(French). Children sent to school for the first time; so called because they come from a “hot-bed,” and are as delicate as exotics. At St. Cyr, the new-comers are called in schoolslang “Les melons,” and the old stagers “Les anciens.”
There are certain stones on Mount Carmel called Stone Melons. The tradition is that Elijah saw a peasant carrying melons, and asked him for one. The man said they were not melons but stones, and Elijah instantly converted them into stones.
A like story is told of St. Elizabeth of Thuringia. She gave so bountifully to the poor as to cripple her own household. One day her husband met her with her lapful of something, and demanded of her what she was carrying. “Only flowers, my lord,” said Elizabeth, and to save the lie God converted the loaves into flowers. (The Schonberg-Cotta Family, p. 19.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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