Young Folks' Treasury: Myths and Legendary Heroes
Baucis And Philemon
One evening, in times long ago, old Philemon and his wife Baucis sat at their cottage
door watching the sunset. They had eaten their supper and were enjoying a quiet talk
about their garden, and their cow, and the fruit trees on which the pears and apples were
beginning to ripen. But their talk was very much disturbed by rude shouts and laughter
from the village children, and by the fierce barking of dogs.
"I fear," said Philemon, "that some poor traveler is asking for a bed in the village, and
that these rough people have set the dogs on him."
"Well, I never," answered old Baucis. "I do wish the neighbors would be kinder to poor
wanderers; I feel that some terrible punishment will happen to this village if the people
are so wicked as to make fun of those who are tired and hungry. As for you and me, so
long as we have a crust of bread, let us always be willing to give half of it to any poor
homeless stranger who may come along."
"Indeed, that we will," said Philemon.
These old folks, you must know, were very poor, and had to work hard for a living. They
seldom had anything to eat except bread and milk, and vegetables, with sometimes a little
honey from their beehives, or a few ripe pears and apples from their little garden. But
they were two of the kindest old people in the world, and would have gone without their
Their cottage stood on a little hill a short way from the village, which lay in a valley;
such a pretty valley, shaped like a cup, with plenty of green fields and gardens, and fruit
trees; it was a pleasure just to look at it. But the people who lived in this lovely place
were selfish and hard-hearted; they had no pity for the poor, and were unkind to those
who had no home, and they only laughed when Philemon said it was right to be gentle to
people who were sad and friendless.
These wicked villagers taught their children to be as bad as themselves. They used to clap
their hands and make fun of poor travelers who were tramping wearily from one village
to another, and they even taught the dogs to snarl and bark at strangers if their clothes
were shabby. So the village was known far and near as an unfriendly place, where neither
help nor pity was to be found.
What made it worse, too, was that when rich people came in their carriages, or riding on
fine horses, with servants to attend to them, the village people would take off their hats
and be very polite and attentive: and if the children were rude they got their ears boxed;
as to the dogs—if a single dog dared to growl at a rich man he was beaten and then tied
up without any supper.
any day, rather than refuse a slice of bread or a cupful of milk to the weary
traveler who might stop at the door.