Gateway to the Classics: Stories from Plato and Other Classic Writers by Mary E. Burt
Stories from Plato and Other Classic Writers by  Mary E. Burt

For the Little Boy Who Will Not Say "Please"

Once in a while there is a little boy who does not know how to say "please" and "thank you." I have even seen one who did not seem to care for any one or respect anybody. So I will tell you a story which shows how necessary it is that people should be respectful.

There was a time when all men living on the earth were disrespectful. They never said "please" nor "thank you," and they grabbed everything away from others, and no one cared for any one else.

At that time men were double. They had two faces, two pairs of arms, two pairs of legs, four hands, and four feet. Their bodies were round like a ball, and when they walked they rolled over and over like a wheel, or more like a boy turning somersaults, heels over head, head over heels, hand over hand, they went bumping along in a most ridiculous fashion.

They were twice as strong as they are now, and they could run twice as fast, and climb any tree like a cat. They were very fierce, too, and so saucy to the gods that old Jupiter was almost afraid they would climb Mount Olympus and put the gods to flight. He trembled on his throne when he saw how strong and daring they were.



So Jupiter called Apollo and told him to take each mortal and cut him right down through the middle so that he should have only one pair of legs and arms; and to smooth him out and pull the skin around him and tie it up, and make his face straight and make him walk upright on two legs, so that he would be one man instead of a double man.

Jupiter told Apollo to teach him to be respectful also, and to instruct him that if he did not treat the gods respectfully and love his fellow men he would have him sliced right in two again so that he would have to go hopping around on one leg and have only one arm, and one eye, and half a nose.

Now, when men began to walk around on two legs and try to help themselves with two arms they began to feel very lonesome for that other half that had always been with them, and they kept thinking about the other half, and that is the way men learned to care for each other and to think about other folks instead of thinking all the time about themselves.

I am afraid that the little boy who would not say "please" will lose half of himself sometime if he does not learn to be polite and kind.

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