THE FLOWER THAT LIVES ABOVE THE CLOUDS *
LONG ago, long ago when the flowers first woke to life on this dear earth, each chose where it would live as it chose, too, the color of its petals.
"I will cover the ground and make the bare soil gay with green blades," cried the grass.
"I will live in the fields and by roadsides," laughed the daisy.
"I, too," echoed the buttercup, the cornflower, the poppy, and the clover.
"Give me the ponds and the lakes," the water lily called.
"And let us have the streams and the marshes," begged the irises, cowslips, and Jacks-in-the-pulpit.
"We love the shaded, ferny woodland spots," lisped the shy forget-me-nots and wood-violets.
"And we wish to be petted in gardens," declared the rose, the pansies, the sweet williams, the hollyhocks.
"I love the warm dry sun I will go to the sandy desert," said the cactus. So all places except the bare ridges of high mountains were chosen. To these, no flower wished to go.
"There is not enough food there!" the daisy explained.
"There is not enough warmth! There is not enough food!" all decided. " It is so bare and chilly! Let the gray moss go and cover the rocks," they said.
But the moss was loath to go.
"When one cannot live without moisture, warmth, nourishment when one must have petting or live in a garden, surely the bleak places of the mountains must do without flowers! How foolish it would be to try to make the ragged, bare mountain-tops lovely! Let the gray moss go he has not yet chosen!"
So the gray moss went up the high mountains because he was told to go. He climbed over the bare rocks beyond the places where forests ceased to grow. All was desolate and silent up there.
Up higher and higher crept the gray moss. It went even above the clouds where the ragged rocks were covered with ice and snow.
There it stopped short in amazement, for it found a quiet star-shaped flower clinging to the crags and blossoming! It was white like the snow around it, and its heart was of soft yellow. So cold was it up there that the little flower had cased its leaves in soft wool to keep warm and living in the bleakness.
"Oh!" cried the gray moss, stopping short. "How came you here where there was no warmth, no moisture, no nourishment? It is high above the forests, high above the clouds! I came because I was sent. Who are you?"
Then the little starry flower nodded in the chill wind. "I am the edelweiss," it said. "I came here quietly because there was need of me, that some blossom might brighten these solitudes."
"And didn't they tell you to come?"
"No," said the little flower. "It was because the mountains needed me. There are no flowers up here but me."
The edelweiss is closer to the stars than the daisy, the buttercup, the iris, or the rose. Those who have courage, like it, have found it high above the clouds, where it grows ever gladly. They call it Noble White that is its name, edelweiss! Love, like the edelweiss, knows not self-sacrifice.