Around these parts they still tell the story of the tiny fairy child who wanted to go and dwell with humans. Because she was so ugly, her mean fairy parents were only too happy to let her go. So they sent her to a village in the hope that an ugly human couple would adopt the ugly fairy child. In her little pack they placed a large bottle of fairy wine, or so they told her, to share with each human in the village as a gift. Now this bottle really contained a secret fairy draught which, once consumed, turned the drinker into whatever plant they last saw. In this way, the fairies hoped to rid themselves of the villagers and steal all their wealth.
So off she went to the village and sat down in the town square, hoping for the right couple to come by and adopt her. But she was so tiny and so plain that no one paid any attention to her at all. There she sat for most of the day, and when the sun was low on the horizon, she trudged away toward the woods, very sad and dejected. “Perhaps I am too ugly even for them,” she thought. And that was saying something.
As she was leaving the village, she noticed it was completely surrounded by beautiful white rhododendrons in full bloom. In those days white rhododendrons were the only kind that grew. She thought of how beautiful they were and wished terribly she could be as beautiful as they were. “I will leave them a part of me,” she thought. So she pricked her finger with a thorn and spilled one tiny drop of fairy blood on each rhododendron. Well, there were hundreds and hundreds of rhododendrons, and by the time she finished she was exhausted and sick. So she sat down and decided she would drink the bottle of wine, and then she hoped she would drift off to the next world.
|The blood-red rhododendron.|
Meanwhile, the band of evil fairies decided they would attack the village in the morning since they figured that most of the ugly humans would be turned into plants anyhow. They would make their raid and steal any valuables the humans had. But they had quite a surprise waiting for them when they got there, for surrounding the village were huge, brilliant red rhododendrons with hundreds and hundreds of humans exclaiming about them. When the humans saw the fairies, they set upon them with pitchforks and fire because this was not the first time they had encounters with this unsavory band of raiding fairies, and they beat the fairies far back into the woods.
The humans were in awe and a bit afraid of the beautiful blood-red rhododendrons. At first they thought they would cut them down now that the fairies were gone, but each time they gazed at the deep red color, a fire of determination grew in their hearts. They finally decided that it was a good fire and a brave fire and a protective fire, so they allowed the rhododendrons to stay put. They had a big party with music and dancing and much wine all around the rhododendrons, which they now believed were magically placed there as the protectors of their village, and they continued this tradition every year when the rhododendrons were in bloom.
And somewhere in some way an ugly little fairy child was not so ugly or sad anymore. She was as beautiful as she had always wanted to be, and she was living among the peculiar but funny humans as she had always wanted to do. The humans, in turn, believed their strange unusual red rhododendrons to be the finest in the land, and so they were.