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This Story was transcribed & Contributed by: Laurie Broetzmann

The Blood-Root

By Hattie Luchterhand

Many, many years ago, there lived in northern France, which was then wild and covered with forests, Marquis Louis De La Barde, a cruel and selfish man who cared for nothing but the glittering gold; and his gloomy, strongly fortified castle was a robber's den.

Most of his time he spent in robbing the surrounding country, with his fellow robbers; and when he returned with his plunder he would spend his time in rough amusements.

With him lived his only child, a girl of seventeen years; her mother had died when she was still a little child. Eugenia, which was her name, was a beautiful, gentle, and kind girl. She was like a flower, as she was sometimes called.

Eugenia was not happy. For her cruel father would not let her enjoy any of the comforts of life; he wanted her to be as cruel and heartless as he was. She loved flowers and birds but her father hated them; and he had all the flowers around the castle destroyed, and the birds killed. Eugenia was not allowed to go away from the castle, and no one was allowed to bring flowers to her.

Marquis Louis had tried to bring up Eugenia to hate beautiful things, but now that she loved them he became very angry and resolved to severely punish his only child for the love of flowers.

Now it happened that there lived, in the Marquis' forest, an old witch whose cunning had helped him in many of his expeditions. For her he sent; he knew she could help him.

The witch came, she was so ugly and cunning in witchcraft that every decent person would go miles out of her way. "Now my ugly witch, I can again test thy power," said Louis, when the witch stood by him in his uncomfortable castle hall. "The purpose for which I want thee, thou dost know. Thou too dost know how little I have; make not thy fee too large." Here can be seen how stingy this cruel man was.

"Speak not of such things," said the witch, "I know what thou hast. If I asked for a million francs thou couldst pay me double that sum."

"There thou dost over-estimate my wealth, kind witch," the Marquis said, though it was true that he had millions.

"But never mind, I will make it fifty thousand francs; and keep this flower of a Marquis' daughter where she wilt not be likely to get a smell of flowers."

"That is good, and keep her until my death; then canst thou let her go to this castle, not before."

The witch left the Marquis, taking the weeping Eugenia with her. Far, far into the forest they went till Eugenia knew not where she was. Suddenly they came to a little clearing. Here the witch stopped, made a few curious motions, mumbled some words, and then burst out in a hideous laugh and shrieked, "Ha! Ha! My pretty flower of a Marquis' daughter look around thee; here are all the flowers thou wilt see for many years to come," at which she left Eugenia.

Eugenia looked and saw that she was in a small room, the walls and ceiling of which were thorns; not a door or window was to be seen, and the thorns seemed to be growing longer as though they were trying to get at her and crush her to death. This was too much to bear, and Eugenia fell unconscious on the floor of her thorn home.

* * * * * * * * *

There was no one at the Marquis' castle who was sorry for Eugenia, except a poor youth of twenty years, LeRoy DeSole, who was employed as a servant. He was in love with Eugenia, but his humble position did not allow him to tell her of his love for her.

When he heard of her sad fate, he decided, at the risk of his life, to save her. He started out into the forest and searched for many days; he was about to give up in despair, when he saw what looked like a house, and it was of thorns; he knew Eugenia was in it.

LeRoy went bravely to work for the purpose of cutting an opening into the thorn wall. Every time that he would touch the wall the thorns would prick him, but he would not give up. He had made a little opening when he paused for a moment; the blood was streaming from his hands and face, when the hole he had made grew together and much thicker than before, and a voice was heard from within.

"Go, kind friend," it said, "thou canst not penetrate these walls that keep me prisoner here; and grieve not for me; a time will come when these walls will open and let me out into the world. Do not speak to me if thou wouldst have me enjoy what I still have. Fare thee well."

"LeRoy DeSole knew this was Eugenia's voice, but he dare not answer; and he left the place, the blood dripping from his wounds.

Eugenia had spent many years in her thorny prison, when one day the walls parted and let her out into the sunlight. She cried for joy and seeing some red leaves at her feet she stooped to pick one, but to her surprise the roots came out too and blood was dripping from them. She knew what it was, it was the blood from the wounds of her friend; it had grown into a plant. She was weeping for what he had endured for her, and a tear fell onto one of the plants; immediately it changed into a beautiful, pure white flower. Eugenia was astonished but it looked so very pretty, with the pure white flower surrounded by its somewhat rotund blood red leaves, that she picked it and looking around she saw that all the plants had white flowers like the one she had picked.

She gathered a large boquet of them and started to go to her father's castle, but, alas! Which way? Then a bright thought came to her. "These flowers," she said "shall lead me to my home, and to the brave youth who suffered for me." And walking where they grew she reached her father's castle.

A great change had taken place there. Marquis Louis was dead and Le Roy De Sole was master. She saw him coming toward her, and overwhelmed him with thanks for his bravery.

"I did it for thee and now thou canst be happy with birds and flowers around thee, but if thou wouldst have me be happy give me thy hand, Eugenia," said Le Roy.

"Thou canst have it and all, brave knight, but these flowers that grew from thy blood will I ever hold dear; and they shall be known to all the world as the Blood-root."

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