"The Flowering of a Strange Orchid"


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While digging through some books the other day, I happened upon a very old illustrated collection of H.G. Wells stories I hadn't seen in years. Among The War of the Worlds, First Men in the Moon, When the Sleeper Wakes and The Country of the Blind, there were some odd rare short stories, including "The Flowering of a Strange Orchid: A Tale of an Orchid Enthusiast." In describing a mysterious plant new to his hothouse collection, the character's housekeeper thought its twisted aerial roots reminded her of "a spider shamming dead," which wasn't, as it turned out, too far from the truth.

With that British stoicism so common to much of nineteenth century writing, there was one early passage which really had me laughing. In describing the fate of the intrepid explorer and botanist who had discovered the rare plant,

"That orchid-collector was only thirty-six -- twenty years younger than myself -- when he died. And he had been married once and divorced once; he had had malarial fevers four times, and once he broke his thigh. He killed a Malay once, and once he was wounded by a poisoned dart. And in the end, he was killed by jungle-leeches. It must have all been very troublesome, but then it must have been very interesting, you know -- except perhaps, the leeches."

Wells.jpg

Here is a link to the original Wells story, for those so inclined: www.horrormasters.com/Text/a2258.pdf

You just can't beat that, baby . . .

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  • 5 years later...

I think the writer went on a trip on Borneo like I did (but I did not kill anyone there!), to know the truth about leeches!  :laugh1:

That's a beautiful illustration and interesting text, thanks!

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  • 2 weeks later...

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