The snow lay deep, for it was winter-time. The winter winds blew cold, but there was one house where all was snug and warm. And in the house lay a little flower; in its bulb it lay, under the earth and the snow.
One day the rain fell and it trickled through the ice and snow down into the ground. And presently a sunbeam, pointed and slender, pierced down through the earth, and tapped on the bulb.
"Come in," said the flower.
"I can't do that," said the sunbeam; "I'm not strong enough to lift the latch. I shall be stronger when springtime comes."
"When will it be spring?" asked the flower of every little sunbeam that rapped on its door. But for a long time it was winter. The ground was still covered with snow, and every night there was ice in the water. The flower grew quite tired of waiting.
"How long it is!" it said. "I feel quite cramped. I must stretch myself and rise up a little. I must lift the latch, and look out, and say 'good-morning' to the spring."
So the flower pushed and pushed. The walls were softened by the rain and warmed by the little sunbeams, so the flower shot up from under the snow, with a pale green bud on its stalk and some long narrow leaves on either side. It was biting cold.
"You are a little too early," said the wind and the weather; but every sunbeam sang: "Welcome," and the flower raised its head from the snow and unfolded itself—pure and white, and decked with green stripes.
It was weather to freeze it to pieces,—such a delicate little flower,—but it was stronger than any one knew. It stood in its white dress in the white snow, bowing its head when the snowflakes fell, and raising it again to smile at the sunbeams, and every day it grew sweeter.
"Oh!" shouted the children, as they ran into the garden, "see the snowdrop! There it stands so pretty, so beautiful,—the first, the only one!"