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قراءة كتاب Life and Death, and Other Legends and Stories

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‏اللغة: English
Life and Death, and Other Legends and Stories

Life and Death, and Other Legends and Stories

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 6

title="[Pg 62]"/>fountains sounded, the Muses gathered together like a flock of white swans, and, with voices still quivering from fear, began to sing in low tones marvellous words never heard on the heights of Olympus till that hour:

To thy protection we flee, holy Mother of God.
We come with our prayers; deign thou not to reject us,
But be pleased to preserve us from every evil,
O thou, our Lady!

Thus they sang on the heather, raising their eyes like pious nuns with heads covered with white.

Other gods came now. Bacchus and his chorus dashed past, wild, unrestrained, crowned with ivy and grapevine, and bearing the cithara and the thyrsus. They rushed on madly, with shouts of despair, and fell into the bottomless pit.

Then before the Apostles stood a lofty, proud, sarcastic divinity, who, without waiting for question or sentence, spoke first. On her lips was a smile of derision.

“I am Pallas Athene. I do not beg life of you. I am an illusion, nothing more. Odysseus honored and obeyed me only when he had become senile. Telemachus listened to me only till hair covered his chin. Ye cannot take immortality from me, and I declare that I have been a shadow, that I am a shadow now, and shall remain a shadow forever.”

At last her turn came to the most beautiful, the most honored goddess. As she approached, sweet, marvellous, tearful, the heart under her snow-white breast beat like the heart in a bird, and her lips quivered like those of a child that fears cruel punishment. She fell at their feet, and, stretching forth her divine arms, cried in fear and humility:

“I am sinful, I deserve blame, but I am Joy. Have mercy, forgive; I am the one happiness of mankind.” Then sobbing and fear took away her voice.

But Peter looked at the goddess with compassion, and placed his aged palm on her golden hair, while Paul, bending toward a cluster of white field-lilies, broke off one blossom, and touching her with it, said:

“Joy, be henceforth like this flower, and live thou for mankind.”

Then came dawn—the divine dawn that looked out from beyond a depression between two peaks. The nightingales stopped singing, and immediately finches, linnets, and wrens began to draw their sleepy little heads from under their moistened wings, shaking the dew from their feathers, and repeating in low voices, “Svit! svit!” (“Light! light!”).

The earth awoke, smiled, and was delighted, because Song and Joy had not been taken from it.