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THE Flax stood in blossom; it had pretty little blue flowers, smooth as a moth's wings, and even more delicate. The sun shone on the Flax, and the rain clouds moistened it, and this was just as good for it as it is for little children when they are washed, and afterwards get a kiss from their mother; they become much prettier, and so did the Flax.

“The people say that I stand uncommonly well,”said the Flax,“and that I'm fine and long, and shall make a capital piece of linen. How happy I am! I'm certainly the happiest of beings. How well off I am! And I may come to something! How the sunshine gladdens, and the rain tastes good and refreshes me! I'm wonderfully happy; I'm the happiest of beings.”

“Yes,yes,yes!”said the Hedge-stake.“You don't know the world, but we do, for we have knots in us;”and then it creaked out mournfully,



The song is done.”

“No, it is not done,”said the Flax.“Tomorrow the sun will shine, or the rain will refresh us. I feel that I'm growing, I feel that I'm in blossom! I'm the happiest of beings.”

But one day the people came and took the Flax by the head and pulled it up by the root. That hurt; and it was laid in water as if they were going to drown it, and then put on the fire as if it was going to be roasted. It was quite fearful!

“One, can't always have good times,”said the Flax. One must make one's experiences, and so one gets to know something.

But bad times certainly came. The Flax was bruised and scutched, and broken and hackled. Yes, it did not even know what the operations were called that they did with it. It was put on the spinning-wheel----whirr! whirr!whirr!----it was not possible to collect one's thoughts.

“I have been uncommonly happy!”it thought in all its pain.“One must be content with the good one has enjoyed! Contented! contented! Oh!”And it continued to say so even when it was put into the loom, and till it became a large beautiful piece of linen. All the flax, to the last stalk, was used in making one piece.

“But this is quite remarkable! I should never have believed it! How favourable fortune is to me! The Hedgestake was well informed, truly, with its



The song is not done by any means.Now it's beginning in earnest. That's quite remarkable! If I've suffered something, I've been made into something! I' m the happiest of all! How strong and fine I am, how white and long! That's something different from being a mere plant, even if one has a flower. One is not attended to, and only gets watered when it rains. Now I'm attended to and cherished;the maid turns me over every morning, and I get a shower bath from the watering-pot every evening. Yes,the clergyman's wife has even made a speech about me, and says I'm the best piece in the whole parish.I cannot be happier!”

Now the Linen was taken into the house, and put under the scissors: how they cut and tore it, and then pricked it with needles! That was not pleasant; but twelve pieces of body linen of a kind not often mentioned by name, but indispensable to all people, were made of it----a whole dozen!

“Just look! Now something has really been made of me! So, that was my destiny. That's a real bles sing. Now I shall be of some use in the world, and that's right, that's a true pleasure! We've been made into twelve things, but yet we're all one and the same; we're just a dozen: how remarkably charming that is!”

Years rolled on, and now they would hold together no longer.

“It must be over one day,”said each piece.“I would gladly have held together a little longer, but one must not expect impossibilities.”

They were now torn into pieces and fragments.They thought it was all over now, for they were hacked to shreds, and softened and boiled; yes, they themselves did not know all that was done to them; and then they became beautiful white paper.

Now, that is a surprise, and a glorious surprise!”said the Paper.“Now I'm finer than befor............

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