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A Parable Of Girlhood
by [?]

Behold a girl went forth to walk on the highway leading to life. And as she walked there grew up beneath her feet flowers of every kind and color.

“Ah!” she said, “I will gather a sheaf of flowers to carry with me, for then, surely, I shall be welcome when I come to the gate at the end of this way. I will gather what seemeth to me to be the most beautiful of all the flowers that grow about me. They shall be my gift to the one who guards the way.”

And as she plucked, the one that seemed to be most wonderful was the one most bright, gleaming yellow as the sun. “It is yellow like gold,” she said. “If I come with the sign of gold, I shall be welcome. I will pluck it everywhere I can and carry only yellow flowers.” And soon her arms were full, but somehow her fingers seemed hot and unpleasant and her arms were heavy, so she dropped some by the way and carried only those that seemed most desirable.

But some were blue–blue as the sky. “Blue for blue blood,” she said. “Those of royal birth are always to be desired. I shall make my sheaf largely of blue.” So she added one here and another there till she was satisfied that the sheaf would be of all the sheaves the most beautiful. But the odor was sickening, and again one after another was dropped till only a few remained.

And some flowers there were in the path that were red. “One needs fewer of these,” she said, “but surely some must be red. I shall put red flowers for courage where they shall be seen, for courage is of all the virtues to be desired.” But there were thorns on the red flowers and, try as she would, she could not hide the thorns so that they might not pierce her flesh. So there could be few of the red in the sheaf.

Some plants there were that bore no blossoms but the leaves were beautiful, so she added leaves of this and of that, even though she knew that in some there was deadly poison. “I can hide it among the rest. It is so beautiful that it must be a part of my sheaf,” thought the girl.

But along the way, there had been many flowers that had been passed unnoticed. White they were. Often they were small but always they were pure and sweet. Only once had she plucked one and then she had added it because of its fragrance. “Oh, yes,” she said, “I know white is for purity but white flowers are old-fashioned. Of course I must have a few but many would spoil my sheaf. It must be bright with color.”

So the days flew by and her sheaf was nearly complete. She had thought it the most beautiful thing she could possibly make. But one day as she walked, suddenly she saw, standing erect by the road, a beautiful, stately lily. Its beauty startled her. She stooped to smell of its fragrance. Then she glanced from it to the flowers in her sheaf.

If she plucked the lily and tried to place it in the sheaf, its beauty would be spoiled. What should she do? With all her heart she longed to take the lily with her to the end of the way. Should she throw the rest away? Would she be welcome with only the one flower? Long she hesitated.

Then she laid the yellow, and the blue, and the red, and the rest aside and carefully gathered it. So in her hand she carried the lily with the petals of pure white and the heart of gold.

And lo, she had come to the stile which endeth the way of girlhood. There, standing guard over the way ahead, was a woman in white, holding by the hand a tiny, little child. Looking straight into the eyes of the girl, she said sweetly,

“Welcome, my child, from the beautiful way of girlhood. What hast thou brought as thy gift to coming generations?”

Then the girl feared to answer. But she held the lily toward the little child as she said, “I have brought purity and a heart of gold.”

“Thou hast done well,” said the mother spirit. “Take thou the child as thy reward. With this as thy gift, thou art worthy to enter the way of motherhood. Lo, here are some of the flowers that were left by the way. Well may they go with thee, for they are very beautiful. But the gift that thou didst choose was far more valuable and beautiful than they. It was the gift that the Great desire.”

Then the girl and the child went together into the new way. But the child was carrying the gift and she smiled as she went.