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The World's Fairest Rose

Hans Christian Andersen

The A-B-C Book The Angel Anne Lisbeth At the Uttermost Parts of the Sea Aunty Aunty Toothache "Beautiful" The Beetle The Bell The Bell Deep The Bird of Folklore The Bishop of Börglum and his Men The Bond of Friendship The Bottle Neck The Brave Tin Soldier The Buckwheat Butterfly The Candles Chicken Grethe's Family The Child in the Grave Children's Prattle Clumsy Hans The Comet The Court Cards The Cripple Croak! The Daisy Dance, Dance, Doll of Mine! Danish Popular Legends The Darning Needle The Days of the Week The Drop of Water The Dryad The Elder-Tree Mother The Elf Mound The Emperor's New Clothes Everything in its Proper Place Danish Popular Legends The Farmyard Cock and the Weathercock The Fir Tree Five Peas from a Pod The Flax The Flea and the Professor The Flying Trunk Folks Say - The Galoshes of Fortune The Gardener and the Noble Family The Garden of Paradise The Gate Key The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf The Goblin and the Grocer The Goblin and the Woman God Can Never Die Godfather's Picture Book Golden Treasure A Good Humor Grandmother Great-Grandfather The Great Sea Serpent The Happy Family Heartache Holger Danske Ib and Little Christine The Ice Maiden In the Children's Room In the Duck Yard It's Quite True! Jack the Dullard The Jewish Girl The Jumpers Kept Secret but not Forgotten The Last Pearl A Leaf from Heaven Little Claus and Big Claus The Little Green Ones Little Ida's Flowers The Little Match Seller The Little Mermaid Little Tuck Luck May Lie in a Pin Lucky Peer The Marsh King's Daughter The Metal Pig The Money Pig The Most Incredible Thing Moving Day The Naughty Boy The Neighboring Families The New Century's Goddess The Nightcap of the "Pebersvend" The Nightingale The Old Church Bell The Old House The Old Oak Tree's Last Dream The Old Street Lamp The Old Tombstone Ole Lukoie Ole, the Tower Keeper On Judgment Day Peiter, Peter, and Peer Pen and Inkstand The Penman The Phoenix Bird Picturebook Without Pictures A Picture from the Ramparts The Pigs The Poor Woman and the Little Canary Bird The Porter's Son The Princess and the Pea The Psyche The Puppet-show Man The Racers The Rags The Red Shoes The Rose Elf A Rose from Homer's Grave The Shadow The Shepherdess and the Chimney-Sweep She Was Good for Nothing The Shirt Collar The Silent Book The Silver Shilling The Snail and the Rosebush The Snowdrop The Snow Man The Snow Queen Something Soup on a Sausage Peg The Stone of the Wise Man The Storks The Storm Shifts the Signboards A Story A Story from the Sand Dunes The Story of a Mother The Story of the Year A String of Pearls Sunshine Stories The Swan's Nest The Sweethearts; or, The Top and the Ball The Swineherd The Talisman The Teapot There is a Difference This Fable is Intended for You The Thorny Road of Honor Thousands of Years from Now Thumbelina The Tinder Box The Toad The Traveling Companion Twelve by the Mail Two Brothers Two Maidens The Ugly Duckling Under The Willow Tree Urbanus A View from Vartou's Window Vänö and Glänö What Happened to the Thistle What Old Johanne Told What One Can Invent What the Old Man Does is Always Right What the Whole Family Said Which Was the Happiest? The Wicked Prince The Wild Swans The Will-o'-the-Wisps Are in Town The Windmill The Wind Tells about Valdemar Daae and His Daughters The World's Fairest Rose

There was once a mighty Queen, in whose gardens were found the most glorious flowers at all seasons of the year and from all countries of the world. But best of all she loved roses, and therefore she had all possible varieties of this flower, from the wild dog rose, with its apple-scented green leaves, to the most splendid roses of Provence. They grew along the walls of the castle, wound around pillars and window frames, and spread into the passages and along the ceilings of all the halls; and the roses were varied in fragrance, form, and color.

But there were sorrow and mourning in those halls now, for the Queen lay upon a sickbed, and the doctors declared she must die.

"Yet there is still one thing that can save her," said the wisest of the doctors. "Bring her the world's fairest rose, the one that is the expression of the brightest and purest love. If that can be brought before her eyes before they close, she will not die!"

Now, young and old came from everywhere with roses, the fairest from each garden. But none was the right sort. The flower had to come out of the Garden of Love, but which was the rose there that expressed the brightest and purest love?

And the poets sang of the world's fairest rose; each one named his own. And word was sent throughout the land to every age, every station in life, every heart that beat with love.

"No one has yet named the flower," said the wise old man. "No one has pointed out the spot where it bloomed in its glory. It is not the rose from the coffin of Romeo and Juliet, or from the grave of Valborg, though these shall ever be fragrant in song and tales. It is not the rose that bloomed forth from Winkelried's bloodstained lance, or from the sacred blood that flows from the breast of the hero who dies for his country, though no death is sweeter than that, and no rose redder than that blood. Nor is it that magic flower in the pursuit of which men in their quiet chambers devote many long and sleepless nights and much of their fresh life-the magic flower of science."

"I know where it blooms," said a happy mother, who came with her tender child to the Queen's bedside. "I know where the world's fairest rose is found! The rose that is the expression of the brightest and purest love blooms on the cheeks of my sweet child when it opens its eyes after a refreshing sleep and smiles at me with all its love!"

"Fair indeed is that rose, but there is still a fairer," said the wise man.

"Yes, one much more beautiful," said another of the women. "I have seen it; a brighter, more sacred rose does not bloom, but it was pale as the petals of the tea rose. I saw it on the cheeks of the Queen herself! She had laid aside her royal crown and through the long, dreary night she carried her sick child in her arms. She wept, kissed him, and said a prayer to God for him as only a mother prays in the hour of her anguish!"

"Holy and wonderful in its might is the white rose of a mother's grief, but it is still not the right one."

"No, the world's fairest rose I saw at the altar of the Lord," said the pious old bishop. "I saw it shine like the face of an angel. The young maidens went to the Lord's altar to renew the promises of their baptism, and roses were blushing and shining on their fresh cheeks. A young girl stood there; with all the purity and love of her young spirit she looked up to God. That was the expression of the highest and purest love!"

"May her love be blessed!" said the wise old man. "But not one of you has yet named to me the world's fairest rose."

There came into the room a child, the Queen's little son. Tears were in his eyes and on this cheeks, and he carried a great open book; its binding was of velvet, held with huge silver clasps.

"Mother!" said the little one. "Oh, hear what I have read!"

And the child sat beside the bed and read from the book of Him who had suffered death on the cross to save mankind, even those not yet born.

"Greater love there is not!"

And a roseate color spread over the Queen's cheeks, and her eyes again became big and clear, for she saw the loveliest rose rise from the leaves of the book, the image of the rose that sprang from the blood of Christ shed on the cross.

"I see it!" she said. "He who sees this, the world's fairest rose, shall never die!"

The End

Fables & Tales Nonfiction Poetry Short Stories

Aesop Andersen, H.C. Dickinson, Emily Frost, Robert Grimm Henry, O Kipling, Rudyard Longfellow, Henry Poe, Edgar Allan Shakespeare, William Thoreau, Henry Twain, Mark Wilde, Oscar