The Happy Prince, and other Tails
By Aubrey Beardsley
The Parson Russell and the Rose
A reimagining of Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose.
“I am sure it would be fun to have a dog to take everywhere,” cried the proud human; “but in all my garden there is no dog.”
“Ah,” said the proud human, “on what little things does happiness depend!”
So, the proud human decided to acquire a dog. And went out and bought a tiny little white puppy, with a brown patch over his right eye.
The puppy was worried about leaving his mum so early. “Sing me one last song,” mum whispered; “I shall feel very lonely when you are gone.”
The little puppy missed his mum but was glad to get outside into the sunshine and find out what life was all about. “Here at last is a true loving human,” thought the puppy. “I shall make this human so happy with all my chatter and songs and jumping and playing and digging and running and I shall fill every day with roses!” But, alas, there is no rose without a thorn.
As the little dog grew and gave everything he could to his proud human, the proud human grew bored. “He has form,” the proud human said, “but has he got feeling? I am afraid not. In fact, he is like most dogs. He thinks merely of food, and everybody knows that dogs are selfish. Of no practical good at all.”
And so the proud human locked the little dog in a cage, all day and night, day after day after day, and barely gave him another thought.
So the little dog didn’t get to see any of the outside world about which he was so excited. He didn’t get to meet any other dogs. He never set paw in a park.
And finally, the proud human decided that the little dog didn’t go with their kitchen, or their life style, or their mood swings, and decided to cast the little dog out into the gutter.
“What a silly thing it is to love a pet,” said the proud human, as they placed an advertisement on Gumtree. “It is not half as useful as a new handbag, or a holiday. And as for a dog having feelings, well, I am always hearing of things that are not going to happen, and being made believe things that are not true.”
“What a silly thing Love is,” said the proud human, turning away from the little dog. “In fact, it is quite unpractical, and will never get me an Audi.”
So the proud human abandoned the little dog, pulled out a smartphone, and started to look at other things they might buy to find happiness, and adding them to their Amazon wishlist.
The little dog started to worry about his fate and what might lie ahead. “Death is a great price to pay,” thought the little dog. But still the little dog did not hate his proud human. “Love is better than Life, and what is the heart of a little dog compared to the heart of a human?”
What is it indeed? Why, it is as big as the park, as beautiful as the sunshine, and as precious as the rose! Love is better than Life, and the little dog held the biggest love of all in his heart.
Fortunately, all was not lost for the little dog. For the proud human was quite wrong. Of course dogs have feelings, and it is most impractical to think otherwise. The only lack of feelings was perhaps on the part of the proud human, who shut the little dog away in a cage, never giving the little dog a second thought.
Luckily for the little dog, some kind humans saw his plight, and loved him already even though they had never met. And those kind humans went to rescue the little dog, and take him out of his cage and into the sunshine. “He’s destructive and ungrateful,” said the proud human. But the kind humans knew that the one guilty of ingratitude was certainly not the little dog.
And soon after the little dog’s liberation from his cage, Human was visiting the kind humans. And the little dog ran into the room and jumped into Human’s lap. “I will bring you roses every day,” said the little dog. “And I promise I will treasure the thorns as well,” said Human.
And so the little dog went to live with the Happy Prince and family, and filled every day with roses.
What a silly thing Love is. Not practical. Not practical at all. But true.
Sometimes it takes vision and wonder to make cheese from chalk, to get figs from thistles … and to get roses from thorns.