Poor Charney could not sleep. Picciola must die. Already the flowers had with-ered; the leaves would soon fall from the stem.
Then a new thought came to Charney. He would ask the great Napoleon, the em-per-or himself, to save his plant.
It was a hard thing for Charney to do,—to ask a favor of the man whom he hated, the man who had shut him up in this very prison. But for the sake of Picciola he would do it.
He wrote his little story on his hand-ker-chief. Then he gave it into the care of a young girl, who promised to carry it to Napoleon. Ah! if the poor plant would only live a few days longer!
What a long journey that was for the young girl! What a long, dreary waiting it was for Charney and Picciola!
But at last news came to the prison. The stones were to be taken up. Picciola was saved!
The em-per-or’s kind wife had heard the story of Charney’s care for the plant. She saw the handkerchief on which he had written of its pretty ways.
“Surely,” she said, “it can do us no good to keep such a man in prison.”
And so, at last, Charney was set free. Of course he was no longer sad and un-lov-ing. He saw how God had cared for him and the little plant, and how kind and true are the hearts of even rough men. And he cher-ished Picciola as a dear, loved friend whom he could never forget.
Here is the story of Mignon as I remember having read it in a famous old book.
A young man named Wil-helm was staying at an inn in the city. One day as he was going up-stairs he met a little girl coming down. He would have taken her for a boy, if it had not been for the long curls of black hair wound about her head. As she ran by, he caught her in his arms and asked her to whom she belonged. He felt sure that she must be one of the rope-dan-cers who had just come to the inn. She gave him a sharp, dark look, slipped out of his arms, and ran away without speaking.
The next time he saw her, Wil-helm spoke to her again.
“Do not be afraid of me, little one,” he said kindly. “What is your name?”
“They call me Mignon,” said the child.
“How old are you?” he asked.
“No one has counted,” the child an-swered.
Wilhelm went on; but he could not help wondering about the child, and thinking of her dark eyes and strange ways.
One day not long after that, there was a great outcry among the crowd that was watching the rope-dan-cers. Wilhelm went down to find out what was the matter. He saw that the master of the dancers was beating little Mignon with a stick. He ran and held the man by the collar.
“Let the child alone!” he cried. “If you touch her again, one of us shall never leave this spot.”
The man tried to get loose; but Wilhelm held him fast. The child crept away, and hid herself in the crowd.