Treasures of Aromatic Literature- The Sweet Scented Name by Fyodor Sologub

Treasures of Aromatic Literature- The Sweet Scented Name by Fyodor Sologub

ALITTLE peasant girl lay ill in her bed. And in heaven God called an angel to His side and bade her go down to earth and dance before the little girl and amuse her. But the angel thought it unbecoming to her dignity to dance before the people of the earth.

And God knew the proud thoughts of the angel and ordained a punishment for her. She was born into the world of men and became a little child there—a princess in a royal house—and she forgot all that she had known of heaven and her former life, forgot even her own name.

Now the angel had been called by a name of purity and fragrance, and the people of the earth know no such names as these. So when she became an earthly princess she had only a human name, and was called the Princess Margaret.

When the little princess grew up she often felt as if she wanted to remember something she had once known, but she could not think what it might be, and she became unhappy because she could not remember.

One day she asked her father:

"How is it we cannot hear the sunshine?"

The king smiled at the question, but he could not answer it, and the little princess looked very grieved.

Another day she said to her mother:

"The roses smell very sweet; how is it I cannot see their scent?" And when her mother laughed at the strange question the princess felt sadder than ever.

Some time afterwards she came to her nurse and said:

"How is it that names are not sweetscented?"

The old nurse laughed at her, and again the princess was grieved that no one could answer any of her questions. Then a rumour went about the land that the king's daughter was different from other people, and that her mind was weak. And everybody tried to think of some means to cure her and make her well.

She was a quiet and melancholy child, and was always asking strange and unusual questions. She was thin and pale, and no one thought her beautiful. But she grew older, and at last the time came for her to marry. Many young princes came to her father's court to woo her, but when she began to talk to them no one wanted to have her as a wife. At last a prince named Maximilian arrived, and when the princess saw him she said to him:

"With us human beings everything seems quite separate from other things—I can only hear words, I cannot smell them; and though I can see flowers and smell their scent, yet I cannot hear them. It makes life dull and uninteresting, don't you think?"

"What would make life more beautiful for you ?" said Maximilian.

The princess was silent for some time, but at last she said, "I should so much like to have a sweet-smelling name."

"Yes, fair princess," said he, "the name Margaret is not nearly good enough for you. You ought to have a name of sweet fragrance, but there are no such names known upon the earth." Then the poor little princess wept sad tears, and Maximilian felt very sorry for her, and he loved her more than any one else in the whole world. He tried to comfort her by saying, "Do not weep, dear princess. I will try and find out if there are such names, and come and tell you of them."

The princess smiled through her tears and said, "If you can find for me a name which gives forth a sweet odour when it is spoken, then I will kiss your stirrup-leather." And she blushed as she said this, for she was a princess and very proud.

Hearing this, Maximilian grew bolder and said, " And will you then be my wife?" And the princess answered that she would.

So Maximilian departed to search throughout all the world until he found a name which would give forth a sweet fragrance and perfume the air when it was spoken. He travelled into far lands and made inquiries of rich and poor, learned and ignorant; but everybody laughed at his quest, and told him he had set out upon a foolish errand. At last, after long journeying, he came again to the town where the princess dwelt. Just outside the town was a peasant's cottage, and at the door stood an old whitehaired man. As soon as Maximilian saw him he thought in his heart "the old man will know," and he went up to him and told him of his quest, and how he was in search of a sweet-smelling name.

The old man looked up gladly and answered at once, "Yes, yes; there is such a name—a holy and spiritual name it is. I myself do not know this name, but my little grandchild has heard it."

So Maximilian went with the old man into the poor cottage, and there he saw a little peasant girl lying ill in her bed. The old man went up to her and said, "Doonia, here is a gentleman who wants to know the holy name you told me of; can you remember it and tell him?"

The little girl looked joyfully at Maximilian and smiled sweetly at him, but she could not remember the wonderful name. She told the prince that in a dream an angel had come to her and danced before her, and as she watched the angel she saw that his garment was of many colours, like a soft rainbow. Then the angel had talked to her, and had told her that soon another angel would come and visit her and would dance before her in still more beautiful colours than those she had seen. He told her the angel's name, and as she heard the name she smelt a delicious fragrance, and all the air was filled with a sweet scent. "But now," said the child, "I cannot remember that wonderful name, though it still makes me happy to think about it. If only I could remember it and say it myself I think I should be quite well again. But the beautiful angel will soon come, and then I shall remember the name."

Maximilian went away to the palace and told the princess all that had befallen him, and she came with him to the cottage to visit the sick girl. As soon as she saw the child she was filled with pity for her, and sat down by her side and petted her, and tried to think of something that would amuse her and make her forget her pain.

By and by she got up and began to dance before the sick child, clapping her hands together, and singing. And as the little girl watched the princess she saw all kinds of lovely colours and heard many beautiful sounds. She felt very happy, and she laughed aloud in her happiness. And suddenly she remembered the name of the angel and spoke it aloud. And all the cottage was filled with a sweet scent as of flowers.

Then the princess remembered all she had been trying to recall, and she knew that the sweet-scented name that she had been seeking was her own heavenly name, and she remembered why she had been sent upon the earth.

The little peasant girl soon became quite well, and the princess married Maximilian and lived with him happily on the earth until the time came for her to return to her heavenly home and God's eternal kingdom.