Elmina chofe the smallest and the lighteft.
At the moment when they threw up the flowers from the hat, to fee which of them would go fartheft, a light zephyr arose, and carried off the eglantine. It was however falling short of the bluet; but a fine butterfly ftruck it as it defcended, and carried it far beyond the bluet. The girls made a fhout of joy on feeing this little miracle, crowned Elmina, and dreffed her out as the belle of the rondeau. This was no difficult task; for Elmina was beautiful, and they had plenty of flowers. The princefs dreft and crowned, was placed upon a fmall throne of fod; and in dancing as Found her, they fung,
The play would have continued; but it was interrupted by fome noife which they heard in the grove; out of which came a little old woman, and approached the cheerful dan cers. The girls were at firft afraid, and thought of running away; but the affable air of the old woman, and the foftnefs of her voice calmed their fears. She had a robe all of green; her hat was of rushes of the fame colour, adorned with a bouquet of green leaves: She had green gloves, and carried in her hand a green pot, in which was a little green tree.
It was because of all this verdure, that they who knew the old woman, called her Verdurine.«
My children, faid
fhe, I come not to interrupt your mirth; but I heard Elmi-
In faying this, Verdurine made up to the other young ladies, and gave each of them fome flowers from her enchanted tree to cultivate; to fome of them she gave five, to others four, according as the knew the goodness of their difpofitions. It is pretended, that Malinette only received one
bud, and that the never could make it expand. I cannot however fay any thing certain on this head; for that young lady having been very univerfally difliked, on account of the naughty things the did, no one would take the trouble of writing her history.
The fairy, (you will eafily perceive that Verdurine was one), after having diftributed her gifts, entered again the arbour, and disappeared. The young girls remained loft in aftonishment at this apparition; they abandoned their play, and the flowers they had gathered, and only thought of those they had received. Every one made hafte to fhew them to their parents; and the young Elmina was no fooner got home, than fhe ran to Lindorine, and related to her every thing that had happened; and put her precious flower into a fine porcelane vafe which the had. Lindorine appeared to be very much aftonished at the adventure; though we shall afterwards fee that Lindorine and Verdurine were the fame.
Elmina went to bed highly pleased; but her head was fo full of the objects that had occupied her during the day, that the dreamt the whole night of meadows, rondeaus, fairies, and enchanted flowers. Her first care on awaking, was to go to fee if hers had fuffered no change during the night; the ran towards the vafe where the had put it; but in coming near the window, fhe heard a great noise in the street, and faw a troop of unlucky boys who followed a poor woman. The geftures and fooleries of thefe boys amused the princefs, and made her laugh; and it was only after the loft fight of them, that the retired from the window to examine her flower. But, O heavens! what was her surprise and grief! She faw the flower of modesty beginning to lofe its beautiful carnation colour, and the flower of beneficence alfo faded a little. Lindorine then entering, found the princess loft in grief and astonishment, and asked the reafon of it. Ah! faid Elmina, look at the flowers; they fade, they die, yet I have done nothing.
In truth the princefs was innocent; for fhe had not perceived that there was any thing bad in what had made her laugh; nevertheless the flower of modefty had occafion to fade, and the flower of beneficence to languish, because a young girl ought never to indulge an indifcreet curiofity, far less laugh when they make a mock of any one.
This. Lindorine explained to the princess: fhe was sensible of her involuntary error, and was fo amiable during the whole day, that before evening the flowers had refumed their former luftre, and were even more beautiful than before. This little leffon rendered Elmina more attentive and more difcreet, and made her perceive what pains and attention were required to preferve the flower that never fades. Elmina was fenfible and good; to do good the only had to confult the natural emotions of her own heart; but the flower of celestial blue, she found, required from her more difficult exertions. She was naturally lively; and upon the least fretfulness of temper or impatience, the flower of gentleness failed not to become tarnished, and to reproach her with her faults. The princefs corrected these as well as fhe could, and was never happy till her flower refumed its native luftre; for fhe was perfuaded, that it is much lefs fhameful to repair a fault than to commit it, and far lefs culpable to commit it, than to attempt to conceal it without amending it.
As to the white flower, I have heard that it always preferved its purity: It is true that Elmina perceived one day a little mark upon it; but a tear that the dropped upon it, effaced it immediately. I know not however, what little weakness Elmina had been guilty of, because every one readily forgets a fault that has been effaced by repentant
The bud of the flower of genius continued always to increase; whenever the princefs had been attentive to any leffon, and docile, fhe failed not to examine it, and ufually found it had pushed forth fome new leaves. This flower was the most marvellous of the whole; and it augmented during the whole life of Elmina. Nothing could be more varied than the form and colour of its leaves. Upon one might be feen a beautiful landscape, or rich embroidering; upon another, reprefentations of hiftory or geography; upon fome might be seen a golden lyre, or a harp of ivory; in fhort, one remarked upon these, all the emblems that serve to adorn the mind of a young lady.
As to the flower of gracefulness, it flourished, as Verdurine had faid, without being attended to. Elmina had even occafion to remark, that if she endeavoured to haften its ex