英文版：A Leaf from Heaven
HIGH up in the clear, pure air flew an angel, with aflower plucked from the garden of heaven. As he waskissing the flower a very little leaf fell from it andsunk down into the soft earth in the middle of awood. It immediately took root, sprouted, and sentout shoots among the other plants.
"What a ridiculous little shoot!" said one. "No onewill recognize it; not even the thistle nor thestinging-nettle."
"It must be a kind of garden plant," said another; and so they sneered and despised the plantas a thing from a garden.
"Where are you coming?" said the tall thistles whose leaves were all armed with thorns. "It isstupid nonsense to allow yourself to shoot out in this way; we are not here to support you."
Winter came, and the plant was covered with snow, but the snow glittered over it as if it hadsunshine beneath as well as above.
When spring came, the plant appeared in full bloom: a more beautiful object than any otherplant in the forest. And now the professor of botany presented himself, one who could explainhis knowledge in black and white. He examined and tested the plant, but it did not belong tohis system of botany, nor could he possibly find out to what class it did belong. "It must besome degenerate species," said he; "I do not know it, and it is not mentioned in any system."
"Not known in any system!" repeated the thistles and the nettles.
The large trees which GREw round it saw the plant and heard the remarks, but they said not aword either good or bad, which is the wisest plan for those who are ignorant.
There passed through the forest a poor innocent girl; her heart was pure, and herunderstanding increased by her faith. Her chief inheritance had been an old Bible, which sheread and valued. From its pages she heard the voice of God speaking to her, and telling her toremember what was said of Joseph's brethren when persons wished to injure her. "Theyimagined evil in their hearts, but God turned it to good." If we suffer wrongfully, if we aremisunderstood or despised, we must think of Him who was pure and holy, and who prayed forthose who nailed Him to the cross, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
The girl stood still before the wonderful plant, for the green leaves exhaled a sweet andrefreshing fragrance, and the flowers glittered and sparkled in the sunshine like coloredflames, and the harmony of sweet sounds lingered round them as if each concealed withinitself a deep fount of melody, which thousands of years could not exhaust. With piousgratitude the girl looked upon this glorious work of God, and bent down over one of thebranches, that she might examine the flower and inhale the sweet perfume. Then a lightbroke in on her mind, and her heart expanded. Gladly would she have plucked a flower, but shecould not overcome her reluctance to break one off. She knew it would so soon fade; so shetook only a single green leaf, carried it home, and laid it in her Bible, where it remained evergreen, fresh, and unfading. Between the pages of the Bible it still lay when, a few weeksafterwards, that Bible was laid under the young girl's head in her coffin. A holy calm rested onher face, as if the earthly remains bore the impress of the truth that she now stood in thepresence of God.
In the forest the wonderful plant still continued to bloom till it grew and became almost a tree, and all the birds of passage bowed themselves before it.
"That plant is a foreigner, no doubt," said the thistles and the burdocks. "We can neverconduct ourselves like that in this country." And the black forest snails actually spat at theflower.
Then came the swineherd; he was collecting thistles and shrubs to burn them for the ashes. Hepulled up the wonderful plant, roots and all, and placed it in his bundle. "This will be as usefulas any," he said; so the plant was carried away.
Not long after, the king of the country suffered from the deepest melancholy. He was diligentand industrious, but employment did him no good. They read deep and learned books to him, and then the lightest and most trifling that could be found, but all to no purpose. Then theyapplied for advice to one of the wise men of the world, and he sent them a message to say thatthere was one remedy which would relieve and cure him, and that it was a plant of heavenlyorigin which grew in the forest in the king's own dominions. The messenger described theflower so that is appearance could not be mistaken.
Then said the swineherd, "I am afraid I carried this plant away from the forest in my bundle, and it has been burnt to ashes long ago. But I did not know any better."
"You did not know, any better! Ignorance upon ignorance indeed!"
The poor swineherd took these words to heart, for they were addressed to him; he knew notthat there were others who were equally ignorant. Not even a leaf of the plant could be found. There was one, but it lay in the coffin of the dead; no one knew anything about it.
Then the king, in his melancholy, wandered out to the spot in the wood. "Here is where theplant stood," he said; "it is a sacred place." Then he ordered that the place should besurrounded with a golden railing, and a sentry stationed near it.
The botanical professor wrote a long treatise about the heavenly plant, and for this he wasloaded with gold, which improved the position of himself and his family.
And this part is really the most pleasant part of the story. For the plant had disappeared, andthe king remained as melancholy and sad as ever, but the sentry said he had always been so.