CHAPTER I THE SECRET
Listen, Violet, I am going to tell you a wonderful secret. And this wonderful secret is about your namesakes, the violets. Every little flower that grows is a living being, as you or I—and every plant is a household. How do I know this? The flowers told me themselves, and now I am going to let you into the secret.
Of course, I must admit that the flowers do not talk as we do. Unlike ourselves, they cannot express themselves aloud. They must show their thoughts by their motions or by their change of expression. When a flower is thirsty, how does it tell us so? By drooping its head and looking sad. Then, if we give it a drink, how quickly it says, "Thank you!" by lifting its head and smiling at us.
If we would have the flowers tell us their secrets, we must watch them very closely so as to be able to hear what they say. Sometimes, however, we must learn from others what the plants like, for at first, until we are better acquainted, we will not be able to understand them, and might make many mistakes; so I am going to tell you a few things today.
First, we must learn something about the flower's family, and where the flower gets its food. The flowers are a part of the plant household just the same as you or any little girl is only a part of the family. You could not very well live without the rest of the family—your father and mother, who do so many things for you and take such care of you, and your brothers and sisters, who all help to make the home happy.
The flower is like a little girl and needs some one to care for her. Do you know the other members of the plant household?
First, there are the roots, whose work it is to hold the plant in place so it will not be tossed about by every wind. The roots also must draw the water and nourishment from the ground. You know when the rain comes, it soaks into the ground and then when the plant needs water the little roots suck it out of the ground just as you could draw lemonade through a straw, for every root is supplied with many hair tubes that serve as straws. These hair tubes often are so small we could not see them without a microscope, but it is through these tiny tubes the plant receives nearly all the water it uses.
Other members of the family, the leaves, are kept busy, for they must do the breathing for the plant, as well as digest the food. You know water is never quite free from mineral matter, so when the roots draw up the water from the ground, they also draw up some mineral food for the plant which is dissolved in the water. Before the plant can make use of this food, it must be digested by the leaves, much the same as your stomach must digest the food you eat. That is, it must change it into another form. But in order that the leaves may do this, they must have plenty of chlorophyll, which is the green coloring matter of the leaves. This chlorophyll will grow in the leaves if they have plenty of sunlight, and if it does not grow the leaves will not be able to digest the food and the plant will starve....