“Be it so,” said the elder stranger, and he held out his hands as if to bless them. The old couple bent their heads and fell on their knees to thank him, and when they lifted their eyes again, neither Mercury nor his companion was to be seen.
So Philemon and Baucis returned to the cottage, and to every traveler who passed that way they offered a drink of milk from the wonderful pitcher, and if the guest was a kind, gentle soul, he found the milk the sweetest and most refreshing he had ever tasted. But if a cross, bad-tempered fellow took even a sip, he found the pitcher full of sour milk, which made him twist his face with dislike and disappointment.
Baucis and Philemon lived a great, great many years and grew very old. And one summer morning when their friends came to share their breakfast, neither Baucis nor Philemon was to be found!
The guests looked everywhere, and all in vain. Then suddenly one of them noticed two beautiful trees in the garden, just in front of the door. One was an oak tree and the other a linden tree, and their branches were twisted together so that they seemed to be embracing.
No one had ever seen these trees before, and while they were all wondering how such fine trees could possibly have grown up in a single night, there came a gentle wind which set the branches moving, and then a mysterious voice was heard coming from the oak tree. “I am old Philemon,” it said; and again another voice whispered, “And I am Baucis.” And the people knew that the good old couple would live for a hundred years or more in the heart of these lovely trees. And oh, what a pleasant shade they flung around! Some kind soul built a seat under the branches, and whenever a traveler sat down to rest he heard a pleasant whisper of the leaves over his head, and he wondered why the sound should seem to say, “Welcome, dear traveler, welcome.”
ADAPTED BY C.E. SMITH
Long, long ago, when this old world was still very young, there lived a child named Epimetheus. He had neither father nor mother, and to keep him company, a little girl, who was fatherless and motherless like himself, was sent from a far country to live with him and be his playfellow. This child’s name was Pandora.
The first thing that Pandora saw, when she came to the cottage where Epimetheus lived, was a great wooden box. “What have you in that box, Epimetheus?” she asked.
“That is a secret,” answered Epimetheus, “and you must not ask any questions about it; the box was left here for safety, and I do not know what is in it.”
“But who gave it you?” asked Pandora, “and where did it come from?”
“That is a secret too,” answered Epimetheus.
“How tiresome!” exclaimed Pandora, pouting her lip. “I wish the great ugly box were out of the way;” and she looked very cross.
“Come along, and let us play games,” said Epimetheus; “do not let us think any more about it;” and they ran out to play with the other children, and for a while Pandora forgot all about the box.