Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
WHY ROSES HAVE THORNS
 THE fairy Trueheart came to the earth-world one day in search of a good
All day she walked the streets of a great city where many children were at
play, scattered here and there in merry groups, on the sidewalks, in the
parks, and along grassy squares.
The fairy Trueheart liked to watch the children play, and though they did
not know a fairy was near, she stood close to them and listened to see if
their words and deeds were always kind.
But there was a shadow on her sweet face to-day, for, as I told you, she had
come to the earth-world expressly to find a good child, and her search had
been in vain.
She had patiently stood among group after group of children, and just as she
thought perhaps she had found the good
 child, why, she would
straightway hear ugly, cross words, and this very little child whom she had
thought to be good would join with the others and fuss and quarrel because
the game did not go just right. Then they would call one another ugly names,
and the fairy Trueheart would turn sorrowfully away and hasten on, because
she knew the good child was not there. And then she would stop by some other
group, where children with fair faces and sunny hair were at play, and the
fairy Trueheart would say, "Surely, a good child plays here." But, no! for
just at this moment there would be a piercing scream, and she would see a
very little boy sobbing and crying because a great big boy had taken his
And so once more the fairy Trueheart would hasten on her way, only to find
in other groups the same sad sight,—perhaps a baby girl crying, with
tear-stained and soiled, because the sister whom she loved best of all had
slapped her, and then ran away and hidden so that the tiny footsteps might
 Trueheart stooped down and kissed the tears away from the sweet blue
eyes, and taking the chubby hand in hers, led her away to her home.
Perhaps, after all, she might find the good child there. But no! in the
children's homes it was the same. They would fuss because one had a larger
slice of cake or another a redder apple, until the fairy Trueheart was sad
indeed. Placing her gentle hand on the heads of the children, she looked
down into the depths of their clear, bright eyes and asked why it was they
acted thus, when it was so
 much happier a way to do the right.
But the children only bowed their heads and answered softly, "It is because
And thus the night had come, and the fairy Trueheart had gone back to
fairyland very sorrowful, because she had failed to find the good child.
"What shall I do?" she asked over and over again. "What shall I do to help
the earth-children to remember?"
That was a hard thing to answer, because, while the earth-children's eyes
are bright and beautiful, they do not always see the right, and though their
ears are keen and good, they do not always hear the right.
And even though their hands are soft and fair, they do not always do the
right, nor do their feet keep from going astray.
And so the fairy Trueheart thought and thought until far into the night, and
at last a plan came to her. "I shall gather a great basketful of tiny
 thorns," she said, "and at night while the earth-children are fast asleep, I
shall place deep down in each child's heart a tiny, tiny little thorn.
"The earth-child will never know the thorn is hidden there until he forgets
to do the right, and every time he forgets, why, the little thorn will prick
him, and this will cause him to remember."
The plan pleased her so much that the fairy Trueheart took the basket on her
arm at once, and went in search of the tiny thorns.
But alas! though she searched and searched, no thorns could she find,
because in fairyland then flowers did not have thorns, as many of them do
At last she entered the Garden Beautiful, and told her story to the queen of
the flowers,—an exquisite white rose.
"Beautiful indeed is thy mission, Fairy Trueheart," said the rose queen,
"and for the lack of thorns it shall not fail.
"I myself will be glad to bear the thorns for you, because it is my joy to
help, and I
 should be, oh, so glad! if through me, only one little
earth-child should remember to do right.
"Come to me again to-morrow night,—thy thorns shall be ready for
Thus spoke the lovely rose queen, and the fairy Trueheart hastened away with
a glad heart.
And so it was that the fair rose queen bore her first thorns. Others, seeing
her good work, asked to join, until by and by all the roses and their
kindred delighted to bear the tiny, tiny thorns, which the fairy Trueheart
buried deep within the heart of every little earth-child to help him to
But the blessing returned again to the rose queen, as a good gift always
does. For when roses began to bloom in the earth-world to please the eyes of
mortal man, the dogs and cows and other animals of the earth might have
eaten or trampled the roses underfoot were it not for these same thorns,
which are always there to prick them and drive them away.
And you, little earth-child of to-day,
 should you ever feel the prick
of a tiny thorn within, think of the fairy Trueheart and remember.
The roses are here, and are watching you, though you may not see the fairy.