The Blue Flower and Other Stories
A Handful Of Clay
There was a handful of clay in the bank of a river. It was only common clay, coarse and
heavy; but it had high thoughts of its own value, and wonderful dreams of the great place
which it was to fill in the world when the time came for its virtues to be discovered.
Overhead, in the spring sunshine, the trees whispered together of the glory which
descended upon them when the delicate blossoms and leaves began to expand, and the
forest glowed with fair, clear colours, as if the dust of thousands of rubies and emeralds
were hanging, in soft clouds, above the earth.
The flowers, surprised with the joy of beauty, bent their heads to one another, as the wind
caressed them, and said: "Sisters, how lovely you have become. You make the day
The river, glad of new strength and rejoicing in the unison of all its waters, murmured to
the shores in music, telling of its release from icy fetters, its swift flight from the snow-
clad mountains, and the mighty work to which it was hurrying--the wheels of many mills
to be turned, and great ships to be floated to the sea.
Waiting blindly in its bed, the clay comforted itself with lofty hopes. "My time will
come," it said. "I was not made to be hidden forever. Glory and beauty and honour are
coming to me in due season."
One day the clay felt itself taken from the place where it had waited so long. A flat blade
of iron passed beneath it, and lifted it, and tossed it into a cart with other lumps of clay,
and it was carried far away, as it seemed, over a rough and stony road. But it was not
afraid, nor discouraged, for it said to itself: "This is necessary. The path to glory is always
rugged. Now I am on my way to play a great part in the world."
But the hard journey was nothing compared with the tribulation and distress that came
after it. The clay was put into a trough and mixed and beaten and stirred and trampled. It
seemed almost unbearable. But there was consolation in the thought that something very
fine and noble was certainly coming out of all this trouble. The clay felt sure that, if it
could only wait long enough, a wonderful reward was in store for it.
Then it was put upon a swiftly turning wheel, and whirled around until it seemed as if it
must fly into a thousand pieces. A strange power pressed it and moulded it, as it revolved,
and through all the dizziness and pain it felt that it was taking a new form.
Then an unknown hand put it into an oven, and fires were kindled about it--fierce and
penetrating--hotter than all the heats of summer that had ever brooded upon the bank of
the river. But through all, the clay held itself together and endured its trials, in the
confidence of a great future. "Surely," it thought, "I am intended for something very