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IN the midst of a garden grew a rose bush, which was quite covered with roses;and in one of them, the most beautiful of all, there dwelt an elf. He was so tiny that no human eye could see him. Behind every leaf in the rose he had a bedroom. He was as well formed and beautiful as any child could be, and had wings that reached from his shoulders to his feet. Oh, what a fragrance there was in his rooms!and how clear and bright were the walls! They were made of the pale pink rose leaves.

The whole day he rejoiced in the warm sunshine,flew from flower to flower,danced on the wings of the flying butterfly,and measured how many steps he would have to take to pass along all the roads and cross----roads that are marked out on a single linden leaf.What we call veins on the leaf were to him high roads and cross-roads.Yes,those were long roads for him!Before he had finished his journey the sun went down,for he had begun his work too late!

It became very cold, the dew fell, and the wind blew:now the best thing to be done was to come home.He made what haste he could, but the rose had shut itself up,and he could not get in; not a single rose stood open. The poor little elf was very much frightened.He had never been out at night before;he had always slumbered sweetly and comfortably behind the warm rose leaves. Oh, it certainly would be the death of him.

At the other end of the garden there was, he knew,an arbour of fine honeysuckle. The flowers looked like great painted horns, and he wished to go down into one of them to sleep till the next day.

He flew thither. Silence! Two people were in the arbour----a handsome young man and a young girl.They sat side by side, and wished that they need never part. They loved each other better than a good child loves its father and mother.

“Yet we must part!”said the young man.“Your brother does not like us, therefore he sends me away on an errand so far over mountains and seas. Farewell, my sweet bride, for that you shall be!”

And they kissed each other,and the young girl wept, and gave him a rose.But, before she gave it him,she impressed a kiss so firmly and closely upon it that the flower opened.Then the little elf flew into it, and leaned his head against the delicate fragrant walls. But he could plainly hear them say“Farewell! farewell!”and he felt that the rose was placed on the young man's heart. Oh,how that heart beat! the little elf could not go to sleep, it thumped so.

But not long did the rose rest undisturbed on that breast.The man took it out, and as he went lonely through the wood, he kissed the flower so often and so fervently, that the little elf was almost crushed.He could feel through the leaf how the man's lips burned, and the rose itself had opened, as if under the hottest noonday sun.

Then came another man, gloomy and wicked; he was the bad brother of the pretty maiden.He drew out a sharp knife,and while the other kissed the rose, the bad man stabbed him to death,and then, cutting off his head, buried both head and body in the soft earth under the linden tree.

“Now he's forgotten and gone!”thought the wicked brother;“he will never come back again.He was to have taken a long journey over mountains and seas.One can easily lose one's life, and he has lost his. He cannot come back again, and my sister dare not ask news of him from me.”

Then with his feet he shuffled dry leaves over the loose earth, and went home in the dark night. But he did not go alone, as he thought; the little elf accompanied him. The elf sat in a dry,rolled-up linden leaf that had fallen on the wicked man's hair as he dug the grave.The hat was now placed over the leaf,and it was very dark in the hat,and the elf trembled with fear and with anger at the evil deed.

In the morning hour the bad man got home; he took off his hat,and went into his sister's bedroom.There lay the beautiful blooming girl, dreaming of him whom she loved from her heart, and of whom she now believed that he was going across the mountains and through the forests.And the wicked brother bent over her,and laughed hideously, as only a fiend can laugh. Then the dry leaf fell out of his hair upon the coverlet; but he did not notice it,and he went out to sleep a little himself in the morning hour. But the elf slipped forth from the withered leaf,placed himself in the ear of the sleeping girl, and told her,as in a dream, the dreadful history of the murder;described to her the place where her brother had slain her lover and buried his body;told her of the blooming linden tree close by it, and said,

“That you may not think it is only a dream that I have told you, you will find on your bed a withered leaf.”

And she found it when she awoke. Oh, what bitter tears she wept, and to no one could she confide her sorrow. The window stood open the whole day:the little elf could easily get out to the roses and all the other flowers,but he could not find it in his heart to quit the afflicted maiden. In the window stood a plant, a monthly rose bus............

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