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A king and queen have three daughters. All three of the girls are attractive, but one of them is absolutely gorgeous – Psyche. People come from all around just to check out how beautiful Psyche is. All this adoration of Psyche gets totally out of hand; men start worshiping her as if she were a goddess and ignore the altars of the goddess of love and beauty, Venus (a.k.a. Aphrodite). Men even start saying that Psyche is more beautiful than Venus. (Uh-oh.) We bet you can guess who got mad about this. Yup, that's right – Venus. The goddess of love gets kind of hateful and orders her son, Cupid (a.k.a. Eros), to go and punish Psyche by making her fall in love with the ugliest thing around. Cupid sneaks into Psyche's bedroom to do his mother's bidding, but, when he sees how beautiful Psyche is, he gets all distracted and pricks himself with his own arrow. Cupid falls instantly in love with Psyche and leaves without doing what his mother told him to do. Psyche's life continues on as usual: everybody comes to gawk at how hot she is. However, since Venus has it in for her, nobody ever falls in love with Psyche. Psyche's two sisters end up getting married, but Psyche is stuck sitting alone in her room. Getting worried that they've made some god angry, Psyche's parents decide to go consult the oracle of Apollo about their daughter's future. The oracle tells them that Psyche is destined to marry a monster that neither god nor mortal can resist. Psyche's parents are instructed to leave her on a mountain to await her monstrous husband. They cry a lot about it, but they do it anyway. So, Psyche is chilling on top of the mountain, fully expecting something terrible to happen. Zephyr, the west wind, comes and lifts her, carrying the princess gently from the mountaintop down to a beautiful field of flowers. Psyche comes across an amazing castle and goes inside. The place is decked out with tons of treasure and priceless pieces of art. She hears voices that tell her that the palace and all the amazing stuff in it is hers. She's treated to a wonderful feast, complete with an invisible singing chorus for entertainment. Her husband-to-be comes to her that night in the darkness of her bedroom, so she can't see what he looks like. He tells her that she must never try to see what he looks like. She's cool with that for a while, but eventually she gets lonely since he only comes at night and because there are no other humans around. Psyche convinces her invisible husband to let her sisters come and visit her. He reluctantly agrees and has Zephyr float them down. Psyche's sisters get super-jealous about her incredibly posh lifestyle. They start interrogating her about who her husband is. At first, Psyche lies and says he's a handsome young man who spends all day hunting in the mountains. They don't buy it, though, and keep pumping her for information. Eventually, Psyche admits that she's never seen him and that he only comes at night. The jealous sisters remind Psyche of the prophecy that she would marry a monster, and they convince their sister that she has to see what her husband looks like. They advise her to wait until he's asleep, then stand over him with a lamp and a knife (in case he's a monster). That night she follows her sisters' advice and sees that her husband is none other than Cupid. Psyche is blown away by how ridiculously handsome her husband is. She's so distracted that she lets a drop of oil fall and burns his skin. Cupid wakes up and sees his wife standing there with the lamp and a knife. Furious, he flies out the window, telling Psyche that she'll never see him again. The beautiful palace disappears and Psyche is left all alone. Totally depressed, Psyche goes back to her sisters and tells them what happened. As if they hadn't already shown how totally awful they were, the sisters now go to the mountaintop thinking that one of them might take Psyche's husband for themselves. They jump off the mountain, expecting Zephyr to take them down. (No such luck.) The jealous sisters fall to their deaths on the rocks below. Meanwhile, Psyche wanders around trying to find Cupid. She ends up going to a temple of Ceres (a.k.a. Demeter), goddess of the harvest. The temple is a total wreck, so Psyche cleans it up. Ceres is impressed with Psyche's devotion. Psyche asks for some help. Ceres wishes she could give Psyche a hand, but the goddess says she can't go against Venus. Ceres advises Psyche to go to Venus and humbly beg for forgiveness. Psyche takes Ceres' advice and presents herself to Venus. Venus is still crazy mad and gives Psyche a tongue lashing, telling the girl that Cupid is still trying to recover from the burn that the oil gave him when it dripped on him. The goddess of love tells Psyche that she must prove herself worthy to be Cupid's wife by completing a task. Psyche is taken to a storehouse full of wheat, millet, barley, and all kinds of stuff that Venus uses to feed her pigeons. Psyche is ordered to organize all the different kinds of grain – the wheat with the wheat, the barley with the barley, etc. The job seems pretty much impossible, and, to make matters worse, Venus orders Psyche to get it done by evening. Cupid intervenes, however, and inspires a colony of ants to come out of the ground and help out Psyche. (Phew! We were worried that Rumpelstiltskin might show up.) The ants get the job done and disappear underground. Venus returns and tells Psyche that it doesn't count, because Psyche couldn't have done it by herself. The next day the goddess of love gives her daughter-in-law another task. Psyche must collect golden fleece from the back of every sheep in a herd that hangs out by a river. As she's about to cross the river, though, a river god warns Psyche that, if she tries it when the sun is rising, the human-hating rams will kill her. The helpful river god advises her to wait until the noontime sun makes the herd go chill out in the shade; then the rams won't mess with her. Psyche follows the river god's advice and safely collects the wool. Venus is still not satisfied, though, saying again that Psyche didn't do it on her own. Next, the love goddess orders Psyche to go down to the world of the dead and see Proserpine (a.k.a. Persephone), the queen of the underworld and wife of Pluto (a.k.a. Hades). Venus says she wants Psyche to bring a little bit of Proserpine's beauty back in a box. Psyche bravely heads off to find the underworld, but she's really upset this time – going to the land of the dead is beyond dangerous. How is Psyche supposed to get to the underworld? Is she supposed to kill herself? She seems to think so. Thankfully, before Psyche jumps off a cliff, she hears a voice (Cupid) that tells her how to pull it off. The voice tells her where there's a cave that leads down to the underworld, how to convince Charon (the ferryman) to take her there and back, and how to avoid Cerberus, the vicious three-headed dog who guards the underworld. Psyche makes it to Pluto and Proserpine's palace in the land of the dead and tells Proserpine that Venus wants to borrow a little beauty. A box is given to Psyche, and she's on her way. The voice warns Psyche not to open the box, no matter what she does, but Psyche's just so curious and can't help herself. The girl opens the box, thinking that, if she had a little of the beauty herself, then she'd truly be worthy of Cupid. Unfortunately, there's no beauty in the box at all, and when Psyche takes off the lid, she's plunged into a deep sleep, collapsing in the middle of the road. Cupid, who has finally recovered from his burn, flies to help his wife. He wakes her up with one of his arrows, and he points out that once again her curiosity has gotten her in trouble. Cupid tells her to take the box to Venus and to let him take care of the rest. He flies to Jupiter (a.k.a. Zeus), and he begs the king of the gods to help him and Psyche. Jupiter summons Venus and convinces her to chill out about the whole thing. Then he brings Psyche up to Mt. Olympus, the home of the gods, and gives her some ambrosia, which makes the girl immortal. At long last, Cupid and Psyche get to be together. Cupid and Psyche end up having a daughter together, named Voluptas (a.k.a. Hedone, sometimes translated as Pleasure).
Usage Frequency: 1
The policeman on the beat moved up the avenue impressively. The impressiveness was habitual and not for show, for spectators were few. The time was barely 10 o'clock at night, but chilly gusts of wind with a taste of rain in them had well nigh depeopled the streets.
Trying doors as he went, twirling his club with many intricate and artful movements, turning now and then to cast his watchful eye adown the pacific thoroughfare, the officer, with his stalwart form and slight swagger, made a fine picture of a guardian of the peace. The vicinity was one that kept early hours. Now and then you might see the lights of a cigar store or of an all-night lunch counter; but the majority of the doors belonged to business places that had long since been closed.
When about midway of a certain block the policeman suddenly slowed his walk. In the doorway of a darkened hardware store a man leaned, with an unlighted cigar in his mouth. As the policeman walked up to him the man spoke up quickly.
"It's all right, officer," he said, reassuringly. "I'm just waiting for a friend. It's an appointment made twenty years ago. Sounds a little funny to you, doesn't it? Well, I'll explain if you'd like to make certain it's all straight. About that long ago there used to be a restaurant where this store stands--'Big Joe' Brady's restaurant."
"Until five years ago," said the policeman. "It was torn down then."
The man in the doorway struck a match and lit his cigar. The light showed a pale, square-jawed face with keen eyes, and a little white scar near his right eyebrow. His scarfpin was a large diamond, oddly set.
"Twenty years ago to-night," said the man, "I dined here at 'Big Joe' Brady's with Jimmy Wells, my best chum, and the finest chap in the world. He and I were raised here in New York, just like two brothers, together. I was eighteen and Jimmy was twenty. The next morning I was to start for the West to make my fortune. You couldn't have dragged Jimmy out of New York; he thought it was the only place on earth. Well, we agreed that night that we would meet here again exactly twenty years from that date and time, no matter what our conditions might be or from what distance we might have to come. We figured that in twenty years each of us ought to have our destiny worked out and our fortunes made, whatever they were going to be."
"It sounds pretty interesting," said the policeman. "Rather a long time between meets, though, it seems to me. Haven't you heard from your friend since you left?"
"Well, yes, for a time we corresponded," said the other. "But after a year or two we lost track of each other. You see, the West is a pretty big proposition, and I kept hustling around over it pretty lively. But I know Jimmy will meet me here if he's alive, for he always was the truest, stanchest old chap in the world. He'll never forget. I came a thousand miles to stand in this door to-night, and it's worth it if my old partner turns up."
The waiting man pulled out a handsome watch, the lids of it set with small diamonds.
"Three minutes to ten," he announced. "It was exactly ten o'clock when we parted here at the restaurant door."__
"Did pretty well out West, didn't you?" asked the policeman.
"You bet! I hope Jimmy has done half as well. He was a kind of plodder, though, good fellow as he was. I've had to compete with some of the sharpest wits going to get my pile. A man gets in a groove in New York. It takes the West to put a razor-edge on him."
The policeman twirled his club and took a step or two.
"I'll be on my way. Hope your friend comes around all right. Going to call time on him sharp?"
"I should say not!" said the other. "I'll give him half an hour at least. If Jimmy is alive on earth he'll be here by that time. So long, officer."
"Good-night, sir," said the policeman, passing on along his beat, trying doors as he went.
There was now a fine, cold drizzle falling, and the wind had risen from its uncertain puffs into a steady blow. The few foot passengers astir in that quarter hurried dismally and silently along with coat collars turned high and pocketed hands. And in the door of the hardware store the man who had come a thousand miles to fill an appointment, uncertain almost to absurdity, with the friend of his youth, smoked his cigar and waited.
About twenty minutes he waited, and then a tall man in a long overcoat, with collar turned up to his ears, hurried across from the opposite side of the street. He went directly to the waiting man.
"Is that you, Bob?" he asked, doubtfully.
"Is that you, Jimmy Wells?" cried the man in the door.
"Bless my heart!" exclaimed the new arrival, grasping both the other's hands with his own. "It's Bob, sure as fate. I was certain I'd find you here if you were still in existence. Well, well, well! --twenty years is a long time. The old gone, Bob; I wish it had lasted, so we could have had another dinner there. How has the West treated you, old man?"
"Bully; it has given me everything I asked it for. You've changed lots, Jimmy. I never thought you were so tall by two or three inches."
"Oh, I grew a bit after I was twenty."
"Doing well in New York, Jimmy?"
"Moderately. I have a position in one of the city departments. Come on, Bob; we'll go around to a place I know of, and have a good long talk about old times."
The two men started up the street, arm in arm. The man from the West, his egotism enlarged by success, was beginning to outline the history of his career. The other, submerged in his overcoat, listened with interest.
At the corner stood a drug store, brilliant with electric lights. When they came into this glare each of them turned simultaneously to gaze upon the other's face.
The man from the West stopped suddenly and released his arm.
"You're not Jimmy Wells," he snapped. "Twenty years is a long time, but not long enough to change a man's nose from a Roman to a pug."
"It sometimes changes a good man into a bad one, said the tall man. "You've been under arrest for ten minutes, 'Silky' Bob. Chicago thinks you may have dropped over our way and wires us she wants to have a chat with you. Going quietly, are you? That's sensible. Now, before we go on to the station here's a note I was asked to hand you. You may read it here at the window. It's from Patrolman Wells."
The man from the West unfolded the little piece of paper handed him. His hand was steady when he began to read, but it trembled a little by the time he had finished. The note was rather short.
~"Bob: I was at the appointed place on time. When you struck the match to light your cigar I saw it was the face of the man wanted in Chicago. Somehow I couldn't do it myself, so I went around and got a plain clothes man to do the job.
Usage Frequency: 1
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Why is the Camel's Neck Crooked?
As you all know, Emperor Akbar was very impressed with Birbal's wisdom and greatly enjoyed his quick wit. One fine morning when Akbar was especially pleased with Birbal, as a gesture of appreciation, he promised to reward him with many valuable and beautiful gifts.
However, many days passed, and still there was no sign of even one gift. Birbal was quite disappointed with the king. Then one day, when Akbar was strolling down the banks of River Yamuna with his ever faithful Birbal at his side, he happened to notice a camel passing by. He asked Birbal why the neck of the camel was crooked. Birbal thought for a second and promptly replied that it might be because the camel may have forgotten to honour a promise. The holy books mention that those who break their word get punished with a crooked neck; perhaps that was the reason for the camel's crooked neck.
Akbar soon realised his folly of making a promise to Birbal for gifts and not honouring it. He was ashamed of himself. As soon as they returned to the palace he immediately gave Birbal his justly deserved reward. As you can see, Birbal always managed to get what he wanted without directly asking for it.
Usage Frequency: 1
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