In 1850 Lydia
Maria Child an American author wrote the book
'Rose Marian and the Flower Fairies'
Full information on Lydia Maria Child including bibliography can
be found at:
The following text and graphics are courtesy of & Copyright© 2002
Long, long time ago, lived a widowed queen, named Elfrida. Her
beloved husband died in battle, in the prime of his life; and from
that time she lived alone with her daughter Marian, a blooming
maiden of fifteen. Her solitary palace was in a very romantic country,
surrounded by verdant hills and picturesque mountains whence flowed
two bright streams glistening in the sunshine, like threads of
Through all the neighboring country, good queen Elfrida was revered
as a saint; for she assisted the poor, nursed the sick, comforted
the unhappy, and was ever gentle and friendly to all. She kindly
extended her hand even to the most wretched beggars, and granted
their petitions if possible. Thus were her own sorrows consoled,
and the loneliness of her existence was cheered by universal gratitude
Her daughter, the princess Marian, was fresh and beautiful as
a morning in May. Her cheeks were like Blush-Roses, and her mild
eyes were modest and clearly blue, like the lovely little flower,
which Germans call forget-me-not. The country people all called
her Rose Marian. She was, moreover, affectionate, wise, and good.
She assisted her mother in her various duties, and attended upon
her with the most devoted love. Her next greatest delight was to
cultivate the flowers of their spacious garden. She was among them
at earliest sunrise, while the dew was sparkling on their leaves.
She trained the vines, carefully guarded the roses from destructive
insects, and supported the carnation with pretty lattices, when
they were bending under the weight of blossoms. The flowers repaid
her tender care with delicious fragrance, and colors unusually
brilliant. Marian had no other playmates, and in the fulness of
her love she talked to them, as if they were intelligent beings,
who could understand her words. In her own mind she was quite convinced
that every flower, and every little bit of moss, had within it
a guardian fairy. She often fancied that they listened to her,
nodded their friendly heads, and answered her with perfumes.
At night, when the solitary old castle was silvered with moonlight,
and nightingales, hidden among the foliage, sang enchanting songs,
then came moss-elves and flower-fairies dancing into the garden.
They divided into separate troops, and as they passed and re-passed
under Marian's window, the different bands sang and answered each
other in a chorus of love and praise. Their tones were so sweetly
plaintive, tender, and etherial, that little brooks stopped their
murmuring voices, and animals in the neighboring woods stood still
to listen. The good princess
slept profoundly, but a smile gleamed all over her face, for she
was listening to the floral serenade, and heard in her dreams all
the clear sweet tones, all the affectionate words, of her darling
flowers. After such a night she always woke bright and cheerful.
Her pulse beat vigorously, her countenance was luminous with happiness,
and her soul expanded with devotional feeling. She looked up to
the broad blue sky and the golden sun, with such elevating confidence
in God, such love for all the beautiful things he had created,
that she sometimes imagined she did not live on earth, but in heaven,
and that angels were always with her. When she sprinkled the plants
with fresh water, she said, in the simplicity of her innocent heart,
"''I thank you, my beautiful ones, for the delightful midnight
melodies you sing to me in my dreams."'' They bowed themselves
before her, and the incense they waved seemed more fragrant than
The queen watched
the motions of her graceful child, and observed her innocent amusements
with maternal pleasure. It was the cherished wish of her heart
to live long for this dear daughter's sake, and zealously devote
many future years to her improvement and happiness. But it was
ordered otherwise. Her health was failing fast, and she perceived
it, thought Marian did not. Often when she looked on her darling,
her heart trembled and her eyes filled with tears. The consciousness
that she must soon leave her, deepened her habitual tenderness,
and they were happy only in each other's society. But the parting
hour came at last. The good queen fell asleep in her daughter's
arms, and wakened no more in this world.
Marian believed her mother had become an angel, and gone to dwell
with celestial beings. But her own heart was very desolate, and
earth no longer seemed to her so beautiful as it was in her happy
childhood. Her songs were hushed, and her buoyant step became languid
and slow. Even her precious flowers were neglected. She glanced
at them sorrowfully, and took little notice of their gay colors,
or the fragrance they breathed around her. Feeling themselves deserted,
they bent their lovely heads, and their withered crowns fell on
the ground, as if they shared Marian's sorrow. She grew pale, every
day paler. She was silent and
listless during the day, and all through the soft summer night
she remained wakeful at her mother's grave. Her hands became thin
and quite transparent, and when she looked up to heaven there was
a glorified light in her eyes, that seemed to come from a brighter
and holier world than this. The doctors said, "'If she keeps ever
wakeful, and this profound melancholy continues, she will certainly
It made the flowers very sad to see their dear guardian drooping
thus, and they inquired anxiously of each other what they could
do to console her. Roses, Heliotrope, and Mignonette wished to
wrap her in a cloud of perfumes, and they sighed to think she no
longer delighted in their sweetness. A superb fringed poppy suggested
that sleep was what she most needed, and the Hop-vines were of
the same opinion. "'Aye, aye,"' exclaimed many flowers; "'that
is a good thought. A refreshing sleep will certainly cure her.
But how can we convey it to her!"' While they thus took counsel
together, and sighed for their favorite fading away, the surrounding
foliage suddenly became luminous, and the flowers could see all
the dew-drops gleaming in a soft tremulous light. At first, they
thought the moon had risen; but when they looked up, they perceived
a beautiful being, with shining hair, surmounted by a golden crown
sparkling with jewels. Her lustrous robe of heavenly blue was covered
with stars, which diffused a wonderful light. The astonished flowers
trembled through all their veins, and bent to touch each other.
The radiant vision smiled to see them all stand so silent, touching
each other with such timid joy. "'Beautiful and fragrant ones,
be not afraid of me,"' she said. "'I come to ask your assistance
in conveying the good young princess to a happy home, where she
will never more know trouble. She must sleep, or she will lose
her reason, and then she will suffer much and long. I am a benevolent
spirit, whose mission it is to alleviate the misery of the good
in this world. Angels love Marian, and take pity on the sorrow
that is wasting her life. They have sent me to you with this golden
cup. If each of you will breathe into it, I will stir with my wand,
and when the dear sufferer inhales the mingled odors, they will
quiet her nerves, and she will fall into a peaceful slumber. The
kind good child has done much for you; now is the time to prove
All the flowers exclaimed at once, "'We would gladly give our
lives for Marian."'
The beneficent spirit passed among them with her golden cup,
and each one breathed into it. She stirred it with her wand, and
the united perfumes were so powerful and so delicious that the
flowers themselves were lulled. While they nodded their heads drowsily,
and had enchanting dreams, the luminous spirit glided away to Marian,
who sat by her mother's tomb, gazing at the solemn stars, thinking
sadly and lovingly of the dear departed friend. The spirit gently
waved her golden cup, and filled the air with the balmy perfume
of a thousand flowers. The mourner ceased to sigh, her beautiful
head drooped languidly, and her weary eyelids closed in slumber.
The kind spirit hastened back to the flowers, and waked them
from their dreams, to tell the joyful tidings from their dreams,
to tell the joyful tidings that Marian slept tranquilly, and had
pleasant visions of her dear mother in realms of bliss. At these
welcome tidings, the flowers danced merrily on the breeze, and
rang all their bells for joy, and sang in chorus:
"' Calm and sweet be her rest;
May she ever be blessed.
The beautiful child,
So good and so mild!
May the friends of the flowers
Bring her many bright hours."'
But the modest little Lily of the Valley added timidly:
"' Angels know what is best for such as Marion."'
With a celestial smile the spirit answered: "'If you will again
aid me, friendly ones, the princess never need to suffer any more.
She may go at once to a heavenly home, and be eternally happy with
her good mother."'
"'But should we not lose her?"' exclaimed the flowers. "'How
could we part with the dear, beautiful one? To be separated from
her, would be like losing the sunshine and the dew. She has always
been so loving and so careful of us. Oh, no we cannot part with
"'You need not be separated,"' replied the spirit; "'on
the contrary, your existence may be more intimately blended with
hers than it has ever been. She may be your sister, and dance among
you with the zephyrs, and scatter delicate perfume from a vase
"'Beautiful spirit,"' said the Amaranth, "'you know what
is best for Marian. She must be dear to angels, or they would not
have sent you to console her."'
All the flowers sang in chorus:
"' Set the gentle maiden free
From sorrow and from care,
And we will gladly serve thee,
And offer perfumes rare.
The tie between us do not sever,
And we will dearly love thee ever."'
She smiled graciously, and answered:
Then follow me, both large and small;
To Marian follow, one and all."'
The flowers joyfully
obeyed her commands. As the blooming procession passed along, nightingales
sang their richest melodies, while fire-flies perched on the flower-crowns,
and lighted up all the foliage through which they passed. Roused
by the enchanting music and starry gleams, up started gnomes in
green robes sparkling with jewels, and bright little elves with
golden hair. They joined the procession, and away they all went
in search of Rose Marion.
When they saw her in the distance, sitting by her mother's tomb,
they all began to sing:
"' Fairies love the innocent,
The gentle, and the mild;
All they have is freely lent
To a tender-hearted child.
"'And those who cherish flowers
With ever-cheerful love,
Are dear to sylvan powers,
And spirits bright above.
"'They quiet all their fears,
They solace all their woes,
And dry up all their tears,
Like dew-drops on the rose.
"'Blest are they whom fairies love,
The innocent and the mild;
And all good powers above
Protect a gentle child."'
The sleeping Marian was conscious of a sweet, soothing influence,
as if the rustling of the night air among the foliage had gradually
grown musical. She was seated on a mossy bank, leaning against
the trunk of an old weeping-willow. Zephyrs played gently with
her unbound hair, her thin arms drooped languidly, and her pale
face looked very beautiful as the fairy light fell upon it.
The gnomes, the elves, and the flower-fairies ranged themselves
to the right and the left; and the elves took the very small flowers
up in their arms, that they might have a chance to see well. In
the centre of them all stood the resplendent vision in her robe
of stars. For a short time, they remained contemplating with silent
reverence the serene and holy beauty of that sleeping maiden. Then
the spirit raised her wand, and they all began to sing together
with exquisite harmony, in tones tender, etherial, and plaintive,
as the voice of Æolian harps:
"' Sleep, sufferer, sleep,
And weep no more;
Thy pains have ceased,
Thy grief is o'er.
Sleep, Marian, sleep,
And sleeping rise
To thy own bright home
Above the skies.
Sleep, dear one, sleep,
And wake above,
Welcomed by angels,
To thy mother's love."'
The starry spirit approached very near the slumberer, and said
in a soft voice, "'Artless maiden, thou hast been ever good, and
kind, and true. Such are sometimes permitted to suffer much on
earth; but their guardian-angels never forsake them. All their
tears are are gathered in a golden cup, and they produce beautiful
flowers in gardens of paradise. Thither thy soul will rise, to
be forever happy with the angels. Thy body, being mortal, must
remain on earth; but every year, after a short winter-sleep, it
shall be renovated in the form of a lovely flower, charming all
with its pearl-like purity and delicate fragrance. Thy night of
sorrow has passed away; the day of heavenly joy is dawning."'
The tender serenade and the soothing words floated musically
through Marian's dream, and a tranquil smile was on her countenance.
All the sylvan spirits stood very still, and scarcely ventured
to draw their breath. The bright vision in the starry robe whispered
a few mysterious words, and gently touched the slumberer with her
wand. A clear lambent flame flickered about her head for a few
moments, and then, rising slowly, sailed away far out of sight,
up among the stars. It was Marian's soul, departed from the body
and gone to realms of bliss.
The elves and the flower-fairies gazed after with longing, as
it rose up to the blue firmame and they sighed deeply when it disappeared.
They turned to look at the lifeless body, and perceived that it
had undergone a marvellous change. It had become transparent as
crystal, and all the net-work of veins could be plainly seen.
"'It was a beautiful shrine for the immortal spirit,"' said
the resplendent vision. "'The innocent soul has gone to heaven,
and now sees and hears what no mortal eye or ear could perceive
or comprehend. Her body was a temple worthy of the divinity that
dwelt within it; and its death shall only be transformation into
a new form of beauty."'
She touched the inanimate form, and said, "'Princess among maidens,
rise a princess among flowers!"'
Quick as the words were spoken, a pure white blossom rose on
its majestic stalk, and the air was redolent with fragrance, like
the mingled breathings of all the flowers in the golden cup. The
starry spirit saw that all the plants were thrilled to their roots
with joyful surprise. She smiled on them, and said, "'Receive your
new sister. Love her as Marian loved you, and may you always be
The Rose blushed deeply, and bowing her beautiful head, replied,
"'Beneficent genius! the new flower you have so graciously given
us deserves to be our queen. Marian was our guardian and our princess;
and the royal blossom you have raised from her lovely remains,
deserves to be our princess still. Is it not so, my sisters?"'
All the flowers eagerly responded, "'Yes; our new sister shall
be the queen. When she was a maiden, they called her Rose. What
shall we call her now?"'
"'I have named her the Lily, "' replied the beneficent spirit.
"'And now, floral beauties, salute your queen!"'
Then all the flowers bowed gracefully toward the regal Lily,
and waved fragrance before her, and some laid their crowns at her
feet, saying, "'Thus we pay homage to the Lily, because she is
the emblem of innocence."'
The Queen of the Flowers bent her majestic head, and answered,
"'Dear children of the gardens and the woods, beloved by all innocent
and simple souls, you have chosen me for your queen, but I prefer
to be your loving sister. Come nearer, and receive me among you."'
Then the flowers touched leaves, and danced in wreaths around
her, while she breathed sweetly on them, and threw kisses as they
passed. The elves and fairies sang together:
"' A loving heart is like the dew,
Which gently falleth ever;
A daily blessing always new,
A fount that faileth never.
"'Fair as a pearl is innocence,
The crown of youthful hours;
And the name of the pure gone hence
Is like the breath of flowers."'
After a while, the music slowly fainted away, as starry vision,
golden-haired fairies, and glimmerfire-flies receded in the distance.
Their path was marked by shimmering light moving along the foliage,
making the woods look like a golden forest. Nightingales listened
in silence to the fairy-song; but when they could hear it no longer,
they again poured forth their own soft, plaintive melodies. The
moon rose in beauty, and lovingly kissed her new-born flower.
Thus the Lily became queen of the garden. Before that time, she
was a pure, good princess, called ROSE MARIAN.
Copyright© 2002 Kerrie O'Leary