THE LOVELIEST ROSE IN THE WORLD
BY HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN (ADAPTED)
ONCE there reigned a queen, in whose garden were found the
most glorious flowers at all seasons and from all the lands
of the world. But more than all others she loved the roses,
and she had many kinds of this flower, from the wild
dog-rose with its apple-scented green leaves to the most
splendid, large, crimson roses. They grew against the garden
walls, wound themselves around the pillars and wind-frames,
and crept through the windows into the rooms, and all along
 in the halls. And the roses were of many colors, and of
every fragrance and form.
But care and sorrow dwelt in those halls. The queen lay upon
a sick-bed, and the doctors said she must die.
"There is still one thing that can save her," said the wise
man. "Bring her the loveliest rose in the world, the rose
that is the symbol of the purest, the brightest love. If
that is held before her eyes ere they close, she will not
Then old and young came from every side with roses, the
loveliest that bloomed in each garden, but they were not of
the right sort. The flower was to be plucked from the Garden
of Love. But what rose in all that garden expressed the
highest and purest love?
And the poets sang of the loveliest rose in the world,—of
the love of maid and youth, and of the love of dying heroes.
"But they have not named the right flower," said the wise
man. "They have not pointed out the place where it blooms in
its splendor. It is not the rose that springs from the
hearts of youthful lovers, though this rose will ever be
fragrant in song. It is not the bloom that sprouts from the
blood flowing from the breast of the hero who dies for his
country, though few deaths are sweeter than his, and no rose
is redder than the blood that flows then. Nor is it the
 flower to which man devotes many a sleepless night and much
of his fresh life,—the magic flower of science."
"But I know where it blooms," said a happy mother, who came
with her pretty child to the bedside of the dying queen. "I
know where the loveliest rose of love may be found. It
springs in the blooming cheeks of my sweet child, when,
waking from sleep, it opens its eyes and smiles tenderly at
"Lovely is this rose, but there is a lovelier still," said
the wise man.
"I have seen the loveliest, purest rose that blooms," said a
woman. "I saw it on the cheeks of the queen. She had taken
off her golden crown. And in the long, dreary night she
carried her sick child in her arms. She wept, kissed it, and
prayed for her child."
"Holy and wonderful is the white rose of a mother's grief,"
answered the wise man, "but it is not the one we seek."
"The loveliest rose in the world I saw at the altar of the
Lord," said the good Bishop, "the young maidens went to the
Lord's Table. Roses were blushing and pale roses shining on
their fresh cheeks. A young girl stood there. She looked
with all the love and purity of her spirit up to heaven.
That was the expression of the highest and purest love."
 "May she be blessed," said the wise man, "but not one of you
has yet named the loveliest rose in the world."
Then there came into the room a child, the queen's little
"Mother," cried the boy, "only hear what I have read."
And the child sat by the bedside and read from the Book of
Him who suffered death upon the cross to save men, and even
those who were not yet born. "Greater love there is not."
And a rosy glow spread over the cheeks of the queen, and her
eyes gleamed, for she saw that from the leaves of the Book
there bloomed the loveliest rose, that sprang from the blood
of Christ shed on the cross.
"I see it!" she said, "he who beholds this, the loveliest
rose on earth, shall never die."