Mortal Fire

A Fable
by Diane Graebner

     One night, while Hephaestus, the god of fire, was visiting earth, he saw a mortal man tending a huge bonfire. Hephaestus went to the mortal man and asked him if he could sit by the warmth of his fire to rest awhile. The man, although he did not know that he was speaking to a god, allowed Hephaestus to stay. The man then went about the business of tending the fire. Hephaestus watched as the mortal cared lovingly for the fire, as he would his own son. "What is your name?" he asked as he studied the busily working man.

     "Why, I am Bacharon, sir," the mortal replied. "I keep the fires burning so that the ships that toss in the stormy seas will not crash upon the rocks and be torn apart."

     Hephaestus rose from where he had been sitting. "I am Hephaestus, god of fire," he said. "I have seen your fire and I ask you, in the name of the gods, to come to Olympus with me and tend the fires there."

     Bacharon was overjoyed at the possibility of tending the fires for the gods, so he told Hephaestus he would go with him.

     Things went well on Olympus for awhile. Bacharon kept the fires burning all night, so that the gods were warm and comfortable. Then, one morning, Bacharon went down to earth to visit the friends he had left behind. They drank, and sang, and had a merry time. When it was time for Bacharon to start his fires, he had passed out from drunkenness, and could not be aroused. When Hephaestus came to the place where the fire should have been, he became angry to see that there was not one.

     In his anger, Hephaestus used his godly power and transformed Bacharon. From that point on, as the frost that forms at night, Bacharon was always cold. To this day he sits on the window pane in winter, able to see the warmth of the hearth inside, but never able to reach it.

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