An Echo and a Flower

Adapted from a Greek Myth

Echo was a beautiful nymph who lived in a forest. She skipped and danced about the woods, up and down the hills
and along the banks of riverlets and streams. Her beauty was so striking
that she gave joy to everyone who looked at her. But joy soon
vanished when she started to talk - because she didn't stop. She prattled aimlessly for hours
and anyone in her company became so weary that even her beauty seemed to fade.
Echo's incessant babbling so infuriated Juno, the goddess of the heavens, that she took away Echo's ability to speak her own words.
All Echo could do was repeat the last two or three words
that other people said. Sometimes she even made sounds that animals and birds made.

"Twit twoo," she sang when she heard a hoot owl.
"Croa-a-ak," she gurgled when she heard a toad.
"Honk, honk," she sounded when she heard a goose.
A monotonous life, indeed, for poor Echo, who was used to talking, talking, talking.

One day that started out to be a usual kind of day in Echo's life turned out to be the most UNusual. She saw before
her in the woods, the most handsome man she had ever seen. This young man
was a hunter, named Narcissus. "I must be seeing a vision," thought Echo.
She clinched her fists and put them to her eyes and rubbed. Then she opened
her eyes wide and looked again. He was still there. "Oh, if only this handsome
hunter would say some kind words that I might
repeat them," she said to herself longingly. Echo did not know that the handsome Narcissus
was so in love with himself that he had little time for anyone. He moved forward. Echo followed,
hiding behind one tree and then another. Narcissus heard her footsteps behind, turned and discovered her.

"Hello," Narcissus said.
"Hello," Echo repeated.
"Who are you?"
"Who are you?"
"Do you live nearby?"
"Do you live nearby?"
"Are you silly?"
"Are you silly?"
"Stop that!"
"Stop that!"

A few minutes of hearing himself repeated so disgusted Narcissus that he turned away and left her with nothing but a "Hrumph!"
He found no time for Echo and her senseless imitations.
Besides, he had himself to think about.

Echo turned away in tears. She knew she was defeated, and any attempts to win Narcissus would be hopeless. Some say that
the lovely nymph, Echo, was so grieved that she went up on a hill and turned to stone.
Nothing was left of her but her voice, which to this day
can be heard repeating the words of others.

In the meantime, Narcissus went his own way, thinking only of himself - with never a thought of any man, except
when he was flattered or bestowed favors. The just gods of the heavens watched
his actions and the fate of poor Echo. They decided he must be punished for his vanity.
One day as he was out hunting, he came upon a quiet pool.
He leaned down to quench his thirst, and saw his reflection in the water. He smiled, and the face in the water smiled.
The gods kept him at the pool admiring himself. Narcissus was spellbound by his reflection and could not leave.
He lingered there for days, smiling and nodding at the water - even forgetting food and drink - until he finally wasted away.
The gods came to take his body away to the land of the dead. In the place where Narcissus had been lying grew the beautiful Narcissus flower.

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