THE PURPLE FLOWERS
 APOLLO, the youngest and most beautiful of all the gods, dearly
loved a boy named Hyacinthus.
Ofttimes he would leave the other gods sipping nectar in Mount
Olympus, ofttimes he would forsake the many beautiful temples
in which he was worshipped on earth, that he might be free
to wander through the woods with his little friend.
For Hyacinthus was only a merry little lad, who loved to
roam over hill and dale, and when the fancy seized him to
hunt in the woods.
Apollo was never happier than when he was with the boy.
Sometimes he would go hunting with him, and then Hyacinthus
was merrier than ever, for the world seemed more full of
brightness when the Sun-god was by his side. Sometimes the
friends would walk together over hill and dale, followed by
the dogs Hyacinthus loved so well.
One day they had wandered far, and the little lad was tired, so he
flung himself down in a grassy meadow to rest, Apollo by his
side. But the Sun-god was soon eager for a game. He sprang
to his feet, crying, "Hyacinthus, let us play at quoits
before the shadows fall."
Quoits were flat, heavy discs, and the game was won by the
player who could fling the quoits the farthest through the
Hyacinthus was ever willing to do as Apollo wished, and the
game was soon begun. After a throw of more than usual skill
and strength the friends laughed gleefully.
O but it was good to be alive in such a happy world, thought
Hyacinthus. And Apollo, as he looked at the
 merry face of
the little lad, rejoiced that he was not sitting in the cold
marble halls of Olympus, but was here on the glad green
By and by while they still played, Zephyrus, the god of the
south wind, came fleeting by. He saw the Sun-god and his
little playmate full of laughter and of joy.
Then an ugly passion, named jealousy, awoke in the heart of
the god, for he too loved the little hunter Hyacinthus, and
would fain have been in Apollo's place.
Zephyrus tarried a while to watch the friends. Once as
Apollo flung his disc high into the air, the Wind-god sent a
gust from the south which blew the quoit aside. He meant
only to annoy Apollo, but Hyacinthus was standing by, so
that the quoit struck him violently on the forehead.
The Wind-god sent a gust from the south
The boy fell to the ground, and soon he was faint from loss
In vain Apollo tried to staunch the wound; nothing he could
do was of any use. Little by little the boy's strength
ebbed away, and the Sun-god knew that the lad would never hunt or
play again on earth. Hyacinthus was dead.
The grief of the god was terrible. His tears fell fast as
he mourned for the playmate he had loved so well.
At length he dried his tears and took his lyre, and as he
played he sang a last song to his friend. And all the
woodland creatures were silent that they might listen to the
love-song of the god.
When the song was ended, Apollo laid aside his lyre, and,
stooping, touched with his hand the blood-drops of the boy.
And lo! they were changed into a cluster of beautiful purple
flowers, which have ever since been named hyacinths, after
the little lad Hyacinthus.
Year by year as the spring sun shines, the wonderful purple
of the hyacinth is seen. Then you, who know the story,
think of the days of long ago, when the Sun-god lost his
little friend and a cluster of purple flowers bloomed upon
the spot where he lay.