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A WONDER BOOK
C. KINGSLEY WILLIAMS, M.A.
- THE GORGON'S HEAD
- THE GOLDEN TOUCH
- THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN
- THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES
- THE MIRACULOUS POT
- THE CHIMÆRA
Long, long ago there was a child, named Epimetheus, who never had either father or mother; and that he might not be lonely, another child, fatherless and motherless like himself, was sent from a far country to live with him, and be his playfellow and helpmate. Her name was Pandora. The first thing that Pandora saw, when she entered the cottage where Epimetheus lived, was a great box. And almost the first
"Epimetheus, what have you in that box?"
"My dear little Pandora," answered Epimetheus, "that is a secret, and you must be kind enough not to ask any questions about it. The box was left here to be kept safely, and I do not myself know what it contains."
"But who gave it to you?" asked Pandora. "And where did it come from?"
"That is a
"How troublesome!" said Pandora, crossly. "I wish the great ugly box were out of the way!"
"Oh, come, don't think of it any more," cried Epimetheus. "Let us run out of doors, and have some nice play with the other children."
It is thousands of years since Epimetheus and Pandora were alive; and the world, nowadays, is a very different sort of thing from what it was in their
What was most wonderful of all, the children never quarrelled among themselves; neither had they any crying fits; nor since time first began had a single one of them ever gone away into a corner angry. Oh, what a good time was that to be alive in! The truth is, those
This was at first only the faint shadow of a Trouble: but, every day, it grew more and more solid until, before a great while,
"Where can the box have come from?" Pandora kept saying to herself and to Epimetheus.
"And what on earth can be inside of it?"
"Always talking about this box!" said Epimetheus at last; for he had grown very tired of the subject. "I wish, dear Pandora, you would try to talk of something else. Come, let us go and gather
"Always talking about grapes and figs!" cried Pandora, crossly.
"Well, then," said Epimetheus, who was a very good-tempered child, like many children in those days, "let us run out and have a merry time with our playmates."
"I'm tired of merry times, and don't care if I
"And, besides, I never do have any. This ugly box! I am so taken up with thinking about it all the time. You must tell me what is inside of it."
"As I have already said, fifty times over, I do not know!" replied Epimetheus, getting a little angry too. "How, then, can I tell you what is inside?"
"You might open it," said Pandora, looking sideways at Epimetheus, "and then
"Pandora, what are you thinking of?" said Epiemtheus.
And his face expressed so much fear of looking into a box (which has been given in trust to his care) that Pandora thought it best not to ask him any more. Still, however, she could not help thinking and talking about the box.
"At least," said she, "you can tell me how it came here."
"It was left at the
"What sort of a staff had he?" asked Pandora.
"Oh, the strangest staff you ever saw!" cried Epimetheus. "It was
"I know him," said Pandora, thoughtfully. "Nobody else has such a staff. It was Quicksilver; and he brought me here, as well as the box. No doubt he intended it for me; and most probably it contains pretty dresses for me to wear, or toys for you and me to play with, or something very nice
"Perhaps so," answered Epimetheus, turning away. "But, until Quicksilver comes back and tells us so, we have neither of us any right to lift the lid of the box."
"What a dull boy he is!" said Pandora, as Epimetheus left the cottage. "I do wish he would do things!"
For the first time since she had come, Epimetheus had gone out without asking Pandora to go with him. He went to gather figs
Well, it was really hard that poor Epimetheus should have a box in his ears from morning till night; especially as children, in those happy days, had so few troubles that they knew not how to deal with them.
After Epimetheus was gone, Pandora stood looking at
The edges and corners of the box were carved with most wonderful skill. Around the edge there were figures of beautiful men and women, and the prettiest
The most beautiful face of all was done in the centre of the lid. There was nothing else but the dark, smooth, rich, polished wood and this one face in the centre, with a crown of flowers about its brow. Pandora had looked at this face a great many times, and thought that the mouth could smile if it liked, or be grave when it chose, the same
Had the mouth spoken, it would probably have said something like this:
"Do not be afraid, Pandora! What harm can there be in opening the box? Never mind that poor, simple Epimetheus! You are wiser than he, and have ten times as much spirit. Open the box, and see if you do not find something very pretty!"
The box was fastened; not by a lock, nor by any other such thing, but by a very
"I really believe," she said to herself, "that I begin to see how it was done. Perhaps I could tie it up again, after undoing it. There could be no harm in that, surely. Even Epimetheus would not blame me for that. I need not open the box, and should not, of course, without his consent, even if the knot were untied."
It might have been better for Pandora if she had had a little work to do, or
Pandora was sure that it was something very beautiful and valuable, and
On this particular day, however, her desire grew so much greater than it usually was, that, at last, she approached the box. She was more than half determined to open it, if she could.
First, however, she tried to lift it. It was heavy; much too heavy for the strength of a child like Pandora. She raised one end of
As she drew back her head, her eyes fell upon the knot of gold cord.
"It must have been a very clever person who tied this knot," said Pandora to herself. "But I think I could untie it. I am determined, at least, to find the two ends of the cord."
So she took the golden knot in her fingers, and looked into it as sharply as
All this time, however, her fingers were busy with the knot; and happening to glance at the face on the lid of the box, she seemed to see it smiling at her.
"That face looks very wicked," thought Pandora. "I wonder whether it smiles because I am doing wrong! I have the greatest mind in the world to run away!"
But just then, by
"This is the strangest thing I ever knew!" said Pandora. "What will Epimetheus say? And how can I possibly tie it up again?"
She made one or two attempts to tie the knot, but soon found she could not. Nothing was to be done, therefore, but to let
"But," said Pandora, "when he finds the knot untied, he will know that I have done it. How shall I make him believe that I have not looked into the box?"
And then the thought came into her naughty little heart, that, since he would believe that she had looked into the box, she might just as well do so at once.
She could not tell whether it was fancy or
"Let us out, dear Pandora - please let us out! We will be such nice, pretty playfellows for you! Only let us out!"
"What can it be?" thought Pandora. "Is there something alive in the box? Well! - yes! - I am determined to take just one look! Only one look; and then the lid shall be shut down as safely as ever! There cannot
But it is now time for us to see what Epimetheus was doing.
This was the first time since his little playmate had come to live with him, that he had tried to enjoy any pleasure without her. But nothing went right; nor was he nearly so happy as on other days. He could not find a sweet grape or a ripe fig, or, if ripe at all, they were over-ripe, and so sweet as to
At length, discovering that he put a stop to all the play, Epimetheus thought it best to go back to Pandora. But, with a hope of giving her pleasure, he gathered some flowers, and made them into a crown, which he meant to put upon her head. The flowers were very lovely -
A STRANGE CLOUD
Just as he reached the cottage-door, a cloud began to cut off the sunshine, and thus to make a sudden and sad dullness.
He entered softly; for he meant, if possible, to creep quietly behind Pandora and throw the crown of flowers over her head before she knew he
But Epimetheus himself, although he said very little about it, had a desire to know what was inside. Seeing that Pandora was determined to find out the secret, he determined that his playfellow should not be the only wise person in the cottage. And if there were anything pretty or valuable in
As Pandora raised the lid, the cottage grew very dark, for the black cloud had now swept quite over the sun, and seemed to have
"Oh, I am stung!" cried he. "I
Pandora let fall the lid, and starting up, looked about her, to see what had happened to Epimetheus. The thunder-cloud had so darkened the room that she could not very clearly see what was in it. But she heard an unpleasant buzzing, as if a great many huge flies, or gigantic mosquitoes, were flying about. And, as her eyes grew used to the dim
Now, if you wish to know what these ugly things might be which had made their escape out of the box, I must tell you that they were the whole family of earthly Troubles. There were evil Passions; there were a great many kinds of Cares; there were more than a hundred and fifty Sorrows; there were Diseases, in a great number of
But - and you may see by this how a wrong act of any one person brings evil to the whole world - by Pandora's lifting the lid of that miserable box, and by the fault of Epimetheus, too, in not preventing her, these Troubles have settled among us, and do not seem very likely to
Meanwhile, the naughty Pandora, and hardly less naughty
Suddenly there was a gentle little tap on the inside of the lid.
WHAT WAS IT?
"What can that be?" cried Pandora, lifting her head.
But either Epimetheus had not heard the tap, or was too bad-tempered to notice it. At any rate, he made no answer.
"You are very unkind," said
Again the tap! It sounded like a fairy's tiny hand, knocking lightly and playfully on the inside of the box.
"Who are you?" asked Pandora. "Who are you, inside of this naughty box?"
A sweet little voice spoke from within: "Only lift the lid, and you shall see."
"No, no," answered Pandora, again beginning to sob, "I have had enough of lifting the lid! You are inside of
She looked towards Epimetheus as she spoke, perhaps expecting that he would praise her for her wisdom. But the angry boy only said that she was wise a little too late.
"Ah," said the sweet little voice again,
And, indeed, there was a kind of cheerfulness in the tone, that made it almost impossible to refuse anything which this little voice asked.
"My dear Epimetheus," cried Pandora, "have you heard this little voice?"
"Yes, to be sure I have," answered he, but in no very good temper as yet. "And what of it?"
"Shall I lift the lid again?" asked
"Just as you please," said Epimetheus. "You have done so much harm already, that perhaps you may as well do a little more. One other Trouble, in such a large number as you have set flying about the world, can make no very great difference."
"You might speak a little more kindly!" murmured Pandora, wiping her eyes.
"Ah, naughty boy!" cried the little voice within the box, in a laughing tone. "He knows
"Epimetheus," exclaimed Pandora, "come what may, I am determinded to open the box!"
"And, as the lid seems very heavy," cried Epimetheus, running across the room, "I will help you!"
So, with one
After this, the bright stranger flew playfully over the children's heads, and looked so sweetly at them that they both began to think it a good thing that they had opened the box; for, if they had not, their cheery guest must have been kept a
"And who are you, beautiful one?" asked Pandora.
"I am to be called Hope!" answered the sunshiny figure. "And because I am such a cheery little body, I was packed into the box, to cheer the human race for those ugly Troubles which were let loose among them. Never fear! We shall do pretty well in spite of them all."
"Your wings are
"Yes, they are like the rainbow," said Hope, "because, glad as my nature is, I am partly made of tears as well as smiles."
"And will you stay with us," asked Epimetheus, "for ever and ever?"
"As long as you need me," said Hope, with her pleasant smile, "and that will be as long as you live in the world, I promise never to leave you. There
"Oh, tell us," they exclaimed; "tell us what it is!"
"Do not ask me," replied Hope, putting her
"We do trust you!" cried Epimetheus and Pandora, both in one breath.
And so they did, and not only they, but so has everybody trusted Hope ever since. And, to tell you the truth, I cannot help being glad that our foolish Pandora looked into the box. No doubt - no