O NCE, long ago, there was a little girl named Clytie who lived near a great, beautiful garden. Clytie had long, golden hair and brown eyes, and she was very sweet to look at; but, ah! she did not do always as her mother wished to have her.
One morning when Clytie was in the garden watching her pigeons fly high up to the sky, she caught a glimpse of the wonderful Apollo who rides in the chariot of the sun and drives his fiery steeds around the circle of the heavens. Apollo's crown was bright and shining, and his chariot wheels sparkled with darting sunbeams. Clytie stood and watched, and watched, and she did not heed when her mother called: "Clytie, Clytie, come in to your tasks!"
The next day, and the next, Clytie went out into the garden to watch for the chariot of the sun, and all the long morning she stood looking up at the sky, hoping that the great Apollo would see her.
"He is so beautiful," she cried, "I cannot stop to do my tasks. I must watch him."
One morning Apollo saw Clytie. He was busy always about his own work, and he thought every one else should be busy, too, but he heard the little girl's mother calling: "Clytie, Clytie, come in and do your sewing!" And he saw the idle little Clytie standing in the garden.
"An earth-child should obey her mother," thought the great Apollo. He drew rein for a moment and looked down from the clouds straight into Clytie's face. Then a strange thing happened. Clytie's eyes grew darker and larger and larger, until she seemed to have one great eye which covered her whole face. Her yellow curls became quite straight, and they stood out about her head like a crown. Her green dress changed to stiff, round leaves growing up and down a stalk, and her little toes began to sink down into the ground, where they clung like roots.
Clytie was not a little girl any longer. She had been changed to the first sunflower. And that is why—all the summer long—the sunflower stands so straight and stiff in the garden, looking up at the sunshine with its big, brown eye.
— Adapted from a Greek myth
by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey