The loveliest dress

A story about compassion to share with children!

The loveliest dressShe was the poorest little girl in the entire world. She owned nothing, not even a rag doll, not even pictures. She only had one single dress and when her mother washed it, she had to remain in bed while in dried.

One evening, the mother was looking at her sleeping little girl her eyes turned to the tattered blue dress tidily folded on a chair and she thought that the child really needed a new dress.

But how was a mother who worked all day to earn just enough to buy bread going to find the money needed to purchase a dress? She opened the window, looked at the fields and the shiny moon and thought: “Surely somebody will give my child a dress.”

She quietly walked out, closed the door and went looking. No sooner was she on the road than she saw a splendid moonbeam. “Sweet moon, could you make a dress for my daughter out of your moonbeams?”  “I wish I could,” the moon replied kindly, “but people would complain that my light has turned pale. Look somewhere else.”

The mother walked away. Then she heard a nightingale sing in the forest in such sweet tones that it seemed to express all the heart’s tenderness. Moved, she asked him: “Dear nightingale, can you make a dress for my child out of your songs?” “I am very sorry, answered the nightingale, “but then I could not sing any longer, and everyone would complain. Look somewhere else.”

The mother continued walking, her head low. She saw flowers blooming along the path and asked, “Little flowers, would you give me your petals so I could make a dress for my child? I would be so grateful!” “It is unfortunate, whispered the flowers, but if we gave you our petals, we would be without clothes ourselves. And what are paths and meadows without flowers? Look somewhere else.”

Disappointed and discouraged, the poor mother walked on. She reached the river bank and watched water flowing. She asked, “River smelling so good of mints and juniper, could you make a dress for my child out of your waters?” “I can’t, sorry, I am in a hurry for I have far to travel. Look somewhere else, ” replied the river-

The mother, very sad, thought of returning home. No one in this luminous night had taken pity on her and her child. Walking by a deserted tumbledown cottage she heard a dismal moan coming from the old blackened rocks.

“Who is this moaning?” she asked. “It is I, the owl,” replied a sad voice. I am always alone; nobody loves me because I am as ugly as my voice. And you, who are you?”

The mother came closer to the window sill on which sat the own; it looked at her with its sad eyes. “I am the mother of the poorest little girl in the world, and I am looking for someone generous enough to give me a dress for my child who needs it so much. But so far, everybody has turned me down. I am now going back home to mend her old dress,” she said with a sigh. It never occurred to her to ask the owl for help, it was so deprived, miserable and alone.

“I can’t give you anything,” said the owl, “because I am as poor as you are. However, my compassion is so great that it might be enough to make a dress for your daughter.”

And with that the own began to weep, its shiny tears tumbling down at the feet of the mother. And little by little, they were transformed into a fabric scintillating with diamonds. The mother picked it up, filled with wonder, moved and happy. The poor owl had offered its compassion, the only riches that does not impoverish the giver but on the contrary, enriches the donor still more.

The mother ran home with the fabric and sowed the most wonderous dress. And next morning, there could not have been found anywhere a little girl wearing a prettier dress.

“Look, these are diamonds, real diamonds,” the people who gathered in the street to admire and touch the lovely dress exclaimed.

Nobody noticed that they were tears of compassion.

Source : Published in French 9 September 2007 in LES EMOTIONS

From the French translation of an Italian story by M. Vallette, Histoires Merveilleuses du Ciel et de la Terre)