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A Story for children age 4 to 6.

Fair maids of February.

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"The frail snowdrop
Born of the breath of Winter."
--_Barry Cornwall._

A GREAT many years ago, when Adam and Eve were turned out of Eden for their disobedience, Eve looked out over the bare and desolate earth and wept for the beauty she had lost. Before this it had always been summer-time. The sun had always shone, and Eve had breathed the fragrance of the flowers, day after day, and gathered them at her own sweet will. But now it was winter, and all was changed. The trees stood bare and leafless; no birds sang in their branches; no sweet blossoms raised their heads to catch the sun's warm rays. The skies were gray and cheerless, and ever the soft white snow kept falling silently, "like the footsteps of angels descending upon earth." But the good God in Heaven saw Eve sit weeping, and looked down on her with pitying eyes, and turning to one of the bright angels who stood by, ready to do His bidding, He said:

"See how yonder poor woman sits weeping. Go swiftly and do what thou canst to comfort her," and the angel spread her wings and sped earthward with the falling snow. "Tell me why thou weepest," she said, as she placed her hand gently upon the head of the weeping woman. And Eve replied, "I weep because the earth is bare and desolate, and there is nought that is beautiful to be seen. I pray thee tell me, if thou canst, where are the flowers that I love so well. Tell me, shall I ever see them more?" The angel smiled, and stretching out her hand to catch the falling flakes of snow, said: "Is not this beautiful? So white, so pure, so gentle. It is the covering which your Heavenly Father in His great love spreads over the cold earth."

And even as she spoke the snowflake in her hand took form and budded and blossomed into a pure white flower, which hung its dainty head and trembled as if afraid to look upon the world into which it had been born. Then Eve dried her tears and broke forth into smiles as the angel handed her the frail blossom, saying: "It is a snowdrop. Take it, Eve, for it is a promise of better things to come. Never again doubt your Father's love. You have only to wait, and when the winter's snows have gone and the summer sun shines once more, the flowers will bloom again as beautiful as ever." Then Eve watched the angel return to Heaven, until the gleam of her silver wings was no longer to be seen. She still carried in her hand his tiny gift and as she turned away she saw that where the angel's feet had rested the snow had melted away, and on the green grass beneath was growing a lovely cluster of snowdrops.

And every year since then, when the winter snows disappear, these sweet forerunners of the spring are found in the woods and dells, bringing a message of hope and a promise of brighter days to come. Many years afterwards the monks were fond of planting the snowdrop in their beautiful gardens. Not only did it teach them a lesson of faith and trust, but its sweet white blossoms were regarded as an emblem of purity. And poets have always loved to sing the praises of this, the earliest flower of spring.


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