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A short story by Hartwell James

The Angel's Gift

Title:     The Angel's Gift
Author: Hartwell James [More Titles by James]

"Rose! thou art the sweetest flower
That ever drank the amber shower."

MORE than a thousand years ago, in the city of Bethlehem, a gentle maiden was accused by her enemies of wicked deeds, for which she was condemned to die. But the maiden was innocent; and as she was led out to be burned, she prayed to God to prove her innocence.

Then she was tied to the stake, and the faggots around her were set on fire, but to the astonishment of the bystanders they would not burn, and as the flames died out the stake to which the innocent maid was fastened became a tree, bearing red and white roses.

They were the first roses ever seen on earth, said the people, and never before had such lovely flowers been seen.

It is said that not long after the angel who takes care of the flowers in God's beautiful garden, sprinkling them with dew in the early morn, fell asleep one warm summer day beneath the shade of a rose tree.

Awaking refreshed, she turned to the tree, saying, "My beautiful child, how can I reward thee for the cool shelter of thy sweet-scented branches?"

And the rose replied, "They call me the most beautiful of flowers. Make me, I pray thee, even more lovely still, if it be in thy power to do so."

Then the angel covered her with a coat of soft green moss, wherein she might hide her blushing face from the gaze of the passers-by.

Now the rose is beloved by all the birds, especially by the nightingale, the sweetest singer of them all. So great is his love that though

" . . . rich the spot
With every flower this earth has got,
What is it to the nightingale
If there his darling rose is not?"

It is said that when King Solomon, the wisest of kings, was reigning, the birds of the air came to him one day and told him that they could not sleep at night because of the weeping of the nightingale.

"But why do you weep?" inquired the King of the nightingale.

And the bird replied, "Once I was dumb, but the rose taught me to sing, and now I cannot bear to see her rudely handled and her petals crushed beneath the foot of man."

And indeed the fragrant rose is worthy of our love, for it is among the most beautiful of our Heavenly Father's gifts to us.

[The end]
Hartwell James's short story: Angel's Gift