Echo, The Air Maiden
A Greek Legend
"Grace, you should not try to have the last word. It is a bad habit to get into. Shut your lips and run into another room if you can't stop yourself by any other means."
"Why, auntie, what a funny way to cure me! But I don't see that I need any such thing. Johnny was in the wrong and he knows it."
"You see, you are having the last word now. Do you remember what you heard out by the great rocks the day of the picnic?"
"Oh, that echo! Wasn't it perfect! I said, 'come here,' and it answered, 'here,' just as plainly as one of the girls, and we talked with it ever so long."
"Can you call it answering, Grace? Think what it really did."
"Oh, I know now, but I don't like to tell, because--because it seems a little as you say I do."
"Yes, Grace, and I am going to tell you a story about the very first echo. Please try to remember it and shut your lips and run away whenever you feel like having the last word. Will you, dear?"
"I'll remember the story, anyway," said Grace, as she cuddled down on a footstool at the feet of her aunt.
"This is a sad little story," said her Aunt Kate to her, "and I'm glad it is only a story.
"The first echo was a pretty girl who had only one fault--she would talk too much. She not only talked too much and sometimes, I fear, too loud, but when others tried to say a word, she would begin again and try to outdo them. She loved to tease and to vex people. Still, she was so beautiful that no one could bear to punish her.
"One day Queen Juno came down to earth (you see, Grace, this is one of the old myths) and saucy Echo dared to torment even her. Juno had left her throne in the sky to search for someone Echo knew.
"'Where is he, Echo?' Juno asked.
"'Is he Echo? Oh, no, I am Echo. Did you want me?' the saucy girl answered.
"'How dare you do it?' Juno said.
"'Dare you do it? Oh, yes, I dare do anything. Tell me what to do.'
"'You have dared too much already, silly child, and for punishment you shall lose the use of that tongue of yours, except for the one purpose of answering back. You shall still have the last word, but never again shall you speak first.'
"Just then Iris, Juno's maid of honor, came with a shining car drawn by two peacocks, and away they both went over the rainbow bridge back to Juno's throne.
"Echo in her sorrow ran and hid herself in a cavern.
"She wandered from cave to cave and rock to rock, always answering back when those who tried to find her called, but never able to tell where she was. She grew thinner and thinner, till at last nothing was left of her but her voice.
"That she will always keep, and try as hard as you may, you can never have the last word with Echo."
Sources And Further Reading
Project Gutenberg Classic Myths Retold by Mary Catherine Judd with drawings entirely from classic sources