The Ivory Cups

          Before sunup one spring morning, a troop of fairies went to gather morning dew.   Carrying their tiny ivory cups, they flitted among the trees, played hide-and-seek in the ferns and grasses, and danced on the pale moonbeams.  As they came near a meadow, loud hissing and roaring broke the quiet of the early dawn.  Quickly, the fairies ducked under some leaves.  They hung their cups on blades of grass and quietly crept forward to see what was happening.
          As they peeked out from under the ferns and grasses, a terrible sight met their eyes.  In the middle of the meadow, a young knight was fighting a dragon all by himself.  The dragon was an enormous beast with great webbed wings that fanned the flames of fire spouting from his mouth.  He had a long tail with spikes at the tip, which he lashed around.
          The young knight was badly wounded. Blood streamed through his armor, his face and hands were scorched, and he was so exhausted that he fell to his knees. As the fairies watched in horror, the dragon reared up for his final attack.  It flew high up into the air, lashed its tail, and blew fiery hot flames at the knight as it plunged toward him.  With the last of his strength, the knight staggered to his feet. He lifted his sword with both hands, and when the dragon was nearly upon him, he thrust his sword upward with all his might.  The sword penetrated deep into the dragon's chest and pierced his heart.  With a roar that shook the trees, the dragon fell down dead.
          But the knight fell too.  Cut by the dragon's claws and burned by its hery breath, he lay unconscious on the ground.
          Cautiously, the fairies crept from their hiding places and flew to the knight's side.  His breath was raspy and uneven. Unless the fairies did something, his wounds would kill him.  Quickly, they seized their little ivory cups and flitted off through the woods.
          Faster than light they flew until, deep in the forest, they came to a small spring.  From here flowed the water of life.  The fairies dipped their little cups into the spring and flew off again to the meadow where the knight lay dying.  One by one, each fairy carefully poured a single drop of the water of life onto his lips.  Then they hung their cups on blades of grass and settled around him to watch.
Slowly, the knight licked his lips and swallowed the precious drops.  Soon he began to breathe more evenly.  The fairies clapped their tiny hands in excitement.  They had saved him!
          But as the knight stirred, noises came from the forest. It was the village people coming to see how their champion had fared in the battle with the dragon. In great haste, the fairies flew away, forgetting their little cups on the blades of grass.
          A little later, when the sun rose and shone on the cups, a wonderful thing happened.  The ivory cups became permanently attached to the blades of grass. They became the flowers we know today as lilies of the valley.  Every spring you can see them at the edge of the forest, where they grow in memory of how the little fairies saved the young knight.  The wonderful scent from the water of life is so strong that it lingers on, even today.
          Why couldn't these fairies just come back for their cups?  Because if the sun
shines on fairies, they immediately turn to dust, fairy dust.