Read MARIE of Child Life In Town And Country 1909 , free online book, by Anatole France, on ReadCentral.com.

Little girls long to pluck flowers and stars ­it is their nature to.  But stars will not be plucked, and the lesson they teach little girls is, that in this world there are longings that are never satisfied.  Mademoiselle Marie has gone into the park, where she came upon a bed of hydrangeas; she saw how pretty the flowers were and that made her gather one.  It was very difficult; she dragged with both hands, and very nearly tumbled over backwards when the stalk broke.  She is pleased and proud at what she has done.  But nurse has seen her.  She runs up, snatches at Mademoiselle Marie’s arm, scolds her, and sets her to stand and repent, not in the black closet, but at the foot of a great chestnut, under the shade of a huge Japanese umbrella.

There Mademoiselle Marie sits and thinks, in great surprise and perplexity.  Her flower in one hand and the umbrella making a bright halo round her, she looks like a little idol from overseas.

Nurse has told her:  “Marie, you must not put that flower in your mouth.  If you do it when I tell you not, your little dog Toto will come and eat up your ears.”  And with these terrible words she walks away.

The young culprit, sitting quite still under her brilliant canopy, looks about her and gazes at earth and sky.  It is a big world she sees, big enough and beautiful enough to amuse a little girl for some while.  But her hydrangea blossom is more interesting than all the rest put together.  She thinks to herself:  “It is a flower; it must smell good?” And she puts her nose to the pretty pink and blue ball; she sniffs, but she cannot smell anything.  She is not very good at scenting perfume; it is only a short while since she always used to blow at a rose instead of inhaling its odour.  You must not laugh at her for that; one cannot learn everything at once.

Besides, if she had as keen a sense of smell as her mother, she would be no better off in this case.  A hydrangea has no scent; that is why we get tired of it, for all its loveliness.  But now Mademoiselle Marie begins to think:  “Perhaps it’s made of sugar, this flower.”  Then she opens her mouth very wide and is just going to lift the flower to her lips.

But suddenly, yap! goes her little dog.  It is Toto, who comes bounding over a geranium bed and comes to a stand right in front of Mademoiselle Marie, with his ears cocked straight up, and stares hard at her out of his sharp little round eyes.