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Philemon And Baucis

from Nature Myths And Stories For Little Children





On a high hill in Greece, long ago, lived Philemon and Baucis. They had
always been poor but never unhappy.

At the time of this story the people in the valley below them were very
busy.

Zeus, their king, had sent word that he was about to visit them.

Hermes, his messenger, was to come with him.

The people were getting ready great feasts, and making everything
beautiful for their coming. For miles out of the city, men were watching
for the golden chariot and white horses of the king.

One night, just at dark, two beggars came into the valley.

They stopped at every house and asked for food and a place to sleep.

But the people were too busy or too tired to attend to their needs.

Footsore and weary, at last they climbed the hill to the hut of Philemon
and Baucis.

These good people had eaten scarcely anything for several days that they
might have food to offer the king.

When they saw the strangers, Philemon said, "Surely these men need food
more than the king."

Baucis spread her one white table cloth upon the table.

She brought out bacon and herbs, wild honey and milk.

She set these before the strangers with all the good dishes that she
had.

Then a wonderful thing happened.

The dishes which the strangers touched turned to gold.

The milk in the pitcher became rich nectar.

Philemon and Baucis dropped upon their knees.

They knew that their guests could be no other than Zeus and Hermes.

Zeus raised his hand and said, "Arise, good people, ask what you will
and it shall be yours."

Philemon and Baucis cried in one voice:

"Grant, oh Zeus, that one of us may not outlive the other, but that both
may die in the same instant."

This had long been the wish in each heart, and the fear of being left
alone in the world was the one trouble of their old age.

Zeus smiled and changed their rude hut into a beautiful castle, and
granted them many years of happy life.

One morning the people in the valley noticed that the castle had
disappeared.

They hurried to the spot and found growing in its place two beautiful
trees, an oak and a linden.

No trace of the good couple could be found.

Many years after, however, a traveller lying under the trees heard them
whispering to each other.

He lay very still and soon learned that in them Philemon and Baucis
still lived, happy and contented, and protected by Zeus from all harm.





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