Little Ida’s Flower’s – treatment
A little girl living during Victorian times with her young widowed mother and elderly
aunt, learns about the cycle of life and love in a make believe world of dancing flowers
created by the beautiful stories of her young handsome tutor.
Ida, 8 years old, cute and precocious, is in the conservatory of her well to do Victorian
home with her lovely young widowed mother, Elizabeth. Ida is carrying a china doll that
looks remarkably like her mother, who she calls Sophie. Elizabeth is giving Ida a botany
lesson. Ida’s regular tutor is late because he just received a new student. Elizabeth sings
a song with Ida about sowing and reaping.
John, Ida’s tutor, is the same age as Elizabeth. A brilliant and entertaining artist, John
earns a living by tutoring children. He arrives to finish the botany lesson. He and
Elizabeth have unknown love between them.
Elizabeth leaves the conservatory and goes to prepare for tea with her aunt Nina, a very
conservative, proper woman. Nina complains that Elizabeth should be married, and she
should consider Frederick Sterling. Frederick is their guest for tea and is the legal
advisor for Elizabeth’s estate. Elizabeth, still heart broken from the death of her husband
Charles, three years earlier, merely sighs at Nina’s fussing.
Frederick, an older man with a permanent scowl on his brow, arrives for tea. He wears a
black cloak and small hat and carries a cane over his forearm. Not long after the three of
them sit down to tea, Nina excuses herself and Frederick proposes marriage, although it
sounds more like a business proposal. Elizabeth politely says she will have to think about
it. They decide to take a stroll out into the conservatory.
John, at Ida’s insistence, cuts out paper dolls for her before he begins the lesson. She
exclaims how John makes the most amazing paper dolls that can dance. Sophie, Ida’s
doll, is constantly in her arms. She chides Sophie to not become jealous of the new paper
dolls because they were not permanent like she is. John makes the dolls for her and
begins the lesson encouraging Ida to pay attention instead of dancing with her new paper
dolls for the now seated Sophie, her audience. He is teaching her about the life cycle of
the flower, and she does not listen to him because he will not answer her questions about
where the flowers go when they die. John playfully snatches away the paper dolls and
tells Ida that flowers can dance. Ida argues the point, and John sings to her about the
Frederick and Elizabeth, now strolling in the conservatory, overhear John singing to Ida.
As they draw closer, they can hear John singing to Ida about flowers that turn to
butterflies. They sit on a bench nearby and John's singing so obviously entertains
Elizabeth that Frederick becomes jealous. Elizabeth joins the song with John and Ida.
Frederick suddenly stands up and condemns John for teaching such useless things to a
young girl. He sings a song that John’s teaching is nonsense and poppycock. He asks
John if it is a proper occupation for him to make paper dolls for children. He then turns
to Elizabeth and tells her he has been investigating several boarding schools for Ida to be
enrolled in after they are married. He says that he knows that Elizabeth will want Ida to
attend the wedding, so of course she will not be leaving until after that. Elizabeth is so
shocked at his audacity that she is speechless. John and Ida are horrified. Frederick
continues his upbraiding of John, but Aunt Nina’s entrance interrupts him. She has not
heard any of the commotion. She bursts into the conservatory, excited to find out about
any upcoming wedding plans. Frederick says his goodbyes and leaves with Nina. While
walking him out, she encourages Frederick towards Elizabeth and tells him that Elizabeth
needs him. Frederick assures Nina that Elizabeth will become his wife.
After Nina and Frederick have left the conservatory, Elizabeth and John have a
“moment,” but cover it up quickly because of Ida. Elizabeth goes into the house to find
Nina who is bubbling with excitement about Frederick’s proposal. Elizabeth is not very
happy about the situation, and she and Nina quarrel. Elizabeth retires to her room while
Nina sits stewing in the parlor.
John and Ida are alone in the conservatory, shocked by the sudden revelation. Ida clings
to Sophie and states that she will never go to boarding school. John, trying to recover,
picks up another doll from Ida’s stroller. He asks and Ida tells him the doll’s name is
Chip. Chip looks remarkably like John, and has a chip in the porcelain, giving him a cleft
chin. John sings a song to Ida about the love affair of two dolls; Chip loves Sophie, but
she will not have him. As John sings about a love he cannot have, Elizabeth sings about
the love that is lost, and Nina sings about the love that should be.
Early evening arrives and Elizabeth, Nina, and Ida, have a quiet dinner together. The
quiet is soon interrupted by the arrival of Nina’s two friends, who have come to bring
Nina urgent news that requires the most discretion. The very large ladies are both
spinsters and dress gaudily. One of them is very tall and thin and dressed bright yellow,
and the other is short and round wearing purple. They retire to the library. Curious Ida
spies on them and hears their gossip and critique of others’ lives. The ladies complain
about improper behavior. Nina shares her good news with them about Frederick’s
proposal. The ladies talk about marriage and sing a song about how things must be "done
just right." They discuss Ida’s boarding school, but Nina protests that Ida is too young.
Her friends convince her that you are never too young for a good “feminine” education.
At the end of the day, when Ida’s mother is putting her to bed, Ida notices her mother has
been crying. Ida tells her mother she remembers when Elizabeth was happy all the time.
Flashback to Charles and Elizabeth dancing at a ball.
As Elizabeth helps Ida to bed, the events of the day play over in Ida’s mind. The flowers
on her nightstand hang their heads, looking very tired. Ida tells Elizabeth that most likely
they are ill. She takes them into the playroom where a number of toys lay on a pretty,
little table where her doll Sophie lay in the doll's bed. Ida says to Sophie that she must be
content to lie in the drawer and let the flowers have her bed so they can rest up and get
well. Ida thinks that Sophie is cross about giving up her bed. Ida places the flowers in
the doll's bed, and pulls the quilt over them. She tells them to lie quite still and be good,
while she makes some tea for them, so that they could get well and get up the next
morning. She draws the curtains closed around the bed. Elizabeth tucks in Ida and kisses
her good night.
While she lies in bed, Ida cannot help thinking of John’s wonderful story of the dancing
flowers and what Frederick had said to him. Restless, Ida creeps out of bed, and peeps
behind the curtains into the barren winter garden where all her mother's beautiful flowers
grew in the spring, hyacinths and tulips, and many others. Then she whispers to them that
she knows they will be at the ball tonight.
She lay awake a long time after that, thinking how pretty it must be to see all the
beautiful flowers dancing in the king's garden. In the night, she awakens from a dream of
the flowers and of John as well as Frederick.
Ida raised herself a little, and glanced at the door of the room where her flowers and
playthings lay. It was partly open, and as she listened, it seemed as if someone in the
room was playing the piano, but softly and more prettily than she had ever before heard
Ida wonders if the flowers could be dancing in there. The music continues to play so
beautifully that she cannot resist, creeps out of her bed to the door, and looks into the
There is no night-lamp burning, but the room appears light as the moon is shining
brightly through the window on the floor, and makes it almost like day. All the hyacinths
and tulips stand in two long rows down the room, not a single flower remained in the
window, and the flowerpots were all empty. The flowers are dancing gracefully on the
floor, making turns and holding each other by their long green leaves as they swing
round. At the piano sits a large yellow lily and Ida is sure was very much like Miss Lucy,
Aunt Nina’s friend. She had just the same manners while playing, bending her long
yellow face from side to side, and nodding in time to the beautiful music. The sick cut
flowers got up directly out of Sophie’s bed, and nodded to the others as a sign that they
wished to dance with them. Chip stands up and bows to the pretty cut flowers that do not
look ill at all now, but jump about very merry, yet none of them notice Ida. Chip dances
with the flowers.
At the same moment, a loud knocking is heard in the drawer, where Sophie lays. Chip
runs to the end of the table, lays himself flat down upon it, and pulls the drawer out a
little way. Sophie raises herself, and looks around astonished. She says there must be a
ball going on and asks why no one has told her.
Chip, who feels as if he has just awakened a beautiful princess, boldly asks her if she will
dance with him. She flatly refuses him, crosses her arms and seats herself on the edge of
the drawer, hoping one of the flowers will ask her to dance; but none of them does. She
tries clearing her throat, but still no one notices. They are all in awe of Chip dancing
alone showing off his charms to Sophie.
None of the flowers notices Sophie, so she lets herself down from the drawer to the floor,
putting forth effort to make her landing noisy. All the flowers rush around her and ask if
she hurt herself, especially the cut flowers that had lain in her bed. They thank her for the
use of the nice bed, and are very kind to her. They lead her into the middle of the room,
where the moon shines, and dance with her, while all the other flowers formed a circle
round them. Sophie is very happy, and says that the cut flowers can keep her bed; and
that she did not mind lying in the drawer at all.
The flowers thank her very much and tell her they cannot live long. Tomorrow morning
they will be dead; and Sophie must remember to tell Ida to bury them in the garden, near
to the grave of the canary; then, in the summer, they will wake up and be more beautiful
Sophie tells the flowers they must not die as she kisses them, and then they dance away
from her and disappear into the other flowers. Sophie stands alone in the moonlight for a
moment and then Chip appears. She nods to him and they slowly dance together. They
begin to dance faster and faster and the music becomes very bright.
Suddenly a cloud crosses the moon and the room darkens. Jumping down among the
flowers with great menace was a marionette doll with a black cloak and a small hat and a
cane over his arm, like Frederick. He cuts in on Chip and Sophie’s dance. She and the
marionette doll dance very methodically and mechanically. Many of the flowers who
were dancing around Chip and Sophie continue to dance with her and the marionette doll,
but the music seems to make them wilt. Chip begins to dance to the sparkling music, the
room brightens, and the flowers become more alive.
All at once, the marionette doll turns round and asks Chip and the flowers how they can
put such foolish fancies into a child's head. The paper dolls dance in, seemingly from out
of nowhere, and strike him on his legs. Ida cannot help laughing. Then the door of the
room opens, and a number of beautiful flowers dance in. Ida wonders where they could
come from, unless they were the flowers from the king's garden. First comes two lovely
roses, with little golden crowns on their heads; these were the king and queen. They sit on
a throne and watch all the other flowers come before them. Beautiful stocks and
carnations follow, bowing to every one present. Large poppies and peonies stomp and
dance. A bunch of blue hyacinths and the little white snowdrops jiggle their bell-like
flowers, as if they were real bells. Many more flowers: blue violets, purple heart's-ease,
daisies, and lilies of the valley, and all dance together. The king and queen roses invite
Sophie and Chip to sit on their thrones while they dance. As all the flowers are
performing the last grand waltz, a dark cloud suddenly crosses over the moon as thunder
rolls, and the marionette doll appears from nowhere and grabs Sophie. All the flowers
gasp and Chip jumps to his feet. The marionette doll quickly escapes with her into the toy
box. The lid closes with a loud crash of thunder.
Ida jolts awake from her dream. She jumps from her bed and rushes to the toy box and
quickly raises the lid. Sophie and the marionette doll are not there. After searching
everywhere, Ida picks up Chip and stands at her window. As the rain begins to fall
outside, tears slowly roll down Ida’s cheeks.
The next day the sun rises in Ida’s window, and she rolls over in her bed to see Chip. As
she recalls the night before she holds him tightly to her. She tells Chip that they must
search for Sophie, but first they must bury the flowers so that they can live again in the
spring. Ida gets up, takes the faded flowers from the doll bed, and puts them into a little
box for a coffin. She decorates the outside with flowers, takes it outside, and buries it in
the bare late winter garden.
Nina and Elizabeth are in the parlor, one sewing, and the other reading a gardening book.
Nina again tries to encourage Elizabeth to marry Frederick. Elizabeth tells her she has no
plans of marrying him. Nina completely dismisses it and continues as if there is an
upcoming wedding. Elizabeth retreats to the conservatory.
John arrives for Ida’s lesson. Ida rushes in wild eyed and complains to Nina and John
that Sophie has been kidnapped and they have to find her. Ida wants her mother, so John
runs with her to the conservatory where she tells Elizabeth about Sophie’s kidnapping. A
mad search ensues with Ida, John, and Elizabeth frantically covering every inch of the
house while Nina continues to sew in the parlor. They all sing about the search for
Sophie as Nina sings about the wedding during the frantic search. They are crawling
around and looking in tight corners and Elizabeth’s hair and collar become quite
disheveled. She and John are unknowingly searching the same area crawling on hands
and knees until they unexpectedly come to nose to nose with each other. They look into
each other’s eyes realizing their love for each other. Just as John is about to kiss
Elizabeth, she shyly looks down onto the floor and discovers Sophie lying just between
their hands. Ida calls to them and they collect themselves. Joyfully they take Sophie to
Ida. She is so thrilled to see Sophie that she throws herself into John’s arms. Then
Elizabeth, who loses herself for a moment, also gives him a hug and a kiss.
Frederick, who has come in unnoticed, sees this show of affection. H e looks at
Elizabeth’s disheveled appearance, demands an explanation from John and Elizabeth.
Nina, who has heard them, steps in to eavesdrop unseen. Elizabeth quietly asks John and
Ida to excuse them. John and Ida leave the parlor but stay close enough to eavesdrop.
Elizabeth sings a song to Frederick about how this is her life and she makes the choices.
Elizabeth tells Frederick that he has been disrespectful to her, her employees and to her
daughter, and that she has had quite enough. She tells him slowly and deliberately that he
is fired and would he see himself to the door. Frederick is speechless and leaves.
Nina, John, and Ida all rush into the room, and everyone is talking at once. John and Ida
are cheering and dancing. When Nina asks what happened, Elizabeth tells Nina she is not
only not marrying Frederick but also that she fired him. Nina, finally hearing her,
swoons to almost fainting and John has to rush to catch her. Ida shouts that there must be
a celebration. When John asks what kind of celebration, Ida says a wedding between
Chip and Sophie. John and Elizabeth smile and take each other’s hand.
Springtime wedding scene, Chip and Sophie are in their wedding clothes sitting in the
stroller. Nina and Ida are standing beside the stroller dressed in lovely matching dresses.
Everyone is gathered in the conservatory that is decorated with garlands and blooms.
John and Elizabeth are bride and groom. Outside we see the flower garden and the place
where Ida buried the cut flowers is blooming and beautiful.