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"Once again, when I was a youth, I saw it. After a long voyage upon stormy seas, we came into a quiet haven, and there the friend who was dearest to me, said good-by, for he was going back to his own country and his father's house, but I was still journeying onward. So as I stood at the bow of the ship, sailing out into the wide blue water, far away among the sparkling waves I saw a little island, with shores of silver sand and slopes of fairest green, and in the middle of the island the Blue Flower was growing, wondrous tall and dazzling, brighter than the sapphire of the sea. Then the call of the distant trumpet came floating across the water, and while it was sounding a shimmer of fog swept over the island and I could see it no more."

"Was it a real island," asked Ruamie. "Did you ever find it?"

"Never; for the ship sailed another way. But once again I saw the flower; three days before I came to Saloma. It was on the edge of the desert, close under the shadow of the great mountains. A vast loneliness was round about me; it seemed as if I was the only soul living upon earth; and I longed for the dwellings of men. Then as I woke in the morning I looked up at the dark ridge of the mountains, and there against the brightening blue of the sky I saw the Blue Flower standing up clear and brave. It shone so deep and pure that the sky grew pale around it. Then the echo of the far-off trumpet drifted down the hillsides, and the sun rose, and the flower was melted away in light. So I rose and travelled on till I came to Saloma."

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"And now," said the child, "you are at home with us. Will you not stay for a long, long while? You may find the Blue Flower here. There are many kinds in the fields. I find new ones every day."

"I will stay while I can, Ruamie," I answered, taking her hand in mine as we walked back to the house at nightfall, "but how long that may be I cannot tell. For with you I am at home, yet the place where I must abide is the place where the flower grows, and when the call comes I must follow it."

"Yes," said she, looking at me half in doubt, "I think I understand. But wherever you go I hope you will find the flower at last."

In truth there were many things in the city that troubled me and made me restless, in spite of the sweet comfort of Ruamie's friendship and the tranquillity of the life in Saloma. I came to see the meaning of what the old man had said about the shadow that rested upon his thoughts. For there were some in the city who said that the hours of visitation were wasted, and that it would be better to employ the time in gathering water from the pools that formed among the mountains in the rainy season, or in sinking wells along the edge of the desert. Others had newly come to the city and were teaching that there was no Source, and that the story of the poor man who reopened it was a fable, and that the hours of visitation were only hours of dreaming. There were many who believed them, and many more who said that it did not matter whether their words were true or false, and that it was of small moment whether men went to visit the fountain or not, provided only that they worked in the gardens and kept the marble pools and basins in repair and opened new canals through the fields, since there always had been and always would be plenty of water.

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The Blue Flower
Henry van Dyke

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