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The Land of the Blue Flower

Part One

The Land of the Blue Flower was not called by that name until the tall,
strong, beautiful King Amor came down from his castle on the mountain
crag and began to reign. Before that time it was called King Mordreth's
Land, and as the first King Mordreth had been a fierce and cruel king
this seemed a gloomy name.

A few weeks before Amor was born, his weak, selfish boy-father--whose
name was King Mordreth also--had been killed while hunting, and his fair
mother with the clear eyes died when he was but a few hours old. But
early in that day she sent for her venerable friend and teacher, who was
said to be the oldest and wisest man in the world, and who long ago had
fled to a cave in the mountains, that he might see no more of the famine
and disorder and hatred in the country spread out on the plains below.

He was a marvelous old man, almost a giant in size, and having great
blue eyes like deep sea-water. They, too, were clear eyes like the fair
Queen's--they seemed to see all things and to hold in their depths no
single thought which was not fine and great. The people were a little
afraid of him when they saw him go striding majestically through their
streets. They had no name for him but The Ancient One. The lovely Queen
drew aside the embroidered coverlet of her gold and ivory bed and showed
him the tiny baby sleeping by her side.

"He was born a King," she said. "No one can help him but you."

The Ancient One looked down at him.

"He has long limbs and strong ones. He will make a great King," he said.
"Give him to me."

The Queen held out the little newborn one in her arms. "Take him away
quickly before he hears the people quarreling at the palace gate," she
said. "Take him to the castle on the mountain crag. Keep him there until
he is old enough to come down and be King. When the sun sinks behind the
clouds I shall die, but if he is with you he will learn what Kings
should know."

The Ancient One took the child, folded him in his long gray robe and
strode majestically through the palace gates, through the ugly city and
out over the plains to the mountain. When he began to climb its steep
sides the sun was setting and casting a golden rose color over the big
rocks and the wild flowers and bushes which grew on every side, so that
there seemed no path to be found. But the Ancient One knew his way
anywhere in the world without a path to guide him. He climbed and
climbed, and little King Amor slept soundly in the folds of his gray
robe. He reached the summit at last and pushing his way through a jungle
of twisted vines starred all over with pale sweet-scented buds, he stood
looking at the castle which was set on the very topmost crag, and looked
out over the mountain's edge at the sea and the sky and the spreading
plains, below.

The sky was dark blue now and lit by a myriad stars, and all was so
still that the world seemed thousands of miles away, and ugliness and
squalor and people who quarreled seemed things which were not true. A
sweet cool wind blew about them as the Ancient One took King Amor from
the folds of his gray robe and laid him on the carpet of scented moss.

"The stars are very near," he said. "Waken, young King, and see how near
they are and know they are your brothers. Your brother the wind is
bringing to you the breath of your brothers the trees. You are at home."

Then King Amor opened his eyes, and when he saw the stars in the dark
blueness above him he smiled, and though he was not yet a whole day old
he threw up his small hand and it touched his forehead.

"Like a King and a soldier he salutes them," said the Ancient One;
"though he does not know he did it."

The castle was huge and splendid though it had been deserted for a
hundred years. For three generations the royal owners had not cared to
look out on the world from high places. They knew nothing of the wind
and the trees and the stars; they lived on the plains in their cities,
and hunted and rioted and levied heavy taxes on their wretched people.
And the castle had lived through its summers and winters alone. It had
battlements and towers which stood out clear against the sky, and there
was a great banquet hall and chambers for hundreds of guests, and rooms
for a thousand men at arms, and the courtyard was big enough to hold a
tournament in.

In the midst of its space and splendor the little King Amor lived alone
but for the companionship of the Ancient One and a servant as old as
himself. But they knew a secret which had kept them young in spite of
the years they had passed through. They knew that they were the brothers
of all things in the world, and that the man who never knows an angered
or evil thought can never know a foe. They were strong and straight and
wise, and the wildest creature stopped to give them greeting as it
passed, and they understood its language when it spoke. Because they
held no dark thoughts in their minds they knew no fear, and because they
knew no fear the wild creatures knew none and the speech of each was
clear to the other.

Each morning they went out on the battlements at dawn to see the
splendid sun rise slowly out of the purple sea. One of the very first
things the child King Amor remembered in his life--and he remembered it
always--was a dawning day when the Ancient One wakened him gently, and
folding him in his long gray robe carried him up the winding and narrow
stone stairway, until at last they stepped forth on the top of the huge
castle which seemed to the little creature to be so high that it was
quite close to the wonderful sky itself.

"The sun is going to rise and wake the world," said the Ancient One.
"Young King, watch the wonder of it."

Amor lifted his little head and looked. He was only just old enough to
be beginning to understand things, but he loved the Ancient One and all
he said and did.

Far below the mountain crag lay the sea. In the night, while it slept,
it had looked dark blue or violet, but now it was slowly changing its
color. The sky was changing too--it was growing paler and paler--next it
grew faintly brighter, so did the sea; then a slight flush crept over
land and water and all the small floating clouds were rosy pink. King
Amor smiled because birds' voices were to be heard in the trees and
bushes, and something golden bright was rising out of the edge of the
ocean, and sparkling light danced on the waves. It rose higher and
higher and grew so dazzling and wonderful that he threw out his little
hand with a shout of joy. The next moment he started back because there
rose near him a loud whirr and beating of powerful wings as a great bird
flew out of a crag near by and soared high into the radiant morning

"It is the eagle who is our neighbor," said the Ancient One. "He has
awakened and gone to give his greeting to the sun."

And as the little King sat upright, enraptured, he saw that from the
dazzling brightness at the edge of the world there leaped forth a ball
of living gold and fire, and even he knew that the sun had risen.

"At every day's dawn it leaps forth like that," said the Ancient One.
"Let us watch together and I will tell you stories of it."

So they sat by the battlement and the stories were told. They were
stories of the small grains lying hid in the dark earth waiting for the
golden heat of the sun to draw them forth into life until they covered
the tilled fields with waving wheat to make bread for the world; they
were stories of the seeds of fair flowers warmed and ripened until they
burst into scented blossoms; they were stories of the roots of trees and
the rich sap drawn upward by the heat until great branches and thick
leafage waved in the summer air; they were stories of men, women, and
children walking with light step and glad because of the gold of the

"Every day it warms, every day it draws, every day it ripens and gives
life. And there are many who forget the wonder of it. Lift your head
high as you walk, young King, and often look upward. Never forget the

At every dawning they rose and saw together the wonder of the day; and
the first time the sky was heavy with gray clouds and the sun did not
leap upward from behind the edge of the world the Ancient One said
another thing.

"The burning gold is behind the lowering gray and purple. The clouds are
heavy with soft rain. When they break they will drop it in showers or
splendid storms and the thirsty earth will drink it up. The grains will
drink it and the seed and the roots, and the world will be joyous and
rich with fresh life; the springs will bubble up like crystal, and the
brooks will rush babbling through the green of the forest. The drinking
places for the cattle will be full and clear and men and women will feel
rested and cool. Lift your head high when you walk, young King, and
often look upward. Never forget the clouds."

So hearing these things every day King Amor learned the meaning of both
sun and cloud and loved and felt himself brother to both.

The first time he remembered seeing a storm the Ancient One took him to
the battlements again, and together they watched the dark clouds pour
down their floods while their purple was riven by the dazzling lances of
the lightning; and the thunder rolled and crashed and seemed to rend
asunder things no human eye could see; and the wind roared round the
castle on the mountain crag and beat against its towers, and tossed the
branches of the hugest trees, and whirled the rain in sheets over the
land,--and King Amor stood erect and strong like some little soldier,
though he wondered where the small birds were and if the eagle were in
his nest.

Through all the tumult the Ancient One stood still. He looked taller
than ever in his long gray robe, and his strange eyes were deep as the

At last he said in a slow, calm voice: "This is the voice of the power
men know not. No man has yet quite understood--though it seems to speak.
Harken to it. Let your soul stand silent. Listen, young King. Hold your
head high as you walk and often look upward. Never forget the storm."

So the King learned to love the storm and be one with it, knowing no

But perhaps--it might be because he had been laid on the scented moss
and had without knowing it saluted them on the first night of his life--
he felt nearest to, and loved most, his brothers the stars.

Every fair night through the King's earliest years the Ancient One
carried him to the battlements and let him fall asleep beneath the
shining myriads. But first he would walk about bearing him in his arms,
or sit with him in the splendid silence, sometimes relating wonders to
him in a low voice, sometimes uttering no word, only looking calmly into
the high vault above as if the stars spoke to him and told him of
perfect peace.

"When a man looks long at them," he said, "he grows calm and forgets
small things. They answer his questions and show him that his earth is
only one of the million worlds. Hold your soul still and look upward
often, and you will understand their speech. Never forget the stars."

Part Two

So, as the child King grew day by day, the world seemed to grow fuller
and fuller of wonders and beauties. There were the sun and the moon, the
storm and the stars, the straight falling lances of rain, the springing
of the growing things, the flight of the eagle, the songs and nests of
small bird creatures, the changing seasons, and the work of the great
brown earth giving its harvest and its fruits.

"All these wonders in one world and you a man upon it," said the Ancient
One. "Hold high your head when you walk, young King, and often look
upward. Never forget one marvel among them all."

He forgot nothing. He lived looking out on all things from great, clear,
joyous eyes. Upon his mountain crag he never heard a paltry or
unbeautiful word or knew of the existence of unfriendliness or baseness
in thought. As soon as he was old enough to go out alone he roamed about
the great mountain and feared neither storm nor wild beasts. Shaggy-
maned lions and their mates drew near and fawned on him as their kind
had fawned on young Adam in the Garden of Eden. There had never passed
through his mind the thought that they were not his friends.

He did not know that there were men who killed their wild brothers. In
the huge courtyard of the castle he learned to ride and to perform great
feats of strength. Because he had not learned to be afraid he never
feared that he could not do a thing. He grew so strong and beautiful
that when he was ten years old he was as tall as a youth of sixteen, and
when he was sixteen he was already like a young giant. This was because
he had been brother to the storm and had lived close to the strength and
splendor of the stars.

Only once, when he was a boy of twelve, a strange and painful thing
happened to him. From his kingdom in the plains below there had been
sent to him a beautiful young horse which had been bred for him. Never
had so magnificent an animal been born in the royal stable. When he was
brought into the courtyard the boy King's eyes shone with joy. He spent
the greater part of the morning in exercising and leaping him over
barriers. The Ancient One in his tower chamber heard his shouts of
exultation and encouragement. At last the King went out to try him on
the winding mountain road.

When he returned he went at once to the tower chamber to the Ancient
One, who, when he raised his eyes from his great book, looked at him

"Let us climb to the battlements," the boy said. "We must talk

So they went, and when they stood looking out on the world below, the
curving turquoise sky above them, the eyes of the Ancient One were still
more grave.

"Tell me, young King."

"Something strange has happened," King Amor answered. "I have felt
something I have not felt before. I was riding my horse around the field
on the plateau and he saw something which he refused to pass. It was a
young leopard watching us from a tree. My horse reared and snorted. He
would not listen to me, but backed and wheeled around. I tried in vain
to persuade him, and suddenly, when I saw I could not make him obey me,
this strange new feeling rushed through all my body. I grew hot and knew
my face was scarlet, my heart beat faster and my blood seemed to boil in
my veins. I shouted out harsh, ugly sounds--I forgot that all things are
brothers--I lifted my hand and clenched it and struck my horse again and
again. I loved him no longer, I felt that he no longer loved me. I am
hot and wearied and heavy from it still. I feel no more joy. Was it pain
I felt? I have never felt pain and do not know. Was it pain?"

"It was a worse thing," answered the Ancient One. "It was anger. When a
man is overcome by anger he has a poisoned fever. He loses his strength,
he loses his power over himself and over others, he throws away time in
which he might have gained the end he most desires. THERE IS NO TIME FOR

So King Amor learned the uselessness of anger, for they sat long upon
the battlements while the Ancient One told him how its poison worked in
the veins and weakened the strongest man until he was made a fool. That
night Amor lay under the sky looking at his myriad brothers, the stars,
and drawing calm from them.

"If you lie through the night upon the battlements and think only of the
stillness and the stars you will forget your anger and its poison will
die away. If you put into your mind a beautiful thought it will take the
place of the evil one. There is no room for darkness in the mind of him
who thinks only of the stars." This had been said to him by the Ancient

Upon the plateau at the foot of the crag on which the castle stood there
were marvelous walled gardens. The sad young Queen of the first King
Mordreth had planted them, and after her death they had been left to run
wild. Since the baby King Amor had been brought to the mountain top the
Ancient One and his servitor had made them bloom again. As soon as he
was old enough to hold a small spade Amor had worked in the beds. All
things grew for him as if his touch were a spell; birds and bees and
butterflies flocked round him as he labored. He knew what the bees
hummed and where they flew to load themselves with honey; butterflies
lighted upon his hands and taught him strange things. Birds told him of
their travels, and brought him seeds from far countries which he planted
in his gardens and which bloomed into marvelous flowers. A swallow who
loved him very much and who had seen many wonderful lands once brought
him a seed from an emperor's secret garden which none but four of his
own slaves had ever seen. These slaves had been born in the garden and
would never leave it while they lived.

King Amor planted the seed in a pleasaunce of its own. It grew into the
most beautiful blue flower the world had ever known. It was of a blue so
pure and exquisitely intense that it was rapture to look at it. Its
blossoms hung from a tall stem and in its first year it gave a thousand
seeds. Each year Amor planted more flowers and each year they grew
taller and more wonderful and blossomed a longer time. When the summer
wind blew it shook out clouds of delicate fragrance which sometimes
floated down the mountain until the wretched dwellers in King Mordreth's
land forgot their quarrels and misery and even lifted their heavy heads
to inhale it and ask each other what was being done upon the mountain.
Each year King Amor gathered the seeds and stored them in an unused
tower of his castle.

Taller and stronger he grew and each day wiser and more beautiful. Each
plant, each weed, each four-footed thing, each wind, each star of heaven
taught him its wonders and its wisdom. His eyes were so marvelous in
their straight-glanced splendor that when he looked at a man they seemed
to read his soul and command its truth to answer him. He was so powerful
that he could break an iron bar in two pieces with his hands.

When he was twenty years old the Ancient One took him up on the
battlements, and giving him a strong glass told him to look down upon
the capital city on the plain and see what was being done there.

"I see many people gathered in crowds," Amor said, when he had looked
for a few moments. "I see bright colors and waving pennants and
triumphal arches. It is as if some great ceremony were being prepared

"The people are making ready for your coronation," said the Ancient One.
"To-morrow you will be led in state down the mountain and acclaimed
King. It was to fit you to reign over your kingdom that I taught you to
know all the wonders of the world and have shown you that no thing is
useless but folly and dishonoring thought. That which you have learned
from your brothers here you go down the mountain to teach your brothers
there. You will see things which are not beautiful and those which are
unclean, but hold high your head when you walk, young King, and never
forget the sun, the wind, and the stars."

To himself as he looked on him the Ancient One said: "When he stands
before them they will think he is a young god."

The next morning a splendid procession wound its glittering way up the
mountain road to the castle. There were princes and nobles and
chieftains. Rich colors glowed in their attire and gorgeous banners and
pennants waved over them, while music from gold and silver trumpets
accompanied them as they rode and their many followers marched behind.

The Ancient One in his long robe of gray stood by King Amor on the broad
stone terrace guarded by its crouching carved lions.

"This is your King, O people!" he said.

And when the people looked it was as he had said it would be. They drew
back a little and gazed in fear, and many of the followers fell upon
their knees. They thought they saw a beautiful young giant and god. But
he was only a splendid and powerful young man who had never known a dark
thought and had lived near to his brothers the stars. His horse, adorned
with golden trappings, was brought and he was led down the mountain
side, through the gates into the capital city of his kingdom. He desired
that the Ancient One should ride by his side.

What he saw as he rode to the place of coronation he had never seen
before. Notwithstanding the embroidered silk and velvet hangings
decorating the fronts of the rich people's houses, he caught glimpses of
filthy side streets, squalid alleys, and tumble-down tenements. He saw
forlorn little children scud away like rats into their holes as he drew
near, and wretched, vicious-looking men and women fighting with each
other for places in the crowd. Sharp, miserable faces peered round
corners at him, and nobody smiled because every one hated or distrusted
his neighbor, and they dreaded and disliked the young King because all
the King Mordreths had been evil and selfish, and he was their

When they saw that he was so tall and powerful and carried his handsome
head so high, often looking upward, they feared him still more; as their
own heads hung down they never saw anything but the dirt and dust
beneath their feet or the quarrels about them, so their minds were full
of fears and ugly thoughts, and they at once began to be afraid of him
and suspect him of being proud. He could do twice as much evil as the
other Kings, they said, since he was twice as strong and twice as
handsome. It was their nature to first think an evil thought of anything
or anybody and to be afraid of all things at the outset.

The princes and nobles who rode in the procession tried to prevent King
Amor seeing the wretched-looking people and ill-kept streets. They
pointed out the palaces and decorations and beautiful ladies throwing
flowers in his path from the balconies. He praised all the splendors and
saluted the balconies, looking up with such radiant and smiling eyes
that the ladies almost threw themselves after their flowers and cried
out that never, never had there been crowned such a beautiful young King

"Do not look at the rabble, your Majesty," the Prime Minister said.
"They are an evil, ill-tempered lot of worthless malcontents and

"I would not look at them," answered King Amor, "if I knew that I could
not help them. There is no time to look at dark things if one cannot
make them brighter. I look at these because there is something to be
done. I do not yet know what."

"There is such hatred in their eyes that they will only make you angry,
Sire," said a handsome young prince who rode near.

"There is no time for anger," said Amor, holding his crowned head high.
"It is a worthless thing."

After sunset there was a great banquet and after it a great ball, and
the courtiers and princes were delighted by the beauty and grace of the
new King. He was much brighter and more charming than any of the King
Mordreths had been. His laugh was full of gaiety and the people who
stood near him felt happier, though they did not know why.

But when the ball was at its height he stepped into the center of the
room and spoke aloud to the splendid company.

"I have seen the broad streets and the palaces and all that is beautiful
in my capital," he said. "Now I must go to the narrow streets and the
dark ones. I must see the miserable people, the cripples, the wretched
ones, the drunkards and the thieves."

Every one clamored and protested. These things they had hidden from him;
they said kings should not see them.

"I will see them," he said with a smile which was beautiful and strange.
"I go now, on foot, and unattended except for my friend the Ancient One.
Let the ball go on."

He strode through the glittering throng with the gray-clad Ancient One
at his side. He still wore his crown upon his head because he wished his
people to know that their King had come to them.

Through dark and loathsome places they went, through narrow streets and
back alleys and courts, where people scurried away like rats as the
gutter children had done in the daytime. King Amor could not have seen
them but that he had brought with him a bright lantern and held it up in
the air above his high head. The light shining upon his beautiful face
and his crown made him look more than ever like a young god and giant,
and the people cowered terrified before him, asking each other what such
a King would do to wretches like themselves. But just a few very little
children smiled at him because he was so young and bright and splendid.
No one in the black holes and corners could understand why a King should
come walking among them on the night of his coronation day. Most of them
thought that the next morning he would order them all to be killed, and
their houses burned, because he would only think of them as vermin.

Once as he passed through a dark court a madman darted out in his path
shaking his fist.

"We hate you!" he cried out. "We hate you!"

The dwellers in the court gasped with terror, wondering what would
happen. But the tall young King stood holding his lantern above his head
and gazing at the madman with deep thought in his eyes.

"There is no time for hatred in the world," he said. "There is no time."
And then he passed on.

The look of deep thought was in his face throughout the hours in which
he strode on until he had seen all he had come to see.

The next day he rode back up the mountain to his castle on the crag, and
when the night fell he lay out upon the battlements under the sky as he
had done on so many nights. The soft wind blew about him as he looked up
at the stars.

"I do not know, my brothers," he said to them. "Tell me." And he lay
silent until the great sweet stillness of the night seemed to fill his
soul, and when the stars began to fade he slept in rapturous peace.

The people in his kingdom on the plain waited, wondering what he would
do. During the next few days they quarreled and hated each other more
than ever, the rich ones because they all wanted to gain his favor, and
each was jealous of the other; the poor ones because they were afraid of
him and each man feared that his neighbor would betray things he had
done in the past.

Only two boys working together in a field, having stopped to wrangle and
fight, one of them suddenly stood still remembering something, and said
a strange thing in a strange voice:

"There is no time for anger. There is no time." And as he fell to work
again his companion did the same, and when they had finished their task
of weeding they talked about the thing and remembered that when they had
quarreled the day before they had not finished their task at all, and
had not been paid, and had gone home sore from the blows they had given
each other, and had had no supper.

"No, there is no time," they decided.

At the beginning of the following week there were rumors that a strange
law had been made--the strangest ever known in the world. It was
something about a Blue Flower. What had flowers to do with laws, or what
had laws to do with flowers? People quarreled about what the meaning of
such a law might be. Those who thought first of evil things and fears
began to say that in the rich people's gardens was to be planted a Blue
Flower whose perfume would poison all the poor.

The only ones who did not quarrel were the two boys and their friends
who had already begun to make a sort of password of "There is no time
for anger." One of them who was clever added a new idea to the saying.

"There is no time for fear!" he cried out in the field. "Let us go on
with our work." And they finished their task early and played games.

At last one morning it was made known that the new King was to give a
feast in the open air to all the people. It was to be on the plain
outside the city, and he himself was going to proclaim to them the Law
of the Blue Flower.

"Now we shall know the worst," growled and shivered the Afraid Ones as
they shuffled their way to the plain, and the boys who used the password
heard them.

"There is no time to think of the worst!" shouted the clever one at the
top of his voice. "There is no time. We shall be late for the feast."

And a number of people actually turned to listen because there was a
high, strong, gay sound in his voice such as had never been heard in
King Mordreth's Land before.

The plain was covered with thick green grass, and beautiful spreading
trees grew on it. There was a richly draped platform for King Amor's
gold and ivory chair, but when the people gathered about he stood up
before them, a beautiful young giant with eyes like fixed stars and head
held high. And he read his law in a voice which, wonderful to relate,
was heard by every man, woman, and child--even by the little cripple
crouching alone in the grass on the very outskirts of the crowd and not
expecting to hear or see anything.

This is what he read:

"In my pleasaunce on the mountain top there grows a Blue Flower. One of
my brothers, the birds, brought me its seed from an Emperor's hidden
garden. It is as beautiful as the sky at dawn. It has a strange power.
It dispels evil fortune and the dark thoughts which bring it. There is
no time for dark thoughts--there is no time for evil. Listen to my Law.
Tomorrow seeds will be given to every man, woman, and child in my
kingdom--even to the newborn. Every man, woman, and child--even the
newborn--is commanded by the law to plant and feed and watch over the
Blue Flower. It is the work of each to make it grow. The mother of the
newborn can hold its little hand and make it drop the seeds into the
earth. As the child grows she must show it the green shoots when they
pierce the brown soil. She must babble to it of its Blue Flower. By the
time it is pleased by color it will love the blossoms, and the spell of
happiness and good fortune will begin to work for it. It is not one
person here and there who must plant the flower, but each and every one.
To those who have not land about them, all the land is free. You may
plant by the roadside, in a cranny of a wall, in an old box or glass or
tub, in any bare space in any man's field or garden. But each must plant
his seeds and watch over and feed them. Next year when the Blue Flower
blossoms I shall ride through my kingdom and bestow my rewards. This is
my Law."

"What will befall if some of us do not make them grow?" groaned some of
the Afraid Ones.

"There is no time to think of that!" shouted the boy who was clever.
"Plant them!"

When the Prime Minister and his followers told the King that larger and
stronger prisons must be built for the many criminals, and that heavier
taxes must be laid upon the people to rescue the country from poverty,
his answer to them was: "Wait until the blooming of the Blue Flower."

In a short time every one was working in the open air, digging in the
soil--tiny children as well as men and women. Drunkards and thieves and
idlers who had never worked before came out of their dark holes and
corners into the light of the sun. It was not a hard thing to plant a
few flower seeds, and because the King Amor looked so much more powerful
than other men, and had eyes so wonderful and commanding, they did not
know what punishment he would invent for them and were afraid to disobey
him. But somehow, after they had worked in the sweet-scented earth for a
while and had seen others working, the light of the sun and the
freshness of the air made them feel in better humor; the wind blew away
their evil fancies and their headaches, and because there was so much
talk and wondering about the magic of the Blue Flower they became
interested, and wanted to see what it would do for them when it
blossomed. Scarcely any of them had ever tried to make a flower grow
before and they gradually thought of it a great deal. There was less
quarreling because conversation with neighbors all about a Blue Flower
gave no reason for hard words. The worst and idlest were curious about
it and every one tried experiments of his own. The children were
delighted and actually grew happy and rosy over their digging and
watering and care-taking. Gradually all sorts of curious things
happened. People who were growing Blue Flowers began to keep the ground
around about them in order. They did not like to see bits of paper and
rubbish lying about, so they cleared them away. One quite new thing
which occurred was that sometimes people even helped each other a
little. Cripples and those who were weak actually found that there were
stronger ones who would do things for them when their backs ached, and
it was hard to carry water or dig up weeds. No one in King Mordreth's
Land had ever helped another before.

The boy who was clever did more than all the rest. He gathered together
all the children he could and formed them into a band using the
passwords. In time it became quite like a little army. They called
themselves The Band of the Blue Flower, and each boy and girl was bound
to remember the passwords and apply them to all they did. So, often,
when a number of people were together and things began to go wrong, a
clear young voice would cry out somewhere like a silver battle cry:

"There is no time for anger!" or "There is no time for hate!" or "There
is no time to fret! There is no time."

Among the great and rich people also singular things came to pass. Those
who had wasted their days loitering or rioting were obliged to get up in
the morning to work in their gardens, and finding that exercise and
fresh air improved their health and spirits they began to like it. Court
ladies found it good for their complexions and tempers; busy merchants
discovered that it made their heads clearer; ambitious students found
that after an hour spent evening and morning over their Blue Flower beds
they could study twice as long without fatigue. The children of the
princes and nobles became so full of work and talk of their soil and
their seeds that they quite forgot to squabble and be jealous of each
other's importance at Court. Never in one story could it be told how
many unusual, interesting, and wonderful things occurred in the once
gloomy King Mordreth's Land just because every person in it, rich and
poor, old and young, good and bad, had to plant and care for and live
every day of life with a Blue Flower. Oh! the corners and crannies and
queer places it was planted in; and oh! the thrill of excitement
everywhere when the first tender green shoots thrust their way through
the earth! And the wave of excitement which passed over the whole land
when the first buds showed themselves. By that time every one was so
interested that even the Afraid Ones had forgotten to ask each other
what King Amor would do to them if they had no Blue Flower. Somehow,
people had gained courage and they knew the Blue Flower would grow--and
they knew there was no time to stop working while they worried and said
"Suppose it didn't." There was no time.

Sometimes the young King was on the mountain top with the wind and the
eagle and the stars, and sometimes he was in his palace in the city, but
he was always working and thinking for his people. He was not seen by
the people, however, until a splendid summer day came when it was
proclaimed by heralds in the streets that he would begin his journey
through the land by riding through the capital city to see the
blossoming of the Blue Flowers, and there would be a feast once more
upon the plain.

It was a wonderful day, the air was full of golden light and the sky of
such a blueness as never had been seen before. Out of the palace gates
he rode and he wore his crown, and his eyes were more brilliant than the
jewels in it, and his smile was more radiant than a sunrise as he looked
about him, for every breath he drew in was fragrant, every ugly place
was hidden, and every squalid corner filled with beauty, for it seemed
as if the whole world were waving with Blue Flowers. Tumble-down houses
and fences were covered with them because some of them climbed like
vines; neglected fields and gardens had been made neat so that they
would grow; rubbish and dirt had been cleaned away to make room for
clumps and patches of them. You could not grow the Blue Flower among
dirt and disorder any more than you could grow it while you were
spending your time in drinking and quarreling. By the road sides, in
courts, in windows, in cracks, in walls, in broken places in roofs, in
great people's gardens, on the window sills, or about the doorways of
poor people's hovels--fair and fragrant and waving, grew the Blue
Flower. Where it waved there was no room for dirt and rubbish, and
suddenly even the dullest people began to see that the face of the whole
land was changed as if by some strange magic, and the whole population
seemed changed with it. Everybody looked fresher and more cheerful,
people had actually learned to smile and keep themselves clean, and
there was not one who was not healthier. They had, in fact, been
noticing this for some time, and they had said to each other that the
power of the Blue Flower, of which the King had spoken, was beginning to
work. The children had grown gay and rosy, and the boy who was clever
and all his companions had found time to earn themselves new clothes,
because they had never forgotten their passwords. All the farmers wanted
them to work in their fields because they said there was no time to
idle, no time to fight, no time to play evil tricks.

On the King rode, and on and on and on, and the farther he went the more
splendid and joyous his smile grew.

But at no time during the day was it more beautiful than when he met the
little cripple who had sat on the outside of the crowd on the first
feast day, not expecting to see or hear anything.

The cripple lived in a tiny hovel on the edge of the city, and when the
glittering procession drew near it the small patch of garden was quite
bare and had not a Blue Flower in it. And the little cripple was sitting
huddled upon his broken door-step, sobbing softly with his face hidden
in his arms.

King Amor drew up his white horse and looked at him and looked at his
bare garden.

"What has happened here?" he said. "This garden has not been neglected.
It has been dug and kept free of weeds, but my Law has been broken.
There is no Blue Flower."

Then the little cripple got up trembling and hobbled through his rickety
gate and threw himself down upon the earth before the King's white
horse, sobbing hopelessly and heart-brokenly.

"Oh King!" he cried. "I am only a cripple, and small, and I can easily
be killed. I have no flowers at all. When I opened my package of seeds I
was so glad that I forgot the wind was blowing, and suddenly a great
gust carried them all away forever and I had not even one left. I was
afraid to tell anybody."

And then he cried so that he could not speak.

"Go on," said the young King gently. "What did you do?"

"I could do nothing," said the little cripple. "Only I made my garden
neat and kept away the weeds. And sometimes I asked other people to let
me dig a little for them. And always when I went out I picked up the
ugly things I saw lying about--the bits of paper and rubbish--and I dug
holes for them in the earth. But I have broken your Law."

Then the people gasped for breath, for King Amor dismounted from his
horse and lifted the little cripple up in his arms and held him against
his breast.

"You shall ride with me today," he said, "and go to my castle on the
mountain crag and live near the stars and the sun. When you kept the
weeds from your bare little garden, and when you dug for others and hid
away ugliness and disorder, you planted a Blue Flower every day. You
have planted more than all the rest, and your reward shall be the
sweetest, for you planted without the seeds."

And then the people shouted until the world seemed to ring with their
joy, and somehow they knew that King Mordreth's Land had come into fair
days and they thought it was the Blue Flower magic.

"But the earth is full of magic," Amor said to the Ancient One, after
the feast on the plain was over. "Most men know nothing of it and so
comes misery. The first law of the earth's magic is this one. If you
fill your mind with a beautiful thought there will be no room in it for
an ugly one. This I learned from you and from my brothers the stars. So
I gave my people the Blue Flower to think of and work for. It led them
to see beauty and to work happily and filled the land with bloom. I,
their King, am their brother, and soon they will understand this and I
can help them, and all will be well. They shall be wise and joyous and
know good fortune."

The little cripple lived near the sun and the stars in the castle on the
mountain crag until he grew strong and straight. Then he was the King's
chief gardener. The boy who was clever was made captain of his band,
which became the King's own guard and never left him. And the gloom of
King Mordreth's Land was forgotten, because it was known throughout all
the world as The Land of the Blue Flower.


Frances Hodgson Burnett