Which was the happiest?


Hvem var den lykkeligste?

"Such lovely roses!" said the Sunshine. "And each bud will soon burst in bloom and be equally beautiful. These are my children. It is I who have kissed them to life."

"They are my children," said the Dew. "It is I who have nourished them with my tears."

"I should think I am their mother," the Rose Bush said. "You and Sunshine are only their godmothers, who have made them presents in keeping with your means and your good will."

"My lovely Rose children!" they exclaimed, all three. They wished each flower to have the greatest happiness. But only one could be the happiest, and one must be the least happy. But which of them?

"I'll find out," said the Wind. "I roam far and wide. I find my way into the tiniest crevices. I know everything, inside and out."

Each rose in bloom heard his words, and each growing bud understood them.

Just then a sad devoted mother, in deep mourning, walked through the garden. She picked one of the roses; it was only half-blown but fresh and full. To her it seemed the loveliest of them all, and she took it to her quiet, silent room, where only a few days past her cheerful and lively young daughter had merrily tripped to and fro. Now she lay in the black coffin, as lifeless as a sleeping marble figure. The mother kissed her departed daughter. Then she kissed the half-blown rose, and laid it on the young girl's breast, as if by its freshness, and by the fond kiss of a mother, her beloved child's heart might again begin to beat.

The rose seemed to expand. Every petal trembled with joy. "What a lovely way has been set for me to go," it said. "Like a human child, I am given a mother's kiss and her blessing as I go to the blessed land unknown, dreaming upon the breast of Death's pale angel.

"Surely I am the happiest of all my sisters."

In the garden where the Rose Bush grew, walked an old woman whose business it was to weed the flower beds. She also looked at the beautiful bush, with especial interest in the largest full-blown rose. One more fall of dew, one more warm day, and its petals would shatter. When the old woman saw this she said that the rose had lived long enough for beauty, and that now she intended to put it to practical use. Then she picked it, wrapped it in old newspaper, and took it home, where she put it with other faded roses and those blue boys they call lavender, in a potpouri, embalmed in salt. Mind you, embalmed - an honor granted only to roses and kings.

"I will be the most highly honored," the rose declared, as the old weed puller took her. "I am the happiest one, for I am to be embalmed."

Then two young men came strolling through the garden. One was a painter; the other was a poet. Each plucked a rose most fair to see. The painter put upon canvas a likeness of the rose in bloom, a picture so perfect and so lovely that the rose itself supposed it must be looking into a mirror.

"In this way," said the painter, "it shall live on, for generations upon generations, while countless other roses fade and die."

"Ah!" said the rose, "after all, it is I who have been most highly favored. I had the best luck of all."

But the poet looked at his rose, and wrote a poem about it to express the mystery of love. Yes, his book was a complete picture of love. It was a piece of immortal verse.

"This book has made me immortal," the rose said. "I am the most fortunate one."

In the midst of these splendid roses was one whom the others hid almost completely. By accident, and perhaps by good fortune, it had a slight defect. It sat slightly askew on its stem, and the leaves on one side of it did not match those on the other. Moreover, in the very heart of the flower grew a crippled leaf, small and green.

Such things happen, even to roses.

"Poor child," said the Wind, and kissed its cheek. The rose took this kiss for one of welcome and tribute. It had a feeling that it was made differently from the other roses, and that the green leaf growing in the heart of it was a mark of distinction. A butterfly fluttered down and kissed its petals. It was a suitor, but the rose let him fly away. Then a tremendously big grasshopper came, seated himself on a rose near-by, and rubbed his shins. Strangely enough, among grasshoppers this is a token of affection.

The rose on which he perched did not understand it that way, but the one with the green crippled leaf did, for the big grasshopper looked at her with eyes that clearly meant, "I love you so much I could eat you." Surely this is as far as love can go, when one becomes part of another. But the rose was not taken in, and flatly refused to become one with this jumping fop. Then, in the starlit night a nightingale sang.

"He is singing just for me," said the rose with the blemish, or with the mark of distinction as she considered it. "Why am I so honored, above all my sisters? Why was I given this peculiarity - which makes me the luckiest one?"

Next to appear in the garden were two gentlemen, smoking their cigars. They spoke about roses and about tobacco. Roses, they say, are not supposed to stand tobacco smoke; it fades them and turns them green. This was to be tested, but the gentlemen would not take it upon themselves to try it out on the more perfect roses.

They tried it on the one with the defect.

"Ah ha! a new honor," the rose said. "I am lucky indeed - the luckiest of all." And she turned green with conceit and tobacco smoke.

One rose, little more than a bud but perhaps the loveliest one on the bush, was chosen by the gardener for the place of honor in an artistically tied bouquet. It was taken to the proud young heir of the household, and rode beside him in his coach. Among other fragrant flowers and beautiful green leaves it sat in all its glory, sharing in the splendor of the festivities. Gentlemen and ladies, superbly dressed, sat there in the light of a thousand lamps as the music played. The theater was so brilliantly illuminated that it seemed a sea of light. Through it swept a storm of applause as a young dancer came upon the stage. One bouquet after another showered down, in a rain of flowers at her feet.

There fell the bouquet in which the lovely rose was set like a precious stone. The happiness it felt was complete, beyond any description. It felt all the honor and splendor around it, and as it touched the floor it fell to dancing too. The rose jumped for joy. It bounded across the stage at such a rate that it broke from its stem. The flower never came into the hands of the dancer. It rolled rapidly into the wings, where a stage hand picked it up. He saw how lovely and fragrant the rose was, but it had no stem. He pocketed it, and when he got home he put it in a wine glass filled with water. There the flower lay throughout the night, and early next morning it was placed beside his grandmother. Feeble and old, she sat in her easy chair and gazed at the lovely stemless rose that delighted her with its fragrance.

"You did not come to the fine table of a lady of fashion," she said.

"You came to a poor old woman. But to me you are like a whole rosebush. How lovely you are." Happy as a child, she gazed at the flower, and perhaps recalled the days of her own blooming youth that now had faded away.

"The window pane was cracked," said the Wind. "I got in without any trouble. I saw the old woman's eyes as bright as youth itself, and I saw the stemless but beautiful rose in the wine glass. Oh, it was the happiest of them all! I knew it! I could tell!"

Every rose on that bush in the garden had its own story. Each rose was convinced that it was the happiest one, and it is faith that makes us happy. But the last rose knew indeed that it was the happiest.

"I have outlasted them all," it said. "I am the last rose, the only one left, my mother's most cherished child!"

"And I am the mother of them all," the Rose Bush said.

"No, I am," said the Sunshine.

"And I," said the Dew.

"Each had a share in it," the Wind at last decided, "and each shall have a part of it." And then the Wind swept its leaves out over the hedge where the dew had fallen, and where the sun was shining.

"I have my share too," said the Wind. "I have the story of all the roses, and I shall spread it throughout the wide world. Tell me then, which was the happiest of them all? Yes, that you must tell, for I have said enough."
"Hvilke dejlige roser!" sagde solskinnet. "Og hver knop vil springe ud og blive lige så smuk. Det er mine børn! Jeg har kysset dem til live!"

"Det er mine børn!" sagde duggen. "Jeg har diet dem op med min tårer."

"Jeg skulle dog tro, at jeg er deres moder!" sagde rosenhækken. "I andre er kun faddere, som gav faddergave efter evne og god vilje."

"Mine dejlige rosenbørn!" sagde de alle tre, og ønskede hver blomst den største lykke; men kun én kunne blive den lykkeligste og én måtte blive den mindst lykkelige; men hvilken af dem?

"Det skal jeg få at vide!" sagde vinden. "Jeg jager vidt om, trænger igennem den snævreste revne, ved besked ude og inde."

Hver udsprungen rose hørte hvad der blev sagt, hver svulmende knop fornemmede det.

Da kom der gennem haven en sorgfyldt, kærlighedsfuld moder, klædt i sort; hun plukkede en af roserne, der stod halvt udsprungen, frisk og fyldig, og forekom hende at være den smukkeste af dem alle. Hun bragte blomsten ind i det stille, tavse kammer, hvor for få dage siden den unge, livsglade datter tumlede sig, men nu lå udstrakt som et sovende marmorbillede i den sorte kiste. Moderen kyssede den døde, kyssede derpå den halvt udsprungne rose og lagde den ved den unge piges bryst, som den ved sin friskhed og en moders kys kunne få hjertet til at banke igen.

Det var som rosen svulmede; hvert blad bævede i tanke og glæde: "Hvilken kærligheds vej blev mig forundt! Jeg bliver som et menneskes barn, får en moders kys, får velsignelsens ord og går med ind i det ubekendte rige, drømmende ved den dødes bryst! Til visse, jeg blev den lykkeligste af alle mine søstre!"

I haven, hvor rosentræet stod, gik den gamle lugekone; hun betragtede også træets herlighed, og hæftede øjnene på den største, fuldtudfoldede rose. En dugdråbe og en varm dag til, så ville bladene falde; det så konen og fandt, at den have gjort sit skønheds gavn, nu skulle den også gøre nyttens. Og så plukkede hun den og lagde den i en avis, den skulle hjem med til andre afbladede roser og med dem syltes, blive potpourri; føres sammen med de små blå drenge, som kaldes lavendler, balsameres med salt. Balsameres, det bliver kun roser og konger.

"Jeg bliver den mest hædrede!" sagde rosen, idet lugekonen tog den. "Jeg bliver den lykkeligste! Jeg skal balsameres."

Der kom i haven to unge mænd, den ene var en maler, den anden var en digter; hver af dem plukkede en rose, dejlig at se.

Og maleren gav på lærredet et billede af den blomstrende rose, så at den troede at spejle sig.

"Således," sagde maleren, "skal den leve i mange menneskealdre, i hvilke millioner og atter millioner af roser visner og dør!"

"Jeg blev den mest begunstigede!" sagde rosen, "jeg vandt den største lykke!"

Digteren betragtede sin rose, skrev et digt om den, et helt mysterium, alt hvad han læste på blad ved blad, i rosen: "Kærlighedsbilledbog," det var en udødelig digtning.

"Jeg er udødelig med den!" sagde rosen, "jeg er den lykkeligste!"

Der var dog, i al den pragt af roser, en, som næsten sad skjult af de andre; tilfældigvis, heldigvis måske, den havde en skavank, sad skævt på stilken, og ved den ene side svarede bladene ikke til dem på den modsatte side; ja midt i blomsten selv voksede frem ligesom et lille forkrøblet grønt blad; det hænder med roser.

"Stakkels barn!" sagde vinden, og kyssede den på kinden. Rosen troede det var en hilsen, en hyldest; den havde en fornemmelse af at den var lidt anderledes skabt, end de andre roser, og at der voksede den et grønt blad ud af dens indvendige, og det betragtede den som en udmærkelse. Der fløj en sommerfugl ned på den og kyssede dens blade, det var en frier; hun lod ham flyve igen. Der kom en voldsom stor græshoppe; den satte sig rigtignok på en anden rose, gned i forelskelse sit skinneben, det er kærlighedstegnet hos græshopperne; rosen, den sad på, forstod det ikke, men det gjorde rosen med udmærkelsen, det grønne forkrøblede blad, thi på hende så græshoppen med øjne, som sagde: "Jeg kunne spise dig af bare kærlighed!" og yderligere kan aldrig kærligheden gå: Den ene går op i den anden! Men rosen ville ikke gå op i springfyren. Nattergalen sang i den stjerneklare nat.

"Det er alene for mig!" sagde rosen med skavanken eller udmærkelse. "Hvorfor skal jeg således i alt udmærkes fremfor alle mine søstre! Hvorfor fik jeg dette særegne, der gør mig til den lykkeligste?"

Da kom i haven to cigarrygende herrer; de talte om roser og om tobak: Roser skal ikke kunne tåle røgen, de skifter farve, bliver grønne; det skulle prøves. De nænnede ikke at tage en af de allerprægtigste roser, de tog den med skavanken.

"Hvilken ny udmærkelse!" sagde den. "Jeg er overvættes lykkelig! Den allerlykkeligste!"

Og den blev grøn i bevidsthed og tobaksrøg.

Én rose, halvt knop endnu, måske den skønneste på træet, fik hædersplads i gartnerens kunstbundne buket; den blev bragt til husets unge, bydende herre, og kørte med ham i karet; den sad som skønhedsblomst mellem andre blomster og dejligt grønt; den kom til fest og glans: Mænd og kvinder sad på pynteligt belyste af tusinde lamper; musikken klang; det var i teatrets lyshav; og da under den stormende jubel den fejrede unge danserinde svævede frem på scenen, fløj buket ved buket som en blomsterregn for hendes fødder. Der faldt buketten, hvori den dejlige rose sad som ædelsten; den følte hele sin navnløse lykke, den hæder og glans, som den svævede ind i; og idet den berørte gulvet, dansede den med, den sprang, fór hen over brædderne, knækket af sin stilk, idet den faldt. Den kom ikke i den hyldedes hænder, den trillede om bag kulissen, hvor en maskinkarl tog den op, så hvor smuk den var, hvor fuld af duft den var, men stilk var der ikke på den. Så puttede han den i sin lomme, og da han om aftnen kom hjem, fik den plads i et snapseglas og lå der på vandet hele natten. I den tidlige morgen blev den stillet foran bedstemoder, der gammel og kraftløs sad i lænestolen. Hun så på den afknækkede, dejlige rose, glædede sig ved den og dens duft.

"Ja, du kom ikke på den rige, fine frøkens bord, men til den fattige, gamle kone; dog her er du som et helt rosentræ; hvor er du dejlig!"

Og hun så med barneglæde på blomsten, tænkte vist også på sin egen længst henfarne friske ungdomstid.

"Der var hul på ruden," sagde vinden, "jeg kom let derind, så den gamle kones ungdomslysende øjne og den afknækkede, dejlige rose i snapseglasset. Den lykkeligste af alle! Jeg ved det! Jeg kan fortælle det!"

Hver rose på træet i haven havde sin historie. Hver rose troede og tænkte sig at være den lykkeligste, og troen gør salig. Den sidste rose var dog den allerlykkeligste, mente den.

"Jeg overlevede dem alle! Jeg er den sidste, den eneste, moders kæreste barn!"

"Og jeg er moderen for dem!" sagde rosenhækken.

"Jeg er det!" sagde solskinnet.

"Og jeg!" sagde vind og vejr.

"Hver har del i dem!" sagde vinden. "Og hver skal få del af dem!" og så strøede vinden dens blade ud over hækken, hvor dugdråberne lå, hvor solen skinnede. "Også jeg fik min del," sagde vinden. "Jeg fik alle rosernes historie, som jeg vil fortælle ud i den vide verden! Sig mig så, hvem var den lykkeligste af dem alle? Ja, det må du sige, jeg har sagt nok!"

Compare two languages: