Author's Note: This is from the unpublished collection Fairy-Tales for the Disenchanted, the same anthology that holds both the Long-Suffering Queen and Pills and Potions. The Rose Garden

A woman once tended a glorious rose garden, which blossomed all the year with huge, white blooms.  This woman had a daughter, and when the daughter was old enough to go out into the rose garden, the mother reluctantly agreed to let her go out for a bit each day.

However, the woman feared for her daughter for she knew that the roses of the garden had sharp and wicked thorns.  So every day, the woman went around the rose garden, plucking off the thorns.  The garden was big, and so she could only attend to her task in stages, and for this reason, she forbade her daughter from going into any part of the garden where she had not first pulled off the thorns.

Then one day the woman had to go into town on an errand.  She was gone longer than she expected, and her daughter, impatient for her chance to view the splendid blossoms of the garden, opened the gate and went in alone.  Without her mother, however, she did not know what part of the garden was free from thorns.  She determined not to let her fear of being pricked keep her from enjoying all the beauty the garden had to offer, and so she roamed around it all day and late into the evening.

As she explored the garden more thoroughly than she ever had before, she became aware of a particularly comely rose bush twining upon itself in the very center of the garden.  The white blossoms were huge and heavy with fragrance, and the daughter determined to have the largest one for her hair.  She pushed past the grasping canes, stretching herself out to her full length to pluck her prize.  Just then, her mother returned from her errand, and, seeing what was about to transpire, she called out for the girl to stop for she had not yet taken the thorns from that particular bush.

Either the daughter did not hear her warning or she did not heed it, for she grasped the blossom in her hand and plucked it from the bush.  As she did so, her finger caught on a thorn.  She gasped in surprise and wept a little, but held the blossom all the tighter for the pain.  Once she had plucked it, she marveled at her prize, for the flower she held in her hand had been stained a deep crimson by the blood from her wound.

Her mother admonished her severely, but the daughter grew to love the thorns on the roses. Certainly that first crimson rose was more precious to her for the pain that it had caused.

-- M. Belanger

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