Autumn was passing, and Jack Frost was frightening all the flowers
away. Even the seeds could not bear to stay above the ground, but
crept underneath out of the cold. The tiny underground elves gathered
them and carried them away to the Earth-mother's warm nurseries, and
tucked them into soft cradles till it should be time to return them to
the garden for the spring growth.
But a sweet-pea seed refused to come down. "No," she said; "I do not
wish to lie in a cradle all the winter. I wish to stay here and grow.
I am already sprouting, and I intend to go on." She would not be moved.
The elves went to the Earth-mother.
"There is a sweet-pea seed above the ground, Rose-Pink by name, who
refuses to come below," they said. "What shall we do with her?"
"Tell her that Jack Frost will nip her with his cruel fingers if she
stays there," said the Earth-mother.
The elves took the message, but soon returned.
"She says she is strong and hardy, and will laugh at Jack Frost," they
"Tell her the Storm-king will beat her down with his great winds, and
break her back," said the Earth-mother.
They went again, but returned and said: "She says she will grow little
tendrils with which to hold tightly to the fence, so that the great
winds cannot tear her down."
"Tell her that the Snow-queen will bury her in her cold white
snowflakes," said the Earth-mother.
"She says she will not die, but will push her head through the cold
white snowflakes," they said when they came back.
"Then leave her alone," said the Earth-mother. "She is brave, and
perhaps her courage will carry her safely through the winter. If it
does her reward will come in the summer."
So Rose-Pink was left alone, and went on growing quietly by the fence,
taking advantage of every little bit of sunshine that came her way.
Jack Frost nipped her with his cruel fingers, but she only laughed at
him; the Storm-king tried to beat her down with his great winds, but
she clung to the fence with her little tendrils; the Snow-queen buried
her in her cold white snowflakes, but she pushed her head through and
At last the winter passed, and the soft spring air blew over the
garden. The elves brought back the seeds and set them in their places.
"Rose-Pink must be dead," they said, and they ran to look.
"I am alive and well, and very happy," sang Rose-Pink from half-way up
She grew fast now, and soon reached the top of the fence. Then came
her reward; for while the other sweet-peas were only half grown, her
little buds came and her flowers opened out. Such glorious flowers
they were, flushed like the sunrise sky. Rose-Pink sang for joy, and
breathed out scented happiness on every breeze.
"You have come long before your sisters," said the Bees. "Nothing in
all the garden is so sweet and beautiful as you."