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.