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Once upon a time in the country, close by the high road, stood a farmhouse; perhaps you have passed by and seen it yourself.

There was a little flower garden with painted wooden palings in front of it. Close by was a ditch. On its fresh green bank grew a little daisy.  The sun shone as warmly and brightly upon it as on the magnificent garden flowers, and therefore it thrived well.

One morning it had quite opened, and its little snow-white petals stood round the yellow center, like the rays of the sun. It did not mind that nobody saw it in the grass, and that it was a poor despised flower; on the contrary, it was quite happy, and turned towards the sun, looking upward and listening to the song of the lark high up in the air.

The little daisy was as happy as if the day had been a great holiday, but it was only Monday. All the children were at school, and while they were sitting on the forms and learning their lessons, it sat on its thin green stalk and learnt from the sun and from its surroundings how kind God is, and it rejoiced that the song of the little lark expressed so sweetly and distinctly its own feelings. With a sort of reverence the daisy looked up to the bird that could fly and sing, but it did not feel envious. "I can see and hear," it thought; "the sun shines upon me, and the forest kisses me. How rich I am!"

In the garden close by grew many large and magnificent flowers, and, strange to say, the less fragrance they had the haughtier and prouder they were. The peonies puffed themselves up in order to be larger than the roses, but size is not everything! The tulips had the finest colors, and they knew it well, too, for they were standing bolt upright like candles, that one might see them the better. In their pride they did not see the little daisy, which looked over to them and thought, "How rich and beautiful they are! I am sure the pretty bird will fly down and call upon them. Thank God, that I stand so near and can at least see all the splendor." And while the daisy was still thinking, the lark came flying down, crying "Tweet," but not to the peonies and tulips- no, into the grass to the poor daisy. Its joy was so great that it did not know what to think. The little bird hopped round it and sang, "How beautifully soft the grass is, and what a lovely little flower with its golden heart and silver dress is growing here." The yellow center in the daisy did indeed look like gold, while the little petals shone as brightly as silver.

How happy the daisy was! No one has the least idea. The bird kissed it with its beak, sang to it, and then rose again up to the blue sky. It was certainly more than a quarter of an hour before the daisy recovered its senses. Half ashamed, yet glad at heart, it looked over to the other flowers in the garden; surely they had witnessed its pleasure and the honor that had been done to it; they understood its joy. But the tulips stood more stiffly than ever, their faces were pointed and red, because they were vexed. The peonies were sulky; it was well that they could not speak, otherwise they would have given the daisy a good lecture. The little flower could very well see that they were ill at ease, and pitied them sincerely.

Shortly after this a girl came into the garden, with a large sharp knife. She went to the tulips and began cutting them off, one after another.

"Ugh!" sighed the daisy, "that is terrible; now they are done for."

The girl carried the tulips away. The daisy was glad that it was outside, and only a small flower- it felt very grateful. At sunset it folded its petals, and fell asleep, and dreamt all night of the sun and the little bird.

On the following morning, when the flower once more stretched forth its tender petals, like little arms, towards the air and light, the daisy recognized the bird's voice, but what it sang sounded so sad. Indeed the poor bird had good reason to be sad, for it had been caught and put into a cage close by the open window. It sang of the happy days when it could merrily fly about, of fresh green corn in the fields, and of the time when it could soar almost up to the clouds. The poor lark was most unhappy as a prisoner in a cage. The little daisy would have liked so much to help it, but what could be done? Indeed, that was very difficult for such a small flower to find out. It entirely forgot how beautiful everything around it was, how warmly the sun was shining, and how splendidly white its own petals were. It could only think of the poor captive bird, for which it could do nothing. Then two little boys came out of the garden; one of them had a large sharp knife, like that with which the girl had cut the tulips. They came straight towards the little daisy, which could not understand what they wanted.

"Here is a fine piece of turf for the lark," said one of the boys, and began to cut out a square round the daisy, so that it remained in the center of the grass.

"Pluck the flower off" said the other boy, and the daisy trembled for fear, for to be pulled off meant death to it; and it wished so much to live, as it was to go with the square of turf into the poor captive lark's cage.

"No let it stay," said the other boy, "it looks so pretty".

And so it stayed, and was brought into the lark's cage. The poor bird was lamenting its lost liberty, and beating its wings against the wires; and the little daisy could not speak or utter a consoling word, much as it would have liked to do so. So the forenoon passed.

"I have no water," said the captive lark, "they have all gone out, and forgotten to give me anything to drink. My throat is dry and burning. I feel as if I had fire and ice within me, and the air is so oppressive. Alas! I must die, and part with the warm sunshine, the fresh green meadows, and all the beauty that God has created." And it thrust its beak into the piece of grass, to refresh itself a little. Then it noticed the little daisy, and nodded to it, and kissed it with its beak and said: "You must also fade in here, poor little flower. You and the piece of grass are all they have given me in exchange for the whole world, which I enjoyed outside. Each little blade of grass shall be a green tree for me, each of your white petals a fragrant flower. Alas! you only remind me of what I have lost."

"I wish I could console the poor lark," thought the daisy. It could not move one of its leaves, but the fragrance of its delicate petals streamed forth, and was much stronger than such flowers usually have: the bird noticed it, although it was dying with thirst, and in its pain tore up the green blades of grass, but did not touch the flower.

The evening came, and nobody appeared to bring the poor bird a drop of water; it opened its beautiful wings, and fluttered about in its anguish; a faint and mournful "Tweet, tweet," was all it could utter, then it bent its little head towards the flower, and its heart broke for want and longing. The flower could not, as on the previous evening, fold up its petals and sleep; it dropped sorrowfully. The boys only came the next morning; when they saw the dead bird, they began to cry bitterly, dug a nice grave for it, and adorned it with flowers. The bird's body was placed in a pretty red box; they wished to bury it with royal honors. While it was alive and sang they forgot it, and let it suffer want in the cage; now, they cried over it and covered it with flowers. The piece of turf, with the little daisy in it, was thrown out on the dusty highway. Nobody thought of the flower which had felt so much for the bird and had so greatly desired to comfort it.

 

雏菊

现在请你听听——

在乡间的一条大路边,有一座别墅。你一定看见过的!别墅前面有一个种满了花的小花园和一排涂了油漆的栅栏。在这附近的一条沟里,一丛美丽的绿草中长着一棵小小的雏菊。太阳温暖地、光明地照着它,正如太阳照着花园里那些大朵的美丽的花儿一样。因此它时时刻刻都在不停地生长。有一天早晨,它的花盛开了;它的光亮的小小花瓣,围绕一个金黄色的太阳的中心撒开来,简直像一圈光带。它从来没有想到,因为它生在草里,人们不会看到它,所以它要算是一种可怜的、卑微的小花。不,它却是很高兴,它把头掉向太阳,瞧着太阳,静听百灵鸟在高空中唱歌。

小雏菊是那么快乐,好像这是一个伟大的节日似的。事实上这不过是星期一,小孩子都上学去了。当他们正坐在凳子上学习的时候,它就坐在它的小绿梗上向温暖的太阳光、向周围一切东西,学习了上帝的仁慈。雏菊觉得它在静寂中所感受到的一切,都被百灵鸟高声地、美妙地唱出来了。于是雏菊怀着尊敬的心情向着这只能唱能飞的鸟儿凝望,不过,它并不因为自己不能唱歌和飞翔就感到悲哀。

“我能看,也能听,”它想。“太阳照着我,风吻着我。啊,我真是天生的幸运!”

栅栏里面长着许多骄傲的名花——它们的香气越少,就越装模作样。牡丹尽量扩张,想要开得比玫瑰花还大,可是问题并不在于庞大。郁金香的颜色最华丽,它们也知道这个特点,所以它们就特别立得挺直,好叫人能更清楚地看到它们。它们一点也不理会外边的小雏菊,但是小雏菊却老是在看着它们。它心里想:“它们是多么富丽堂皇啊!是的,美丽的鸟儿一定会飞向它们,拜访它们!感谢上帝!我离它们那么近,我能有机会欣赏它们!”正当它在这样想的时候,“滴丽”——百灵鸟飞下来了,但是他并没有飞到牡丹或郁金香上面去——不,他却飞到草丛里微贱的小雏菊身边来了。雏菊快乐得惊惶起来,真是不知怎样办才好。

这只小鸟在它的周围跳着舞,唱着歌。

“啊,草是多么柔软!请看,这是一朵多么甜蜜的小花儿——它的心是金子,它的衣服是银子!”

雏菊的黄心看起来也的确像金子,它周围的小花瓣白得像银子。

谁也体会不到,小雏菊心里感到多么幸福!百灵鸟用嘴来吻它,对它唱一阵歌,又向蓝色的空中飞去。足足过了一刻钟以后,雏菊才清醒过来。它怀着一种羞怯而又快乐的心情,向花园里的花儿望了一眼。它们一定看见过它所得到的光荣和幸福,它们一定懂得这是多么愉快的事情。可是郁金香仍然像以前那样骄傲;它们的面孔也仍然很刻板和发红,因为它们在自寻烦恼。牡丹花也是头脑不清醒,唉,幸而它们不会讲话,否则雏菊就会挨一顿痛骂。这棵可怜的小花看得很清楚,它们的情绪都不好,这使得它感到苦恼。正在这时候,有一个小女孩子拿着一把明晃晃的刀子到花园里来了。她一直走到郁金香中间去,把它们一棵一棵地都砍掉了。

“唉,”小雏菊叹了一口气,“这真是可怕。它们现在一切都完了。”

女孩子拿着郁金香走了,雏菊很高兴,自己生在草里,是一棵寒微的小花。它感到很幸运。当太阳落下去以后,它就卷起花瓣,睡着了,它一整夜梦着太阳和那只美丽的小鸟。

第二天早晨,当这花儿向空气和阳光又张开它小手臂般的小白花瓣的时候,它听到了百灵鸟的声音;不过他今天唱得非常悲哀。是的,可怜的百灵鸟是有理由感到悲哀的:他被捕去了。他现在被关在敞开的窗子旁的一个笼子里。他歌唱着自由自在的、幸福的飞翔,他歌唱着田里嫩绿的麦苗,他歌唱着他在高空中快乐的飞行。可怜的百灵鸟的心情真是坏极了,因为他是坐在牢笼里的一个囚徒。

小雏菊真希望能够帮助他。不过,它怎么才能办得到呢?是的,要想出一个办法来真不太容易。它现在也忘记了周围的一切景物是多么美丽,太阳照着多么温暖,它自己的花瓣白得多么可爱。啊!它心中只想着关在牢笼里的雀子,只感到自己一点办法也没有。

这时候有两个男孩子从花园里走出来。有一个男孩子手里拿着一把又大又快的刀子——跟那个女孩子砍掉郁金香的那把刀子差不多。他们一直向小雏菊走来——它一点也猜不到他们的用意。

“我们可以在这儿为百灵鸟挖起一块很好的草皮。”一个小孩子说。于是他就在雏菊的周围挖了一块四四方方的草皮,使雏菊恰好留在草的中间。

“拔掉这朵花吧!”另一个孩子说。

雏菊害怕得发起抖来,因为如果它被拔掉,它就会死去的。它现在特别需要活下去,因为它要跟草皮一道到被囚的百灵鸟那儿去。

“不,留下它吧,”头一个孩子说,“它可以作为一种装饰品。”

这么着,它就被留下来了,而且还来到关百灵鸟的笼子里去了。

不过这只可怜的鸟儿一直在为失去了自由而啼哭,他用翅膀打着牢笼的铁柱。小雏菊说不出话来,它找不出半个字眼来安慰百灵鸟——虽然它很愿意这么做。一整个上午就这样过去了。

“这儿没有水喝,”被囚禁的百灵鸟说。“大家都出去了,一滴水也没有留给我喝。我的喉咙在发干,在发焦。我身体里像有火,又像有冰,而且空气又非常沉闷,啊!我要死了!我要离开温暖的太阳、新鲜的绿草和上帝创造的一切美景!”

于是他把嘴伸进清凉的草皮里去,希望尝到一点凉味。这时他发现了雏菊,于是对它点头,用嘴亲吻它,同时说:

“你也只好在这儿枯萎下去了——你这可怜的小花儿!他们把你和跟你生长在一起的这一小块绿草送给我,来代替我在外面的那整个世界!对于我说来,现在每根草就是一株绿树,你的每片白花瓣就是一朵芬芳的花!啊,你使我记起,我丧失了真不知多少东西!”

“我希望我能安慰他一下!”小雏菊想。

但是它连一片花瓣都不能动。不过它精致的花瓣所发出的香气,比它平时所发出的香气要强烈得多。百灵鸟也注意到了这一点,所以虽然他渴得要昏倒,他只是吃力地啄着草叶,而不愿意动这棵花。

天已经黑了,还没有人来送一滴水给这只可怜的鸟儿。他展开美丽的翅膀,痉挛地拍着。他的歌声变成了悲哀的尖叫,他的小头向雏菊垂下来——百灵鸟的心在悲哀和渴望中碎裂了。雏菊再也不像前天晚上那样又把花瓣合上来睡一觉。它的心很难过,它的身体病了,它的头倒在土上。

小孩子在第二天早晨才走过来。当他们看见雀子死了的时候,他们都哭起来——哭出许多眼泪。他们为百灵鸟掘了一个平整的坟墓,并且用花瓣把他装饰了一番。百灵鸟的尸体躺在一个美丽的红匣子里,因为他们要为他——可怜的鸟儿——举行一个隆重的葬礼。在他活着能唱歌的时候,人们忘记他,让他坐在牢笼里受苦受难;现在他却得到了尊荣和许多眼泪!

可是那块草皮连带着雏菊被扔到路上的灰尘里去了。

谁也没有想到它,而最关心百灵鸟、最愿意安慰他的,却正是它。