By Hans Christian Andersen
"Whenever a good child dies, an angel of God
comes down from heaven, takes the dead child
in his arms, spreads out his great white
wings, and flies with him over all the
places which the child had loved during his
life. Then he gathers a large handful of
flowers, which he carries up to the Almighty,
that they may bloom more brightly in heaven
than they do on earth. And the Almighty
presses the flowers to His heart, but He
kisses the flower that pleases Him best, and
it receives a voice, and is able to join the
song of the chorus of bliss."
These words were spoken by an angel of God,
as he carried a dead child up to heaven, and
the child listened as if in a dream. Then
they passed over well-known spots, where the
little one had often played, and through
beautiful gardens full of lovely flowers.
"Which of these shall we take with us to
heaven to be transplanted there?" asked the
Close by grew a slender, beautiful,
rose-bush, but some wicked hand had broken
the stem, and the half-opened rosebuds hung
faded and withered on the trailing branches.
"Poor rose-bush!" said the child, "let us
take it with us to heaven, that it may bloom
above in God's garden."
The angel took up the rose-bush; then he
kissed the child, and the little one half
opened his eyes. The angel gathered also
some beautiful flowers, as well as a few
humble buttercups and heart's-ease.
"Now we have flowers enough," said the child;
but the angel only nodded, he did not fly
upward to heaven.
It was night, and quite still in the great
town. Here they remained, and the angel
hovered over a small, narrow street, in
which lay a large heap of straw, ashes, and
sweepings from the houses of people who had
removed. There lay fragments of plates,
pieces of plaster, rags, old hats, and other
rubbish not pleasant to see. Amidst all this
confusion, the angel pointed to the pieces
of a broken flower-pot, and to a lump of
earth which had fallen out of it. The earth
had been kept from falling to pieces by the
roots of a withered field-flower, which had
been thrown amongst the rubbish.
"We will take this with us," said the angel,
"I will tell you why as we fly along."
And as they flew the angel related the
"Down in that narrow lane, in a low cellar,
lived a poor sick boy; he had been afflicted
from his childhood, and even in his best
days he could just manage to walk up and
down the room on crutches once or twice, but
no more. During some days in summer, the
sunbeams would lie on the floor of the
cellar for about half an hour. In this spot
the poor sick boy would sit warming himself
in the sunshine, and watching the red blood
through his delicate fingers as he held them
before his face. Then he would say he had
been out, yet he knew nothing of the green
forest in its spring verdure, till a
neighbor's son brought him a green bough
from a beech-tree. This he would place over
his head, and fancy that he was in the
beech-wood while the sun shone, and the
birds carolled gayly. One spring day the
neighbor's boy brought him some
field-flowers, and among them was one to
which the root still adhered. This he
carefully planted in a flower-pot, and
placed in a window-seat near his bed. And
the flower had been planted by a fortunate
hand, for it grew, put forth fresh shoots,
and blossomed every year. It became a
splendid flower-garden to the sick boy, and
his little treasure upon earth. He watered
it, and cherished it, and took care it
should have the benefit of every sunbeam
that found its way into the cellar, from the
earliest morning ray to the evening sunset.
The flower entwined itself even in his
dreams- for him it bloomed, for him spread
its perfume. And it gladdened his eyes, and
to the flower he turned, even in death, when
the Lord called him. He has been one year
with God. During that time the flower has
stood in the window, withered and forgotten,
till at length cast out among the sweepings
into the street, on the day of the lodgers'
removal. And this poor flower, withered and
faded as it is, we have added to our nosegay,
because it gave more real joy than the most
beautiful flower in the garden of a queen."
"But how do you know all this?" asked the
child whom the angel was carrying to heaven.
"I know it," said the angel, "because I
myself was the poor sick boy who walked upon
crutches, and I know my own flower well."
Then the child opened his eyes and looked
into the glorious happy face of the angel,
and at the same moment they found themselves
in that heavenly home where all is happiness
and joy. And God pressed the dead child to
His heart, and wings were given him so that
he could fly with the angel, hand in hand.
Then the Almighty pressed all the flowers to
His heart; but He kissed the withered
field-flower, and it received a voice. Then
it joined in the song of the angels, who
surrounded the throne, some near, and others
in a distant circle, but all equally happy.
They all joined in the chorus of praise,
both great and small,- the good, happy child,
and the poor field-flower, that once lay
withered and cast away on a heap of rubbish
in a narrow, dark street.