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Hans Christian Andersen
The Daisy
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Now listen! In the country, close by the high road, stood a
farmhouse; perhaps you have passed by and seen it yourself.
There was a little flower garden with painted wooden palings
in front of it; close by was a ditch, on its fresh green bank grew
a little daisy; the sun shone as warmly and brightly upon it as
on the magnificent garden flowers, and therefore it thrived well.
One morning it had quite opened, and its little snow-white petals
stood round the yellow centre, like the rays of the sun. It did not
mind that nobody saw it in the grass, and that it was a poor
despised flower; on the contrary, it was quite happy, and turned
towards the sun, looking upward and listening to the song of
the lark high up in the air.

The little daisy was as happy as if the day had been a great
holiday, but it was only Monday. All the children were at school,
and while they were sitting on the forms and learning their
lessons, it sat on its thin green stalk and learnt from the sun
and from its surroundings how kind God is, and it rejoiced that
the song of the little lark expressed so sweetly and distinctly its
own feelings. With a sort of reverence the daisy looked up to
the bird that could fly and sing, but it did not feel envious.
?I can see and hear,? it thought; ?the sun shines upon me,
and the forest kisses me. How rich I am!?

In the garden close by grew many large and magnificent
flowers, and, strange to say, the less fragrance they had the
haughtier and prouder they were. The peonies puffed themselves
up in order to be larger than the roses, but size is not everything!
The tulips had the finest colours, and they knew it well, too, for
they were standing bolt upright like candles, that one might see
them the better. In their pride they did not see the little daisy,
which looked over to them and thought, ?How rich and beautiful
they are! I am sure the pretty bird will fly down and call upon
them. Thank God, that I stand so near and can at least see all
the splendour.?

And while the daisy was still thinking, the lark came flying
down, crying ?Tweet,? but not to the peonies and tulips?no,
into the grass to the poor daisy. Its joy was so great that it
did not know what to think. The little bird hopped round it and
sang, ?How beautifully soft the grass is, and what a lovely little
flower with its golden heart and silver dress is growing here.?
The yellow center in the daisy did indeed look like gold, while
the little petals shone as brightly as silver.

How happy the daisy was! No one has the least idea. The bird
kissed it with its beak, sang to it, and then rose again up to the
blue sky. It was certainly more than a quarter of an hour before
the daisy recovered its senses. Half ashamed, yet glad at heart,
it looked over to the other flowers in the garden; surely they had
witnessed its pleasure and the honor that had been done to it;
they understood its joy. But the tulips stood more stiffly than ever,
their faces were pointed and red, because they were vexed.
The peonies were sulky; it was well that they could not speak,
otherwise they would have given the daisy a good lecture.
The little flower could very well see that they were ill at ease,
and pitied them sincerely.

Shortly after this a girl came into the garden, with a large sharp
knife. She went to the tulips and began cutting them off, one after
another. ?Ugh!? sighed the daisy, ?that is terrible; now they are
done for.?

The girl carried the tulips away. The daisy was glad that it
was outside, and only a small flower?it felt very grateful. At
sunset it folded its petals, and fell asleep, and dreamt all night
of the sun and the little bird.

On the following morning, when the flower once more stretched
forth its tender petals, like little arms, towards the air and light,
the daisy recognised the bird?s voice, but what it sang sounded so
sad. Indeed the poor bird had good reason to be sad, for it had
been caught and put into a cage close by the open window. It
sang of the happy days when it could merrily fly about, of fresh
green corn in the fields, and of the time when it could soar almost
up to the clouds. The poor lark was most unhappy as a prisoner
in a cage.

The little daisy would have liked so much to help it, but what
could be done? Indeed, that was very difficult for such a small
flower to find out. It entirely forgot how beautiful everything around
it was, how warmly the sun was shining, and how splendidly white
its own petals were. It could only think of the poor captive bird, for
which it could do nothing. Then two little boys came out of the
garden; one of them had a large sharp knife, like that with which
the girl had cut the tulips. They came straight towards the little
daisy, which could not understand what they wanted.

?Here is a fine piece of turf for the lark,? said one of the
boys, and began to cut out a square round the daisy, so that
it remained in the centre of the grass.

?Pluck the flower off,? said the other boy, and the daisy
trembled for fear, for to be pulled off meant death to it; and it
wished so much to live, as it was to go with the square of
turf into the poor captive lark?s cage.

?No let it stay,? said the other boy, ?it looks so pretty.?

And so it stayed, and was brought into the lark?s cage. The
poor bird was lamenting its lost liberty, and beating its wings
against the wires; and the little daisy could not speak or utter
a consoling word, much as it would have liked to do so. So the
forenoon passed.

?I have no water,? said the captive lark, ?they have all
gone out, and forgotten to give me anything to drink. My
throat is dry and burning. I feel as if I had fire and ice within
me, and the air is so oppressive. Alas! I must die, and part
with the warm sunshine, the fresh green meadows, and all
the beauty that God has created.? And it thrust its beak into
the piece of grass, to refresh itself a little. Then it noticed the
little daisy, and nodded to it, and kissed it with its beak and
said: ?You must also fade in here, poor little flower. You and
the piece of grass are all they have given me in exchange for
the whole world, which I enjoyed outside. Each little blade of
grass shall be a green tree for me, each of your white petals a
fragrant flower. Alas! you only remind me of what I have lost.?

?I wish I could console the poor lark,? thought the daisy.
It could not move one of its leaves, but the fragrance of its
delicate petals streamed forth, and was much stronger than
such flowers usually have: the bird noticed it, although it was
dying with thirst, and in its pain tore up the green blades of
grass, but did not touch the flower.

The evening came, and nobody appeared to bring the poor
bird a drop of water; it opened its beautiful wings, and fluttered
about in its anguish; a faint and mournful ?Tweet, tweet,? was
all it could utter, then it bent its little head towards the flower,
and its heart broke for want and longing. The flower could not,
as on the previous evening, fold up its petals and sleep; it
dropped sorrowfully. The boys only came the next morning;
when they saw the dead bird, they began to cry bitterly, dug a
nice grave for it, and adorned it with flowers. The bird?s body
was placed in a pretty red box; they wished to bury it with
royal honours. While it was alive and sang they forgot it, and
let it suffer want in the cage; now, they cried over it and
covered it with flowers. The piece of turf, with the little daisy in
it, was thrown out on the dusty highway. Nobody thought of
the flower which had felt so much for the bird and had so
greatly desired to comfort it.

Click above to listen to this quote!
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Read by: Mark Eckardt
 

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