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Overheard in Fairyland by  Madge A. Bingham
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WHY HEART-SHAPED LEAVES HAVE PITCHERS

[149] THE Valentine Princess was the one who first thought of sending valentines as love messages.

She was the little school-mistress of the Brownie School, and always wore a dainty apron cut from the pattern of a heart.

All through the month of February the little brownies were busy as bees with scissors and paste and coloured papers, making the pretty valentines and writing the love messages on them.

Then, just at nightfall on St. Valentine's Day, all the little brownies tripped round to the doors in Brownie-land, rang the bells and left the pretty valentines which they slipped beneath the doors and ran, ran, ran!

Oh, it was great fun, and I have heard that some of these valentines fell to the earth-world below, and that is why the earth-children began making valentines. It may be that you have found one beneath your door.

[150] Well, the Valentine Princess offered a gold ring to the little brownie who would make the most beautiful valentine for the queen, and of course every little brownie was anxious to get the prize.

There was one little brownie who was so very, very fat that all the other little brownies called him Jumbo, and it seemed that he was more anxious than any of the others to make the most beautiful valentine; so he worked and worked and worked with scissors and brush and pretty papers, even while the other brownies were out at play, and at last he made a valentine which he thought was pretty enough to send to the queen.

When everyone had finished his valentine, though, the Princess herself could not tell which was the most beautiful, because they were all so very pretty.

But then, a brownie never saw an ugly valentine, anyway, and I am quite sure he would never make an ugly one to send away, any more than you would.

Oh, yes, of course, I know that down in the earth-world you will sometimes see ugly [151] valentines in the stores, unless you turn your head and walk quickly away, as a brownie would do.

Well, what do you suppose happened to the little fat Jumbo brownie and his valentine?

That very day—St. Valentine's Day it was—he was hopping along in the earth-world, visiting the flowers, when all at once he heard someone crying close by his side, and when the little Jumbo brownie looked up he saw a little fair-haired girl sitting on the front door-steps sobbing. And she held a valentine in her hand.

"That is queer," thought the little Jumbo brownie. "I never knew before that valentines would make an earth-child cry. I'll just take a peep."

So he slipped up very quietly behind the little girl and looked over her shoulder. And then he shut his eyes—shut them very tight and turned his head. Can you guess why?

Yes, someone had sent the little girl an ugly valentine. I couldn't begin to tell you how very ugly it was, and I am not [152] surprised that the little brownie shut his eyes and hopped away so quickly.

It was the first ugly valentine he had ever seen, and he thought surely an earth-child was like the brownies and would never send a valentine to anyone unless it had birds and flowers and dainty little pictures with love verses hidden beneath them—because a valentine is a love message, you know. So he wondered and wondered.

And then, the first thing the little Jumbo brownie knew, there were tears in his own eyes, because he felt so sorry for the little girl, and all in a minute, what do you suppose he did?

While the little earth-child sat on the door-steps with her head buried in her lap, [153] sobbing and sobbing, why, he slipped right up behind her again, as softly as ever he could, and dropped his own beautiful valentine right into her lap, and then skipped away in a hurry.

Now, don't you know the little girl was surprised and very happy when she raised her head and saw the beautiful valentine?

But the little Jumbo brownie, what about him?

When he got back to fairyland it was just at nightfall, and all the other little brownies were getting ready to take their prize valentines to the queen. And he had given his away; so he had none to take—no love message for his queen.

So the little Jumbo brownie bowed his head and was very sorry, indeed!

Oh, dear, no! not sorry because he had given his valentine away to the little earth-child—he was glad about that—but sorry because he was afraid the Valentine Princess would not understand, and the fairy queen would wonder where his love message was? That was what troubled him.

[154] But while he was walking slowly along with his head bowed down,—the little Jumbo brownie was thinking so hard,—why, he walked right into a clay bank by the side of the road.

And then the little brownie laughed and laughed and laughed, and he said:

"There now! why not make a love message out of this clay? Why not?" And then he laughed again.

So the little Jumbo brownie stooped down quickly and from a bit of the soft, brown clay he rolled and modelled a most beautiful little pitcher. Then he gathered a bunch of the pretty green heart-shaped leaves and tucked them into the little brown pitcher; and the queen's love message was finished.

Now don't you think that was a most beautiful valentine? The queen smiled and smiled when she saw it, and she said:

"This is quite the prettiest valentine that I ever saw. The little brown pitcher is as dainty as dainty can be, and the heart-shaped leaves must mean love, I am sure.

[155] How did you come to think about this pretty valentine, little Jumbo brownie?"

Then the little brownie told about the earth-child he had found crying on the door-steps, because someone had sent her an ugly valentine, and the fairy queen said:

"Dear me! Can it be that the earth-children do not know how to make beautiful valentines? We must give them your pattern this very day, little Jumbo brownie."

So she hurried away with all the other brownies, and throughout the shady dells and woods of the earth-world they planted the first heart-shaped leaf plants, which mean love. And they did not forget to tuck away the pretty brown pitchers, which the sweet-smelling heart-shaped leaf plant delights to fill with fresh, cool water to keep her love leaves always green.


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