So we move on to the next young man who happened by. He too knocked on the door of the house and requested entry, more desiring to have the mystery solved than anything else.
Like the former young man he was told “If you wish to enter, you must first bring me the most beautiful flower from the great fields over the mountains.”
After some hesitation, this second young man decided to go and find the most beautiful flower.
He was bewildered upon seeing the great expanse of flowering grasses, and searched for many hours for the most beautiful one. At last he said “What is beauty but the measure of delight found in something?” And reaching down he broke from a stalk a bright purple flower, put it in his pocket and turned back towards the mountains.
On the second morning, just as he was coming over the last pass and saw the village far below him, he decided to look at his flower and give it some water. He took it out and saw that it was crumpled, not quite dead but disfigured and dry and he grew saddened at the loss of its beauty.
“This can not be accepted as the fruit of my effort” he told himself. When he had come down from the cold slopes and was a mile or so from the Very Old Man’s house, he saw a small group of flowers by the road – the very same kind as the one he had picked. So the young man threw the wilting flower onto the road, broke a new one off of the plant and carefully held it in his hand for the rest of the journey.
The Very Old man looked down at the flower and frowned. “Young man” he said sternly “This is not the flower you chose. No flower could remain fresh and new over a mountain pass and two days. You discovered your error in the poor keeping of the first and threw it away for another – Looking at only the pleasure gained in the sight and having of it.
It may be that you have learned something in your first mistake and you will now learn from your second. If you had thought first of your actions’ consequences you would have taken it by the root and not breaking the stem. That was your first error. If you had loved the flower you would have kept it and brought it back to health and beauty instead of exchanging it for another. That is the second and is what bars you from entering. Go away and learn the meaning of honesty, and may you not rest until you have learned to love something for itself and not your gain.”
The young man stole away slowly, sadly wondering how such learning to be gained.
I have heard stories that drifted from another land (how he came to be there I do not know) of how he became a wandering hero who freed a young woman of a spell that caused her to be ugly by learning to see deeper than the surface of a lake of mud while blind. The whispers of story claim that he married this woman and gave up the life of a hero to serve her but there are details greatly missing and is a tale for another time.
To Be Continued . . .