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Whenever a good child dies, an angel of God comes down from heaven, takes the dead child in his arms, spreads out his great white wings, and flies with him over all the places which the child had loved during his life.

Then he gathers a large handful of flowers, which he carries up to the Almighty, that they may bloom more brightly in heaven than they do on earth. And the Almighty presses the flowers to His heart, but He kisses the flower that pleases Him best, and it receives a voice, and is able to join the song of the chorus of bliss.

These words were spoken by an angel of God, as he carried a dead child up to heaven, and the child listened as if in a dream. Then they passed over well-known spots, where the little one had often played, and through beautiful gardens full of lovely flowers.

"Which of these shall we take with us to heaven to be transplanted there?" asked the angel.

Close by grew a slender, beautiful, rose-bush, but some wicked hand had broken the stem, and the half-opened rosebuds hung faded and withered on the trailing branches.

"Poor rose-bush!" said the child, "let us take it with us to heaven, that it may bloom above in God's garden."

The angel took up the rose-bush; then he kissed the child, and the little one half opened his eyes. The angel gathered also some beautiful flowers, as well as a few humble buttercups and heart's-ease.

"Now we have flowers enough," said the child; but the angel only nodded, he did not fly upward to heaven.

It was night, and quite still in the great town. Here they remained, and the angel hovered over a small, narrow street, in which lay a large heap of straw, ashes, and sweepings from the houses of people who had removed. There lay fragments of plates, pieces of plaster, rags, old hats, and other rubbish not pleasant to see. Amidst all this confusion, the angel pointed to the pieces of a broken flower-pot, and to a lump of earth which had fallen out of it. The earth had been kept from falling to pieces by the roots of a withered field-flower, which had been thrown amongst the rubbish.

"We will take this with us," said the angel, "I will tell you why as we fly along."

And as they flew the angel related the history.

"Down in that narrow lane, in a low cellar, lived a poor sick boy; he had been afflicted from his childhood, and even in his best days he could just manage to walk up and down the room on crutches once or twice, but no more. During some days in summer, the sunbeams would lie on the floor of the cellar for about half an hour. In this spot the poor sick boy would sit warming himself in the sunshine, and watching the red blood through his delicate fingers as he held them before his face. Then he would say he had been out, yet he knew nothing of the green forest in its spring verdure, till a neighbor's son brought him a green bough from a beech-tree.

This he would place over his head, and fancy that he was in the beech-wood while the sun shone, and the birds caroled gaily. One spring day the neighbor's boy brought him some field-flowers, and among them was one to which the root still adhered. This he carefully planted in a flower-pot, and placed in a window-seat near his bed. And the flower had been planted by a fortunate hand, for it grew, put forth fresh shoots, and blossomed every year. It became a splendid flower-garden to the sick boy, and his little treasure upon earth.?

He watered it, and cherished it, and took care it should have the benefit of every sunbeam that found its way into the cellar, from the earliest morning ray to the evening sunset. The flower entwined itself even in his dreams- for him it bloomed, for him spread its perfume. And it gladdened his eyes, and to the flower he turned, even in death, when the Lord called him. He has been one year with God. During that time the flower has stood in the window, withered and forgotten, till at length cast out among the sweepings into the street, on the day of the lodgers' removal. And this poor flower, withered and faded as it is, we have added to our nosegay, because it gave more real joy than the most beautiful flower in the garden of a queen."

"But how do you know all this?" asked the child whom the angel was carrying to heaven.

"I know it," said the angel, "because I myself was the poor sick boy who walked upon crutches, and I know my own flower well."

Then the child opened his eyes and looked into the glorious happy face of the angel, and at the same moment they found themselves in that heavenly home where all is happiness and joy. And God pressed the dead child to His heart, and wings were given him so that he could fly with the angel, hand in hand.?

Then the Almighty pressed all the flowers to His heart; but He kissed the withered field-flower, and it received a voice. Then it joined in the song of the angels, who surrounded the throne, some near, and others in a distant circle, but all equally happy. They all joined in the chorus of praise, both great and small,- the good, happy child, and the poor field-flower, that once lay withered and cast away on a heap of rubbish in a narrow, dark street.

 

安琪儿

“只要有一个好孩子死去,就会有一个上帝的安琪儿飞到世界上来。他把死去的孩子抱在怀里,展开他的白色的大翅膀,在孩子生前喜爱的地方飞翔。他摘下一大把花。把它们带到天上去,好叫它们开得比在人间更美丽。仁慈的上帝把这些花紧紧地搂在胸前,但是他只吻那棵他认为最可爱的花。这棵花于是就有了声音,能跟大家一起唱着幸福的颂歌。”

你听,这就是上帝的安琪儿抱着一个死孩子飞上天说所讲的话。孩子听到这些话的时候,就像在做梦一样。他们飞过了他在家里玩过的许多地方,飞过了开满美丽的花朵的花园。

“我们把哪一朵花儿带去栽在天上呢?”安琪儿问。

他们看见一棵细长的、美丽的玫瑰,但是它的花梗已经被一只恶毒的手摘断了。所以它那些长满了半开的花苞的枝子都垂了下来,萎谢了。

“可怜的玫瑰花!”孩子说。“把它带走吧。它可以在上帝的面前开出花来的!”

安琪儿就把这朵花带走了,同时还因此吻了孩子一下。孩子半睁开他的眼睛。他们摘下了几朵美丽的花,但也带走了几朵被人瞧不起的金凤花和野生的三色堇花。

“现在我们可有了花儿了。”孩子说。安琪儿点点头,可是他们并没有飞到天上去。

这是夜晚,非常静寂。他们停留在这座大城里。他们在一条最狭窄的街上飞。街上堆着许多干草、尘土和垃圾,因为这是一个搬家的日子。这儿还有破碎的碗盘、墙上脱落下来的泥块、烂布和破帽子——这一切都不太好看。

安琪儿在这堆烂东西中间指着几块花盆的碎片和花盆里面掉出来的一团干泥块。一大棵枯萎了的野花用它的根把自己和这块土堆系在一起。这棵花现在已经没有用,因此被人抛到街上来了。

“我们要把这棵花带走!”安琪儿说,“我在飞行的时候再把理由告诉你。”

于是他们就飞走了。安琪儿讲了这样一个故事:

“在下面这条窄街上的一个很低的地下室里,住着一个生病的穷孩子。从很小的时候起,他就一直躺在床上,他身体最好的时候,可以拄着拐杖在那个小房间里来回地走一两次。他至多只能做到这一点。每年夏天,太阳光有几天可以射进这个地下室的前房,每次大约有半点钟的光景。当小孩坐在那儿、让温暖的太阳光照在身上的时候,他就把瘦小的指头伸到面前,望着里面的鲜红的血色。这时人们就说:‘今天这孩子出来了。’

“他对于树林的知识是从春天的绿色中体会出来的。因为邻家的孩子带给了他第一根山毛榉的绿枝。他把它举在头上,幻想自己来到了一个山毛榉的树林里——这儿有太阳光射进来,有鸟儿在唱歌。

“在一个春天的日子里,那个邻家的孩子又带给他几棵野花。在这些野花中间,有一棵还很偶然带着根子。因此这棵花就被栽在一个花盆里,放在床边,紧靠着窗子了。这棵花是一只幸运的手栽种的,因此它就生长起来,冒出新芽,每年开出花朵,成了这个病孩子的最美丽的花园——他在这世界上的一个宝库。他为它浇水,照料它,尽量使它得到射进这扇低矮的窗子里来的每一线阳光。

“这棵花儿常常来到他的梦里,因为它为他开出了花,为他散发出香气,使他的眼睛得到快感。当上帝召他去的时候,他在死神面前最后要看的东西就是这棵花。

“现在他住在天上已经有一年了。在这一年中,这棵花在窗子上完全被人忘掉了。它已经枯萎,因此搬家的时候,就被人扔在街上的垃圾堆里。我们现在把这棵可怜的、萎谢了的花收进我们的花束中来,因为它给予人的快乐,大大超过了皇家花园里面那些最艳丽的花。”

“你怎么知道这件事的呢?”这个被安琪儿带上天去的孩子问。

“我当然知道,”安琪儿说,“因为我就是那个拄着拐杖走路的病孩子呀!我当然认识我的花!”

孩子睁着一双大眼睛,凝望着安琪儿的美丽幸福的脸。正在这时候,他们来到了天上,来到了和平幸福的天堂。上帝把孩子紧紧地搂在胸前,但是他却吻着那棵可怜的、萎谢了的野花。因此那棵野花就有了声音。现在它能跟别的安琪儿一齐歌唱,并且在他们周围飞翔了——他们有的飞得很近,有的绕着大圈子,飞得很远,飞到无垠的远方,但他们全都是幸福的。

他们都唱着歌——大大小小的、善良快乐的孩子们,还有搬家那天被扔在狭巷里垃圾堆上的那棵枯萎了的可怜的野花,大家都唱着歌。