The Happy Prince, and other stories

The Devoted Friend

"Whatasillyquestion!"criedtheWater-rat."Ishouldexpectmydevotedfriendtobedevotedtome,ofcourse."

"Andwhatwouldyoudoinreturn?"saidthelittlebird,swinginguponasilverspray,andflappinghistinywings.

"Idon’tunderstandyou,"answeredtheWater-rat.

"Letmetellyouastoryonthesubject,"saidtheLinnet.

"Isthestoryaboutme?"askedtheWater-rat."Ifso,Iwilllistentoit,forIamextremelyfondoffiction."

"Itisapplicabletoyou,"answeredtheLinnet;andheflewdown,andalightinguponthebank,hetoldthestoryofTheDevotedFriend.

"Onceuponatime,"saidtheLinnet,"therewasanhonestlittlefellownamedHans."

"Washeverydistinguished?"askedtheWater-rat.

"No,"answeredtheLinnet,"Idon’tthinkhewasdistinguishedatall,exceptforhiskindheart,andhisfunnyroundgood-humouredface.Helivedinatinycottageallbyhimself,andeverydayheworkedinhisgarden.Inallthecountry-sidetherewasnogardensolovelyashis.Sweet-williamgrewthere,andGilly-flowers,andShepherds’-purses,andFair-maidsofFrance.ThereweredamaskRoses,andyellowRoses,lilacCrocusesandgold,purpleVioletsandwhite.ColumbineandLadysmock,MarjoramandWildBasil,theCowslipandtheFlower-de-luce,theDaffodilandtheClove-Pinkbloomedorblossomedintheirproperorderasthemonthswentby,oneflowertakinganotherflower’splace,sothattherewerealwaysbeautifulthingstolookat,andpleasantodourstosmell.

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