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Across the Zodiac by Percy Greg

Almost exactly realising an imaginary flower


not be angry with me now," she pleaded. "I am exceedingly fond of flowers; they have been my only amusement except the training of my pets. You can see how little women have to do, how little occupation or interest is permitted us. The rearing of rare flowers, or the creation of new ones, is almost the only employment in which we can find exercise for such intelligence as we possess. I had never seen before the flower that grew on that shelf. I believe, indeed, that it only grows on a few of our higher mountains below the snow-line, and I was anxious to bring it home and see what could be made of it in the garden. I thought it might be developed into something almost as beautiful as that bright _leenoo_ you admired so greatly in my flower-bed."

"But," said I, "the two flowers are not of the same shape or colour; and, though I am not learned in botany, I should say hardly belong to the same family."

"No," she said. "But with care, and with proper management of our electric apparatus, I accomplished this year a change almost as great. I can show you in my flower-bed one little white flower, of no great beauty and conical in shape, from which I have produced in two years another, saucer-shaped, pink, and of thrice the size, almost exactly realising an imaginary flower, drawn by my sister-in-law to represent one of which she had dreamed. We can often produce the very shape, size, and colour we wish from something

that at first seems to have no likeness to it whatever; and I have been told that a skilful farmer will often obtain a fruit, or, what is more difficult, an animal, to answer exactly the ideal he has formed."

"Some of our breeders," I said, "profess to develop a sort of ideal of any given species; but it takes many generations, by picking and choosing those that vary in the right direction, to accomplish anything of the kind; and, after all, the difference between the original and the improved form is mere development, not essential change."

She hardly seemed to understand this, but answered--

"The seedling or rootlet would be just like the original plant, if we did not from the first control its growth by means of our electric frames. But if you will allow me, I will show you to-morrow what I have done in my own flower-bed, and you will have opportunities of seeing afterwards how very much more is done by agriculturists with much more time and much more potent electricities."

"At any rate," I said, "if I had known your object, you certainly should have had the flowers for which you risked so much: and if I remain here three days longer, I promise you plenty of specimens for your experiment."

"You do not mean to go back to the Astronaut?" she asked, with an air of absolute consternation.

"I had not intended to do so," I replied, "for it seems to be perfectly safe under your father's seal and your stringent laws of property. But now, if time permit, I must get these flowers to which you tell me I am so deeply indebted."

"You are very kind," returned Eveena earnestly, "but I entreat you not to venture there again. I should be utterly miserable while you were running such a risk again, and for such a trifle."

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