Music always enchanted the Fairies, and for a long time five of them stood quietly, knee-deep in the grasses beneath an open, stained- glass window, and listened to the children sing. None of the boys and girls within, rehearsing their songs for the Easter Service, knew that they were there.
The clear young voices melted into the air, and the Fairies stood with reverently lifted faces, and listened to every word of praise as the children sang.
The Fairies drifted up to the window sill, impelled there by the beauty and enchantment of the music. They stood in a straight row on the narrow ledge, their faces lifted in worship to meet the loving power of the Risen Christ, and still the children did not know they were there. Even after the music stopped and the girls and boys prepared to go home, not one of them noticed the little elf-like creatures watching them.
As the Fairies watched they listened, too, to hear what the music teacher told the children.
"When you march in tomorrow morning," she said, "each of you will carry a potted Easter Lily." The boys and girls clapped their hands for very joy. "And," continued the teacher, "when you reach the platform you will please place your flower-pots just so. She walked over to the platform and the children followed, to learn what they must do.
But the Fairies did not wait to see or hear any more. They floated gracefully to the ground and sped away, to gather some proper equipment to help with the great occasion. There was no time to lose, because the very next day was Easter Sunday.
With no trouble at all the Fairies walked into a tree, and in a few minutes out they came again. One of them carried a broom. It was made from feather-down, as soft as new rain. "I shall sweep the leaves of the Lilies and make them shine," he sang.
The second Fairy held a dust cloth. It was a large and lacy one, made entirely of delicately woven cobwebs.
"I shall dust the petals, one by one," he said, "and they will be radiantly white for Easter Morn."
Their leader almost stumbled out of the tree trunk, so great was his load. He carried an enormous cake of fern dew soap, and a brush with spun- moon-beam bristles, and a towel that dragged on the earth beneath his feet, it was so large.
The other two Fairies had healing hands. They used them to restore the wounded and discolored plants to beauty. They had loving hearts and the whisper of gentle voices with which to invite insects out from the buds and flowers where they often sleep. All the Fairies had a joyous sense of their own responsibility to make the Lilies as beautiful as possible for Easter Day.
"Does anyone know where the potted Lilies are?" asked the elf with the broom. No one knew!
"Whatever shall we do!" the others cried out in dismay.
Their leader spread his towel on the ground, and crossed his legs as he sat down on it to think.
"Hurry!" he shouted at last. "Get back to the window sill before it is too late. Perhaps we shall hear more of what the music teacher tells the children."
In a cloud of hope and happiness the Fairies flew up to peer into the window again but, alas, it was too late. There was NO one in sight. Once more their leader sat cross-legged on the towel to think.
"There are more windows!" he cried. And away went the Fairies to peep into all the other rooms. In front of one was a table, and a telephone, and the music teacher. The Fairies eagerly listened to what she had to say.
"Is this the Merryweather Flower Shop?" she asked into the telephone, and the little elves nearly tumbled off the window sill from excitement. They were so excited they didn't even hear her ask about the Lilies. But then another voice, distant and far away, drifted out of the receiver into the teacher's ear, and by that time the Fairies were composed enough to hear.
"Those twenty-five potted lilies will be ready for the children early Sunday morning," said the far-away voice, and the four little people didn't wait to hear any more. They flew to the ground and clustered about their leader, telling him all that they had heard.
"Continue your usual work," he said, "until sundown. When the last ray is drawn into the evening sky, meet me here. Meanwhile I will locate this Merry-weather Flower Shop, and I will return to lead you there in the quietude of night."
They all agreed, and four Fairies returned to their customary work of forming the leaves and flowers of the plants and trees. Their leader floated away on his towel, for all the world like a magic carpet. While he was gone the others could think of nothing but the potted Lilies, and the children, and the voices of the children as they sang. They hummed into the ears of every flower they worked upon, instilling into each a love for the resurrected life. Many beautiful forms came into being as they softly sang:
The birds heard, and the butterflies heard, and the bees and insects heard. One by one they lifted the joyous refrain into the air, filling the world with their music. And so it was that the whole wide earth rejoiced.
In the meantime the Fairy leader had located the Merryweather Flower Shop. Inside, all in a stately row, stood twenty-five not-so-large flower pots. In each one was a tall white lily. The Elf lifted his eyes to say, "Thank you," and as he looked into the sky the Sun drew its last ray into the evening calm. In a shorter time than it takes to whistle astonishment, the Fairy leader was back with his flock.
"Everything is ready," he announced. "We will go to Mr. Merryweather's place at once."
All night long he and his helpers worked in the Flower Shop, sweeping and dusting and scouring until all the potted Lilies shone. They opened the buds to filter in some light, and many of the insects flew away. Their healing hands tenderly repaired the blooms that were wounded and discolored, and they breathed an evening blessing on every one. When the first Sun-ray unfolded to brighten the Shop on Easter morning, every lily was clean and whole and radiantly white.
The leader of the Fairies sat cross-legged on a leaf, to survey the work that they had accomplished. The broom and the dust cloth continued to polish where there was more need. A few more insects were coaxed out of a bud; a pair of healing hands transformed the last wounded blossom into health, and the Fairics declared that their work was done.
"It is good," they said, "for now even the Lilies will sing of the risen Christ."
They returned to their tree home and awaited the ringing of the chimes that called the people to the Easter Service. Dressed in their Sabbath best the Fairies seated themselves in silence on the sill before the open window, to join in the worship. No one in the congregation suspected they were there. They were all looking at a wreath of bright red roses against a pure white cross.
A golden star, luminous against a lovely blue, glistened like a halo of light and love behind the flowery cross, and the Fairies' tiny mouths whispered little round, fervent "O-o-o- 's." The organ music vibrated throughout the room, and resounded in every heart, as the children came marching in. The boys and girls, each carrying a shining Easter Lily, were singing more triumphantly than they ever had before.
And the Fairies heard the Lilies singing, too.