Why The Hyacinth Has Bells
There was once a little pixie who had such a loud, harsh voice that none of the flowers would offer him a home.
In those days hyacinths did not have the sweet bell-shaped blossoms they now have,—there was only the rough, brown bulb and the long, green blades.
But though the hyacinth bulb had no blossom, her heart must have been very kind, for when she saw the little pixie wandering around without any home she offered him a place to sleep beneath her leaf-like blades, and the little pixie was very glad indeed to take it.
It was a great pity about the little pixie's voice being so harsh and loud, but it was true. Everybody noticed it.
If he went to the singing-school with the other pixies, he always spoiled their pretty songs, because he sang so very loudly that none of the soft, sweet little tones could be heard at all—the very tones that make music so beautiful.
Then, too, if the flower queen was telling the little pixies a tale, or talking with them about the earth-children, why, this little pixie talked so loudly and so fast that you could hear no voice but his; it would rise so high that none of the voices that were soft and sweet, such as the flower queen liked to hear, could be heard at all.
And if she spoke to the little pixie about it he only turned very red and hung his head without saying a word; and I am sorry to say all the other little pixies laughed at him then, until the flower queen placed her fingers on her lips and shook her head.
Of course he had told the hyacinth bulb all about this the very night she offered him a home, when she saw him wandering around with nowhere to sleep.
"Never mind, never mind!" she had said as she patted the little pixie on the head.
"We shall just have to cure that harsh voice, and make it the very sweetest one,— there is a cure for everything under the sun, and so there must be a cure for you."
So, after the little pixie had fallen asleep, she thought and thought about how she might help him change his voice into a soft, sweet one.
"Send him into the woods," said Old Mother Nature, who happened to pass that way. "He will find there many voices which will teach him how to sing."
So, early the next morning, before the sun was up, the little pixie started out and walked and walked through the still, deep woods.
By and by he saw a mother bird fly swiftly past him, on the way to her swinging nest, and when she found her baby birdlings safe and warm, she sang out joyously:
And the little brownie thought the voice of the mother bird was very soft and sweet.
So he sat on a stone and listened and listened to the bird's song, and tried his best to sing like her. And when night came he went again to the hyacinth bulb, and told her of the beauty of the bird's song.
"Sing like her," said the hyacinth bulb, "let me hear you try."
So the little pixie tried and tried, and the hyacinth bulb listened, but she did not laugh at him. She only said gently,
"That is well; go again to-morrow and listen for another voice."
And so the next day the little pixie went once more into the deep, cool woods, and listened in the early morning sunlight for a voice that was soft and sweet.
This time it was the song of the rippling brook that hurried on in gurgling, merry laughter, and as the sound fell upon the ear of the little pixie he thought it even sweeter than the song of the bird, so he stood still and listened.
But the words of the little brook's songs seemed the same as that of the birds, for soft and sweet it sang:
And somehow the little pixie felt happier than he had ever felt before.
He tried to tell the hyacinth bulb about it that night, and how very sweet the song of the little brook had seemed to him. And again she replied gently:
"Sing like the little brook; let me hear you try."
But she did not laugh,—she only said, "That is well. Go again to-morrow and listen for another voice."
The next morning the little pixie got up very early and walked deeper into the woods than he had ever walked before.
By and by he sat down to rest beneath a tall forest tree, and as he listened the wind seemed to be whispering a song to the leaves of the tree,—a song even softer and sweeter than the brook's song had been, but the words were the very same:
As the little pixie listened and tried to catch the sound of the wind among the leaves he grew happier and happier, and he felt that he, too, loved everyone—even the little pixies who had laughed at him. That night, when he told the hyacinth bulb how happy he had been all day, it pleased her very much, and when, without even being asked he sang the beautiful song to her his voice was so soft and sweet it filled the heart of the hyacinth bulb with joy, and she kissed the little pixie gently on the forehead and said: "Thy voice ringeth sweet, like the voice of the birds and the brooks and the winds. "Go, sing thy song to the world, little pixie. Thou hast learned well thy lesson in the deep, still woods."
Now the very next day was singing-school day in pixie-land, and the queen herself, was coming to hear the pixies sing.
The flower queen loved to hear them sing, but this day the singing seemed sweeter than ever before. One voice there was that seemed to her sweetest of all. She could hear the tones rise and fall, now soft and full, now sweet and clear, as it mingled in sweetest harmony with the others.
You know whose voice that was. And as the little pixie sang this day to his flower queen, his heart was full of love for her, and as he sang he thought of the voices in the deep, still woods—that of the birds, and of the brook and the winds, whose song was ever the same:
And so he sang it thus to his flower queen, because his heart was full of love for her. When the song was over the flower queen's face was bright with joy, and reaching into her silken bag she took out a beautiful chime of tiny silver bells, whose music was the sweetest that ever fell on mortal ears.
"These bells," she said, "are for a little pixie whose voice pleases me well. To-day, as he sang, his tones were sweet and low and joyous.
"He made me think of the glory of the woods, of laughing water and carolling birds and murmuring winds—of love for everyone."
Then, going up to the happy pixie, whose voice was no longer loud and harsh, she placed the chime of silver bells in his hand.
He was a very happy little pixie then, I can tell you, and though all the flowers invited him to have a home with them, he thanked them one by one, but shook his pretty head, and skipped away and away to the hyacinth bulb, who had never laughed at him when his voice was harsh and loud, but had given him a home, the best she had, and sheltered and loved him and taught him how to sing.
One by one he took the pretty silver bells from his chime and hung them about her neck.
"They are for you," he said, "because I love you best of all."
The fairy queen saw the sight and it pleased her very much; so, waving her magic wand over the hyacinth bulb, she changed the silver bells into beautiful fragrant blossoms, and their exquisite beauty has ever since decked the hyacinth bulb with bells of many colours.
In the early spring time they come to greet us, ringing their fragrant joy-bells, and singing the little pixie's song: