“Blue is a cool thing, like water, or ice clinking in your glass,” he would say, “and red’s hot and sizzly, like the fire.”
“Very true,” his informants would agree; but for all that, they could not be sure what his conception might be of the colors.
Things were so confusing! There, for instance, were tomatoes. They were certainly very cool things, if you ate them sliced (when you were allowed), yet you were told that they were as red as red could be! And nothing could have been hotter than the blue tea-pot, when he picked it up by its spout; but that, to be sure, was caused by the tea. Yet the hot wasn’t any color; oh, dear!
Ken had not practised the art of seeing stories for nothing. He plunged in with little hesitation, and with a grand flourish.
“My tale is of kings, it is,” he said; “ancient kings—Babylonian kings, if you must know. It was thousands and thousands of years ago they lived, and you’d never be able to imagine the wonderful cities they built. They had hanging gardens that were——” Felicia interrupted.
“It’s easy to tell where you got this story. I happen to know where your marker is in the Ancient History.”
“Never you mind where I got it,” Ken said. “I’m trying to describe a hanging garden, which is more than you could do. As I was about to say, the hanging gardens were built one above the other; they didn’t really hang at all. They sat on big stone arches, and the topmost one was so high that it stuck up over the city walls, which were quite high enough to begin with. The tallest kinds of trees grew in the gardens; not just flowers, but big palm-trees and oleanders and citron-trees, and pomegranates hung off the branches all ready to be picked,—dark greeny, purpley pomegranates all bursting open so that their bright red seeds showed like live coals (do you think I’m getting this out of the history book, Phil?), and they were this-shaped—” he drew a pomegranate on the back of Kirk’s hand—“with a sprout of leaves at the top. And there were citrons—like those you chop up in fruit-cake—and grapes and roses. The queen could sit in the bottomest garden, or walk up to the toppest one by a lot of stone steps. She had a slave-person who went around behind her with a pea-cock-feathery fan, all green and gold and beautiful; and he waved the fan over her to keep her cool. Meanwhile, the king would be coming in at one of the gates of the city. They were huge, enormous brass gates, and they shone like the sun, bright, and the sun winked on the king’s golden chariot, too, and on the soldiers’ spears.