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The Scarlet Poppy
by [?]

The Poppy, who was as ignorant as was any one else how she had found her way into the garden, now began to reason with herself.

“Some one must have planted me here,” she said; “and though I am not as sweet as that proud Carnation, nor so elegant as that dignified Dahlia, I may have as much right to remain here as they!” and she raised her head erect, and spread out her broad, scarlet petals, with their deep, ragged fringe, hoping to attract the notice of the little girl.

And so indeed she did; for as the child paused before pale sweet-scented Verbena, the flaunting Poppy caught her eye, and she extended her hand toward the strange blossom.

“Carie, Carie, don’t touch that vile thing!” said her mother, “it is poisonous. The smell of it will make you sick. I do not see how it came here. John must bring his spade and take it up. We will have nothing in the garden but what is beautiful or sweet, and this is neither!”

The poor Poppy! She had begun to love the little girl, the child had smiled on her so sweetly, and the other flowers had seemed so envious when that little white hand was stretched out towards her; and when she drew back, at her Mother’s call, reluctantly, but with look of surprise and aversion, the Poppy did not care how soon she was banished from a place where she had been treated so unjustly.

However, she was suffered to remain; whether the lady neglected giving instructions to the gardener respecting her, or whether he forgot her commands, I am not sure; but there she remained, day after day, striving every morning to wake up early and pull off her little green cap before the other flowers had opened their eyes, but never succeeding in so doing.

It was no enviable position that she occupied, laughed at, despised, and scorned by all the other flowers in the garden, and in hourly expectation of being torn up by the roots and thrown into the street–the poor Poppy!

One day when the lady and her Carie were walking in the garden, the little girl, who had looked rather pale, put her hands suddenly to her head, and cried aloud. Her mother was very much frightened. She caught up the little girl in her arms, and tried to ascertain what was the matter; but the child only pressed her hands more tightly to her head, and cried more piteously. The lady carried her into the house, and the family were soon all in an uproar. The servants were all running hither and thither; no one seemed to know what was the matter; for the lady had fainted from terror at her child’s pale face and agonized cries, and the little girl could tell nothing.

“It is that odious Poppy who is the cause of all this!” said the flowers one to another (little Carie was indeed playing in her immediate vicinity when she was seized with that dreadful distress), “she has poisoned her.” And their suspicions were confirmed when one of the servants came running into the garden, and seizing hold of the Poppy, stripped off every one of her bright scarlet petals, and gathering them up, returned quickly to the house.

“You poor thing!” said the Elder, as the Poppy, so rudely handled, bent down her dishonoured head to the ground; but not one of the other flowers addressed to her a single word.

Through the long day she lay there–the Poppy–on the earth, trying to forget what had happened; for she did not know but their words were true, and she was the cause of the little girl’s suffering–she would so gladly have soothed her pain. The other flowers thought she was dead, and the Poppy herself believed that she should never see the light of another morning; but just before the day was gone, the lady walked again into the garden accompanied by her husband; and–what do you suppose the other flowers thought?–without noticing one of them, the lady walked directly to the Poppy, lifted her head from the ground, and leaned it against the frame which supported the proud Carnation, and then, with her white hands, replaced the loosened earth about her half uptorn roots.

“Oh, I hope it will not die!” she said to her husband, “I should rather lose anything else in the garden, for I don’t know but it saved dear little Carie’s life! She had a dreadful headache, and nothing afforded her the least relief, till we bruised the leaves of the Poppy, and bound them on her temples, and then she became quiet, and fell into a gentle sleep. Oh, I hope it will live!”

Don’t you think the Poppy did live, and was proud and happy enough? Do you think she was ever afterwards ashamed of her little green cap, or her ragged scarlet leaves? And do you think the other flowers ever laughed at her again, or were ashamed of her acquaintance?

When the summer had passed away, and the bright blossoms one by one withered and died before the autumn’s cool breath, the Poppy cheerfully scattered her little seeds on the earth, and laid herself down to die; for she knew that when another spring should come, and her children should shoot up from the ground, they would be nurtured as tenderly, and prized as highly as those of the sweeter and far more beautiful flowers.