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e-book:


The Flowers Personified


   

now available in paperback Volume I

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more information

Flower Names
Flower Meaning
Flower Fairy Tales


The Flowers Personified introduction

The Flowers
The hand-colored plates

The Flower Fairy
How and why the Flowers became human

The Story of Two Shepherdesses,
the Blonde and the Brunette: and of a Queen of France

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
[6] [7] [8] [9] [10]
(Bluebottle, Corn poppy and Lily)

The Poet Jacobus Supposed He Had Found a Subject For An Epic Poem
(Pansy)  The secret language of flowers

Alphabetical list of Flower names in English, French & Latin with Meaning

Alphabetical list of Flower Meanings

Flora Timekeeping
Flora's Clock
The Floral Week
The Calendar of Flora

A Trick of the Flower Fairy
(Tobacco)

The Sultana Tulipia
[1] [2] [3] [4]
(Tulip)

Fragments Taken at Random from the album of the rose
[1] [2] [3] [4]
[5] [6] [7] [8] [9]
(Rose)

NARCISSA
(Daffodil)

Serious Displute In Relation to the Violet: Between The Flower Fairy and An Academy Which Prefers To Remain Anonymous.
(Violet)

SISTER NÉNUPHAR
(Water Lily)

CAMELLIA'S REGRETS

DAISY
MARGUERTINE The Oracle of the Meadows

CANZONE - The Flower of Forgetfulness

Flowers of the Ball-room

THE MYRTLE and THE LAUREL

PIANTO
The Everlasting Flower

Plates:
Differences in Plates

The Flowers

Differences in Bindings

 

 

SISTER NÉNUPHAR.


          As the devil, one day, was passing through the city of Bruges, he came in front of the Ursuline convent. The nuns, assembled in the chapel, were singing hymns of praise.

           The devil has always been a dilettante. “Zounds!” said he, “there are some of the most charming voices I have ever heard. I will go in for a moment, and hear the conclusion of the singing.” So he went in.

           While listening to the music, the devil, who, as everybody knows, has great curiosity, felt a wish to learn whether the nuns were pretty women as well as fine singers. He began to scrutinize them; and being a connoisseur in such matters, his eye rested upon a nun stationed near the entrance of the choir, by the high altar.

           A figure more emblematic of beauty, innocence, and repose, was never presented to the contemplation of painter or devil. Her large, mild eyes, and her look of fixed tranquility, roused the devil’s vanity. “There,” said he, “is a charming creature; happy in repeating her paternosters; having no care beyond the walls of the convent; an example and a model to all the sisterhood. It would be a clever thing now to open her eyes, and to make a little demon of the saint.”

           No sooner said than done. See the devil already changed to a gallant cavalier, who is twisting his moustache, and looking earnestly at the Ursuline.

           It is difficult, if not impossible, to have the devil’s eye fastened on yours, and not experience a sort of nervous irritation. No one escapes this effect: the nun felt it. With a kind of mechanical movement, she turned her eyes toward the handsome cavalier, and then let them fall again languidly on her missal. During the rest of the performance, the devil had his labor for his pains.

           Still he did not give up as beaten.

           At the hour when the nuns went into the garden, to enjoy the warm, pure atmosphere of a pleasant spring-day, the devil slipped in under the trees. He looked round for the nun, and found her sitting on the grassy bank, under the fragrant shade of an arbor of lilacs. She seemed to be indulging in one of those wild reveries, which are the dangerous offspring of the odorous evening air.

           “The occasion favors us,” said the devil to himself. “Let us proceed.”

           He drew from his pocket the heart of a young woman who had died for love, and burning it under the form of a seraglio pastille, he filled the air with perfume.

           Instantly evoked by this magic charm, desires came to flit about the nun. The breeze played in her hair, as if caressing it. The clusters of the lilac rested wooingly upon her head. The flowers, the waters, the birds, all became vocal, and talked to her of love.

           The nun at length arose, and pressed her hand to her head. “The charm works well,” said the devil to himself: “in less than an hour she is mine.” But the nun, as if exhausted, had sunk down upon the turf again.

           “Whew!” said she, after a moment of repose, “it is very warm here. I must go to the refectory.” During all this magic spell of Satan, she had been conscious of nothing but a slight elevation of temperature. The devil was in a rage.

           He determined that he would not be balked.

           That evening, he found his way into the nun’s cell, under the yellow cover of a fashionable romance. He assumed the form of an octavo, and spread himself out, wide open, on the desk for prayer. He had selected the most startling page in the book – a love-scene, all panting, rustling, astounding. In every age, these splendid specimens of rhetoric have thrown the imagination of readers into confusion, and have served the purposed of Messire Satanas.

           The young woman took the book and read the page which had been opened for her. She then stretched out her arms with a careless air, yawned, and fell asleep on her couch.

           This time the devil was provoked.

 Nothing remained but to try the power of dreams. He summoned the whole throng; he gave them their instructions; and resolved himself to superintend their operations. He leaned over the bed of the young maiden. The dreams came, each in his turn, and rested on her heart. But there was nothing which indicated that she was in the slightest degree disturbed by them. Her sleep was quiet – her color unaltered – her pulse as regular as usual. It seems, even, that towards midnight she began to snore.

           “Clearly,” said the devil, “here is a nun who is not constituted like nuns in general. I could have revolutionized a whole convent with a single one of the means which I have employed against her. She must have some secret charm, by which she is protected. One would suppose that a frigid atmosphere circles round her; that some mysterious influence relaxes her nerves, stupefies her wits, and exhausts her bodily powers. It is strange: I feel a sort of desire to sleep myself,” added the devil, as he rubbed his eyes. “What can it mean? Am I yielding to the influences of the romance which I had to read?”

           As he said these words, the devil fell asleep.

           He did not awake until the hour of matins, just as the nun left her cell to resort to the chapel. The devil had to shake himself for a long time before he could get his eyes open; nor did he fully recover the use of his faculties, till he was seventeen kilometres distant from Bruges.

           The devil, cunning as he is, had no idea who his adversary was.

           Being upon the earth, – incapable of loving and of being loved, – taking no part in the pains or the pleasures of mankind, – pale and mournful, – the cold Water-lily could find no refuge but in a convent. The languid and monotonous life of the nuns suited her exactly. The absence of all the virtues, was in her esteemed a virtue.  Sister Nénuphar died in the odor of sanctity. The nuns of Bruges procured her canonization.

 

Water Lily

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Water Lily
Nenuphar
Nymphæa