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The Scarlet Poppy
by [?]

ONE warm morning in June, just as the sun returned from his long but rapid journey to the distant east, and sailed majestically up through the clear blue sky, the many bright flowers of one of the prettiest little parterres in the world, who had opened their eyes–those bright flowers–to smile at the sunbeams which came to kiss away the tears night had shed over them, were very much surprised, and not a little offended to find in their very midst an individual who, though most of them knew her, one might have supposed, from their appearance, was a perfect stranger to them all.

The parterre, I have said, was small, for it was in the very heart of a great city, where land would bring almost any price; but the gentleman and lady who lived in the noble mansion which fronted it, would not, for the highest price which might have been offered them, have had those sweet flowers torn up, and a brick pile reared in the place–their only child, the dear little Carie, loved the garden so dearly, and spent so much of her time there.

Oh, it was a sweet little place, though it was in the midst of a great city where the air was full of dust and coal smoke; for the fountain which played in the garden kept the atmosphere pure and cool, and every day the gardener showered all the plants so that their leaves were green and fresh as though they were blooming far away in their native woods and dells. There were sweet roses of every hue, from the pure Alba to the dark Damascus; and pinks, some of the most spicy odour, some almost scentless, but all so beautiful and so nicely trimmed. The changeless amaranth was there, the pale, sweet-scented heliotrope, always looking towards the sun; the pure lily; and the blue violet, which, though it had been taught to bloom far away from the mossy bed where it had first opened its meek eye to the light, had not yet forgotten its gentleness and modesty; and not far from them were the fickle hydrangea, the cardinal flower with its rich, showy petals, and the proud, vain, and ostentatious, but beautiful crimson and white peonias. The dahlias had yet put forth but very few blossoms, but they were elegant, and the swelling buds promised that ere long there would be a rich display of brilliant colours. Honeysuckles, the bright-hued and fragrant, the white jasmine, and many other climbing plants, were latticing the little arbour beside the clear fountain, half hiding their jewel-like pensile blossoms and bright red berries among the smooth green leaves which clustered so closely together as to shut out completely the hot sun from the little gay-plumaged and sweet-voiced songsters whose gilt cage hung within the bower. But I cannot speak of the flowers, there were so many of them, and they were all so beautiful and so sweet-scented.

Well, this June morning, as I was saying, when the flowers, as they were waked from their sleep by the sunbeams which came to kiss away the tears night had shed over them, opened their eyes and looked about them, they were surprised and offended to see a stranger in their company.

There had been, through all the season, some little rivalries and jealousies among the flowers; but from the glances which they turned on each other, this morning, it was evident that their feelings towards the stranger were exactly alike. However, as might be expected from their different dispositions, they expressed their dislike and contempt for her in different ways; but at first all hesitated to address her, for no one seemed to find language strong enough to express the scorn they felt for her; until the balsam, who never could keep silent long, inquired of the stranger, in a very impatient tone, what was her name, and how she came there.