The Tulip Fairies
An English Folk Tale
Once upon a time there was an old woman who lived by herself in a little house. She grew a bed of beautiful multi-coloured tulips in her garden, which she would cut and bring into the house, to cheer herself up.
One night she was woken up by the sounds of sweet singing and of babies laughing. She looked out of the window and the sounds seemed to be coming from the tulip bed, but she couldn’t see anything. The next morning she walked among her flowers, but there were no signs of anyone having been there the night before.
On the following night she was woken up again by sweet singing and the sound of babies laughing. She rose and stole softly through her garden. The moon was shining brightly on the tulip bed, and the flowers were swaying to and fro. The old woman looked closely and she saw, standing by each tulip, a little fairy mother who was crooning and rocking the flower like a cradle, while in each tulip cup lay a little baby fairy laughing and playing.
The old woman was a kind-hearted soul, and so she stole quietly back to her house, and from that time on she never picked another tulip, nor did she allow her neighbours to touch them.
The tulips grew brighter in color and larger in size day by day, and they gave off a delicious perfume, like that of roses. They began to bloom all the year round too. And every night the little fairy mothers caressed their babies and rocked them to sleep in the flower cups.
Eventually, the day came, as it must, when the good old woman died, and the tulip bed was torn up by people who did not know any better, they didn’t know about the fairies, they didn’t know about the babies, and instead of tulips they planted parsley, but the parsley withered, and died, and so did all the other plants in the garden, and from that time on nothing would grow there.
But the good old woman’s grave grew beautiful, for the fairies sang above it, and kept it green – while on the grave and all around it there sprang up tulips, daffodils, and violets, and all the other lovely flowers of spring.