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Narcissus the loveless youth.

From Enchanted Castle Fairy Tales
byHartwell James.Age Rating 4 to 6

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"Daffodils, that come before the swallow dares, And take the winds of March with beauty." --_Shakespeare._ YEARS and years ago the River-god wedded a beautiful water-nymph. Their son, Narcissus, was such a lovely boy to look upon that all who saw him loved him; but the boy did not return their love, for he was full of vanity and thought only of himself. Now as he grew to manhood Narcissus became more and more beautiful, and each woodland fairy or water-nymph would gladly have become his bride. At last a gentle nymph named Echo fell in love with him, and since he would not look at her, or give heed to her soft words, she pined away until nothing but her voice remained. Even to this day her plaintive cry may be heard among the hills answering back again the voices of those who laugh and sing. But now the nymphs were angry with the loveless youth, and prayed the gods to punish him for his heartlessness.

So one day when he was wandering in the fields, they caused him to see his own features reflected in the clear waters of a crystal pool. Now Narcissus did not know that it was his own face which smiled up at him from the depths of the pool, but took it to be that of some lovely water-nymph, and full of love and admiration he determined to win her for his bride. But the image in the water returned no answer to his loving words, and did but mimic his every act and movement, till at last, in despair, he sat down by the water's edge and wept bitter tears of disappointed love. And there he sat, day by day, till he grew pale and thin, and at last, like poor Echo, he pined away and died.

Then on the border of the lake, where his dead body lay, there sprang up clusters of golden blossoms. Daffodils we call them, but the gods called them "Narcissus," in memory of the loveless youth. And beautiful they were to look upon; but there was something missing, for as Narcissus shed no love around his path through life, so the flowers which bear his name shed no fragrance upon the air.


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