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How Flowers Help Us

I—The Daisy

On a windy day, in late winter, I stood on the cliff-top bemoaning my lot, and pitying myself with all the vitality there was in me. Things were badly awry; everyday life was unbearable with its petty cares and monotonous sequence of days; people around me were small minded and their paltry jealousies and meaningless quarrels were irritating beyond endurance. I longed to escape into a life of larger interests, of freer atmosphere, where one's individuality would have a chance to grow and manifest itself. What with pitying myself and censuring other people, I was in a sad state of distress there on the cliff. The cold wind from off the sea helped me not at all; it merely brought old dreams of discontent into fresh remembrance, and with a fiercer yearning I longed to leave home and make a bid for happiness in countries far away; to drop my tedious work, to leave my loving friends, to cross the sea in search of novelty and fortune; to live in actual truth that moment I was so often imagining when on a steamer outward-bound one sees the dwindling coastline of the old land dim at last into invisibility, when even fond fancy can but incorrectly locate the latest seen headland ; that moment when, however unwillingly, one turns away from the old home, the old remembered hopes, and fears, and satisfactions, and faces the bows of the ship; that delirious instant of revivifying joy when one's consciousness leaps out to meet the strenuous embrace of the enveloping wind; when one's eager lips are smarting under the sting of its bold, salt kiss, and the triumph of its royal chaunt attacks one's ready ears.

The sea-wind, strong lord of space, is meet consort for one's greatly-daring spirit, and in such a moment are celebrated the mystic nuptials of the wanderer's soul with her majestic mate.

But the time for dreaming was over, and angry, even at that, I turned to retrace my steps in a perfect passion of despicable self-sympathy. In the act of turning, I noticed a chalky stain on the grass, which, upon closer inspection revealed itself to my nearsighted eyes as a little field daisy. Rooted inhospitably on the very cliff edge, exposed to the icy batterings of the February gales; solitary and unguarded; companionless and cold it grew there and smiled. Firm upon its stalk, with fearless head erect, so delicate and yet so strong because of its humility. Sturdy, faithful floweret, what a lesson you taught that day! Wisdom incarnate exhaled from your white petals. I knelt and kissed the sweet little missionary who had shown me how to make life beautiful though chained to one locality and living in cruel circumstances; who had clearly demonstrated the truth that outside things have no power to injure any man or woman, but that happiness or misery, beauty or brutality come from within. As a man thinketh so is he. I learnt that it is more profitable to count over the small blessings and advantages of one's position. In the counting mine increased until they became well-nigh innumerable.

From that hour to this, although outward conditions remain unchanged, I have walked the ways of peace and gladness, guided therein by the power that issued from a little wild daisy.

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Hope La Gallienne

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