He turned to the table, but its top was soiled with crumbs of mouldy bread and cheese mingled with dirt. He looked about the room, and not one spot could he see where he might lay the Lily without sullying its pure loveliness. He called the little Vasily, and bade him stand and hold the flower.
He then searched for some- thing to put it in. This he placed upon the table, and in it set the Lily. Then as he looked at the begrimed hands of little Vasily he thought to himself, "When I leave the room he may touch the flower and soil it. And Ivan gazed on him in amazement, murmuring, "I never saw it thus before!
He cared tenderly for the little Vasily.
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He washed himself and combed his own hair. He cleaned the hut and mended its walls and furni- ture. He carried away the weeds and stones from the garden. He sowed flowers and planted vegetables. And the neighbours passing by no longer turned their heads aside, but stopping talked with Ivan, and sometimes gave the little Vasily presents of clothes and toys. As for the Lily, seven days it blossomed in freshness and beauty, and gave forth a delicate fragrance; but on the eighth day, when Ivan and Vasily woke, it was gone. And though they sought it in hut and garden, they did not find it.
So Ivan and the little Vasily worked from day to day among their flowers and vegetables, and talked to their neighbours, and were happy. So Easter came again. And early, very early in the morning, Ivan and the little Vasily arose and dressed, and went and stood before the hut.
And when the splendour of the coming day shone above the distant hills, lo! He drew near, and, stopping before the hut, said sweetly: "Christ is risen! For many moons he wandered, leaning on his staff cut from a White-Thorn bush. He passed over raging seas and dreary wastes, he wandered through trackless forests, climbed rugged moun- tains, and forded many floods.
At last he came to Gaul where the Apostle Philip was preaching the glad tidings to the heathen. And there he abode for a little space. Now, upon a night while Joseph lay asleep in his hut, he was wakened by a radiant light. And as he gazed with wondering eyes he saw an Angel standing by his couch, wrapped in a cloud of incense. And there, where a Christ- mas miracle shall come to pass, do thou build the first Christian church in that land. Then Joseph left his hut and calling the Apostle Philip, gave him the Angel's message.
And, when morning dawned, Philip sent him on his way, accompanied by eleven chosen followers. To the water's side they went, and embarking in a little ship, came unto the coasts of Britain. There they were met by the heathen, who carried them before Arvigarus their King. To him and to his people did Joseph of Arimathea preach the glad tidings; but the King's heart, though moved, was not convinced.
Never- theless he gave to Joseph and his followers, Avalon, the happy isle, the Isle of the Blessed, and bade them depart straightway, and build there an altar to their God. And a wonderful gift was this same Avalon, sometimes called the Island of Apples, and also known to the people of the land as Ynis-witren, the Isle of Glassy Waters. Beautiful and peaceful was it. Deep it lay in the midst of a green valley, and the balmy breezes fanned its apple orchards, and scattered afar the sweet fragrance of rosy blossoms or ripened fruit.
The smooth waves gently lapped the shore, and Water-Lilies floated on the surface of the tide, while in the blue sky above sailed the fleecy clouds. With them they carried the Holy Grail hidden beneath its cloth of snow-white samite. Heavily they toiled up the steep ascent of the hill called Weary- All. And when they reached the top Joseph thrust his Thorn-Staff into the ground. And, lo! And on the spot where the Thorn bloomed, there Joseph built the first Christian church in Britain.
And he made it "wattled all round" of osiers gathered from the water's edge. And in the chapel they placed the Holy Grail. And so, it is said, ever since at Glastonbury Abbey the name by which that Avalon is known to-day on Christmas Eve the White- Thorn buds and blooms. Legend of Paradise THESE is a sweet old legend that relates how on the green mead of Paradise there bloomed a little plant with clusters of blossoms white like driven-snow, and with tiny golden eyes. All the other flowers of the mead had names, but the white plant had none.
Adam had named them all, and given them their colours; but he had forgotten the little white plant. And when it saw that it was overlooked, it timidly lifted up its head, and cried: "Forget me not! They became bright blue like the sky, while all its tiny eyes were like gold stars set in the blue! And ever since that day the children have called the timid little plant, "Forget-Me-Not"! His father was dead, but his mother was still living, though she was very old and feeble.
Yosoji's one thought was of his mother, and he worked hard and cheerfully from early morning until late evening to earn Rice and clothes for her. And in the night he did the work of the house, so that she should not get tired. One Spring a terrible sickness came to the village, and many of the people caught the disease, among them Yosoji's old mother. Hour by hour she grew worse, until Yosoji thought her dying. Then his heart seemed breaking with sorrow, and he rushed from the house to find help. He remembered how the old folk of the village had often said that there was a hidden, health-giving spring of water on Fujiyama, so he ran to the mountain and began to ascend it.
Eagerly he climbed, forcing the bushes apart with his hands, so that the rosy-white petals of a hundred blossoms fell upon him, but he did not see them. At last he reached a spot where three paths crossed, and stopped to consider which to take. As he did so, a lovely maiden stepped from the forest. She was clad in glistening white, and her long dark hair fell around her. In her hand she carried a branch of waxen-white Camellias.
He did so eagerly and full of wonder; and soon he found himself beside a rock from which gushed a crystal stream tinkling softly like a thousand silver bells. Then fill again, and carry the gourd home to your mother. As he touched the sparkling liquid to his lips he felt new life cours- ing through his veins, and his sorrow and fatigue fell from him like an old garment. He rose up joyful, and stronger than ever before.
Then the maiden led him back to the spot where he had met her. He put the gourd to her lips, and she fell into a calm and health-giving sleep. And when morning came she got up as well and brisk as she had been in her youth. Three days passed by, and Yosoji returned to the mountain, and climbed to the spot where the three paths crossed. The lovely maiden met him, as before, and, smiling, led the way to the spring, where he again filled his gourd.
Thanking her, he hastened to the village. He gave the water to some of the sick people to drink, and cured them. Five times, in this wise, did Yosoji visit the hidden spring on Mount Fuji, and, guided by the maiden, fetched more of the Elixir of Life, and so cured all the sick in his village. Then the people began to praise Yosoji, and his fame spread to distant lands. People brought him gifts, and wherever he went they bowed before him. But he was not happy. He knew that all the praise and thanks belonged to the maiden who had been his guide.
He wished greatly to see her and thank her for what she had done. He climbed the mountain, and reached the spot where the three paths crossed. But though he waited long, the maiden did not come. At last, disappointed, he followed the path to the spring, and, on reaching the rock, found that the water no longer gushed from it. The spring was dried up, and only a few drops trickled down the face of the rock.
Then while he stood looking sorrowfully about, he saw the lovely maiden herself standing near him. She was more beautiful than ever. Her dark hair floated around her like a cloud; her robe glistened like Snow in the sunlight; her eyes smiled more sweetly than ever; while the branch of Camellias in her hand gave out a subtle and delicious perfume. Seeing her thus, Yosoji uttered a cry of delight, and sprang forward to lay his gifts at her feet.
But the maiden gently waved her branch of Camellias, and a soft, rosy cloud descended from the very top of Mount Fuji, and, enveloping her, floated back to the top again. Then Yosoji knew that his lovely guide was none other than the Fairy Maiden of the "Never- Dying Mountain," who had taken compassion upon him, and had saved his mother.
And while he gazed upward with rapture, the branch of Camellias, giving out its delicious perfume, fell at his feet. She was betrothed to the son of the great Lord of Ako, and the wedding day was set. She loved to walk on moonlit nights in the garden of the castle. She often wandered along the silvery paths, crossed the tiny bridges over singing cascades, and rested by a clear blue lake, near the margin of which grew beds of many lovely, fragrant flowers.
But above all, the Princess loved the sweet-scented Peonies; and when the moon flooded the Peony-bed with its white beams, she lingered long near her favourite flowers. It chanced one evening that the Princess was stooping over the Peonies to breathe then- fra- grance, when her foot slipped. Immediately a handsome young man, in a robe embroidered with Peonies, rose from among the flowers and caught her in his arms. He set her safely on her feet, then vanished as mysteriously as he had appeared. The Princess's maids were bewildered. As for the Princess she was very sad. She longed to see the young man, and thank him for having saved her from falling.
She forbade her maids to tell any one what they had seen. They then returned to the castle. The next morning the Princess was sick. She could not sleep or eat. Day by day she grew worse. The best of physicians could do her no good, nor discover the cause of her strange ill- ness. At last her father sent for one of her maids, and questioned her closely. She admitted that some days before the Princess had slipped by the Peony-bed, and had been rescued by a handsome young man, who had vanished as wonderfully as he had come.
That evening, the weather being very hot, her father had the Princess carried into the gar- den and a musician summoned to amuse her. Scarcely had the musician begun to play when there rose up from behind the Peonies the same young man, in his Peony-embroidered robe. As soon as the music stopped, he vanished. The Princess's father had the flower-bed searched, but there were no signs of any one having dis- turbed the Peonies. So it happened again the second night. On the third night, the Princess's father sta- tioned a guard hidden near the Peony-bed. Then the captain of the guard sprang forward and seized the youth around the waist.
Instantly a warm steam filled the captain's face, and still grasping the youth, he fell fainting to the ground. The guard hurried to assist him, and as they raised him to his feet, behold, they saw that, instead of grasping the young man, he was holding a large and brilliant Peony!
She put it tenderly into a vase of water, and placed it near her pillow. It seemed to have a strange effect upon her. Day by day she grew better, and more beautiful than ever. She cared for the Peony herself, and the flower became fresher instead of fading. For several weeks it remained strong and blooming.
At last the Princess's wedding-day arrived. The marriage was celebrated, and immediately afterward she found the Peony no longer brilliant and fresh, but dead and drooping its once bright head. And from that day people called her Princess Peony. His faithful servitor, Kikuo, went with him.
They sought refuge among the mountains, where they lived in a small house surrounded by a garden. Kikuo dearly loved his master, and endeav- oured to comfort him in every way, in order to make him forget his troubles. Knowing that he loved Chrysanthemums, Kikuo planted a large bed of the flowers.
His master was much pleased, but continued to grieve over his losses until he fell sick and died. Kikuo wept night and day over the humble grave. Then, determining to make it beautiful, he began to plant and tend a border of Chrysan- themums of every colour and size. Red, white, pink, yellow, bronze, and cream-coloured blossoms made the spot lovely. At length Kikuo had planted so many and tended them so carefully that the border was thirty yards wide, and people came from all over the country to see the wonderful sight. One day Kikuo was taken ill, and feared that he must die. In the night he heard a rustling sound upon his veranda, and, looking out, saw many little children moving about in the moon- shine.
They were light and graceful in move- ment, and had large heads of curling hair. They were clad in waving robes of green, embroidered with red, white, pink, yellow, bronze, and cream- colour. They were whispering together, and their voices sounded like sighing breezes. As Kikuo gazed upon them, he knew they were not ordinary children. Then three of them, entering his room, approached his couch. And because of all you have done for us, we wish to make you well. There- fore, drink this Chrysanthemum Dew. Kikuo took the cups and drank the Dew, which tasted fragrant and delicious.
Just at that moment a puff of wind passed through the room, and the Chrysanthemum children vanished. Then Kikuo fell asleep, and when he awoke in the morning he found himself perfectly well. They were sisters, and were very happy until one day an old gardener, who was walking through the meadow, stooped beside the yellow flower. Soon she found herself growing in his garden among thousands of lovely flowers. Winding paths of silver sand led to tiny bridges and musical cascades, while near by stood a small tea-house hung with tinkling silver bells.
And Maiden Yellow was so happy that she forgot her lonely white sister in the green meadow. Her petals grew longer and more numerous, and curled. One day the steward of a very rich noble came to the garden. His master wished a Chrysanthe- mum of perfect form having sixteen petals. The old gardener took him to see Maiden Yellow, and when she saw him coming she stood even straighter and prouder than before, and held her large golden head very high, for she thought, "Surely he will choose me.
As he was returning to his master's castle, he happened to pass through the green meadow where Maiden WTiite stood weeping in her loneliness. And when he saw her perfect form and her sixteen snow-white petals, he was de- lighted, and, picking her carefully, carried her to the castle. When his master, the rich noble, saw Maiden White, he placed her in a transparent vase.
Then sending throughout Japan, he summoned the greatest artists to his castle. They came from far and near, and sat down to paint the noble's crest. And for this crest they used Maiden White's beautiful face in a hundred graceful poses. She was embroidered on his robes, on his cushions, and on his quilts.
Everywhere her lovely face appeared; and the noble's crest became the most admired of all crests in the land of Japan. As for Maiden Yellow, she continued to bloom for some time in the garden among the other flowers. She grew for herself alone. Daily she became more proud and stately, and drank up the fragrant Dew. But one day she felt stiff and dry. Her once bright head turned brown and sere. And when the old gardener found her thus, he cut her down and threw her upon the rubbish heap. No arrow-bearing quiver, no bent bow Was by him. High in heavy foliaged trees They hung.
And he, the while, lay chained in sleep, Embosomed in a Rose's heart of hearts! And sleeping, smiled. And att around his head, And all around his honey-dripping lips, Murmured the yellow Workers of the Hive! Rosy, dimpled, and laughing, with bright hair floating around his shoulders, and small wings fluttering, he flew about, shooting tiny darts at all whom he met. And whoever felt the prick of one of his darts straightway fell in love. The naughty little boy did not spare even the greatest among the Dwellers-on-Mount-Olympus. Laughing with glee, he aimed at the heart of Jupiter himself; then he turned his bow against Apollo -of -the -Golden -Beams and grim Pluto, King of Hades.
He even shot a sharp but tender little dart into the breast of his mother Venus the Beautiful. Though his mother caught him by his small wings, and whipped him with her sandal and with myrtle rods, and even bound his eyes with a fillet, quickly forgetting his punishment, he flew away again to find other hearts to wound.
This is how they came red: Cupid loved the White Roses and played among them in the meadows of earth, where they grew large and fragrant. Sometimes he wreathed them into garlands for his head, some- times he chased the Butterflies that alighted on their petals, and sometimes he curled himself up to sleep in the heart of a big open Rose. Yes, Cupid loved the W T hite Roses better than any other flowers.
Now it happened one day that all the Dwellers- on-Mount-Olympus were feasting together, and Cupid was carrying Jupiter's golden cup filled with fragrant red Nectar. The naughty boy held the cup so carelessly that he spilled a few drops. They fell on some White Roses, and the flowers immediately foamed up in wreaths of bright Red Roses. That is how Red Roses first came.
And this is how they came coloured : At first all Pansies were milk-white. So they were, until one day when Cupid aimed a tiny dart at Diana-of-the-Bended-Bow. Now of all the Dwellers-on-Mount-Olympus, the most stately and cold-hearted was Diana. She loved nobody, and cared for nothing but hunting. With her feet thrust in buskins, her robe tucked up for speed, a quiver on her back, and a bow in her hand, she rushed over the hills and through the woods, chasing the flying game; while behind her ran all her pretty Nymphs armed with bows and arrows.
So one day naughty Cupid, who wished to see cold-hearted Diana love somebody, shot a tiny dart at her. It just grazed her skin, and falling to earth, struck the heart of a milk-white Pansy. Ever since then, Pansies have been stained a gleaming rich purple and gold. But more than all he delighted to play at soldier, and march around with a helmet on his golden hair, a pike over his shoulder, and a buckler on his arm. Quite often he romped with his mother Venus, she holding high her bow and quiver, while he jumped to catch it.
Sometimes, too, they took little baskets and went into the meadows to gather Roses and yellow Crocuses. Now, one day Venus took Cupid, and her maid the little Nymph Peristera, to gather flowers. Around Venus's head circled a whole host of chirping Sparrows, and wherever she stepped, a carpet of bright blossoms sprang up under her feet. Cupid worked very hard, scratching his tiny hands on thorns, and bruising his little bare feet on stones, but at last he had an armful of blos- soms, all that he could carry.
But his mother Venus had a great many more than he. Soon Cupid found out why his mother had so many more the little Nymph Peristera had helped her pick them! That is why Venus always had Doves as well as Sparrows flying around her head, and why she liked to hear them bill and coo. One day she lost it in a meadow, and a silly shepherd-lad, with a frightfully ugly counte- nance, picked it up. But no sooner did he glance into it than he appeared so handsome to him- self that he fell in love with his own looks. So he kept on gazing and gazing so raptur- ously that he did not hear Cupid come winging his way to find his mother's mirror.
When Cupid saw it in the silly man's hands, and caught a glimpse of the grimaces he was making at himself in the glass, he snatched it away, and broke it into a thousand glittering pieces that fell among the grasses. And each tiny bit of the mirror became a lovely bright blossom, bell-shaped, and so bril- liant that it seemed to reflect the sunbeams. Cupid called the plant on which these blossoms grew Venus's Looking Glass; and you may find it in the flower-garden to-day, standing near the Roses.
His mother Venus, who dearly loved her little son in spite of his naughty tricks, wished to give him a new plaything. So she decided to ask her husband, Vulcan-the-Smith, to make him some darts. There the flames roared upward and the noise of his ham- mer, anvil, and bellows was heard night and day. When Vulcan knew what she wanted, he laid aside the gold and silver Dogs he was making for King Alcinous, and fashioned some tiny darts just the size for Cupid's bow. Now, Venus did not wish her little son to kill any one, so she dipped the points of the darts in honey.
But Cupid shyly dipped them in gall. After that they could wound though they could not kill. Then the naughty little boy hung garlands of fresh Roses around his neck, put a crown of them on his head, and flew down to earth. There he wandered about, riding on the back of a fierce Lion, that at his touch grew as tame as a Dove. And whoever felt the prick of his dart straightway fell in love.
This is why Cupid's darts wound the heart, but do not slay. Now while Cupid was riding about on his tame Lion wounding young men and maidens with his honey and gall-tipped darts, his mother Venus missed him from the Shining Palace on Mount Olympus. Wringing her white hands she ran to and fro, looking for him everywhere. My child!
Cupid's voice is honey-sweet, while his heart is full of gall! Bright are his clustering curls, but a brighter quiver hangs upon his back. His hands are tiny, but very far can they shoot his wound- giving darts. Like a winged bird he flutters up and down, nestling in the hearts of young men and maidens. He holds a little bow, and an arrow ever ready to fly; but most dangerous of all he grasps a small blazing torch. If he offers to kiss you, flee, for his kisses burn like fire!
There among the Roses she found poor little Cupid, weeping bitterly. Wringing his tiny hands, he ran to meet her. I'm lost! See my finger! I lay down to sleep in a big Rose-heart, and a little Snake a Bee they call it stung me! I'm dying! That is why Roses have thorns, so the Wonder Story says. Now when Cupid's arrow wounds any one, even slightly, love enters one's heart. So Venus, pricked by Cupid's arrow, pushed her little son away.
Then she looked down from her throne on Mount Olympus, and saw a handsome youth, named Adonis, hunting in the Idalian Grove of Cyprus. Straightway she was charmed with his beauty, and, getting into her car drawn by white Swans, descended to the Grove. She took a bow and arrow in her hand, and joining Adonis, cheered on his Dogs, and helped him kill swift Hares and Deer with branching horns.
Day after day together they hunted the harm- less wild things of the wood. But it happened one morning that Adonis was going to hunt by himself. It turned upon him with foaming tusks and rolling eyes. He struck it with his spear, but it rushed against him, thrusting one tusk into his side.
Then Adonis fell upon the soft green grass, and sighing died. The flowers in the Grove withered with pain, the leaves of the trees rustled with grief, and the birds ceased singing and drooped their heads. Swiftly Cupid came, winging his way to the spot where Adonis lay dead. And with Cupid were all the little Loves his companions. They wept, they wrung their tiny hands, and they hovered and fluttered above Adonis. One Love broke his feathered arrow, one cast away his bow and quiver, one loosened Adonis' sandal, another brought water in a golden urn and bathed his head, and still another with his soft wings fanned his white forehead.
Venus heard the sighing and lamenting. She turned her swan-drawn car, and hastily descended to the Grove. And when she saw her Adonis lying dead, she groaned, and beat her bosom, and tore her crimson robe. Then, lo! And the drops of blood grew up into glowing red, red Roses! So, says the old Greek wonder tale, Anemones and Roses came into the World. She was Queen of Corinth, and gave her people such wise laws that her fame spread to many lands.
From the east, from the west, from the south, from the north, kings, princes, and warriors came to woo her. But though Rhodanthe was wise and beautiful, she was proud and cold; so she haughtily bade her suitors go back at once to their own lands. This they refused to do, and wandered about the palace in such great numbers that she com- manded them all to appear before her throne.
Go back at once to your lands and seek fame in courageous deeds; then may you return to Corinth. No rest shall you have until you choose one of us for a husband. At length she could endure it no longer, and, guarded by her attendants, hastened to the temple of Diana-of-the-Bended-Bow, for she thought that her suitors would not dare to enter there. But scarcely were she and her people safely inside when the three came bursting in, and, lifting her up, placed her on Diana's shrine, crying: "Let Rhodanthe be as great as Diana!
Let Diana's image give place to her! In anger he turned his scorching rays on Rhodanthe. From her stretched-out arms and finger- tips sprouted green leaves and twigs. Her body was changed into a stem and her head became a large blushing Rose. And there she stood, no longer a maiden, but a tall, stately Rose-Tree, the Queen of all flowers.
Her attendants still guarded her, for they had been transformed into sharp thorns, and were set round about her stem. Her three lovers were become a Worm, a Bee, and a Butterfly. The transparent whiteness of her complexion shone through her blue veil like the Morning Star through the azure Sky She sprang into the sea, and played among the golden rays of the Sun, that sparkled in the dimples of the laughing waves. The Sun stood still to gaze upon her. He forgot his duty.
He covered her with warm kisses. Once, twice, thrice, Night took up his sceptre, and returned to rule over the earth, but found the Sun still there, making all things bright with his rays. Then the angry Night changed the Princess into a Rose. And this is why the Rose always hangs her head and blushes when the Sun gazes on her. All the quiet night she had been sprinkling the grass and flowers with Dew, so she was very tired. She rested her head among the Roses, and slept.
When she awoke, she said: "Most beautiful of all my children, I thank you for your refreshing shade and delicious per- fume. If you could only speak, and ask me for a favour, how gladly would I grant it! So the Angel adorned the Roses with a delicate veil of green moss. But she would fold her petals at night, and sleep. This the flowers did not like, so they demanded another Sultana. The White-Rose was then given them to rule over their Kingdom. Very beautiful was this maiden White-Rose. She was tall, majestic, and robed in snowy garments, while her stem was encircled with a protecting guard of sharp thorns.
The poor little Nightingale fell in love with her charms. He pressed his heart so recklessly against her cruel thorns that his blood trickled over her white petals, and stained them crimson. Are not the petals of the Crimson-Rose white near her heart, where the blood of the poor little bird could not reach? All night long he presses his breast against a rose-thorn, while he pours forth his sorrowful melody. Indeed, it is my distracting love for her that makes such melancholy notes gush from my bosom, until, overpowered by her perfume, I fall swooning at her feet. It so happened that a poor little Ant had fixed her dwelling at the root of this very bush, and was managing as best she could to store her wretched hut with food.
The Nightingale fluttered around the bush, singing melodiously to his love the full-blown Rose, while the Ant, night and day, was in- dustriously gathering up grains of food for Winter. So the thousand-voiced bird, fascinated by his own sweet song that echoed among the trees, sang ravishingly by day; but when the moon- light silvered the garden, he whispered his sad, sweet secrets to his love. The poor Ant could not help admiring the airs and graces of the beautiful Rose and the blandishments of the Nightingale, but she mur- mured to herself: "Time alone can show what will be the end of all this frivolity and talk.
The Raven sat on the branch where the Nightingale's nest had been. Storms howled through the garden in their fury, and the yellowed leaves of the trees were whirled to the ground. The breath of Winter chilled and blasted all things, while the clouds poured down hailstones like pearls, and flakes of snow like camphor floated on the air. Then suddenly the Nightingale returned to the garden to seek his love. But the bloom of the Rose was gone, and the fragrance of Spike- nard was vanished.
In spite of his thousand- voiced tongue, he stood stupefied and mute. Then a Thorn turned to him, and said : "How long, silly bird, will you watch for the Rose to come back? This is the season when you will have to sing to a Bramble in the ab- sence of your charmer! There was nothing for him to eat, and he was hungry. He was too delicate and helpless to earn even a small livelihood.
Then he recalled the Ant, and said to himself: "Surely she used to have a dwelling under this Rose-Bush; and she was very busy storing up food for Winter. Maybe she will take pity on my distress, and bestow a little charity upon me. I was wasting my precious life in idleness, while you, toiling hard, were laying up a hoard of food. How good and kind you would be if you should spare me a little of it! You were taken up with the fair blandishment of the Rose, and were busy in admiring the blossoming Spring- time, while I laboured hard.
Her grandson, playing at marbles, stopped, And, cruel in sport as boys will be, Tossed a stone at the bird, who hopped From bough to bough in the Apple-tree. My breast-burnt bird, Singing so sweetly from limb to limb, Very dear to the heart of Our Lord Is he who pities the lost like Him! Then the little Wren flew up to the Sun and brought some down. But the poor little thing's feathers were so scorched and burned that she was quite naked. Then all the birds came together, and each gave her a feather, except the Owl.
Winter is com- ing and I shall be cold. And if you leave your home by day, all the birds of the air shall tear off your feathers. He was very proud of it, although the song was not much to brag of. One day he flew into a town, and asked the people: "What do you think of the Nightingale's song? In the Moon of the Falling Leaves, their mother took them to a forest by the sea to gather spruce boughs. After they had gathered a heap, and piled them up on the beach, their mother told the children to stay there, and watch the boughs carefully, while she went to catch some Salmon.
The children stayed, but they forgot to watch the boughs, and ran up and down the beach playing with the waves. By and by their mother came back. The children were gone! She called each by name, but instead of their voices she heard only the hoarse cawing of some Crows that were flying in circles above her head. So it was! Those disobedient children had all been changed into Crows! And to-day they go flying about the world, crying hoarsely: "Caw!
But, alas! Then she started out to find him. Night and day, over mountains and desert wastes, she sought him, crying: "Brother! O Brother! So still she wheels in her long flights, and cries : "Brother! One day he saw the Magpie hiding away a store of gold and jewels. How can I get some? The Magpie did not like being found out; but he said : "You must go into the depths of the earth, and find the palace of Pluto, King of Riches. Offer to sing to him. For your pay, he will let you carry off all the riches you can hold in your beak. You will have to go through cave after cave, each more full of treasure than the last.
But you must not touch anything until you have seen the King of Riches and sung to him. Down a tunnel, through cave after cave, he flew, until he came to one with silver walls, and piled with silver coin. But remembering what the Magpie had said, he passed on. Immediately, with a rush and a roar, a terri- ble Demon appeared, snorting fire and smoke. He leaped at the Whitebird, who with a shriek of fear, turned and flew from the cave, and out into the daylight again.
But the thick smoke had changed the White- bird black. And so he is to-day, while his beak is stained the colour of the gold-dust he had tried to steal. And whenever he sees a boy creeping along a hedge with a stone in his hand, he utters a terri- fied shriek, for he thinks it is the Demon coming back.
So very wondrous was he that his purple body gave out rays of light like sunbeams. He wore a ruffle of brilliant golden plumage about his neck, and a crest on his head. His wings were red and yellow, while his long tail, blue and rose- coloured, swept behind him as he flew to and fro above the Date-palms. Five hundred and forty years he lived, then he built himself a nest of Cassia and sprigs of Incense, and filled it with fragrant spices and perfumes.
On these he lay down to die, mourn- fully singing his own funeral dirge.
The Shadowmask: Stone of Tymora, Book II
Then from his bones and marrow sprang a tiny Worm, that grew larger and larger until it became another Phoenix, with bright rays like sunbeams issuing from his purple body, and a long tail, blue and rose-coloured, sweeping the air. This new Phoenix took a quantity of Myrrh, and shaped it like an egg, and in it placed the remains of his father.
Then he carried the egg carefully to Egypt, and laid it down in the City of the Sun. On these, singing sadly, he lay down and died; and another Phcenix flew up from the nest. And so it was, in those ancient wonder days, every five hundred and forty years a Phcenix died, and a new Phcenix flew up from his spicy nest, and carried the remains of his dead father in an egg of Myrrh to the City of the Sun. So handsome was he that even the Naiads rose from the streams, and the Dryads peeped from the trees, to watch him as he passed by.
But, though he was admired by everybody, he never looked at any one except his own wife, a lovely Nymph. Sweet Voice was her name, for so wondrous was her voice that at the sound of her sweet singing, wild beasts were tamed, rocks and trees danced, and birds paused in their flight to alight upon her shoulders. One day King Picus put on his purple cloak, fastened on his collar of yellow gold, and taking two lances in his hand, mounted his horse, and rode forth into the wood. Soon he was chasing the Wild Boars and piercing them with his lances.
But he did not see the wicked Enchantress Circe, who was hiding among the trees. She gazed at King Picus and was astonished at his beauty. The herbs and plants she had been gathering, to mingle in her evil potions, fell from her hands. She muttered a magic spell, and straightway a phantom Wild Boar rose up in King Picus' path, and plunged into a thicket. So King Picus lost his way, and soon wandered to Circe's Palace-hall. The wicked Enchantress came out to meet him. She was clad in crimson robes, and held a golden cup in her hand. Here rest, and feast, and live without sorrow.
Per- fumed garments, mingled wines, and rich viands shall be yours, and music and dance shall sooth you night and day. Drink, then, O King Picus, from this cup I hold, and be welcomed to my hall! Think not to hold me by offers of riches and happiness! Sweet Voice, my wife, awaits me in my palace, and of her only I think night and day!
I will not drink from your cup, nor will I enter your hall! Thrice she touched King Picus with her wand, and three times she repeated a charm. Feathers covered his body, wings sprouted from his shoulders. He was not a man, but a bird. His wings took the purple colour of his robe, and his neck wore a collar of yellow feathers. Flying to a tree, he clung to its trunk, and pecked its wood with his long hard beak. As for Sweet Voice, all in vain she awaited his coming. Day after day she wandered through the wood calling his name, and singing sadly as does a dying Swan.
With grief she pined and pined, until little by little she melted away and vanished into air. Only her voice was left, and it sang and sighed among the trees even among the very trees where King Picus the Woodpecker was tapping the bark in the shadow of the cool, rustling leaves. On its sloping sides stood mighty trees; laughing rivers ran through its valleys; flowers of every hue smiled up from its grass.
No poisonous thing grew in its meadows; while the air, crystal- line and pure, enwrapped the whole mountain like a cool, transparent veil. But the most beautiful of all was the Grove on its summit, where statues gleamed like snow amidst the pale green shade of vines and trees. For this Grove was the abode of the Nine Sister Muses, the daughters of song, and the loveliest of all Olympian maidens. Daily, with delicate nimble feet they danced in the Grove, or bathed in the violet-hued spring of Aganippe.
Sometimes, hand in hand, they climbed to the Fountain of Hippocrene, from whose bubbling waters the winged horse Pegasus was wont to drink long sweet draughts. They sang of stately aegis-bearing Jupiter, of Minerva the grey-eyed and wise one, of Venus the Beautiful and her naughty little son Cupid, of Aurora the rosy-fingered child of Dawn, who, clad in saffron robe, each morning flung open the purple Gates of Day. But more often they sang of Apollo-of- the-Golden-Beams, dwelling in the Palace of the Sun that was raised high on columns of radiant gold, with ivory polished roof, and folding doors like brightest silver.
And so the Nine Sister Muses, singing together, made Mount Helicon ring with their entrancing voices. Then there sounded a dreadful chattering among the leaves, and the Nine Muses, fled back in disgust, to their Grove.
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They grew prouder and prouder, until one day the eldest said: "We, and not the Nine Sister Muses, should inhabit the delightful Grove on Mount Helicon. Come, let us go thither, and put the Muses to shame with our melodious voices. Let us each sing, and if our charming voices make us the victors, you must retire at once and forever from this spot. But if you overcome us, which is not at all likely, we will return to our snow-capped mountains. Let us now to the contest, and do you call the Nymphs of the streams of Helicon to be our judges.
And as her voice rose higher and higher, and became noisier and noisier, the sky darkened, and gusts of wind shook the trees. And so it was until she had ended her song. Her long hair was wreathed with ivy, and her robe swept the dewy grass. Her sweet voice soared like a bird through the air. She sang of Daffodils and Roses. She sang of little Proserpina romping with her playmates in a flowery meadow. And such wondrous silvery melody poured from Calliope's throat, that the Sun shone brightly forth, and the very Moon and Stars seemed to stand still to listen.
And then Calliope ceased her singing. To you, and to you alone, belongs the victor's crown, and not to these stupid Nine Sister Pierides who disgust all nature with their loud noises. But the Nine Sister Muses looked silently and sternly upon them. Then Calliope said: "O ye mockers! Your insolence and pride alone merit reproof. But now to these you add abuse and violence. Therefore receive your just pun- ishment. But, lo, wonder of wonders! In despair they beat their breasts with their wings, for they felt their feet change into claws; and each saw the others' faces shoot out into long hard beaks.
And, behold, the Nine Sister Pierides were no longer maidens, but were be- come Magpies, the scandal of the woods, for their pride and love of chattering still remained. Then they rose into the air with a rushing sound, and settled in the trees whose boughs swept the Fountain of Hippocrene. And so dreadful was their chattering and their harsh, discordant clamour, that Pegasus, stretching his silvery wings in fright, soared into the sky, while the Nine Sister Muses fled in disgust back to their Grove.
Hebe, the royal cupbearer, had fallen and spilled the fragrant Nectar. It had gushed in a rich tide over the golden floor of the banquet-hall. So Jupiter, her father, said that she should be royal cupbearer no longer. Let me be your but- ler," growled Vulcan-the-Smith, rising from the banquet-board. So just as he was, all covered with soot and sparks, for he had come straight from his forge, he laid aside his tongs, and went limping around the hall, a golden goblet in either hand. But when he served Nectar to Jupiter, the goblet was so dirty with soot that everybody burst out laughing, and Jupiter looked about for another cupbearer.
Now on leafy Mount Ida, a beautiful boy with pink cheeks and flowing hair was hunting the wild Stags. Prince Ganymede was his name. In vain did Prince Ganymede's attendants stretch out their hands to save him. In vain his Dogs bayed angrily, pointing their noses toward the sky.
Jupiter bore him up and up to the Shining Palace on Mount Olympus. There he clad him in unfading Olympian garments, and made him royal cupbearer. So ever after that Prince Ganymede ran about the banquet-hall carrying in his rosy finger-tips great golden goblets filled with honey-sweet Nectar. The blue sea danced and sparkled in the sunlight. A fisherman was sitting on the shore.
He chanced to glance up at the Pine-Trees, and saw a beautiful robe of pure white feathers hanging on a bough. He took it down, and as he did so, a lovely maiden came toward him from the sea. He gazed at her in wonder. Then he shook his head. It is a marvel, and should be placed among the treasures of Japan. No, I can't possibly give it to you. If you keep it, never again may I return to the Palace of the Moon. O good man, I beg of you to restore my robe! Without my Robe of Feathers I am like a helpless bird with broken wing. Without my wings I cannot soar to the blue plains of the sky, and to the Palace of the Moon.
But I cannot dance without my Robe of Feathers. If I do, you will surely fly away without dancing. Straightway she put on the pure white garment. Then she struck the strings of a lute, and began to dance to the sweetest music, such as the fisher- man had never heard before. And while she danced and played, she sang of beautiful, strange, far-off things. She sang of the mighty Palace of the Moon where thirty monarchs ruled, fifteen in robes of white when the orb was full, and fifteen robed in black when the Moon was waning.
She rose into air, the white feathers of her robe gleaming against the Pine-Trees, and against the blue sky itself. Up, up, she went, still singing and playing, until her song was hushed until she reached the glorious shining Palace of the Moon. This is a song of the Golden Age on fair Britannia's shores. The all-drowsy Night, in car of jet with steeds of iron grey, 'was coursing through the darkened sky, when the silver-footed Thetis, Queen of the Ocean Wave, left her coral palace beneath the sea.
She mounted her silver car, inlaid with Pearls and precious stones, and urged her foaming steeds through the rolling billows. Singing Naiads, garlanded with seaweed, and riding on sporting Dolphins, were her guides. So runs my song away! In those golden days, on Britannia's meads, Shepherds fed their bounding flocks. On oaten reeds they piped their songs to maids who danced upon the green, wreathed in chains of flowers, in which were twined the Daisy and the scented Violet, the Lily and the Primrose, too, the orange- tawny Marigold, the wind-blown Columbine, the fragrant Honeysuckle, and the Kingcup yellow as true gold.
But wretched fate! On a time when none was nigh to succour her, Limos, savage caitiff, gaunt with hunger, seized the trembling maid and bore her to his den. There in the Cave of Famine he locked her behind iron bars. Then, laughing in his evil heart, he went by night to a distant sheepfold to steal the Shepherds' choicest lambs. So in the Cave of Famine, Marina lay, sighing and lamenting.
She heard the cruel sea waves beat against the walls, and saw the Sun's feeblest rays creeping through the bars. Thirst and Hunger were her jailers there; and the pangs of Famine darted through her tender sides. But Heaven, that lends a hand when human helpings fail, did not forget the gentle maid. A little Robin Redbreast, in the clear day, sat singing sweetly on a thorn-bush near her cave.
Then Marina, pitying the dear bird, fearing lest Limos should return and kill him, rose and tried to frighten him away. Or better still, do this, you loving bird: fly to the good greenwood and grassy mead, and tell the Shepherds of my cruel fate. Or, if instead you tarry here, do me a deed of charity.
Then in a trice back again he came to the thorn- bush by Marina's bars. And from his beak hung by its slender stem a red ripe Cherry. Through the bars he flew, and nestled in Marina's bosom, and there he laid the Cherry, and straightway was gone again. Soon he returned with a cluster of fragrant Strawberries. These, too, he laid in Marina's bosom, and hasted away.
And so he fed her. No sweet or toothsome fruit grew in all th wood, but the kind bird knew it and brought it to the maid. Then to the seashore he hastened, and flew to and fro above the sand, until he found an Oyster with shell half open, yawning in the Sun. The wily Redbreast took a little pebble, and pressed it between the pearly lips, and the Oyster tried to close its shell, but could not.
Then the bird thrust in his head and pulling out the Oyster, flew with it to Marina's cave, and put the morsel between her lips. And so he fed her with juicy fruits and refresh- ing meats.
When the tide rolled out, and many shells were left high upon the shore, Marina, looking through her bars, saw oh, wondrous sight! But the birds were not so wise as he! Some put their pebbles too far within the shells, others used stones too small and smooth. And when they thrust in their heads between the pearly lips, the shells closed tight and cut then- necks in two.
Not wise you were, like little Robin Redbreast! He, too, had met his death. In the distant sheepfold the angry Shepherds found him ere he could steal their choicest lambs.
With many shouts they pursued him across the plain. Seizing him, they bound him with iron chains to a rock, and left him there to die. His eyes flashed with flames; he ground his teeth and tore at his chains, and died. So in the Cave of Famine Marina lay with none to free her. While Aurora, rosy-fingered Child of Dawn, touched the Sky with opal lights, swiftly to fair Britannia's shore the car of Thetis came.
For on that same rosy day, oh, mournful chance! When the silver-footed Queen heard the maid's lament, her heart was moved by such dire distress. To her she called great Triton, and bade him free the sorrowing maid. Buy from our partners. A choice collection of Native American myths and legends carefully selected from many sources. Most are nature stories telling about birds, beasts, flowers, and rocks of our American meadows, prairies, and forests. The tales are arranged according to the seasons with several stories offered for each month of the year. There are some for early spring, when the maple sap mounts, and the arbutus blooms under the snow; for later spring, when the birds nest, and the wild flowers blow; for summer, with its heat, storms, fishing, and canoeing; for autumn with its corn, nuts, and harvest feast; for winter, with its ice, snow, and adventures.
A comprehensive subject index for use by teachers and storytellers is included. Reviews from Goodreads. FictionDB Reviews:.