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How Primrose Went to the Party
by [?]

The Prince who lived in the great white castle at the top of the green hill was to give a party, and he had invited the children from the village to come.

For days there had been talk of little else at the cottage doorsteps, and in the market place. Oh, the children all knew how wonderful a party at the Prince’s castle would be. The doors would be thrown wide open; in all the rooms there would be rose trees of every kind and color; birds would sing in golden cages; and each child would be given a feast and precious gifts.

There was something else, though, that the children knew. One must be dressed in a fitting way to appear at the castle of the Prince. Each child knew that he or she must appear in the best that they had to wear.

Well, that was easily arranged. They nearly all had ribbons, and there were bits of fine lace laid away in the home chests that could trim their frocks. Pieces of velvet were to be had and the village tailor was busy, night and day, making ruffled shirts and fine suits for the boys, while the mothers stitched and embroidered for the girls.

But when their party clothes were made, another thought came to the children. They should, themselves, carry gifts to the Prince.

This, also, was arranged. A bit of old carving from this cottage, an old silver cup from that shelf, a basket of rare fruits from this fertile orchard. These were good gifts.

So, at last, the children started up the hill to the castle. All were ready to meet the Prince, they felt sure, except Primrose; she walked apart from the others for she had no party dress, and no gift to carry.

She was named Primrose because she made a poor, bare little hut on the edge of the forest bright, just as a wild flower makes a waste spot beautiful. In all her life Primrose had never been to a party, and now she was invited with the others. But her feet were bare, and her little brown dress was torn, and she had no hat to cover her wind-blown, yellow hair.

As they went up the hill, the children passed a poor fagot gatherer, bending under her great bundle.

“Off a pleasuring, with little thought for others,” the old woman mumbled to herself, but Primrose stole up to her side and slipped one soft little hand in the woman’s hard, care-worn one.

“I will carry half your fagots for you to the turn of the road,” she said. And she did, with the old woman’s blessing on her sunny head at the turn.

Farther on, the children passed a young thrush that had fallen out of its nest and was crying beside the road. The mother bird cried, too. It was as if she said,

“You have no thought of my trouble.”

But Primrose lifted the bird in her two hands and scrambled through the bushes until she had found its nest and put it safely in. The branches tore her dress that had been ragged before, but the mother thrush sang like a flute to have her little one back.

Just outside the castle gates, there was a blind boy seated, asking alms. When the other children passed him, laughing and chattering of all that they saw, tears fell down the cheeks of the little blind boy, for he had not been able to see for a long, long time. The others did not notice him, but Primrose stopped beside him and put her hands softly on his eyes. Then she picked a wild rose that grew beside the road and put it close to his face. He could feel its soft petals, and smell its perfume, and it made him smile.

Then Primrose hurried through the castle gates and up to the doors. They were about to be closed. The children had crowded in.

“There is no one else to come,” the children shouted.

Then they added, “There is no other child except Primrose and she has no dress for a party and no gift for you, great Prince.”

But the Prince, his kind eyes looking beyond them, and his arms outstretched, asked,

“What child, then, do I see coming in so wonderful a dress and carrying a precious gift in her hand?”

The children turned to look. They saw a little girl who wore a crown; it was the fagot bearer’s blessing that had set it upon her head. Her dress was of wonderful gold lace; each rag had been turned to gold when she helped the little lost bird. In her hand she carried a clear, white jewel; her gift for the Prince; it was a tear she had taken from the little blind boy’s face.

“Why, that is Primrose,” the children told the Prince.