0nce upon a time there was a little pixie who lived alone in a poppy blossom.
Deep down in the cup of the poppy he had a pretty room all his very own. There was a soft bed to lie on, draped about with silken rose-coloured curtains, and there was nectar juice to drink and golden pollen-bread, which is sweeter and better than cake.
Then there was cooling dew in the rose-petal tub ever ready for his bath, and everything else you could think of to make a little pixie happy.
Now this little pixie was the son of a king, and that made him a pixie prince, you see, so everybody did all they could to make him have a good time; he had only to make a wish and it was granted.
The spiders and caterpillars took special delight in weaving him the finest silken clothes; the sunbeam fairies dyed them in beautiful colours for him, and the sweet peas made for him the daintiest of slippers from the Cinderella pattern.
The bees flew for miles to bring his favourite honey, and for the cool, damp days, the pansies made for him rich velvet cloaks bordered in gold.
If at night the little pixie wished to take a ride, he had only to mount a fire-fly, which sailed through the air far swifter than a horse, and if in the daytime he chose to ride, there was a crimson hollyhock carriage drawn by harnessed butterflies of blue, white, and yellow.
The birds and the breezes sang their sweetest songs to him, and it surely seemed that the little pixie prince ought to be very happy.
And yet he was not happy the least bit, and by and by he became so cross and queer that his friends did not know what to make of him.
For days and days he would lie on his silken bed and never a word would he have to say, except to scold and fret, and at last he said he was very sick, so they sent for a fairy doctor.
Now when the fairy doctor came and looked at the little pixie, he knew at once that he was suffering with ennui,—a most dreadful sickness indeed, and one which could only be caught from people living in the earth-land.
Of course the little pixie did not want to have ennui any more than you want to have mumps, but that did not make any difference, because he yawned and yawned and yawned so much that the fairy doctor knew he did have ennui and nothing else, so there!
Now the only cure for ennui is to get up at once and go to work and keep on working, and the very minute you forget the disease—why, it will leave you and go to somebody else, who has nothing to do.
"You see," said the fairy doctor to the little pixie, "everybody has been so busy thinking about you, and doing kind things to make you happy, that you have forgotten to make other people happy, and so you have just caught ennui, like earth-people, and if you want to get well, why, you will have to get up and go to work."
Then the fairy doctor went away and left the little pixie to think about it.
Now the trouble was that this little pixie prince had never learned to work, but the longer he lay in his silken bed the more sick he grew with ennui, so he just had to get up.
When he got out into the fresh air he felt a little bit better and began to run and jump, and he played marbles and ball, and he climbed rose bushes and threw pebbles and hopped and skipped and rolled, and then danced for hours around the pixie ring, but still he could not forget about the ennui disease.
And no wonder, because playing and working are two different things, you know.
So, that night, when the little pixie went to bed, he was very miserable indeed, though the tiny poppy lady, who was his housekeeper, tied up his head with a cool rose petal.
The next morning when the fairy doctor came and looked at the little pixie he shook his head and said, "Your tongue shows you haven't been doing any work and your ennui is worse to-day than it was yesterday. You must work if you want to get well, for your disease is a very bad one indeed."
Then he went away again and the little pixie got up and went once more into the fresh air, which always made him feel better, and wondered and wondered about the work he could do.
All at once he clapped his hands together gaily, and said, "Oh, now I know!
"I will learn to spin from the caterpillars and spiders, and spin myself a whole trunkful of pretty clothes. Then, I will learn from the bees to make honey and pollen-bread and I will store my pantry full, to last a whole year."
The caterpillars and the spiders and the bees were glad to help him, and soon he was as busy as a bee, sure enough, and in a few days had stored his pantry full of good things to eat, besides having made a whole trunkful of beautiful clothes.
But somehow, yes, somehow he just could not forget his dreadful ennui disease, and though he was a little better, still he was far from feeling well, and the tiny poppy housekeeper had to tie up his head with a bandage from the plum blossom, which is considered even better than the rose-leaf bandage she had tried before.
When next the fairy doctor came he shook his head again, and said, "Your tongue shows work, but work of the wrong kind. You have worked only for yourself and that will never cure ennui—you must work for others."
Then, as before, he went away and left the pixie prince to himself, and the pixie was very sad and miserable indeed. His ennui grew worse and worse, until he just could not lie still.
The tiny poppy housekeeper came trailing in, wearing her prettiest flowered gown, and brought the little pixie some of the fresh honey he had made the day before.
"Maybe if you will eat something, you will feel better," she said. But the little pixie only turned his head to the wall and cried, "Oh, what must I do to get rid of this terrible ennui?" The tiny poppy housekeeper felt very sorry for him and, with her cool, soft fingers, smoothed the pain away from his brow, while she sat in deep thought.
At last she said, "Little prince, I think maybe I can help you if you are really willing to work for others. I can tell you something to do, but it is down in the earth-land, and you might not want to go."
"Oh, I am willing to go anywhere and to do anything to get rid of this terrible ennui disease!" said the pixie prince. "Tell me quickly."
"Well," replied the tiny poppy housekeeper, "down in the earth-world, where people live, there are many other diseases besides ennui.
"Now in this earth-world, sleep is the best cure for many of these diseases, but sleep is not always easy for them to get.
"There are sick, fretting babies, tired little girls and boys, weary mothers and fathers, worn-out men and women who long for sleep at the close of day, and because of the heat and the noise and their
worries and troubles they cannot go to sleep, however hard they try. Now all of these need help.
"I, myself, know how to make a wonderful sleeping powder, which I use to put my own baby seeds to sleep, and I will gladly make some for you if you will make a bag of beautiful dreams to carry with it to the earth-land.
"You must make baby dreams, and dreams to make girls and boys happy, and dreams for mothers and fathers and all other tired men and women—dreams that will make them forget their troubles, and sleep the sleep of perfect rest. Are you willing to try?"
Of course the pixie prince was. He was so happy he could hardly wait until his bag was finished. He made it of rose-coloured satin, and stuffed it to the very brim with the most beautiful dreams—perhaps you have had one.
And by that time the tiny poppy housekeeper had the sleeping powder ready. Strapping the bag across his back, with a kiss and a wave of his hand to her, he mounted a white butterfly and flew straight to the earth-world.
Strange to say, the little pixie prince became so busy scattering his dreams and sleeping powder, that he forgot all about his ennui, and never has he remembered it from that day to this.
The fairy doctor called again time after time, but he could never catch the little pixie at home, and the tiny poppy housekeeper always said the very same thing :
"The pixie prince has gone to the earth-world with a rose-coloured bag of beautiful dreams."
And bless you! that is the reason why we sleep and dream to-day.
The pixie prince pays us a call, and the tiny poppy housekeeper is ever hard at work making the sleeping powder.
And that is why poppies make you sleepy—just smell them and see.