The Oak and the Linden

The Oak and the Linden
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  • On a small hill in Phryia stand two trees. One is an oak; the other is a linden. The hill is surrounded by marshy waters. The land is unfit for man or beast. But it wasn't always this way. Once this area was rich farmland filled with cottages. 
  • The two gods knocked at the door of many cottages and fine houses. But at each place they were rudely sent away. "Begone, beggars!" the people cried. "We don't want your kind around here!" It seemed there was no one who would help two strangers. Zeus grew angrier and angrier at the unkind behavior of these mortals. 
  • Finally they arrived at a small miserable cottage that looked poorer than all the other. An elderly man and woman opened the door. "Welcome to our home," they said. "Please come in and warm yourselves by the fire. We haven't much to offer, but you are welcome to all we do have." 
  • As his guest ate, Philemon watched carefully to see that their wine glasses were kept filled. But no matter how much he poured, the small pitcher was always full. When he and Baucis noticed what was happening, the fell to their knees. They knew now that their guest must be gods!
  • Zeus and Hermes led two old people up a hill. They turned around and looked down at the village. Within moments, every cottage, farm, and tree was covered with water. No building remained standing; no creature remained alive/ It was as if the town had never been standing at all. Suddenly a great white palace appeared on the hill, not far from where Philemon and Baucis stood. 
  • One day, years later, Baucis and Philemon were standing together at the temple. They were quite old now. Their years had been happy and full of contentment. As he turned to his wife, Philemon noticed small green leaves cutting through her hair. He saw his skin was turning a dark brown. Philemon looked down at his own arms, they looked like the limbs of trees. Both knew that their lives on earth were just about over. In seconds, their mouths were covered with bark. Soon only an oak tree and a linden tree were left standing at the temple. 
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