Kittie was a lively little girl, who lived with her mamma and papa, in a large house, on a beautiful street, in a great city. She was up and down stairs, from garret to cellar, in a minute, singing and dancing all day long. She was such a dear, bright little girl, that every one loved her. The cook in the kitchen, the maid in the parlor, and the old gardener, petted and doted on her; each claimed her as their own. The Monday after Thanksgiving, it happened to be wash day, and Kittie, as usual, went into the laundry, to play with the soap-suds. There was Mrs. Smith, the washer-woman, rubbing the soiled clothes in the hot soap-water, and making the washboard sing, "rub, rub," as loud as it could sing. Kind Kittie went up to her and said:
"Good morning, Mrs. Smith. Have you a little girl to love you?"
"No, my dear," said she. "I have no little girl, but I have a little boy, and I love him dearly."
"A little boy! How old is he? What is his name?"
"His name is Christopher, but that is such a long name, that I call him Kit, for short. He is just seven years old; his birthday was last week."
"Kit, what a verry funny name that is; it almost sounds like Kittie, does it not? But why do you not bring him to our house when you come here to wash ? Does he not get very lonely at home by himself all day?"
"Yes, he does get real lonesome sometimes. You must know, Kittie, that he is lame, and walks with a crutch, and even then it pains him to walk much; for this reason he must lie on his little bed, all day long. How glad he is when I get home at night, for he has no one to play with."
"Why, that is too bad," said Kittie. "How awful it must be, to lie in bed all day long, and not be able to run and play about."
Then she heard her mamma calling, "Kittie, Kittie, where are you?"
"Here I am, mamma!"
With these words, she ran down the cellar steps, her mamma was in the cellar, taking something out of yellow straw, and putting them into a basket she held in her hand.
"Come here, Kittie, and help me carry the bulbs into the garden, where John (the gardener) will plant them."
"What did you call them, mamma?"
"Why, they look like dead roots!"
"Yes, they do look like dead roots now, Kittie; but when they are planted in the earth, they will grow, and get green leaves, and after awhile, beautiful Easter lilies will come out among the leaves."
"Oh, mamma!" said Kittie, looking at a very large root, "will you let me have this one to give away?"
"Yes," said her mamma, "but you must tell me to whom you wish to give the root."
Then Kittie told her mamma all about poor lame Kit; how he had to lie in bed all day, and had no one to talk to, or to play with.
"Yes," said her mamma, "we will both take it to Mrs. Smith, and I will tell her how to plant it, and how to take care of it."
When they came to the laundry, Kittie ran up to Mrs. Smith, and said:
"Here is something for little Kit; something he can take care of and love."
Well, that night, when the washing was done, and Mrs. Smith walked up the long flight of stairs, to her room, where she and Kit lived, she said to herself, "I will let Kit guess what is in this paper, and see if he can guess aright." When she opened the door, the room was quite dark, and a little voice cried
"Mamma, is that you? How glad I am that you have come. I was so very lonely to-day, and the day seemed so long, oh, so long!"
"Yes, Kit, I am glad to be home again; but wait until I make a light, and then you shall guess what I have brought you."
Kit guessed and guessed everything he could think of, from oranges down to marbles, and at last he begged his mother to open the parcel and let him see what was inside. Then his mamma undid the string and unrolled the paper. How disappointed Kit was when he saw the brown roots.
"Why, mamma!" he cried, "those are only dead roots, fit to throw into the fire! What shall I do with, them?"
Then his mamma told him how Kittie had sent them to him, and how he was to plant them, and water them, and love them. What should they plant them in? They did not even have a flower-pot; but mamma found a tin can, and into this they put some earth, and in the soft brown earth they laid the roots, covered them up, and sprinkled the earth with water. For two weeks they put the can in a dark corner, as Kittie's mamma had told them; after this it was set on the window-sill, the only one in the room. Kit watched to see the green leaves come out, and sure enough, one morning two tiny baby leaves peeped out of the brown earth, and then others came, and more and more, until the lily had a green stalk, almost a foot high. How proud Kit was of it, for he had watered it, and nursed it every day, and now he was anxiously looking for buds to come, but they would not, and would not come. What could be the matter! One day he told his mamma to please ask Kittie's mamma why his lily did not get buds. The next Monday, when she washed there, she did ask her about it.
"Does he give it water?" asked Kittie's mamma.
"Yes, he does," said Mrs. Smith.
"Does he ever wash off the leaves with a sponge, and does it stand in the sunlight?" next asked the mamma.
"O no," said Mrs. Smith, "our window faces an alley, and the walls of the opposite house are so high, that the sunbeams cannot get into our room."
"Well, that is the reason; it will never bloom if it gets no sunlight."
"When Kit's mamma told him that, he felt like crying, for he said that his lily would never bloom. How bad he felt! But, just think of it, the next day, while Kit was laying in bed, late in the afternoon, a little sunbeam came into the room, and danced upon the floor. Kit jumped out of bed as fast as he could, with his lame foot, and put his lily right in it.. How happy the green leaves looked, and how they shook themselves, as much as to say, "How good this feels." Every day the little sunbeam came, and staid longer and longer. One day as Kit was looking at his lily, he saw it was full of tiny buds; such little wee buds, hardly as big as the head of a pin. They grew larger and larger, until they were almost ready to open. Easter was fast coming; the night before Easter, Kit said to his mamma:
"I hope my twelve lily buds will open to-morrow, for they are Easter lilies, and they should bloom on Easter Sunday."
Sure enough, when Kit woke up the next morning, the whole room was filled with a sweet perfume; and when Kit rose up and looked, there were the twelve lilies, wide open, with yellow centers, that looked like golden pins. How happy he was! When mamma awoke, they dressed and went to church, to see all the lovely flowers there. But when they were coming home, Kit said to his mamma:
"Mamma, the flowers in church were beautiful, but none of the Easter lilies were as large and pure as ours."
His mamma said she thought so too. Just then they passed a door that was standing half open, and as Kit and his mamma went by, they saw a little boy in bed, looking as white, and sick, and sad as could be.
"Mamma, what is the matter with that little boy? He looks as white as my lilies."
"Yes," said his mamma, "he has been sick for a long time, and to-day, when everybody is going to church, he must lie still in bed and suffer pain."
When they got home, Kit looked at his lilies a long time, then suddenly he kissed them, then took his hand and broke off the whole stalk, and with his crutch under his arm, and the lilies in the other hand, where do you think he carried them?
The Easter Lilies
A Fictional Short Story by
Agnes Taylor Ketchum & Ida M. Jorgensen