"I ONLY DO His bidding!" said Death. "I am His gardener, I take all His flowers and trees, and plant them out in the great garden of Paradise, in the unknown land; but how they grow there, and how it is there I dare not tell thee."
"Give me back my child!" said the mother, and she wept and prayed. At once she seized hold of two beautiful flowers close by, with each hand, and cried out to Death, "I will tear all thy flowers off, for I am in despair."
"Touch them not!" said Death. "Thou say'st that thou art so unhappy, and now thou wilt make another mother equally unhappy."
"Another mother!" said the poor woman, and directly let go her hold of both the flowers.
"There, thou hast thine eyes," said Death; "I fished them up from the lake, they shone so bright; I knew not they were thine. Take them again, they are now brighter than before; now look down into the deep well close by; I shall tell thee the names of the two flowers thou wouldst have torn up, and thou wilt see their whole future life--their whole human existence: and see what thou wast about to disturb and destroy."
And she looked down into the well; and it was a happiness to see how the one became a blessing to the world, to see how much happiness and joy were felt everywhere. And she saw the other's life, and it was sorrow and distress, horror, and wretchedness.
"Both of them are God's will!" said Death.
"Which of them is Misfortune's flower and which is that of Happiness?" asked she.
"That I will not tell thee," said Death; "but this thou shalt know from me, that the one flower was thy own child! it was thy child's fate thou saw'st--thy own child's future life!"
Then the mother screamed with terror, "Which of them was my child? Tell it me! Save the innocent! Save my child from all that misery! Rather take it away! Take it into God's kingdom! Forget my tears, forget my prayers, and all that I have done!"
"I do not understand thee!" said Death. "Wilt thou have thy child again, or shall I go with it there, where thou dost not know!"
Then the mother wrung her hands, fell on her knees, and prayed to our Lord: "Oh, hear me not when I pray against Thy will, which is the best! hear me not! hear me not!"
And she bowed her head down in her lap, and Death took her child and went with it into the unknown land.