The Blue Flower and Other Stories
In the middle of the land that is called by its inhabitants Koorma, and by strangers the
Land of the Half-forgotten, I was toiling all day long through heavy sand and grass as
hard as wire. Suddenly, toward evening, I came upon a place where a gate opened in the
wall of mountains, and the plain ran in through the gate, making a little bay of level
country among the hills.
Now this bay was not brown and hard and dry, like the mountains above me, neither was
it covered with tawny billows of sand like the desert along the edge of which I had
wearily coasted. But the surface of it was smooth and green; and as the winds of twilight
breathed across it they were followed by soft waves of verdure, with silvery turnings of
the under sides of many leaves, like ripples on a quiet harbour. There were fields of corn,
filled with silken rustling, and vineyards with long rows of trimmed maple-trees standing
each one like an emerald goblet wreathed with vines, and flower-gardens as bright as if
the earth had been embroidered with threads of blue and scarlet and gold, and olive-
orchards frosted over with delicate and fragrant blossoms. Red-roofed cottages were
scattered everywhere through the sea of greenery, and in the centre, like a white ship
surrounded by a flock of little boats, rested a small, fair, shining city.
I wondered greatly how this beauty had come into being on the border of the desert.
Passing through the fields and gardens and orchards, I found that they were all encircled
and lined with channels full of running water. I followed up one of the smaller channels
until it came to a larger stream, and as I walked on beside it, still going upward, it guided
me into the midst of the city, where I saw a sweet, merry river flowing through the main
street, with abundance of water and a very pleasant sound.
There were houses and shops and lofty palaces and all that makes a city, but the life and
joy of all, and the one thing that I remember best, was the river. For in the open square at
the edge of the city there were marble pools where the children might bathe and play; at
the corners of the streets and on the sides of the houses there were fountains for the
drawing of water; at every crossing a stream was turned aside to run out to the vineyards;
and the river was the mother of them all.
There were but few people in the streets, and none of the older folk from whom I might
ask counsel or a lodging; so I stood and knocked at the door of a house. It was opened by
an old man, who greeted me with kindness and bade me enter as his guest. After much
courteous entertainment, and when supper was ended, his friendly manner and something
of singular attractiveness in his countenance led me to tell him of my strange journeyings
in the land of Koorma and in other lands where I had been seeking the Blue Flower, and