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Stories from Plato and Other Classic Writers by  Mary E. Burt
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THE EVIL THAT CAME OF NOT LOVING NATURE

[183] PEOPLE used to say that there was a god of nature. They loved trees, and flowers, and rivers, and all the creatures that live out of doors. They thought these things were worth studying, and that there were gods all about them who lived among these open air things and protected them. Sometimes we think that there is no [184] wisdom except in books, and we make bats of ourselves, shutting ourselves up in dark houses, instead of finding the wisdom that there is in the flowers and trees and sunshine. There was one of the nature gods who loved the grapevine, and I am sorry to say that he liked the juice better than the grape. People used to dance and sing songs in honor of this god. They even built him a temple, and worshipped him, and held festivals in his honor.

There were three young women, however, who did not honor the god. They wore dark dresses, and wove beautiful cloth in the darkness, and they would never go to [185] the festivals where the god of the vine was worshipped. In fact they went right on with their work, and acted as badly as you would if you took your knitting to church.

But something strange happened to them, because they did not love the gladness and light of nature. The looms on which they wove their beautiful cloth began to put forth ivy leaves. Their threads changed into vines.

The purple cloth they were weaving turned into grapes; and when the day was past, their house seemed to shake, while torches burned all around, and glowing fires lit up every room.

Phantoms of wild beasts howled [186] around, and the sisters tried to hide themselves, avoiding the fires and the light. While they were seeking a hiding-place, a membrane was stretched over their small limbs, and it covered their arms with thin wings.

In the darkness they could not discover how it happened, but they lost their shape. They had no feathers to bear them up, but they supported themselves on their thin wings. Their voices became squeaking and small, and the power to love the woods was taken away from them, so that they always staid in dark corners of houses and were called bats.


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