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THE OAK TREE AND THE LINDEN
C. S. B. Adapted from the Greek myth.
THERE was once a good old couple who lived in a little
cottage upon a hilltop. Baucis and Philemon were their
names, and, although they were very poor, they tended
their bees, and pruned their grape vine, and milked
their one cow, and were happy from morning till night.
For they loved each other dearly, and they were ready
to share whatever they had with any one in need.
At the foot of the hill lay a beautiful village, with
pleasant roads, and rich pasture lands all about it;
but it was full of wicked, selfish people, who had no
love in their hearts, and thought only of themselves.
 One evening, as Baucis and Philemon sat in their
cottage door, they saw two strangers coming slowly up
the hill. There was a great noise of shouting, and the
barking of the dogs from the village, for the people
were following the strangers, and jeering at them
because they were footsore, and ragged, and weary.
"Let us go to meet them," cried old Baucis, "and ask
them to share our supper, and stay with us for the
So Baucis and Philemon brought the strangers, who were
quite faint for food, to their cottage, and they spread
before them all that they had, which was very little—a
half a loaf of brown bread, a tiny bit of honey from
their own hives, and a pitcher of milk. The pitcher
was only partly full, and when Philemon had filled two
bowls for the strangers, there was but a drop left.
The strangers ate as if they had never tasted anything
as good, although the supper was exceedingly small.
"More of this delicious milk, Philemon!" cried one of
the strangers, and, as Philemon took the pitcher to
drain the last drop into the bowl, a wonderful fountain
of milk burst forth from the bottom of the pitcher, so
that the more she poured the more there remained.
And it was so with the loaf, which stayed always the
same size, although the two strangers cut slice after
slice, praising Philemon for its sweetness and
lightness. The honey grew the color of gold, and
sweeter each minute; and the single, tiny bunch of
grapes grew to a bunch of such size that the strangers
were not able to eat it, and the grapes filled all the
cottage with their wonderful fragrance.
"These are strange travelers!" whispered the old
 couple to each other, "who are able to do such
That night Baucis and Philemon slept upon the floor,
that the strangers might have their bed; and in the
morning they went to the edge of the hill to see the
strangers safely started on their homeward way.
"The villagers are thoughtless and rude," said Baucis.
"I hope they may not torment you again, good sirs."
But the strangers smiled, and pointed to the foot of
the hill. There was no village there. Where it had
stood a blue lake rippled, covering, with its clear
waters, the houses and the trees. Baucis and Philemon
rubbed their eyes in wonder.
"People with no love in their hearts shall not live
upon the earth," said the strangers. "As for you, my
good people, we thank you; and whatever you wish for
most, that shall be given you."
As they spoke, the strangers vanished from sight, like
mist in the morning sky; and Baucis and Philemon turned
to see that their tiny cottage had disappeared also,
and in its place stood a tall, white marble palace,
with a beautiful park all about.
So the old couple went in, and they lived in their
palace a great, great while, taking good care of their
wonderful pitcher. No one ever passed their door
without having a drink from the bubbling fountain of
milk, and Baucis and Philemon were so happy doing good
deeds for others that they never thought of wishing for
anything for themselves.
But, after years and years had passed they grew very
"I wish we might never die, but could always stay
together!" said Baucis, one day, to Philemon.
 The next morning, where the tall marble palace
had stood, there was nothing save a few stones with the
moss growing over them; Philemon and Baucis were gone;
but there, on the hilltop, stood two beautiful
trees—an oak tree and a linden—with their branches all
twined and twisted together.
"I am old Baucis!" whispered the oak.
"I am Philemon!" sighed the linden—and there they stand
to-day, quite close to each other, and always ready to
spread their leafy shade over every tired stranger who
chances to climb the hill.