1058 THE GARDENER AND THE FAMILY
below. The melons had really been very good, but that was quite another thing ; the strawberries could also be called excellent, but still no better than those on other estates ; and when the radishes one year were a failure, they only talked about the unfortunate radishes and not about any other good thing which he had produced.
It was almost as if the family felt a relief in saying, ' It didn't succeed this year, little Larsen ! ' They were very glad to be able to say, ' It didn't succeed this year !'
Twice a week the gardener brought fresh flowers for the rooms, always so beautifully arranged; the colours came as it were into a stronger light with the contrasts.
' You have taste, Larsen,' said the family; ' it is a gift which is given to you from our Father, not of yourself ! '
One day he came with a big crystal bowl in which lay a water-lily leaf ; on it was laid, with its long, thick stalk down in the water, a brilliant blue flower, as big as a sunflower.
' The lotus flower of India,' exclaimed the family. They had never seen such a flower ; and it was placed in the sunshine by day and in the evening in a reflex light. Every one who saw it found it both remarkable and rare, yes, even the highest young lady of the land, and she was the princess; she was both wise and good.
The family did itself the honour of presenting it to the princess, and it went with her up to the castle.
Now the master went down into the garden to pluck for himself a flower of the same kind, if such a one could be found, but there was not such a thing. So he called the gardener and asked him where he got the blue lotus from.
' We have sought in vain,' said he ; 'we have been in the greenhouse and all round about ! '
1 No, it is certainly not there ! ' said the gardener ; ' it is only a common flower from the kitchen-garden ! but, indeed, isn't it lovely I it looks like a blue cactus, and yet it is only the flower of the artichoke.'
' You should have told us that at once !' said the master. ' We imagined that it was a strange, rare flower. You have made fools of us before the princess ! She saw the flower and thought it beautiful, but did not know it,